Landmark?! Buck Sexton and Stu weigh in on the Iran nuclear deal

On Tuesday, the headlines screamed a landmark deal has been reached on an Iran nuclear program. Everyone is confident that this deal will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The world is praising the arduous Iran nuclear talks as a historic agreement. The only thing this deal is going to be remembered for is supporting the anecdote, this period of American weakness in future history books.

Stu: Here to give us the latest on why the Iranian deal is not the happy rainbow sunshine agreement the media wants you to believe is our own Buck Sexton. Buck, welcome to the program.

Buck: Good to see you, Stu.

Stu: Am I wrong in this? You’re not exactly, I would say, the guy who’s going to shine some happy rainbows on a situation like this, but is there anything positive to take from this agreement?

Buck: I’d like to think that I’m always about happy rainbows, Stu, but no, there’s nothing really positive to say about the agreement from the perspective of what this will do to the Iranian nuclear program. Look, from the Obama administration’s perspective, it’s great because there’s no way that they will be—first of all, he’s not going to be held accountable. He’s not running for election again, and by the time the pitfalls of the deal—it’s very intricate.

I read through the text of it today. It deals with all kinds of things, banking sanctions and trade, and it even specifies that Iran can export pistachios, rugs, and caviar to the US if certain stipulations are met, so there’s a tremendous amount of specificity, which obviously means there’s a lot of room for kind of maneuvering and quibbling and well, what does this subsection really mean? Then you get the place of well, what does a violation really look like? What’s enough of a violation for there to be the snapback sanctions supposedly coming back into place?

By the time we figure all that out, Stu, the Obama administration will be done, and it will be some other president in office. The claim will be of course that well, it’s just because of what that new president, whoever it is or whoever she is, is going to be doing about this situation, not that President Obama signed this in the first place. From a legacy perspective, it’s a huge win. From a we don’t want to see a thermonuclear Middle East that’s pointing missiles at each other, it’s a really bad deal.

Stu: Well, first of all, I’m very excited for some Iranian pistachio ice cream which is on the way very soon. That’s going to be pretty exciting. At least that’s one upside of this deal. I think from that perspective, you have a situation where the United States has a standing in the world where we’re supposed to be, I guess at least at the very least good actors, positive actors in calming things down. I know we get criticized for this all the time, but here’s a situation where it seems like legacy-wise, these peace agreements live completely separate from the reality they create. Like Jimmy Carter is praised for a historic peace deal, but we haven’t seen peace since that peace deal.

Arafat gets Nobel Peace Prizes. These things aren’t realistic, and so you can see the motivation of why Obama would chase after this and make what looks like a terrible deal.

Buck: No, I think that this was all set up to be exactly this, this moment in time when the administration, by the way, can really rewrite the history in a sense or at least sort of change the way historians will view and will talk about the Obama administration’s foreign policy which has been—we all hear terms like a legacy of failure, but it’s really stark with the Obama administration how bad it’s been, whether it’s the Russian reset or the pivot to Asia, red lines in Syria with chemical weapons, preventing genocide, by the way, in Syria.

President Obama stood at the Holocaust Museum in 2012 and was saying never again and had this whole range of policy options we would deploy to make sure that exactly what is happening now in Syria and Iraq, specifically in the Christian communities there as well as other religious minorities, would not happen again. It is happening. The president is too busy with other things.

So, when you talk about peace, we’re not right now recognizing that Iran has been at war really with the US for a number of years, and the Iranian regime hasn’t changed one bit. They haven’t changed their willingness to engage in support to terrorism. In fact, we’re pulling off the conventional restraints over a period of either five or eight years, depending on what part of the deal. It’s five for sort of conventional munitions, eight for ballistic missile technology.

That was originally, Stu, never even in the picture. The idea that now we’re going to say not only are we going to allow you and sort of bless your nuclear program, but on top of that, yeah, the Russian arms bazaar, go for it, see what you can pick up there. Whatever China will sell you, that’s also yours to keep. This is a disaster.

Stu: Yeah.

Buck: The only thing that you could sort of tell yourself makes this a little better, Stu, or tell oneself that this is better is that a president in the future will have the option of taking action. Okay, well, they’ll have the option of taking action against a very rich, completely re-armed, nuclear-capable Iranian country with 70 million people in it. I mean, that’s not an easy option.

Stu: You’re totally right. This is what, I think, it destroys the entire argument that this is a good deal is what you just brought up, which is the way they’re describing it in the media is every single step we can watch them, and if they break one of these clauses, we can bring the sanctions back, which okay, let’s say a different president might try that or whatever. First of all, when the punishment is the status quo, the situation they already had, I don’t what the negative is for them because there’s no punishment. It’s not worse than they used to have it, it’s just the same as they used to have it. But beyond that—

Buck: This is exactly right.

Stu: Beyond that, though, you’re going to have a situation where they’re going to be a wealthier nation if we were to try to do this. Plus you have other countries that have to be on board with us. If those countries, like Russia, who’s getting all the money from the conventional weapons, decides hey, we don’t want to be part of the new sanctions again, the whole thing falls apart.

Buck: Yeah, snapback sanctions are a fantasy, and every objective observer, including observers of sort of foreign policy, foreign policy analysts that tend to be sort of Democrat in their leadings and pro-Obama are like look, snapback sanctions are just not going to happen. Once you open up the markets to China, Russia, and other countries, European countries. Look at what happened with oil for food in the UN and Saddam. That’s the other part of this, Stu. We’ve sort of been to this dance before. We know how this all turns out. There were supposed to be immediate, on-the-spot inspections in Iraq, and we were supposed to prevent them from doing all this. The reality is that at what point does the agreement kick into a real punishment for certain violations?

The Iranians are going to claim at every turn—look at how much it took just to get to this point of the negotiations, right? The Iranians will say well, that’s not a real violation, or we’ll deal with that, or we’ll get back to you in 30 days or whatever it may be, and at no point are we going to be willing to say well, now we’re going to walk away from this deal entirely unless they just brazenly go for nukes, and at that point it will be too late.

So, the idea that, and you got on this in the beginning, Stu, that we’re going to punish them with sanctions, well, we were punishing them with sanctions, and President Obama said well, let’s stop doing that and talk a little bit. And now we think that we’re going to get them to change their behavior with the threat of sanctions when they didn’t change their behavior in the first place because of the initial sanctions.

We have rested no concession from Iran. The entire program continues on more or less as is. They mothball some things, they send away some spent fuel. They keep the whole infrastructure, even the illegal nuclear facility they had, even the heavy water facility. They keep everything. What is the hard concession they make?

Stu: Yeah, I think it’s what, in eight years they’re able to potentially acquire advanced nuclear technologies that observers believe they could turn into a bomb in weeks, and that’s only eight years away. Again, that’s eight years of us supposedly catching them. You know, Buck, that as soon as they do something wrong, which they will, and they will violate this agreement and they will probably get caught, what we will say is look, yeah, we could bring sanctions back, but that would blow up this historic deal, so we can’t do it.

Buck: Of course, so it puts us in constraints automatically. By the way, the former head of the IAEA, International Atomic Energy Agency, said that if at this point in time—this was a few months ago, but if at that point in time the Iranians didn’t have an illegal nuclear program meant specifically for military purpose, it will be the first time in 20 years, okay? So, we’re assuming also on top of all this that without pre-inspections, by the way, which we have not had that somehow we’ll be able to do a full accounting of everything. I mean, we’ve walked away from so much of what was initially held by the Obama administration, by the Obama administration, to be sacrosanct here.

They would have to come clean on the whole previous program, what they were doing up to this point, all the military uses and that we weren’t going to keep conventional sanctions or put those on the table as well for all of this. There’s so much that we’ve essentially caved on. When you look at what you really get in this agreement, it’s just really an agreement to continue to talk and get in this back-and-forth with the Iranians.

Ultimately all this boils down to, do you believe the Iranians are going to change their behavior, that the inherent nature of the regime is going to be something different in five or ten years? I think the answer is no. And do you think that at some point they’re going to go nuclear, and they want nuclear weapons? I think the answer is yes. I think everything else is kind of just getting into the details of the agreement without really looking at what’s at stake.

Stu: Yeah, and of course you could just see what kind of agreement it was for us by the people celebrating it, Assad and Iran and Russia. It’s plain as day. Buck, you know this stuff better than anybody, and you really do boil down into the nooks and crannies of this. I was kind of interested to see today the world reaction to it, which was overwhelmingly positive. Now, of course, the world looks at this as saying good, America got screwed essentially. That’s probably the way they’re looking at it.

I was listening to the BBC this morning, and they had, first of all, a guest on who was claiming the only reason there will be any opposition to this at all is because of the high finance of the Jews in the American media, which I thought was a tad anti-Semitic, especially if they ranted on for about ten minutes. But then they had a guy on from the Likud party, who said look, we are keeping all options on the table here.

The woman on the BBC screamed at him and said what do you mean you’re keeping all options on the table? Why is it that you are not interested in peace, a supposed journalist? To which he responded look, we are in a situation where we need to be able to defend ourselves if we feel threatened, and she screamed at him and said you are not under threat from Iran, period.

Buck: Rouhani, who’s the moderate, apparently, in Iran, that’s how they describe him—it’s sort of like saying the Muslim Brotherhood is moderate in comparison to Al Qaeda, but Rouhani, who’s a relative moderate here, was tweeting out today that it’s good that the world—this is sort of a paraphrase, but it’s good that the world didn’t believe the lies of the Zionist entity, which is of course aggressive on many levels, including the fact that they refuse to acknowledge that there is this country called Israel that is a United Nations member, and the rest of the international community accepts as such, at least a lot of it accepts as such. Not all countries do, obviously, but the Iranians continue to have this sort of bellicose rhetoric.

What we’ve done though is really boxed the Israelis in. We had the Iranians boxed in. Let’s just make that very clear. Their currency was in freefall. Their economy was being strangled. There was opposition to this sclerotic evil regime on the streets of Tehran from the beginning of the Obama administration, by the way. So, there was already a sort of jumpstart.

He didn’t touch that. He didn’t want to get involved. This was back in 2009, 2010. He didn’t want to do anything about that, but now what we’ve seen is President Obama has pulled the constraints off of Iran to get this deal. He went into this saying anything to get a deal is what we’re going to do, which is never how you want to negotiate. The Israelis are now the ones who are constrained because if they do, and I think when they say all options are on the table, they are serious about it. If they do something against the regime, if they go after nuclear sites in Iran, they will be in flagrant violation of this huge, wonderful agreement that’s going to create peace throughout the Middle East, and the Iranians don’t want any bad blood. They don’t want anything like that at all.

The Israelis will have to deal with the fallout from that, and that will include the entire Muslim world. It will conclude all the Europeans. It will include a whole bunch of countries, and it’s because of this deal. The Israelis would literally have to think that Iran is about to go nuclear, has gone nuclear, and they must strike now or else they are in peril for the survival of their state. Otherwise, they won’t strike.

Stu: Israel having to deal with the fallout is a very good way of putting that, Buck, because that is kind of what we’re actually looking at here in this particular situation.

Buck: A double entendre, unfortunately, yeah.

Stu: Let’s go back to the domestic side of this for a second. There is of course this hope. I know Iran has a supreme leader. They can do whatever they want. There is this hope that Congress could theoretically act and stop this, but to me, looking at it on its face, I mean, they might block the bill, but they’re not going to be able to override this veto. Is that how you’re reading this?

Buck: Yeah, I think that this is going to go through. I think the president would veto it without the number of votes needed to override. They’re not going to get to that number. Look, what’s the most important thing to Democrats in the House and the Senate at this point? Really the legacy of the Obama administration but really the legacy of the Democratic Party, and they’re trying to sort of show themselves as we’re the party that doesn’t go to war. We’re the party that gets deals done and figures it out through diplomacy, and so they won’t undercut the administration. Despite the fact that there has been a lot of bipartisan criticism of this, I can’t see the Democrats coming along with Republicans in large enough numbers to override a presidential veto on this.

I think we’re probably stuck with it, and yet again, here we are Republicans have the House and the Senate, and it feels like nothing has changed since the last election. I’m still waiting for them to do something, to put something even in front of President Obama, even if he were to veto it, we say well, at least they’re moving the ball down the field and they’re getting the conversation going in this country.

On this issue, yeah, there are some voices that I think have done a pretty good job of outlining why this Obama deal—I mean, the president was hell-bent on getting this done. There was nothing that was going to prevent this. You cannot go into a negotiation that way. They gave away the store. I mean, Stu, this was an exercise that I did before today with another friend who’s an expert on national security. I said find me the painful concession. What is the thing that the Iranians had to say, “Okay, I guess we’ll do that”? Get access to $100 billion in frozen funds? Stop spinning some of the centrifuges they’re allowed to keep?

This is preposterous on its face, but again, for domestic political reasons, it’s going to be celebrated as a huge victory. This shows us that President Obama is the international relations genius that the left in this country has been holding him up to be despite all of the problems of the past. This will wipe all of that away. Hope and change, there you go.

Stu: There you go. Buck Sexton, great insight, man. It’s an amazing day. It’s an amazing day. Thanks for coming on.

Buck: Stu, it’s amazing, all right. Thanks.

Stu: I was actually seeing the BBC was mentioning what they thought that big concession was, which was that they will disclose what they have done in the past as far as what they’ve done with nuclear weapons development. Wow, we get a tall tale about what they used to do with nuclear weapons. What a win, Obama! What a win!

On Wednesday's TV show, Glenn Beck sat down with radio show host, author, political commentator, and film critic, Michael Medved.

Michael had an interesting prediction for the 2020 election outcome: a brokered convention by the DNC will usher in former First Lady Michelle Obama to run against President Donald Trump.

Watch the video below to hear why he's making this surprising forecast:

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On Thursday's "Glenn Beck Radio Program," BlazeTV's White House correspondent Jon Miller described the current situation in Virginia after Gov. Ralph Northam (D) declared a state of emergency and banned people carrying guns at Capitol Square just days before a pro-Second-Amendment rally scheduled on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Jon told Glenn that Gov. Northam and the Virginia Legislature are "trying to deprive the people of their Second Amendment rights" but the citizens of Virginia are "rising up" to defend their constitutional rights.

"I do think this is the flashpoint," Jon said. "They [Virginia lawmakers] are saying, 'You cannot exercise your rights ... and instead of trying to de-escalate the situation, we are putting pressure. We're trying to escalate it and we're trying to enrage the citizenry even more'."

Glenn noted how Gov. Northam initially blamed the threat of violence from Antifa for his decision to ban weapons but quickly changed his narrative to blame "white supremacists" to vilify the people who are standing up for the Second Amendment and the Constitution.

"What he's doing is, he's making all all the law-abiding citizens of Virginia into white supremacists," Glenn said.

"Sadly, that's exactly right," Jon replied. "And I think he knows exactly what he's doing."

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Ryan: Trump Louisiana Finale

Photo by Jim Dale

Part One. Part Two. Part Three.

At the end of Trump rallies, I would throw on my Carhartt jacket, sneak out of the press area, then blend in with everyone as they left, filing out through swinging doors.

Often, someone held the door open for me. Just 30 minutes earlier, the same person had most likely had most likely hissed at me for being a journalist. And now they were Sunday smiles and "Oh, yes, thank you, sir" like some redneck concierge.

People flooded out of the arena with the stupidity of a fire drill mishap, desperate to survive.

The air smacked you as soon as you crossed the threshold, back into Louisiana. And the lawn was a wasteland of camping chairs and coolers and shopping bags and to-go containers and soda cans and articles of clothing and even a few tents.

In Monroe, in the dark, the Trump supporters bobbled over mounds of waste like elephants trying to tiptoe. And the trash was as neutral to them as concrete or grass. They plodded over it because it, an object, had somehow gotten in their way.

It did not matter that they were responsible for this wreckage.Out in the sharp-edged moonlight, rally-goers hooted and yapped and boogied and danced, and the bbq food truck was all smoke and paper plates.

They were even more pumped than they had been before the rally, like 6,000 eight year olds who'd been chugging Mountain Dew for hours. Which made Donald Trump the father, the trooper, God of the Underworld, Mr. Elite, Sheriff on high horse, the AR-15 sticker of the family.

Ritualistic mayhem, all at once. And, there in Louisiana, Trump's supporters had gotten a taste of it. They were all so happy. It bordered on rage.

Still, I could not imagine their view of America. Worse, after a day of strange hostilities, I did not care.

My highest priority, my job as a reporter, was to care. To understand them and the world that they inhabit. But I did not give a damn and I never wanted to come back.

Worst of all, I would be back. In less than a week.

Was this how dogs felt on the 4th of July? Hunched in a corner while everyone else gets drunk and launches wailing light into the sky? configurations of blue and red and white.

It was 10:00 p.m. and we'd been traveling since 11:00 a.m., and we still had 5 hours to go and all I wanted was a home, my home, any home, just not here, in the cold sweat of this nowhere. Grey-mangled sky. No evidence of planes or satellites or any proof of modern-day. Just century-old bridges that trains shuffled over one clack at a time.

And casinos, all spangles and neon like the 1960s in Las Vegas. Kitchy and dumb, too tacky for lighthearted gambling. And only in the nicer cities, like Shreveport, which is not nice at all.

And swamp. Black water that rarely shimmered. Inhabited by gadflies and leeches and not one single fish that was pretty.

Full of alligators, and other killing types. The storks gnawing on frogs, the vultures never hungry. The coyotes with nobody to stop them and so much land to themselves. The roaches in the wild, like tiny wildebeests.

Then, the occasional deer carcass on the side of the road, eyes splayed as if distracted, tongue out, relaxed but empty. The diseased willows like skeletons in hairnets. The owls that never quit staring. A million facets of wilderness that would outlive us all.

Because Nature has poise. It thrives and is original.

Because silence is impossible. Even in an anechoic chamber, perfectly soundproofed, you can hear your own heartbeat, steady as a drum. A never-ending war.

I put "Headache" by Grouper on repeat as we glided west. We were deadlocked to asphalt, rubber over tarface.

And I thought about lines from a Rita Dove poem titled "I have been a stranger in a strange land"

He was off cataloging the universe, probably,
pretending he could organize
what was clearly someone else's chaos.

Wasn't that exactly what I was doing? Looking for an impossible answer, examining every single accident, eager for meaning? telling myself, "If it happens and matters the next year, in America, I want to be there, or to know what it means. I owe it to whoever cares to listen."

Humans are collectors and I had gone overboard.

Because maybe this wasn't even my home. These landmarks, what did they mean? Was I obvious here? When I smiled, did I trick them into believing that I felt some vague sense of approval? Or did my expressions betray me?

Out in all that garbage-streaked emptiness — despite the occasional burst of passing halogen — I couldn't tell if everything we encountered was haunted or just old, derelict, broken, useless. One never-ending landfill.

Around those parts, they'd made everything into junk. Homes. Roads. Glass. Nature. Life itself, they made into junk.

I cringed as we passed yet another deer carcass mounded on the side of the road.

As written in Job 35:11,

Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds in the sky?

Nobody. Look at nature and you feel something powerful. Look at an animal, in all of its untamable majesty, and you capture a deep love, all swept up in the power of creation. But, here, all I saw were poor creatures who people had slammed into and kept driving. Driving to where? For what reason? What exactly was so important that they left a trail of dead animals behind them?

So I crossed myself dolorously and said an "Our Father" and recited a stanza from Charles Bukowski's "The Laughing Heart"

you can't beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.

Out here, nothing but darkness. Needing some light, by God. Give me something better than a Moon that hides like an underfed coward.

Jade told me about some of the more traumatic things she'd seen while working at the State Fair.

"Bro, they pull roaches out of the iced lemonade jugs and act like nothing happened."

"All right but what about the corn dogs?"

"You do not want to know, little bro."

She looked around in the quiet. "Back in the day, the Louisiana Congress refused to raise the drinking age from 18 to 21," she said. "They didn't want to lose all that drunk gambler money. So the federal government cut off funding to highways."

We glided through moon-pale landscape for an hour before I realized what she had meant. That there weren't any light poles or billboards along the road. Nothing to guide us or distract us. Just us, alone. And it felt like outer space had collapsed, swallowed us like jellybeans.

Like two teenagers playing a prank on the universe.

In the cozy Subaru Crosstrek, in the old wild night, brimming with the uncertainty of life and the nonchalance of failure, we paraded ourselves back to Dallas. Alive in the river silence that follows us everywhere.

New installments come Mondays and Thursdays. Next, the Iowa caucuses. Check out my Twitter. Email me at kryan@blazemedia.com

The Iowa primary is just around the corner, and concerns of election interference from the last presidential election still loom. Back in 2016, The Associated Press found that a majority of U.S. elections systems still use Windows 7 as an operating system, making them highly susceptible to bugs and errors. And last year, a Mississippi voter tried multiple times to vote for the candidate of his choice, but the system continuously switched his vote to the other candidate. It's pretty clear: America's voting systems desperately need an update.

That's where blockchain voting comes in.

Blockchain voting is a record-keeping system that's 100% verifiable and nearly impossible to hack. Blockchain, the newest innovation in cybersecurity, is set to grow into a $20 billion industry by 2025. Its genius is in its decentralized nature, distributing information throughout a network of computers, requiring would-be hackers to infiltrate a much larger system. Infiltrating multiple access points spread across many computers requires a significant amount of computing power, which often costs more than hackers expect to get in return.

Blockchain voting wouldn't allow for many weak spots. For instance, Voatz, arguably the leading mobile voting platform, requires a person to take a picture of their government-issued ID and a picture of themselves before voting (a feature, of course, not present in vote-by-mail, where the only form of identity verification is a handwritten signature, which is easily forgeable). Voters select their choices and hit submit. They then receive an immediate receipt of their choices via email, another security feature not present in vote-by-mail, or even in-person voting. And because the system operates on blockchain technology, it's nearly impossible to tamper with.

Votes are then tabulated, and the election results are published, providing a paper trail, which is a top priority for elections security experts.

The benefits of blockchain voting can't be dismissed. Folks can cast their vote from the comfort of their homes, offices, etc., vastly increasing the number of people who can participate in the electoral process. Two to three-hour lines at polling places, which often deter voters, would become significantly diminished.

Even outside of the voting increase, the upsides are manifold. Thanks to the photo identification requirements, voter fraud—whether real or merely suspected—would be eliminated. The environment would win, too, since we'd no longer be wasting paper on mail-in ballots. Moreover, the financial burden on election offices would be alleviated, because there's decreased staff time spent on the election, saving the taxpayer money.

From Oregon to West Virginia, elections offices have already implemented blockchain voting, and the results have been highly positive. For example, the city of Denver utilized mobile voting for overseas voters in their 2019 municipal elections. The system was secure and free of technical errors, and participants reported that it was very user-friendly. Utah County used the same system for their 2019 primary and general elections. An independent audit revealed that every vote that was cast on the app was counted and counted correctly. These successful test cases are laying the groundwork for even larger expansions of the program in 2020.

With this vital switch, our elections become significantly more secure, accurate, and efficient. But right now, our election infrastructure is a sitting duck for manipulation. Our current lack of election integrity undermines the results of both local and national elections, fans the flames of partisanship, and zaps voter confidence in the democratic system. While there's never a silver bullet or quick fix to those kinds of things, blockchain voting would push us much closer to a solution than anything else.

Chris Harelson is the Executive Director at Prosperity Council and a Young Voices contributor.