Links for 7-29-2015

  • In one night the mainstream media’s evening news broadcasts devoted more time to the demise of one lion in Zimbabwe than they’ve spent covering the Planned Parenthood videos from the Center for Medical Progress since the videos started appearing on July 14.

  • Abby Johnson told the Texas Senate’s Committee on Health and Human Services that Planned Parenthood of Houston makes $120,000 a month selling baby parts.

  • Katie Geary explains how Planned Parenthood may have violated federal law when it collected and sold baby parts.

  • Secretary of State John Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the Obama administration won’t submit the Iranian nuclear deal to the Senate as a treaty because “you can’t pass a treaty anymore,” which is telling.

  • “The Iran deal is Obama’s Yalta.”

  • There’s a two month gap in the Hillary Clinton emails produced thus far by the State Department – May and June of 2012, which corresponds to a time of increasing violence in Libya. This period also coincides with a special arrangement where Huma Abedin worked simultaneously for the State Department and the Clinton Foundation.

  • Democrat Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA) and four of his close associates were indicted on federal racketeering charges: “The charges covered several schemes to conceal payments to various sources by allegedly creating sham contracts, passing money through other companies and, in one case, disguising a lobbyist’s bribe as payment for a car he never sold. In another case, Fattah allegedly settled a campaign debt by trying to help a consultant win millions in federal aid.”

  • A federal district court judge threatened to hold the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Justice attorneys in contempt for failing to provide status reports about the recovery of Lois Lerner’s emails. The IRS was supposed to start delivering Lerner’s emails on a weekly basis beginning on July 1, but only started delivering those emails on July 15.

  • Ben Domenech wrote a long indictment of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:

    Let’s rewind to contrast the approaches used by McConnell and by the leader of the conservative faction, Mike Lee. This session has been a revelation for Lee’s approach, as the lone Tea Party Senator actually interested in being a Senator, and he followed up rolling McConnell over the USA Freedom Act with a doozy of an inside game maneuver. It was Lee who noticed that McConnell bungled his procedural step in filling the tree on the Highway Bill, and had the ingenuity to decide to make McConnell’s fake show vote on Obamacare repeal – a shiny object so bright it would turn you blind if you looked directly at it – into a real honest to goodness Obamacare repeal vote. Lee has been pressing for this 51-threshold vote on Obamacare for months, with the argument that Republicans campaigned on it and voters expect it, and Republican Senators were promised it when they voted for the budget resolution. This was awfully inconvenient.


    The really disturbing part of this whole story is asking the question: Why? What was the point of all of this? This was a fight of McConnell’s choosing, not of the conservative faction of the Senate. By his own decision to resurrect ExIm and fill the tree on his misbegotten Highway Bill, he plunged the conference into a week of hell. And what did he get for it? He alienated the fiscal conservative base on ExIm, invited the scorching Cruz speech, bungled the procedural process creating Lee’s opportunity, tried to use a mild email from a female staffer to claim this was another show fight, and then in the last instant caved utterly, acquiescing to Lee’s demand… all for what? To jam the House with a Highway Bill that the body has treated like a bevy of Calvins urinating on the back windows of so many pickup trucks.

    Later still:

    What’s worse still is that McConnell doesn’t appear to have learned any lessons from this fight about the danger of show votes on issues people actually care about – such as the Planned Parenthood issue. If Republican leadership believes that a show vote is going to preclude a continuing resolution fight on Planned Parenthood funding, they are out of their minds. The politics of the Planned Parenthood videos – footage that has been shown unblurred all day on Fox News, footage of dismembered hands and limbs and bits of babies being discussed like a widget – are going to totally overwhelm any legislative strategy. The demand from pro-life groups is going to be simple and clear: will you vote for a CR that continues to fund Planned Parenthood, or not? To get a CR through that affirmatively funds Planned Parenthood for the next fiscal year, McConnell will have to get to 60 – he will have to find sixteen Republican Senators willing to fund Planned Parenthood. Maybe it would’ve been smarter to have that fight over, say, a Highway Bill versus a government shutdown? But no.

    At a time like this, Republicans could use someone in leadership that knows how to turn the base’s rage into something productive. Mitch McConnell just proved he’s not that person, and he never will be. And that is going to make this coming CR fight all the more difficult.

  • John Boehner won’t allow a floor vote on the Mark Meadows’ resolution to oust him as Speaker of the House. Apparently Boehner has been taking tyranny lessons from the White House.

  • The Koch brothers are refusing to give Donald Trump’s campaign access to voter data and analytics services from their company, i360. Trump is a friend of David Koch and many of Trump’s campaign employees formerly worked for Koch organizations, but the brothers apparently decided Trump will not be the Republican candidate for president if they have anything to say about it. i360’s voter databases are widely believed to be better than the Republican party’s databases, so this is a real problem for Trump if he’s going to win.

  • Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore is the 17th Republican candidate for president.

  • Richard Samuelson writes that “Toleration is Postmodern-Speak for Bigotry”: “As the scope of American law has grown, the areas of conflict between the rights of conscience and the demands of law have increased considerably… Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans, particularly in our elite and governing classes, who hold that religions (perhaps only non-Progressive religions) are a barbarous relic of a bygone age has increased considerably. Hence they refuse to recognize the rights of conscience. What is called a ‘culture war’ might be better understood as the problems that come with the creation of a postmodern religious establishment. Seen from this angle, we can recognize that what is called a ”culture war“ might be better understood as the problems that come with the creation of a postmodern religious establishment—an establishment that takes on most of the roles of the old establishments, yet defines its beliefs, conveniently, as ”not religion.“ The result is that it feels free to impinge on the rights of conscience in the name of ”toleration“ and ”diversity.“ Meanwhile, since national government has taken up the police power (the authority to regulate health, safety, and morals), a power that even Alexander Hamilton denied belonged to the federal government, it exacerbates the conflict.”

  • The city of Los Angeles banned possession of gun magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.

  • Afghanistan’s main intelligence agency claims that the head of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Omar, died in a Karachi hospital in April 2013. Mullah Omar has been declared dead on several previous occasions, so there’s room for doubt. If Mullah Omar is dead, it could be a boon for ISIS.

  • An Israeli air strike in the Golan Heights killed a Hezbollah member, Samir Kuntar, who was infamous for beating a four year old Israeli to death during a raid.

Links for 7-28-2015

Links for 7-27-2015

  • Ted Cruz explains what happened in the Senate yesterday. Every Republican senator except Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul has left himself open to an attack ad that reads like this:

    On July 14, 2015, the Center for Medical Progress started releasing YouTube videos providing indisputable evidence that Planned Parenthood sells the organs of aborted babies. Planned Parenthood has received billions of tax dollars from the federal government over the course of decades that frees up funds that it uses to perform abortions and sell the body parts of innocent human beings. On July 26, 2015, Senator TwoFace had the opportunity to vote to finally end federal funding of Planned Parenthood and stop federal collusion with Planned Parenthood’s despicable practices. Senator TwoFace, who told you during the during the last election cycle that he’s pro-life, bravely stepped forward at this crucial moment and did…absolutely nothing. Instead of voting to end federal funding of Planned Parenthood, Senator TwoFace followed orders from Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democrat Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and did nothing. Your tax dollars are still funding an organization that sells baby parts. Does Senator TwoFace represent you, or Planned Parenthood, Mitch McConnell, and Harry Reid?

    The best part about that hypothetical ad? It’s true.

  • Ben Domenech explains why the Republican Party exists:

    The Senate Republicans have in the space of a few short months dramatically undercut their ability to be considered serious on national security, fiscal conservative, and social conservative priorities. And for what? What is worth cutting all three flimsy legs of the stool shorter? Surely it has to be something worthwhile – avoiding a government shutdown, or repealing Obamacare? Surely it must be about achieving some greater legislative goal or laying the groundwork for taking the White House in 2016?

    Well, actually, the aim is to pass a Highway Bill. It is a thousand page tax and pork-laden monstrosity which does not deserve to pass in the first place, and whose failure would be greeted as a positive development for any fiscal conservative. For conservatives, the Highway Bill is a bad thing that could be the vehicle for something politically useful. For Republicans, this is not the case. The passage of a Planned Parenthood defunding amendment would set up a direct conflict with the White House over the issue, and undercut McConnell’s priority of passing a Highway Bill with an Ex-Im resurrection attached to it – two things that are not a priority at all for Republican voters, mind you, but for the corporatist constituency the Republican Party actually serves, are near the top of the list.

    And that is why the Republican Party exists.

  • David Harsanyi offers an explanation for why self-identified Republicans disapprove of the Republican Party in larger and larger numbers:

    Setting aside presidential politics for a moment, three issues have filled the conservative ether the past few weeks: The administration’s pact abetting Iran’s efforts to become a threshold nuclear power, Planned Parenthood’s organ harvesting controversy, and, to a lesser extent, the renewal of the Export-Import bank. None of these are hobbyhorses of the wild fringe. They’re issues—ostensibly, at least—that are core issues of the modern GOP. And on all three, the GOP has, though it has plenty of leverage to raise a stink, capitulated. In fact, it has probably put more effort into evading confrontation than its standard response of pretending to court it.

  • Angelo Codevilla’s thoughts on why Donald Trump is so popular:

    The point here is simple: our ruling class has succeeded in ruling not by reason or persuasion, never mind integrity, but by occupying society’s commanding heights, by imposing itself and its ever-changing appetites on the rest of us. It has coopted or intimidated potential opponents by denying the legitimacy of opposition. Donald Trump, haplessness and clownishness notwithstanding, has shown how easily this regime may be threatened just by refusing to be intimidated.

    Having failed to destroy Trump, Republicans and Democrats are left to hope that he will self-destruct as Perot did. Indeed, Trump has hardly scratched the surface and may not be able to do more than that. Yet our rulers know the list of things divide them from the American people is long. They want to avoid like the plague any and all arguments on the substance of those things. They fear the rise of an un-intimidated leader more graceful and precise than Trump, someone whose vision is fuller but who is even more passionate in championing the many resentments the voicing of just a few channeled so much support to Trump.

    Codevilla concludes with this:

    Habitually, our ruling class tries to intimidate its opponents by calling them “haters” (“racists,” etc. is part of the all too familiar litany.) A statesman worthy of the title would respond that calling people such names is the very opposite of civility, never mind love. Such a leader would trump our rulers.

    Donald Trump is not such a person.

  • Someone hacked Planned Parenthood’s computers.

  • Roger Simon wrote a good summary of the Iranian nuclear deal:

    The Iranians made no concessions, only our side did, and we (especially the State Department) have lied continually to the American people about the extent of our concessions, most of which are hidden from view in side letters. But even if that weren’t so — and it is — the basics are clear. We have given Iran a pathway to a plutonium bomb while entirely gutting any possible inspections regime. We did this by abandoning the promised anytime/anywhere inspections for some bureaucratic mishmash that will take anywhere from 24 days to a year (depending on whom you ask) and by collapsing on the so-called PMDs (possible military dimensions) of Iran’s previous nuclear program, so there is no way to prove what is new and what is not in the first place. And to top it off, we have given the Iranians a signing bonus of 150 billion that, no doubt, will be used to finance either the Tehran branch of the Little Sisters of the Poor or another skillion mid-range missiles for Hezbollah. You decide.

  • The Washington Post published an account of how Congressman Mike Pompeo and Senator Tom Cotton discovered the side agreements to the Iranian nuclear deal by happenstance.

  • One of the Wisconsin “John Doe” whistleblowers, Michael Lutz, committed suicide Sunday morning.

  • The Obama administration and Turkey’s government plan to establish an ISIS-free zone in Syria along the border with Turkey, which would alleviate the problem of Syrian refugees flooding into Turkey. Observers have suggested that the Obama administration accepted Turkey’s bombing of PKK sites in northern Iraq as the price for cooperation against ISIS; the State Department claims this isn’t so:

    U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby disputed suggestions that Washington had condoned Turkey’s strikes on the PKK as a quid pro quo for Ankara’s expanded cooperation against Islamic State. He described the timing as a “coincidence”.

    “PKK is a foreign terrorist organization, Turks have a right to defend themselves against it,” Kirby said.

    “There’s no connection between what they did against PKK and what we’re going to try to do together against ISIL,” he said.

    It’s a “coincidence.” If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.

Links for 7-26-2015

Links for 7-25-2015

Links for 7-24-2015

  • Senator Mitch McConnell filled the amendment tree for the highway bill with one amendment: one that reauthorizes the Export-Import Bank. Ted Cruz let McConnell have it with both barrels in a floor speech, calling him a liar:

  • Brian Darling explains the procedural tactics that Ted Cruz is employing to remove the Export-Import Bank amendment from the highway bill.

  • An illustration of Ted Cruz’s point about the influence of K Street lobbyists: The Chamber of Commerce is planning to primary conservative House incumbents.

  • Somewhat surprising: The New York Times published an exclusive story stating that two inspectors general asked the Department of Justice to initiate an investigation into whether Hillary Clinton mishandled classified information by using a private email server. Not surprising: The New York Times edited the story after its initial publication at the request of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Clinton’s personal lawyer, David Kendall, reportedly has a flash drive containing 30,000 of Clinton’s emails; presumably these are the same emails Clinton turned over to the State Department – in printed form.

  • Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz says a new DOJ memo blocks inspector general access to sensitive records.

  • A federal appeals court tossed one of two state felony charges against Rick Perry. Special prosecutor Michael McCrum charged Perry with coercion of a public servant by threatening a veto; the federal appeals court ruled that the charge violated Perry’s First Amendment rights.

  • Congressional Democrats are pushing a federal anti-discrimination bill called “The Equality Act.” It amends the 1964 Civil Rights Act to add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the list of protected classes. Andrew Walker writes:

    The bill’s stated intentions and its actual consequences are very different. While the bill purports to protect individuals from discrimination, the Equality Act would discriminate against those who do not agree with a regime of laws premised on sexually permissive understandings of human nature that deny sexual complementarity. It would thus create a new form of discrimination by socially isolating certain beliefs.


    To complicate matters, the bill goes out of its way to strip away any notion of religious liberty by audaciously stipulating that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) cannot be appealed to by individuals, businesses, educational institutions, or religious institutions.

    Were this bill to become law, traditional Christian, Jewish, and Muslim sexual morality would immediately be treated as suspect and contrary to federal law. This breathtaking attempt to relocate historic religious belief outside the bounds of polite culture is unacceptable and would have negative consequences for millions of Americans.

  • Matthew Continetti describes the “radical middle” voters who support Donald Trump:

    These voters don’t give a whit about corporate tax reform or TPP or the capital gains rate or the fate of Uber, they make a distinction between deserved benefits like Social Security and Medicare and undeserved ones like welfare and food stamps, their patriotism is real and nationalistic and skeptical of foreign entanglement, they wept on 9/11, they want America to be strong, dominant, confident, the America of their youth, their young adulthood, the America of 40 or 30 or even 20 years ago. They do not speak in the cadences or dialect of New York or Washington, their thoughts can be garbled, easily dismissed, or impugned, they are not members of a designated victim group and thus lack moral standing in the eyes of the media, but still they deserve as much attention and sympathy as any of our fellow citizens, still they vote.

    What the radical middle has seen in recent years has not given them reason to be confident in our government, our political system, our legion of politicians clambering up the professional ladder office to office. Two inconclusive wars, a financial crisis, recession, and weak recovery, government failure from Katrina to the TSA to the launch of Obamacare to the federal background check system, an unelected and unaccountable managerial bureaucracy that targets grassroots organizations and makes law through diktat, race riots and Ebola and judicial overreach. And through it all, as constant as the northern star, a myopic drive on the part of leaders in both parties to enact a “comprehensive immigration reform” that would incentivize illegal immigration and increase legal immigration despite public opposition.

  • The Zetas drug cartel was responsible for forcing down a Border Patrol helicopter last month – cartel members were returning to Mexico after delivering a drug load and shot at the helicopter with automatic weapons after they were discovered.

  • Health insurance company Anthem is acquiring its competitor Cigna for $54.2 billion.

  • Claire Berlinski explains the interplay between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ambition, Turkey’s hung government, past secret Turkish aid to ISIS, the failed Kurdish peace process, and new cooperation between the U.S. and Turkey to fight ISIS. Erdoğan is creating circumstances that will enable him to call another general election that he hopes will restore his political party’s majority in parliament.

  • Turkish planes are bombing Iraq – PKK camps in northern Iraq, not ISIS positions.

  • The U.S. killed a senior al Qaeda leader, Abu Khalil al Sudani, in an airstrike in Afghanistan’s Paktia province.

Links for 7-23-2015