By John Ruberry

Saturday night news broke–that has not yet been confirmed–that President-elect Donald Trump has chosen ExxonMobil chairman Rex Tillerson to be his secretary of state.

Predictably, the mainstream media is pouncing on this selection, zeroing in on his ties to Russia that go back to the Boris Yeltsin era. Russia of course is a major energy producer, it’s quite understandable that ExxonMobil would have a stake there. In 2013 Vladimir Putin honored Tillerson with its Order of Friendship.

This criticism folds neatly into the controversial CIA report that Russia tried to influence the presidential election, presumably to boost Trump. Of course the increasingly marginalized media is still trying to make sense of Hillary Clinton’s loss, even though the evidence is abundant and easy to understand.

On the campaign trail Trump promised to “drain the swamp” in Washington. And one way to do so is to bring in some outsiders, people like himself, to find a better way to run America.

On Fox News Sunday, in an interview where Trump told host Chris Wallace that he had yet to choose his secretary of state, the president-elect said of Tillerson, who has never worked in the public-sector, “In this case he’s much more than a businessman. He’s a world-class player.” Tillerson can point to decades of experience of negotiating deals with foreign governments, which is something his two predecessors did not have, unless you include Hillary Clinton’s shady doings at the Clinton Foundation.

John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven.

During the campaign Trump called the Iran nuclear deal “a disaster” and “the worst deal ever negotiated.” Alan Dershowitz, a liberal but a longtime defender of Israel, said of the Iran deal and the people who crafted it, “I wouldn’t hire this administration to negotiate a one-month lease for me.”

Nor would I.

It’s time for the amateurs and the Model United Nations role-players to exit Washington–the people have spoken. Trump values accomplishments. DC needs more men and women like Tillerson.

John Ruberry, who has never been employed by the private sector, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Yet one more instance of the Most Transparent Administration™ conducting itself in the era of Smart Diplomacy™: Launder $400 million in exchange for five hostages, refuse to call it a ransom, and then launder $1.3 billion more. Make sure it’s all in cash, à la Breaking Bad, load it in pallets, and fly it in, so you bypass the international banking system and Constitutional prohibitions.

The WSJ reports,
U.S. Transferred $1.3 Billion More in Cash to Iran After Initial Payment. First $400 million coincided with Iran’s release of American prisoners and was used as leverage, officials have acknowledged

The Obama administration followed up a planeload of $400 million in cash sent to Iran in January with two more such shipments in the next 19 days, totaling another $1.3 billion, according to congressional officials briefed by the U.S. State, Treasury and Justice departments.

The cash payments—made in Swiss francs, euros and other currencies—settled a decades-old dispute over a failed arms deal dating back to 1979.

On that arms deal, Stephen Green points out that

 The arms deal “failed” because the government we had signed it with ceased to exist, toppled by the Ayatollah Khomeini — whose supporters attacked the US Embassy in Tehran and took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.

To this day, Iran celebrates the anniversary of the Embassy attack with annual anti-U.S. rallies.

But back to the WSJ (emphasis added),

The Obama administration briefed lawmakers on Tuesday, telling them that two further portions of the $1.3 billion were transferred though Europe on Jan. 22 and Feb. 5. The payment “flowed in the same manner” as the original $400 million that an Iranian cargo plane picked up in Geneva, Switzerland, according to a congressional aide who took part in the briefing.

The $400 million was converted into non-U.S. currencies by the Swiss and Dutch central banks, according to U.S. and European officials.

The Treasury Department confirmed late Tuesday that the subsequent payments were also made in cash.

Must I remind you, Obama took to the airwaves last month and bare-faced lied to all, smirking,

“We announced these payments in January. Many months ago. Th-that wasn’t a secret; we announced them.”

Following the latest news,

Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) introduced legislation on Tuesday that would bar such payments to Iran in the future and seeks to reclaim the $1.7 billion for victims of Iranian-backed terrorism.

Good luck with that.

Last month Claudia Rosett reported that Treasury made thirteen equal payments of exactly $99,999,999.99 each to the State Department under the generic heading of settling “Foreign Claims.”

Rosett points to The Judgement Fund, which is used for bypassing the Constitution:

The Judgment Fund has long been a controversial vehicle for federal agencies to detour past one of the most pointed prohibitions in the Constitution: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”

The Judgment Fund, according to a Treasury Department Web site, is “a permanent, indefinite appropriation” used to pay monetary awards against U.S. government agencies in cases “where funds are not legally available to pay the award from the agency’s own appropriations.”

Rosett asks,

And why were the 13 payments in amounts of one cent less than $100,000,000?

Who knows? Is there a rule or procedure which specifies that all payments of $100 million or more are referred to an official that would not have been agreeable to the transfer?

What we do know is that the Obama administration has laundered money for the Ayatollahs.

Parting question: Does that constitute an impeachable offense?

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S, and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

carjack2by baldilocks

No one will do anything at all about the fact that the President of the United States took $400 million in cash, put it on a plane, sent it to Iran as ransom for American hostages, and did so without congressional approval, which is how all US Treasury transactions are supposed to be handled, according to the U.S. Constitution.

It is far from the first time that President Barack Obama violated or ignored the Separation of Powers outlined in the Constitution, and, of course, that’s the point. This president figured out a long time ago that he could get away with pretty much anything, and not have to suffer impeachment, censure, or even too much harsh language from the other two governmental branches or the long ago-hijacked Big Media.

Why not? Because, as we all know, it is no longer about what the purpose of the executive branch is, nor what its constraints are, but about who is doing the executing and the color of the skin of the executor.

Ours had become a nation of men rather than one of laws. Of course that was the intent all along of the Fundamental Transformation, was it not?

So now, the Executor can lift money from the Treasury, out in the open, arrange for money to be paid to an avowed enemy–ostensibly bowing to the terms of a set of kidnappers. All the other times it was people-for-people, this time it’s money-for-people

So now, those of us who have been watching this happen—watching the build-up of the mountain of lawlessness by this Administration are asking ourselves and each other the musical question: what’s next?

Because there are much worse things that this Administration can do. As a matter of fact, I’d wager that, by the time we get an answer to the question “what’s next,” the next Big Crime will already be done.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game (click on left sidebar image), was published in 2012. Her second novel will be done in 2016. Follow her on Twitter.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

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As I write this post, John Kirby, State Department spokesman, is on TV adamantly denying that it was a ransom:

The Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran, according to U.S. and European officials and congressional staff briefed on the operation afterward.

Looking at that sentence, again (emphasis added),

  1. The Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran
  2. coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran
  3. U.S. and European officials and congressional staff briefed on the operation afterward.

Double-dealing behind Congress’ back, the article goes on to describe that the Obama administration

procured the money from the central banks of the Netherlands and Switzerland

because it is illegal to do so in the U.S.,

The $400 million was paid in foreign currency because any transaction with Iran in U.S. dollars is illegal under U.S. law. Sanctions also complicate Tehran’s access to global banks.

So, on the one hand, last November Obama was saying “that ransoms should not be paid to terrorist organizations that are holding hostages,” while bypassing American banks in order to break the law.

By the way, Iran is calling it a ransom, and, in case you forgot, Iran is still in the State Sponsors of Terrorism list.

Omri Ceren, posting at PowerLine points to the predictable result of this further example of Obama’s “smart diplomacy”:

Iran has taken more hostages since the deal and now is looking for another ransom – Tehran went back to arresting American hostages after releasing the last round, and are now seeking another billion dollar deal in the last six months of the administration

At $100 million per American, which is the agreed price, they have only ten more to go.

Unfit to be president“, you say?

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S, and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

 

The Obama administration’s national security fabulist, Ben Rhodes, has

succeeded in remaking the Middle East to empower America’s most hated enemy, the only United Nations member state committed to the annihilation of another state: the theocratic Islamic Republic of Iran.

Among the so-called moderates Rhodes would name in his sales pitch was Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, the man who the late Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Nisman accused of being directly involved in planning the July 1994 terror attack on the AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires.

Rhodes’s revelation came from a New York Times interview that was published almost on the same day that Iran’s Brigadier General Ali Abdollahi declared that his country had successfully tested a medium-range (2,000 km, or 1,240 miles) ballistic missile for a clear purpose,

“The reason we designed our missiles with a range of 2,000 km is to be able to hit our enemy the Zionist regime from a safe distance,”

Today Ted Cruz writes of The Mullahs and Their Missiles,

To give credit where credit is due, the regime in Tehran has been frank and open about its continued hostility toward America and Israel. In the months since the Obama administration and the other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany (the group commonly referred to as the “P5 + 1”) concluded the deal with Iran called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Revolutionary Guards have tested at least four ballistic missiles. Flush with the $100 billion they claim to be getting in assets unfrozen under the deal, the mullahs have gone on a spending spree, finally purchasing, among other things, the Russian S-300 missile system, which is now being delivered to them.

Cruz states (emphasis added),

The mullahs’ policy is, by their own admission, unchanged. It is the same one that inspired the so-called revolutionaries of 1979 to take 52 Americans as hostages for 444 days, and motivated murderous attacks on Israelis and Americans from Buenos Aires to Beirut to Baghdad over the subsequent decades. The only thing that is changing now is the potential scale of this violence, as they seek to replace truck bombs and roadside explosive devices with the most destructive weapons on the planet and the means to deliver them.

The sensible thing to do now is to face this reality, however unpleasant it may be, and do what we can to bolster our defenses and those of our allies.

In this period where a President is pursuing a legacy no matter the cost, facing reality may be the toughest stance of all.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S, and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog. You can find her posts on Iran’s increasing presence in our hemisphere during the last decade here.

By John Ruberry

Unless you live outside America, you’ve seen the GEICO insurance television commercials with the tag line, “It’s what you do.” Such as this one about golf commentators whispering regardless of the situation.

Shortly before the Obama administration released over $100 billion in frozen assets to Iran, the mullahs released five Americans held there on trumped up charges.

Can you say “quid pro quo?” Can you say “hostages?”

Also part of the the hostage exchange was the release of seven Iranians who were imprisoned for violating our trade embargo with the theocracy.

“Empowering Iran with sanctions relief is like Neville Chamberlain writing a $150 billion check to Adolf Hitler before WWII hoping he’ll behave,” Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said shortly after the swap news became public. “This Iran deal is an insane disaster and this White House has lost its mind.”

I’m not so sure the White House lost its mind. President Obama and his oval office sycophants are leftists who believe America is too strong and it needs to be put in its place. That explains why on the day of his final State of the Union address President Obama not only didn’t mention the capture and video humiliation of ten US sailors by Iran in the Persian Gulf, but also his failure to condemn it at all.

John "Lee" Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven
John “Lee” Ruberry of the
Magnificent Seven

And to drive the point home, Obama’s poltroon secretary of state, John Kerry, thanked Iran for releasing the sailors that they shouldn’t have seized.

Our policy with Iran should be regime change. Then maybe Iran can drop their pastime of hostage taking.

Hat tip to Doug Ross for the GEICO inspiration.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

What passes for smart diplomacy these days: Foreign policy deals where the US gives in for nothing in exchange.

I have posted here and at my blog on the easement of sanctions with Cuba, which was preceded by the release of American hostage Alan Gross in exchange for five cuban spies. Gross was on 60 Minutes, and the takeaway from that interview will be lost on the Obama administration, but here it is all the same,

How regimes that coerce concessions are never satisfied. As we’ve seen throughout the year, no matter how many unconditional concessions and impunity President Obama grants the Castro regime, it simply emboldens it to want more. Repression, refugees and rogue activities are on the rise. That is the result of Obama’s coerced policy.

[Emboldened, indeed: Castro Government Orders Demolition of Five Christian Churches in Cuba]

Another deal in Havana, still in the making, is the FARC narco-terrorist group’s so-called peace negotiations with the government of Colombia. The White House’s envoy, Bernard Aronson, appears to be willing to rubber stamp an agreement, regardless of how much political or economic power it cedes to the FARC.

While the Cuban Communist regime and the FARC are emboldened,  both of those deals pale next to the no-deal Iran deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). By lifting sanctions, the U.S. is releasing $100 billion in oil-revenue assets frozen in banks.

To put that $100 billion number in perspective, the World Bank currently estimates Iran’s gross domestic product at $369 billion, down from last year’s $415 billion. The $100 billion is essentially a 27% raise, but Pres. Obama insists,

“We’re not writing Iran a check,” he said. “This is Iran’s money that we were able to block from them having access to.”

Now we find out that there’s nothing in writing:

“The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document,” wrote Julia Frifield, the State Department assistant secretary for legislative affairs, in the November 19 letter [to Representative Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.)].

Instead, it is a set of “political commitments.” Allahpundit looks at the bright side, briefly, of the “not-treaty-or-executive-agreement,”

So we’re lifting $100 billion in sanctions in exchange for a legally binding promise of … nothing. The flip side of that, I guess, is that the deal’s not binding on us either; if the next president or even Obama himself wants to reimpose sanctions on a whim, that’s fair game.

But,

The problem with that logic, though, is that no one believes our European partners, who crave renewed access to Iran’s markets (and vice versa), will reinstate sanctions unless Iran cheats flagrantly and egregiously on the deal, to the point where it would humiliate the EU internationally to look the other way. One of Iran’s core goals in all this, re-opening its trade relationship with Europe, will be achieved whether or not ion deal is binding. And once achieved, it’ll be nearly irreversible.

Guy Benson has more, much more on the deal, and he doesn’t even touch on the repercussions it may have for our hemisphere.

Back in Sam Goldwyn‘s days verbal a contract wasn’t worth the paper it’s written on. In our days of smart diplomacy, it’s worth $100 billion.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

Sept 2nd 2015 2:53 PM

Sept 2nd 2015 2:56 PM

Just remember, you pay Gwen Ifill’s salary.

Update: This is amusing:

When asked to clarify her tweet on Wednesday, Ifill defended herself and asked whether a Washington Free Beacon reporter was familiar with how Twitter works.

Gwen certainly knows how Twitter works, Iowahawk tweeted on her flawless analysis and Gwen blocked him.

Update 2: Ted Cruz proved right again

As townhall put it she’s not trying to hide it anymore.
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I know you can get the MSM for nothing, but that’s pretty much what they’re good for.

I just got this news alert,
Obama Clinches Vote to Secure Iran Nuclear Deal

Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland on Wednesday came out in support of President Obama’s Iran nuclear accord, the 34th Democrat in favor. Her vote assures the deal will be put in effect.

My initial reaction?

Victor Davis Hanson is more eloquent:
Appeasing Iran Ignores the Lessons of History

Third, appeasers always wrongly insist that the only alternative to their foolish concessions is war. Just the opposite is true.

Time was not on Iran’s side. Teheran was growing desperate for financial and commercial relief from global sanctions and embargoes. In contrast, the world had no such urgency and could have easily waited for a cash-strapped and ostracized Iran to give up on a bomb.

Read the whole article.

I disagree with VDH when he says “America is for a while longer out of Iranian missile range,” on how long “a while.” Iran, as I have been posting for nearly a decade, has a strategy on Latin America which does not hinge on developing nuclear bombs; you could actually make a case that its not developing a bomb is more dangerous for our hemisphere since it would free up even more money to pursue its military, ideological and terrorist activities.

How much money are we talking about? (emphasis added)

Now the Obama administration has agreed to phase out many economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for its promises to disable parts of its nuclear program. The deal provides for winding down international restrictions on trade and investment with Iran. It is also expected to gradually liberate more than $100 billion in Iranian assets frozen by the U.S. and other countries.

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Iran was worth 415.34 billion US dollars in 2014. The Obama deal is giving Iran a 25% raise.

And ponder, also, Iran’s location in Venezuela, where the late Hugo Chavez ceded a former shipyard to Iran. Just last June Iran granted a $500million line of credit to Venezuela; a new injection of funds will make things a lot worse in our hemisphere.

None of that matters to Obama, because The Deal Wasn’t About Iran’s Nukes

The administration readily caved on Iran’s nukes because it viewed the matter only as a timely pretense for achieving other cherished aims. These were: (1) preventing an Israeli attack on Iran; (2) transforming the United States into a more forgiving, less imposing power; (3) establishing diplomacy as a great American good in itself; (4) making Iran into a great regional power; and (5), ensuring the legacies of the president and secretary of state as men of vision and peace.

Indeed.

The Democrats own this deal, all of it.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

Last month at St. Anselm College Rick Santorum said this about the Iran Deal:

Here’s what I would say is that everybody who votes against this resolution and votes for the Iran deal, everybody who votes for the Iran deal owns everything Iran gonna do from this point forward. If you feel comfortable that this deal will do what the President says, you go and vote for it, but if you don’t if you know and I can’t imagine anyone whose watched Iran for any length of time knows Iran’s not going to keep this deal they’re going to pursue a nuclear weapon and they’ll probably be a nuclear power within in a very short period of time under this deal. You’re going to own that and you’re going to take responsibility for everything that happens.“

Yesterday in Hollis NH Ted Cruz put it more succinctly:

If this deal goes through the Obama Administration, quite literally become the World’s leading financier of Radical Islamic Terror

But with apologies to my two favorite candidates Senator Cruz and Senator Santorum I think even they can’t explain the danger as well as this video does:

Via the comments at Elder of Ziyon

This is likely why Debbie Wasserman Schultz was smart enough not to call for a formal vote supporting the president at the last Democrat confab It strikes too close to home.

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I know you can get the MSM for nothing, but that’s pretty much what they’re good for.