Links for 11-17-2015

  • Bobby Jindal suspended his presidential campaign.

  • Walter Russell Mead hammers President Obama’s cynical Syrian refugee ploy:

    Obama’s own policy decisions—allowing Assad to convert peaceful demonstrations into an increasingly ugly civil war, refusing to declare safe havens and no fly zones—were instrumental in creating the Syrian refugee crisis. This crisis is in large part the direct consequence of President Obama’s decision to stand aside and watch Syria burn. For him to try and use a derisory and symbolic program to allow 10,000 refugees into the United States in order to posture as more caring than those evil Jacksonian rednecks out in the benighted sticks is one of the most cynical, cold-blooded, and nastily divisive moves an American President has made in a long time.

    Later:

    For no one, other than the Butcher Assad and the unspeakable al-Baghdadi, is as responsible for the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria as is President Obama. No one has committed more sins of omission, no one has so ruthlessly sacrificed the well-being of Syria’s people for his own ends, as the man in the White House. In all the world, only President Obama had the ability to do anything significant to prevent this catastrophe; in all the world no one turned his back so coldly and resolutely on the suffering Syrians as the man who sits in the White House today—a man who is now lecturing his fellow citizens on what he insists is their moral inferiority before his own high self-esteem.

    From the standpoint of American interests and of the well being of the Syrians, the primary responsibility that the United States has toward the people of Syria is not to offer asylum to something like 0.25 percent of its refugee population. The primary duty of this country was to prevent such a disaster from happening and, failing that, to support in-country safe havens and relief operations. No doubt President Obama and the unthinking press zealots who applaud his every move prefer a conversation about why ordinary Americans are racist xenophobes to one about why President Obama’s Syria policy has created an immense and still expanding disaster.

  • Aaron MacLean criticizes President Obama’s performance at a press conference following the G20 meeting in Turkey:

    Pair this observation with the fact that today, in a flat, disdainful tone of voice, he opined that critics may not like his approach because he doesn’t grow performatively emotional when he talks about terrorism, only then to grow visibly passionate when he got around to condemning Republicans, and you realize that the only challenge Obama really cares about is defeating his domestic opposition. Terrorism presents an obstacle mostly insofar as it empowers conservatives and hawks. He has a vision for the future, of a United States that is no longer the primary enforcer of world order, but a responsible partner among other nations combating a wide array of challenges, most critically climate change. He has accepted as a risk that the citizens of Paris, or of Washington, might be murdered in large numbers as he sees his strategy through.

  • Syrian Christians are less likely to be admitted to the U.S. as refugees than Syrian Muslims, despite the fact they’re facing a genocide. The U.S. relies on the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees for referrals, and Syrian Christians are reluctant to register with the U.N. for fear of political and sectarian reprisals.

  • Officials from the Office of Personnel Management, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Office of Management and Budget abruptly cancelled testimony before the House Armed Services Committee. They were supposed to discuss China’s hacking of OPM databases. Their excuse for cancelling was that their testimony would be on the record.

  • The head of the Secret Service apologized for his employees who illegally accessed and publicized Congressman Jason Chaffetz’s job application. Unfortunately the agents who did it are getting a slap on the wrist – between three and twelve days on suspension.

  • The Clinton Foundation re-filed six years of tax returns with the IRS, in part to correct errors related to donations from foreign governments.

  • Vermont’s state government runs an email reflector where regulators from several states discuss how to limit the political speech of conservative groups. Sadly, people from the Texas Ethics Commission participate.

  • Victor Davis Hanson thinks universities have gone feral:

    Crony capitalism is a favorite charge against duplicitous corporations that use insider knowledge and friendships to leverage favors from government, both to profit inordinately and to stifle competition. But even the croniest of capitalists could not match the university Ponzi scheme of having the government guarantee student loans, which in turn guarantee that rising tuition will be paid in full without audit, even as the cost soars above the rate of inflation — all on the wink-and-nod expectation that millions of students will subsequently default and the government will cover the huge tab. How could a university admissions officer in good conscience extend a “package” of $100,000 to $200,000 in student loans over a four- or five-year stint on campus, with the full knowledge that it would be almost impossible for an unemployed or partly employed graduate to pay back what he had borrowed?

    Later:

    Unfortunately 21st-century American college graduates are the least educated in a century. Declining test scores illustrate this. Grade inflation and a therapeutic curriculum reflect it. The furor over implementation of BA exit exams suggests it. And employers lament it.

    Universities went feral and broke their social contract. If campuses can no longer educate students, then why should they be exempt from the norms that the rest of the population must follow?

    Campuses claim they are left-wing, but in fact they are no-wing: just fascist, authoritarian, infantile — and incompetent.

  • The president of Baylor University, Ken Starr, thinks college students are too immature to handle concealed carry.

  • Russia finally concluded that the Metrojet plane that crashed in Sinai was brought down by a bomb. The FSB is offering a $50 million reward for information leading to the bombers. Egyptian authorities detained two ground operations employees at Sharm al-Sheikh airport for questioning.

  • Reuters researched how Iraqi Kurdistan manages to sell oil despite opposition from the central government in Baghdad. Israel buys some of their oil, and they disguise their oil’s origin by transferring it among tankers at sea. They’ve also used decoy tankers.

  • Turkey cancelled a $3.4 billion contract with a Chinese company to build a long-range missile defense system. Other NATO members suggested to Turkey that perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to bring in a Chinese company.

  • Secretary of State John Kerry says the U.S. and Turkey will soon launch an operation to secure the last bit of the border between Turkey and Syria. Turkey claims 75% of the border is already sealed, with 61 miles still to go.

  • Israel’s government shut down a political party with connections to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood because it has been inciting violence.