Links for 5-9-2015

  • The State Department reversed course and granted a visa to a Catholic nun, Sister Diana Momeka, so she could visit the U.S. and describe how Christians are being persecuted by ISIS.

  • The Department of Homeland Security informed Judge Andrew Hanen that it issued 2,000 three year work permits in violation of his injunction against President Obama’s latest amnesty.

  • The Department of Justice produced (at taxpayer expense) a nine minute video extolling the virtues and accomplishments of Eric Holder. Among those accomplishments is modernizing the DOJ’s “media guidelines,” which is apparently bureaucrat-speak for tapping reporters’ phones.

  • Kevin Williamson wrote a great article in response to Larry Lessig regarding the definition of corruption among public officials:

    For Professor Lessig and others who worry about the purportedly corrupting influence of private political spending, the challenge is to define “corruption” broadly enough to cover the things they dislike—things that were regulated or banned prior to Citizens United—but not so broadly as to complicate things of which they approve, such as the (fairly obviously corrupt) symbiosis between the Democratic party and public-sector labor unions.

    Later:

    With that in mind, the question presented by independent expenditures and the like is not: “What is corruption?” or even “What is legally actionable corruption?” It is: “What ought to be understood as legally actionable corruption in the context of private citizens spending money for the purpose of adding their voices and views to the political discourse?” (Let us keep in mind that the specific question in Citizens United was whether it should be a federal offense to show a film critical of Hillary Rodham Clinton without government permission.) The Supreme Court keeps repeating the same answer: So long as we have a First Amendment, the line of demarcation is quid pro quo bribery, not ickiness. The question of whether Mrs. Clinton has behaved in a corrupt fashion (short version: yes) is separate from the question of whether Mrs. Clinton has behaved in a criminal fashion (short answer: You’d need an honest DOJ to find out; good luck with that).

  • New reports from Harvard and Dartmouth indicate that the Social Security Administration’s actuaries have consistently overestimated the program’s financial health since 2000.

  • An Airbus A400M airplane undergoing an acceptance test flight crashed near the Seville, Spain airport, killing ten crew members.

  • Turkey and Saudi Arabia cut a deal to coordinate their efforts to topple Bashar al Assad’s government. The deal led to the creation of joint command center in Syria’s Idlib province, and the combined opposition forces are fighting more effectively than they were before. Unfortunately those forces include the al Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham, and other groups that many countries consider terrorists. This may become another instance where security problems get worse, not better, after a regime is overthrown.

  • The Gulf Cooperation Council invited French President François Hollande to its summit this week, the first such invitation extended to a Western leader. France has aligned its interests with those of Saudi Arabia and the other members of the GCC (filling the gap created by the Obama administration’s rapprochement with Iran), which has resulted in billions of dollars in French arms sales.