The Magnitsky Act: What the Kremlin Means When It Says “Adoption”

This is Part Four of a six-part series on the death of Sergei Magnitsky, what he uncovered before his death — and how it all relates to Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian woman who met with Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner in June 2016.

Today, in Part Four of this series on Sergei Magnitsky, I discuss the reaction of the Russian government to the Magnitsky Act, and why they hate it so much. You’ll learn why a Russian woman wanted to meet with Trump Jr. and friends in 2016. Hint: it isn’t just about “adoption.”

PUTIN’S HOSTILITY TOWARDS BILL BROWDER AND HIS EFFORTS TO REPEAL THE MAGNITSKY ACT

The Magnitsky Act has very much upset the top echelons of Russian government. Bill Browder and Sergei Magnitsky were tried in absentia for various trumped-up allegations even after Magnitsky was killed — resulting in laughable convictions that nobody takes seriously. Putin has repeatedly tried to have Browder arrested by seeking a “red notice” from Interpol authorizing him to be arrested and extradited (hence the title of Browder’s book). Interpol, which usually honors such requests, has refused to do so in Browder’s case. In 2013, Putin puppet Dmitry Medvedev was quoted as saying at Davos: “It’s too bad that Sergei Magnitsky is dead and Bill Browder is still alive and free.” That is a chilling statement from someone who had recently been the president of a country known for assassinating its enemies, both at home and abroad.

Most significantly, Vladimir Putin retaliated against the United States’s passage of the Magnitsky Act by banning adoptions of Russian children by citizens of the United States. This was a heartless act, because the children that Americans adopt from Russia are at significant risk. As Browder explains in his book:

Putin’s proposed ban was significant because over the last decade Americans had adopted over sixty thousand Russian orphans. In recent years Russia had restricted most American adoptions to sick children — those with HIV, Down syndrome, and spina bifida, among many other disorders. Some of these children wouldn’t survive without the medical care they would receive from their new American families.

This meant that in addition to punishing American families who were waiting for Russian children to join them, Putin was also punishing, and potentially killing, defenseless orphans in his own country. To say that this was a heartless proposal doesn’t even qualify as an understatement. It was evil, pure and simple.

So when you hear Putin and other top Russian officials now talk about the issue of “adoptions” you should understand that they mean “repeal of the Magnitsky Act.” As Julia Ioffe explained in The Atlantic:

Let’s get something straight: The Magnitsky Act is not, nor has it ever been, about adoptions.

The Magnitsky Act, rather, is about money. It freezes certain Russian officials’ access to the stashes they were keeping in Western banks and real estate and bans their entry to the United States. The reason Russian (and now, American) officials keep talking about adoption in the same breath is because of how the Russian side retaliated to the Magnitsky Act in 2012, namely by banning American adoptions of Russian children.

Ioffe is 100% correct. Bill Browder explained to Jacob Weisberg why this is so important to Putin:

BROWDER: Vladimir Putin has made it his single largest foreign policy priority to get rid of the Magnitsky Act. It is not a surprise at all given how much money has been spent and how many lobbyists and intermediaries are involved that they somehow found their way to Donald Trump, who at the time was the Republican nominee.

WEISBERG: Why is this bill such a priority for Putin?

BROWDER: Putin has amassed an enormous fortune over the 17 years that he’s been at the top of the heap in Russia, and the Magnitsky Act very specifically would target him. We have been able to track down information and evidence that shows that some of the proceeds from the crime—the $230 million fraud that Sergei Magnitsky uncovered, exposed, and was killed over—went to a man named Sergei Roldugin. (For those of you who remember the Panama Papers, he was the famous $2 billion cellist from Russia who got all this largesse from various oligarchs in Russian companies.)

Roldugin received some of the money from the Magnitsky crime, and it’s well-known that he is a nominee trustee for Putin. When Putin reacts to the Magnitsky Act with such personal venom, he’s reacting because he feels like the entire purpose in life, which was to steal money from the Russian state and keep it offshore, is at risk. That’s why they’re ready to ruin relations with America over the Magnitsky Act by banning adoptions and doing other things, and that’s why so much money has been spent fighting the act and fighting me, the person behind the campaign to get Magnitsky Act in the United States and around the world.

When you hear Vladimir Putin talk about adoption of Russian children, he is talking about getting the Magnitsky Act reversed. When you hear that Natalia Veselnitskaya was talking to Trump Jr., Manafort, and Kushner about adoption of Russian children, she was talking about getting the Magnitsky Act reversed. As Ioffe explains, the Magnitsky Act is a big deal for Russian kleptocrats because they can’t protect their money:

What made Russian officialdom so mad about the Magnitsky Act is that it was the first time that there was some kind of roadblock to getting stolen money to safety. In Russia, after all, officers and bureaucrats could steal it again, the same way they had stolen it in the first place: a raid, an extortion racket, a crooked court case with forged documents—the possibilities are endless. Protecting the money meant getting it out of Russia. But what happens if you get it out of Russia and it’s frozen by Western authorities? What’s the point of stealing all that money if you can’t enjoy the Miami condo it bought you? What’s the point if you can’t use it to travel to the Côte d’Azur in luxury?

Worse, it looked for a while like the Europeans were going to pass a similar law—because Russians stash far more money in Europe than in the United States.

By the way, when Ioffe says that Russians often keep their money in “Europe” — remember that one country that Russians love to use to stash illegal proceeds is Cyprus — the place Artem Kuznetsov and Pavel Karpov visited, as described in Part Two. Keep that in mind as you read tomorrow’s post, Part Five, in which I discuss Natalia Veselnitskaya, and her connections to the thieves who stole $230 million from the Russian government.

This is Part Four of a six-part series on the death of Sergei Magnitsky, what he uncovered before his death, and how it all relates to Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian woman who met with Trump Jr., Manafort, and Jared Kushner in June 2016. The springboard for the series of posts is this Michael Weiss article about Veselnitskaya and how she is connected to the Magnitsky case.

Part One introduced the series and Weiss’s conclusions.

Part Two began to set forth the background of the aggressive tax fraud scheme that Sergei Magnitsky discovered, as set out in Browder’s book Red Notice.

Part Three outlined what Magnitsky did when he uncovered the scheme — and the terrible price he paid as a result.

[Disclaimer]

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Water Cooler 9/21/17 Open Thread; Apocalypse Postponed; Hillary Triggers Regret

watercooler

Oops Looks Like The Climate Doom Crowd Had To Admit It Was Wrong

Any resemblance to people predicting the rapture at specific times and dates is purely coincidental, I am certain. What’s more now that their doomsday date has come and gone they are trying to adjust their timetable so they can continue fleecing the rubes.

The world has warmed more slowly than had been forecast by computer models, which were “on the hot side” and overstated the impact of emissions, a new study has found. Its projections suggest that the world has a better chance than previously claimed of meeting the goal set by the Paris agreement on climate change to limit warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

Michael Grubb, professor of international energy and climate change at University College London and one of the study’s authors, admitted that his past prediction had been wrong.

The latest study found that a group of computer models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had predicted a more rapid temperature increase than had taken place. Global average temperature has risen by about 0.9C since pre-industrial times but there was a slowdown in the rate of warming for 15 years before 2014.

The Times of London

For those that have been keeping score, that slowdown for last 20 years is called the pause, something that climate propagandists vehemently denied For those of us that have been pointing the models say anything you’d like them to say and didn’t offer any meaningful predictions there is this.

He added that the group of about a dozen computer models, produced by government institutes and universities around the world, had been assembled a decade ago “so it’s not that surprising that it’s starting to divert a little bit from observations”. Too many of the models used “were on the hot side”, meaning they forecast too much warming.

That’s about 20 years of emissions before temperatures are likely to cross 1.5C,” Professor Allen said. “It’s the difference between being not doable and being just doable.”

You see if we really buckle down now, we can actually avert doomsday, never mind the lies about what was happening before, and how the science that was claimed settled didn’t actually work.


People Who Voted For Hillary Regret It

Well Surprise

The more she talks, the less popular she becomes.  It’s not necessarily all that surprising that there would be more agita and recriminations on the losing side of a major campaign, but we’ve been told endlessly that Trump is so uniquely terrible that it would stand to reason that feelings of horror and regret would be fairly prevalent among casual voters.  Nope.  And given the national climate, one might imagine legions of Americans taking greater pride than ever in their original act of “resistance.”

According to a new national Politico/Morning Consult survey, 2016 election buyers’ remorse is more prevalent among Hillary Clinton’s voters than those who cast ballots for President Trump.  “Among Clinton voters, 13 percent say they would either vote for a different candidate or not vote at all,” the survey finds, while that number among Trump backers is four points lower

–TownHall.Com

I don’t suppose this has anything to do with the fact she has blamed everyone in the country but herself for the fact that she was a lousy candidate.


Quote of the Day

“Don’t wake me for the end of the world unless it has very good special effects.”
― Roger Zelazny


Drink up That’s it for the Watercooler today. As always it’s an open thread

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New Poll: Did Trump’s Turn Left on DACA Help or Hurt Him?

It seems Trump is seeing the fruit of his efforts by rolling over on his base and working with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.

Sure, he’s sent Ann Coulter into therapy, but his poll numbers, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll show he’s made some progress by dropping that disingenuous “Champion of Border Security” act that lured so many gullible plebeians into his camp.

One Democratic pollster said that Trump’s overtures to Democrats were a way to improve his poll ratings without sacrificing his base of support.

“Going to the middle has helped him with the middle – without costing him much from his own base,” Fred Yang told NBC News.

That’s probably correct, since so many of his base have no platform built on conservative principle, only caring that some on the left are “pi**ed off.”

The poll shows that 7-in-10 polled approve of Trump’s rollover to Chuck and Nancy.

Looking to other issues, however, only 41 percent approve of his handling of the economy, and 39 percent agree with his handling of border security.

According to the poll, only 33 percent said he’s accomplished either a “great deal” or “a fair amount” in the White House, compared to 66 percent of Americans who said he’s accomplished “only some” or “very little” as president.

I’m sure a few more overtures to liberal Democrats on some of the core issues will plump up those numbers in future polling.

With 900 adult respondents, this particular poll has a margin of error of 3.3 percent. It was conducted from September 14 to September 18.

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Intellectual Property Theft – And a Worldwide Child Sex Trafficking Ring

The thing about criminals is – they commit lots of crimes. They don’t find one secluded illegal niche – into which they nestle down, breaking just this law or that one. Criminals – are criminals. They break laws – plural. Of all sorts. Their respect for the law is…hampered. They are quite comfortable – operating entirely outside the realm of legality.

But even amongst the criminal class – there are some lines which most will not cross. The most readily apparent line they draw – is abuse of children, especially sexual abuse. Child sex abusers fare particularly poorly in prison.

We non-criminals are, of course, utterly revulsed. It really is beyond comprehension.

Seton Motley | Red State | RedState.com

So when a criminal ring is busted – and we discover one of their many crimes is child sex trafficking – it is unfathomably nauseating and pernicious. And the full weight of the legal system must be dropped directly upon them.

It was the pursuit of intellectual property (IP) thieves – that led to the other, awful discovery.

CoStar Sues Longtime Competitor Xceligent, Alleging Data Theft: “CoStar alleged it has found thousands of examples of its copyrighted photos and data on publicly accessible portions of Xceligent’s site.

“It also alleges that Xceligent contractors in India and the Philippines ‘bombard’ one of CoStar’s sites to copy CoStar’s content ‘despite technological blocking and repeated notice…that such conduct is prohibited.’…

“The filing of CoStar’s lawsuit was timed with the execution of a search-and-seizure order issued by a regional trial court in the Philippines that was requested by CoStar. That order…instructed sheriffs to raid offices of Avion BPO Corp., a Filipino company that CoStar alleges has been a contractor to Xceligent.

“According to the search-and-seizure order, the Filipino court found ‘probable cause’ that ‘Avion is committing contributory infringement by…stealing Costar Realty copyrighted photographs for the benefit of Xceligent, a client of Avion.’”

The raid on the massive server farm – netted more than just stolen IP.

“Backpage” is, amongst many other things, a child sex trafficking website. Much of their heinous catalog – was stored on servers on the same server farm as CoStar’s heisted IP.

Backpage Critics Find Surprise Ammunition in Philippines Raid: “It was a daring raid carried out with military precision in a remote city of the Philippines – an operation that yielded surprise ammunition for a legal battle over the classified ad site Backpage, which has been accused of promoting sex trafficking….

“The mastermind was the U.S. company CoStar, a multibillion-dollar enterprise that runs Apartments.com. The target: the headquarters for a firm called Avion where hackers were believed to be stealing proprietary real-estate photos and information on behalf of an industry rival.

“Wielding a court order, the teams swept through Avion’s sprawling facility — eight hours from Manila and accessible by a single road — and emerged with 262 hard drives containing 35 terabytes of data.

“CoStar says the trove contained proof its intellectual property was being ripped off, a claim its competitor denies.

“But there was also something far more disturbing: indications that Backpage used Avion to drum up business in the sex trade overseas.…
“‘We got 1.7 million photographs,’ Curtis Ricketts, senior vice president of CoStar, told NBC News of the December 2016 raid.

“‘It was building picture, building picture, porn, porn, prostitute ad, building picture and then – bang! – a picture that couldn’t be anything other than, you know, child pornography.’…

“‘We just immediately shut the computer off, picked the phone up, called the attorneys. They called the FBI.’…

“An Avion employee manual includes step-by-step instructions on how to use a fake IP and email address to pose as someone responding to an adult ad on a rival site. It details how to create escort ads on competitor sites, by copying photos from real Backpage ads, to widen the pool of customers and then invite them to Backpage.”

We delve into all of this awfulness – to make a couple of points.

The obvious point is already made – Backpage’s repulsive site and practices should be legally crushed.

The other point is – IP theft…is theft. Crimes are crimes.

And crimes committed – erase the lines we as a society must have to exist in an orderly and sane fashion.

Down the road of lawlessness – lies madness.

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The Graham-Cassidy Bill Must Pass

In nine days, the Senate’s time limit to get some sort of Obamacare reform effort passed expires. There is one last plan available to them – the Graham-Cassidy Plan – and it is currently the best and only chance to make some movement on the issue of health care reform.

Let’s be honest though: This isn’t Repeal And Replace. Not even close. A large chunk of Obamacare’s regulatory structure remains, pre-existing conditions are still covered, and it spends a whole lot of money at a time when you can reasonably argue the nation can’t afford to. However, the benefits of the plan currently outweigh that.

There are certainly great benefits to repealing the individual and employer mandates, as well as block-granting money to the states to establish their own system, rather than rely on a large federal government structure to tell them what to do. However, the biggest benefit of Graham-Cassidy is that it inches us toward a more conservative system.

If you’ll recall, most of us here at RedState opposed the original House plan to “repeal and replace.” I specifically mentioned that the House bill opened with a line about amending the Affordable Care Act, which is decidedly not “repeal and replace.” Moreover, the House plan was a classic example of Republicans not knowing how to negotiate. The Republican Party’s leadership is often a group that writes and presents the bills that represent what they expect to get all along. They don’t give themselves negotiating room.

Had they done so, it would have been fine for them to sit down with conservatives and liberals alike and negotiate toward the middle. That way, there would be assurances that each side would get some sort of “victory” out of the eventual bill. That is the type of negotiating that made the Reagan era so great for conservatism. He kept the ball moving down the field.

Republicans don’t do that, because they give up all the ground possible so they can put out a bill that they think could get passed the quickest. They don’t want debate or negotiating.

With the Graham-Cassidy plan, we are now left with the option of gaining back some ground or forfeiting it, perhaps for good. That is not a good option, and we need to back Senate Republicans in order to get it passed and walk away from this year with something done on Obamacare.

That’s what makes Rand Paul’s stance so infuriating. He is voting against the Graham-Cassidy plan because it doesn’t repeal and replace. He is willing to cede ground because we wouldn’t be gaining enough ground. It’s a dumb argument, because, as the editors at National Review said this week, not being what you want it to be is grounds for committee or debate, not outright rejection.

There is good that will come from this bill, should it pass. Conservatives should back it now, because we currently have the chance to land a blow to Obamacare. It’s not a knockout, but it’s still a blow.

Plus, John Kasich hates the bill, which makes it all the more likely that it’s not a terrible bill.

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REPORT: President Trump Has Decided to Refuse to Certify Iran’s Nuclear Deal Compliance

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, center, leaves the parliament after his speech in a session to debate his proposed cabinet, in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017. Iran's president issued a direct threat to the West on Tuesday, claiming his country is capable of restarting its nuclear program within hours — and quickly bringing it to even more advanced levels than in 2015, when Iran signed the nuclear deal with world powers. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, center, leaves the parliament after his speech in a session to debate his proposed cabinet, in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017. Iran’s president issued a direct threat to the West on Tuesday, claiming his country is capable of restarting its nuclear program within hours — and quickly bringing it to even more advanced levels than in 2015, when Iran signed the nuclear deal with world powers. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

 

NBC is reporting, citing several sources, that President Trump will refuse to certify that Iran is in compliance with the terms of the nuclear deal, the JCPOA, and he will do so before the October 15 deadline to report to Congress on Iran’s performance.

President Trump is leaning toward decertifying the Iran nuclear deal and putting the decision of whether the U.S. will withdraw from the accord in the hands of Congress, according to four sources — including one senior administration official — familiar with the White House deliberations.

Such a move would come prior to an Oct. 15 deadline and would trigger a 60-day window for lawmakers to determine whether to reimpose sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program that were lifted as part of the 2015 agreement. The president’s goal during that time is to prod America’s European allies, who are part of the nuclear deal, to agree to renegotiate some provisions, and pressure Iran back into talks.

Still, several of the sources caution the president could change his mind over the next three weeks as he faces pushback from allies internationally.

As I posted a few days ago, Trump has several paths he could take on certification:

These are the options and there are factions in the government in favor of all of them:

1 – Decertify and stay in the deal, then focus on Congressional action — this is the mainstream “waive & slap then decertify & fix” option. It came out of policy shops like FDD and ISIS, and was outlined last week by Ambassador Haley. The deal should be decertified because it fails condition 4 (it’s not “vital to national interest”) and/or condition 1 (Iran is not “fully implementing” the paragraph 28 of the JCPOA, the weapons and personnel prohibitions of UNSCR 2231, the military site access requirements of the Additional Protocol, etc. The administration would then use leverage created by the threat or reality of Congressional action to strengthen weaknesses in the deal.

2 – Decertify and stay in the deal, then threaten to reimpose secondary sanctions — this is a new option. It comes from a plan that’s been circulating but hadn’t been described before today’s AP story. Here’s the AP outline: “… decertify Iran and threaten to restore nuclear sanctions on Iran at any point as well as so-called “secondary sanctions” that could cut off European and other banks and businesses that do business with Iran from the U.S. financial system.” The administration would then threaten to get physical with banks unless the Iranians modified their behavior and agreed to strengthen the deal.

3 – Decertify and stay in the deal, then focus on executive action — Here’s the AP outline: “… have Trump issue a new executive order setting out a timeline for the agreement to be amended or supplemented with bans or further limitations on uranium enrichment and ballistic missile testing.” The administration would then use leverage created by the move to strengthen weaknesses in the deal.

4 – Decertify and withdraw from the deal — this option has been outlined and advocated most prominently by Amb Bolton. The argument is that the deal can’t be enforced or fixed. In August Bolton published a white paper charting the tactics and strategy that would be used to manage to withdrawal.

5 – Certify — this is the State Department option. Secretary Tillerson says he disagrees with the president on the Iran deal and the State Department is reportedly in “open war” against the White House on the issue. After the July certification, Iran deal advocates inside the State Department launched multiple open-ended initiatives to ‘test’ and ‘strengthen’ the deal, which would allow them to indefinitely argue that decertification is premature. This AP report says Tillerson presented the president with the latest version of State’s certification plan this week, which promised to pursue ‘fixes’ earlier this week.

According to NBC, Trump has added an additional course of action:

The senior administration official said the president has resolved not to continue the “status quo,” but that he’s considering at least one other option related to the deal.

That option, according to two officials, would give European allies the option of 90 days to get on board with renegotiation — rather than punt the decision to Congress. Administration officials are still in talks with those allies, and with Republicans on Capitol Hill.

I don’t see this happening, not that the Euros won’t get on board but that Rouhani can’t politically survive the climb down that would be necessary for Iran to renegotiate the deal.

My personal view is that the best solution here is for Trump to declare Iran out of compliance and kick the matter to Congress. Hopefully, he can use that as an opportunity that will structure future sanctions against Iran in a way that requires Congressional approval of lifting/modifying them rather than giving the president carte blanche to lift sanctions, as was the case with Obama. Going forward will require close coordination between Congress and the White House and not is a good time to get everyone on the same sheet of music.

Well, good luck with that.

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Iran’s Hassan Rouhani Makes an Demand of President Trump

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani  listens during a news conference on his visit for the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday Sept. 20, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani listens during a news conference on his visit for the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday Sept. 20, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

While much attention was focused on the message President Trump directed at North Korea in his speech to the UN General Assembly yesterday, he also blistered the criminal regime in Tehran:

We face this decision not only in North Korea. It is far past time for the nations of the world to confront another reckless regime — one that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing death to America, destruction to Israel, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.

The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy. It has turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos. The longest-suffering victims of Iran’s leaders are, in fact, its own people.

Rather than use its resources to improve Iranian lives, its oil profits go to fund Hezbollah and other terrorists that kill innocent Muslims and attack their peaceful Arab and Israeli neighbors. This wealth, which rightly belongs to Iran’s people, also goes to shore up Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship, fuel Yemen’s civil war, and undermine peace throughout the entire Middle East.

We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program. (Applause.) The Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it — believe me.

It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction. It is time for the regime to free all Americans and citizens of other nations that they have unjustly detained. And above all, Iran’s government must stop supporting terrorists, begin serving its own people, and respect the sovereign rights of its neighbors.

The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most. This is what causes the regime to restrict Internet access, tear down satellite dishes, shoot unarmed student protestors, and imprison political reformers.

Tehran used to eight years of being sucked up to by the Obama regime seemed taken aback by the speech.

And this nugget:

Mr. Rouhani followed his United Nations speech about an hour later with an hourlong news conference, in which he denounced what he called Mr. Trump’s “completely baseless allegations” about Iran, demanded an apology and said the Iran nuclear agreement was final and could not be amended, reopened or renegotiated.

I’m sure if Rouhani consulted with a rando rug merchant in Tehran’s bazaars he’d discover that there is no such thing at a deal that can’t “be amended, reopened or renegotiated.”

I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that this is probably not going to happen.

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A Must-Watch: The O’Donnell-O’Reilly Meltdown Mash-up You Didn’t Know You Needed

Mediaite published leaked video it received of MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell melting down in spectacular fashion while off-air on August 29. The video is exactly what you’d expect from O’Donnell’s ilk. Lots of swearing and over-the-top outrage that would make his Irish ancestors proud.

Of course, it brought recollections and comparisons to another Irish American television host’s epic meltdown. Bill O’Reilly’s famous “We’ll do it live!” video lives in infamy.

Naturally, a mash-up video was a must in the age of the internet and our friends at the Washington Free Beacon did not disappoint. It’s simply hilarity perfected.

Watch:

Nice work, guys. (And by “guys” I mean people of all genders working there, obviously).

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With the Iran Nuclear Deal on the Table, Tillerson and Haley Find Themselves at Odds

Nikki Haley would make a better Secretary of State, anyway, if you ask me.

The Washington Free Beacon is reporting on an internal rift between Ambassador Haley and current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in regards to the ill-advised Iran deal.

The Reader’s Digest version is that Tillerson loves the deal and wants to keep it, as is. Haley, on the other hand, balks at the notion of Tillerson’s support, and feels he’s working directly against President Trump’s agenda.

The division is one of several that Tillerson has sparked within the administration, particularly in the West Wing, where the secretary of state has been described as in “open war” with Trump on a series of major foreign policy issues, including Iran and the Israel-Palestinian impasse.

“The tension between Rex and Nikki is the worst kept secret in the State Department,” according to one veteran foreign policy hand who has been in close contact with the State Department on the issue.

Haley “thinks that [Tillerson is] trying to undermine the president and preserve Obama’s Iran legacy, which is true,” explained the source, who would only discuss the sensitive matter on background. “He thinks she’s running her own foreign policy and auditioning for his job, which is also true.”

You can count me as Team Nikki, here.

They’ve managed to keep the tensions under wraps, for most part, not willing to let the world see anything but absolute unity, at least on the surface.

Both Tillerson and Haley attended a meeting together on Wednesday with world leaders, to discuss the future of the Iran deal.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall.

There have been some more public clashes, but those were shut down quickly, in order to protect that veneer of teamwork.

“It will keep happening as long as the secretary keeps working to force Trump to certify while the ambassador keeps working to promote what Trump says he wants,” the source said.

Opponents of the bill are looking to Haley, who they see as an ally.

“Tillerson is buying what the Europeans are selling and he’s really pushing the president to recertify,” said the source, who also requested anonymity to discuss internal conversations. “The Republicans on Capitol Hill don’t want this to fall into their lap so they’re backing Tillerson for now. Haley is doing what she can to fight for what’s right, but it might not matter if [Secretary of Defense] Mattis backs up Tillerson.”

“President Trump’s going to be totally humiliated by the Iranians if he falls for something this stupid,” the source said.

So does Mattis back Tillerson?

Remains to be seen.

“Haley clearly understands that the status quo is unsustainable,” said one senior congressional official involved in the matter. “She recognizes that the nuclear deal has been a complete disaster for the United States and our allies.”

“Meanwhile, Tillerson continues to pursue his own agenda at State with little regard for the president’s priorities,” the official said. “It’s good to see Haley stand firm as the voice of reason, and urge Tillerson and other Iran sympathizers to end their rogue behavior.”

One thing is for sure: Europe can’t be trusted to stand up to Iran, and they don’t like the idea that the U.S. might not recertify.

Foreign policy strategist, Richard Goldberg, was an architect of the sanctions against Iran, as a senior congressional adviser. He’s advising against recertifying and against trusting Europe to get tough with Iran in extreme situations.

“The president would be foolish to recertify Iran on Europe’s empty promise of “fixing” the deal,” said Goldberg, the author of a recent memo outlining for the Trump administration how it can remove the U.S. from the nuclear deal. “Unless European leaders credibly believe President Trump might reimpose sanctions at any moment, they will say nice things in meetings and do absolutely nothing to ‘fix’ a fundamentally bad deal they already accepted.”

Tough talk, but I believe him.

Goldberg goes on to suggest Trump’s best move would be to deem Iran as in violation of the agreement and to apply new sanctions.

“The president has no other option than to decertify and hold the re-imposition of sanctions over both Europe and Iran as a financial Sword of Damocles until we see behavioral change by the regime,” he said.

That sounds like a plan, but first, the internal issues with the administration need to be addressed, meaning, get Rex Tillerson on board with everybody else.

The post With the Iran Nuclear Deal on the Table, Tillerson and Haley Find Themselves at Odds appeared first on RedState.

Source: Red State


Don’t Mistake Rand Paul’s Political Move on Obamacare for Morality

There are good reasons libertarians — and especially the Libertarian Party — has trouble ever successfully running a third-party campaign. One of them is likely the fact they never seem able to come to the table and compromise just to get things done.

The line has always been that libertarians take the moral high ground, even on some of the establishment conservative moves; loosely translated that means they are doing the hard job of protecting the freedoms of the average American from the mission-creep of the two-party system.

And so it is with Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who has been very vocal, chatting up the press more than many of his colleagues, about just what he will deign to sign onto when it comes to the repeal and replace of Obamacare.

And he has no love for the newest iteration of repeal and replace, the Graham-Cassidy bill. RedState’s Kimberly Ross broke down the particulars of this new (and, frankly, surprising) effort to save the nation from single payer before the Sept. 30th deadline, after which repeal is no longer an option with a simple majority vote.

So, what’s driving our favorite libertarian conservative? After all, he voted for the sham “skinny” repeal that was only half-heartedly crafted last minute because everyone knew Sen. John McCain (AZ) was going to give it a thumbs down. Why is he back to being the principled libertarian now, especially since Graham-Cassidy is, by most conservative estimates, the better bill?

The Weekly Standard thinks they know.

Paul’s primary opposition — and it switches almost daily — has to do with the block granting of some of Obamacare’s spending back to the states with the caveat that the grants must be used for healthcare. Paul isn’t a fan of this idea, even though “skinny” repeal didn’t even offer this choice to the states, opting instead to retain all of Obamacare’s spending. And remember: Paul voted for that. So what gives?

Paul’s opposition to the block-grant approach is all the more puzzling because in July Paul voted for an amendment that would have block-granted most of the Obamacare spending. For procedural reasons, the block-grant approach is believed to be the only realistic way the Senate can stop Obamacare funding from paying for insurance plans that cover elective abortion.

Given his past comments and voting history, Paul seems more opposed to the particular way Graham-Cassidy distributes the block grants and not the overall amount of Obamacare spending it retains or the mere principle of block-granting Obamacare’s spending.

“It takes money from the Democrat states and gives it to the Republican states,” Paul said on Monday. Because the bill redistributes all of Obamacare’s spending nationwide, states that expanded Medicaid under Obamacare like California and New York would get less than they would under the Obamacare status quo, but non-expansion states like Virginia and Wisconsin would get more. Paul’s Kentucky expanded Medicaid.

And there you have it. Paul, like every other politician, has a constituency and he knows that if he wants to keep in good standing (and therefore keep his job) he needs to make sure that his state is getting paid, as it were.

The strange thing about this is that no one faults politicians for going to bat for their constituencies. It’s expected, if a little frustrating at times. Especially when it means the difference between single-payer and something not quite so market-busting.

But what makes Paul even more frustrating as a politician is that he doesn’t seem to want to admit that he’s a politician, playing principled outsider to the extent he has to change his mind, day to day, and with a blistering lack of rational motive.

If conservatives feel the frustration of Paul’s slippery moral stance, imagine how libertarians must feel. Their principled outsider is really just playing to his base, same as everyone else.

The post Don’t Mistake Rand Paul’s Political Move on Obamacare for Morality appeared first on RedState.

Source: Red State