Opinion Outpost August 12

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Evan McMullin’s presidential bid

On August 8, Evan McMullin announced he is running as an independent for president. McMullin, 40, may not be well known, but it’s hard to imagine a more establishment resume.

McMullin’s late entry might represent conservatives backing away from Gary Johnson, the Libertarian nominee. He’s tried to court Republicans who can’t stand to vote for Trump, even bringing on former Massachusetts GOP Governor Bill Weld as a running mate. But Johnson’s freewheeling style and peculiar comments about religious freedom seem to have dampened any movement toward him on the right.

— David A. Graham

The Atlantic

 

Enter Evan McMullin, the former CIA staffer and GOP policy wonk, running for the presidency on a Never Trump ticket. This mystery man doesn’t stand a chance.

Why, then, is McMullin running? Why don’t “Never Trump” people just rally around Gary Johnson and the Libertarian ticket?

The answer to that one is simple. Very few conservatives are philosophical libertarians.

Within a wider movement that increasingly feels morally compromised by its willingness to work with Trump, it’s no wonder that a man of McMullin’s faith chooses to take a stand.

— Timothy Stanley

CNN

 

The #NeverTrump movement has unequivocally lost. But Evan McMullin’s bid for the presidency … isn’t as crazy as it may seem.

A June poll has Clinton trailing Trump by just three points (in Utah). That means that if Clinton manages to win Utah’s six electoral votes, Trump could win Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio and still lose the election.

McMullin undoubtedly does not want to help Hillary Clinton get elected. He does want to keep Trump from getting elected, however, and if one is the consequence of the other, he can presumably live with that. And for many anti-Trumpers, his is also a project to give them a respectable, conservative option to vote for.

— S. E. Cupp

Chicago Sun Times

 

When Evan McMullin announced that he would challenge Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in their quest for the White House, the 40-year-old former CIA operative quickly learned what third-party freakers could have told him decades ago: Running for president isn’t something that you can wake up one morning and just do.

Getting on even one state ballot is a signature-gathering, deadline-maneuvering pain in the posterior. This latest #NeverTrump fantasy had already missed the boat in 26 states, and that number will likely increase to 34 by the end of the week.

Better luck next time, Evan McMullin.

— Matt Welch

Los Angeles Times

 

$400 million to Iran

Early this year, an unmarked airplane flew to Iran, its belly filled with … $400 million … to the Iranian government. At almost exactly the same time, Iranian security operatives released four American prisoners, including The Washington Post’s Jason Rezaian.

Despite Obama administration denials, the transaction looks very much like a ransom, adding one more disturbing layer to what was already a troubling and secretive agreement, and ensuring that relations with Iran, and the agreement over its nuclear program, will remain near the top of the agenda for the next president.

— Frida Ghitis

CNN

 

The recriminations over whether (the $400 million) was or wasn’t a ransom payment likely will subside. What remains important:

  • Iran took (innocent) Americans as de facto hostages.
  • The $400 million that the U.S. paid … is a pittance compared with the frozen billions released to Iran in the nuclear deal, and the billions more that could flow into Iran’s economy as Western companies return there.

Today, Iran is struggling to find financing … (and) has taken yet more Americans captive in recent months, demand(ing) the release of another $2 billion.

— Editorial Board

Chicago Tribune

 

The payment was not a ransom but rather part of a settlement agreement that the United States reached with Iran for claims arising out of the 1979 Iranian revolution.

All of this information has been publicly available since January. All that is new is last week’s disclosure that part of the payment was transferred in cash — due to U.S. government restrictions on making wire transfers to Iran.

The payment, then, reflects the United States’ commitment to respect the rule of law, keep our promises, and pursue peace and accountability under international law.

— Allen S. Weiner, Duncan Pickard

The Washington Post

 

How come the U.S. did not simply transfer the $400 million we are told actually belonged to Iran to a foreign entity, to be converted into foreign funds for conventional banking transmission to Tehran? That would have permitted the U.S. to keep track of how Iran spent the money, at least to some extent.

Notably, there is a federal statute that bars the transfer of “monetary instruments” with the intent to promote “specified unlawful activity.” (A category that would include terrorism.)

So we have here the spectacle of the state engaging in conduct that would expose a private citizen to the risk of jail.

— Michael B. Mukasey

The Wall Street Journal

 

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