Links for 6-15-2015

  • Senator Bob Corker is shocked, shocked that President Obama is negotiating a bad nuclear deal with Iran. In that case Corker probably shouldn’t have sponsored the legislation that requires a two-thirds vote in the Senate to block the Iranian nuclear treaty. Allahpundit writes:

    I assume this is an elaborate form of “failure theater,” in which the GOP willingly capitulates to O while trying to make it look to their base like they put up a tough fight before being outmaneuvered. The more indignant Corker appears to be that Obama’s screwing up negotiations, the harder it’ll be convince Republicans who are barely paying attention to this that the party made this sellout possible by not insisting that the Iran deal be regarded as a treaty. If that’s not what Corker’s doing here then I can only assume he really is genuinely surprised to find that this deal may be worse than he feared, in which case he’s too much of a schmuck to be in the Senate. Which, given the usual standards of schmuckery there, is really saying something.

  • Stanley Kurtz uncovered video of a Brookings Institution event where advocates for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s forthcoming Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation talk among themselves and let the cat out of the bag:

    The June 1, 2015 Brookings event on “Place and Opportunity” was streamed on video by 30 officials at HUD and 9 officials from the Seattle Housing Authority, a national center of regionalist policies. The section of the video of particular interest comes in the form of a comment by event host, Brookings Fellow Richard Reeves, on remarks by panelist Margery Austin Turner. Turner, senior vice president for Program, Planning, and Management at the Urban Institute, is also a former deputy assistant secretary for research at HUD, and so (as Reeves points out) was addressing many of her former HUD colleagues online. What we’re seeing on video, then, is not an isolated opinion, but evidence of the state of mind of the core advocates and officials who shape the Obama administration’s housing policies.

    The key exchange comes between 1:21:08 and 1:23:59 on the video. In response to a question from Reeves about what “getting serious” about housing policy would mean, Turner cites AFFH, arguing that the rule could bring “incredibly important” changes to America. Slyly, she acknowledges that AFFH isn’t so much enforcing the original legal obligation to “affirmatively further fair housing,” as it is changing our understanding of what that obligation means. (In other words, AFFH is stretching a directive to prevent discrimination into a mandate for social engineering.) Turner then says that it would take decades for AFFH to fully transform society along the lines she desires. (I’d add that the rule won’t take nearly that long to gut local government in America.)

    What’s interesting is that when Turner finishes her discussion of AFFH by saying that the rule “sounds very obscure, but I think it could be hugely important,” Reeves breaks in and says: “Perhaps it’s important to keep [the AFFH rule] sounding obscure in order to get it through.” (In other words, to get the AFFH rule enacted before public opposition and congressional Republicans can block it, we’ve got to keep its existence and importance quiet.) At this point, the audience laughs sympathetically. Then Reeves adds: “Sometimes obscurity is the best political strategy, particularly in this area.”

  • Jeb Bush announced his campaign for president, and his first ad looks like a resurrection of compassionate conservatism.

  • Clayton Kelly, the blogger who broke into a nursing home and recorded video of Senator Thad Cochran’s wife, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison after pleading guilty. Cochran’s wife died in December, and Cochran married an aide last month.

  • A former CIA operative who ran a network of informants in Afghanistan claims that Bowe Bergdahl was high on hashish when he wandered off base and was captured.

  • The Magna Carta was signed 800 years ago today.

  • Firearm manufacturer Colt Defense filed for bankruptcy.

  • The city of Austin, Texas commissioned a report on the environmental effects of the single-use plastic bag ban it enacted in 2013. The report concluded that, on the whole, the ban was worse for the environment than the bags it outlawed.

  • The Kurdish YPG gained control of Tel Abyad, a Syrian town on the border with Turkey. The town was a major conduit for moving fighters, weapons, and oil to and from ISIS’ de facto capital, Raqqa.

  • Russia threatened an arms build-up if the U.S. stations heavy weapons in Eastern Europe.