- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2015

Press and pundits continue to tip and sway over the news that a preliminary deal has at last emerged from the Iran nuclear talks. But is it a done deal? Republican lawmakers are not buying it. “Allowing Iran to retain thousands of centrifuges, keeping facilities such as Fordow open and not limiting Iran’s ballistic missile program indicate to me that this deal is a colossal mistake,” says Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. “This attempt to spin diplomatic failure as a success is just the latest example of this administration’s farcical approach to Iran.”

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul was just as blunt: “The Obama administration’s efforts to get a deal at any cost will have a greater cost than the world can bear. Iranian leaders will now find a nuclear weapon dangerously within reach. Even during these recent negotiations, Iranians have continued to chant ‘Death to America.’ When people show you who they are, it’s important to believe them the first time. If this deal moves forward, the consequences for the U.S. and our allies in the region will be dire.”

One Tennessee Republican advises the nation stay calm and carry on.

“We must remain clear-eyed regarding Iran’s continued resistance to concessions, long history of covert nuclear weapons-related activities, support of terrorism, and its current role in destabilizing the region,” says Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“If a final agreement is reached, the American people, through their elected representatives, must have the opportunity to weigh in to ensure the deal truly can eliminate the threat of Iran’s nuclear program and hold the regime accountable. Rather than bypass Congress and head straight to the U.N. Security Council as planned, the administration first should seek the input of the American people,” Mr. Corker suggests.

“The key question is: Can Iran be trusted?” adds Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress. “I fear a scenario in which, in 10 years, we will have resuscitated the Iranian economy without curbing Iran’s nuclear arms development.”

V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N

Just another disconcerting cultural moment to consider, this from Jeryl Bier. The sharp-eyed Weekly Standard reporter reveals that when former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton spent a New Year’s Eve holiday in the Dominican Republic some four months ago, it cost taxpayers at least $104,093. That covers the hotel bill alone for the Secret Service team that accompanied the couple. Mr. Bier discovered this while scanning a copy of a publicly accessible State Department bill, which detailed the cost of “HOTEL FOR US SECRET SERVICE (FPOTUS/FFLOTUS CLINTON,” all in capital letters and acronyms — short for former president of the United States and former first lady of the United States.

“President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are no longer broke if their choice of holiday destinations is any indication,” Mr. Bier observes.

THE EASTER FACTOR

Some cheerful numbers to consider this weekend: 80 percent of Americans will celebrate Easter, providing a $16.4 billion bump to the economy. The average celebrant will spend $141 on candy, food, flowers, decorations, gifts and apparel, according to the National Retail Federation. Yes, there’s a poll. On Easter Sunday, 58 percent will gather with friends and family, 54 percent will cook a holiday feast, 51 percent will go to church and 42 percent will watch TV, 31 percent will stage an Easter egg hunt and 15 percent plan to go out to eat. Just 3 percent will “do nothing.”

And in an unrelated matter, two-thirds of Americans prefer solid chocolate bunnies to the hollow kind, and 89 percent eat the ears first. Some 81 percent of parents admit snitching candy from their child’s Easter basket — all this according to the National Confectioners Association.

REAGAN ON PASSOVER AND EASTER

From the vaults, here’s Ronald Reagan’s message to the nation, April 2, 1983:

“This week as American families draw together in worship, we join with millions upon millions of others around the world also celebrating the traditions of their faiths. During these days, at least, regardless of nationality, religion, or race, we are united by faith in God, and the barriers between us seem less significant. Observing the rites of Passover and Easter, we’re linked in time to the ancient origins of our values and to the unborn generations who will still celebrate them long after we’re gone. This is a time of hope and peace, when our spirits are filled and lifted. It’s a time when we give thanks for our blessings — chief among them, freedom, peace, and the promise of eternal life.”

“This week Jewish families and friends have been celebrating Passover, a tradition rich in symbolism and meaning. Its observance reminds all of us that the struggle for freedom and the battle against oppression waged by Jews since ancient times is one shared by people everywhere. And Christians have been commemorating the last momentous days leading to the crucifixion of Jesus 1,950 years ago. Tomorrow, as morning spreads around the planet, we’ll celebrate the triumph of life over death, the Resurrection of Jesus. Both observances tell of sacrifice and pain but also of hope and triumph.”

O’REILLY’S JESUS

A programming note: Fox News Channel presents the film “Killing Jesus” twice over the Easter weekend. Based on the best-selling book by the primetime host Bill O’Reilly and produced by Mr. O’Reilly along with Ridley Scott, David Zucker and Mary Liso, the three-hour film drew the largest audience in history for the National Geographic Channel when it was first presented on the network last month.

“The story chronicles the life and murder of one of the most influential young revolutionaries, Jesus of Nazareth,” notes an analyst. The film features Kelsey Grammar as King Herod, Haaz Sleiman as Jesus and Stephen Moyer as Pontius Pilate, and documents the political and social upheavals leading up to the death of Jesus. It will air from 8-11 p.m. ET on Friday and Sunday.

WEEKEND REAL ESTATE

For sale: The Lawrence House, built in 1875 in Menlo, Georgia at the foot of Lookout Mountain. Romantic Gothic Revival style, four bedrooms, two baths on two acres; renovated baths and kitchen with steel appliances, hardwood floors, formal living and dining rooms. Four stone chimneys, fireplaces with period stone mantels, original woodwork and millwork, sitting porch, garage, shop, well-house, garden shed. Extensive landscaping, state champion holly tree. “Property in excellent condition.”

Priced at $179,000 through GeorgiaTrust.org; check under Properties for Sale heading, “Endangered Properties.”

POLL DU JOUR

58 percent of registered U.S. voters are now thinking about 2016 presidential candidates; 61 percent of Republicans, 58 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of independents agree.

52 percent of voters overall prefer a presidential candidate who is able to compromise; 35 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of independents agree.

50 percent prefer a candidate with experience and a proven record; 59 percent of Republicans, 46 percent of Democrats and 47 percent of independents agree.

48 percent prefer a candidate with new ideas and a different approach; 33 percent of Republicans, 58 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of independents agree.

41 percent prefer candidates who sticks to their core values; 57 percent of Republicans, 31 percent of Democrats and 37 percent of independents agree.

Source: A Pew Research Center poll of 1,097 registered U.S. voters conducted March 25-29.

• Have a nice Passover and Easter weekend; thank you for reading Inside the Beltway.

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