Links for 1-18-2016

  • Kenneth Timmerman compiled a list of everything the Obama administration did for Iran over the weekend. The criminal cases that President Obama dropped are particularly troubling:

    Obama granted rare, pre-trial pardons to three of the men who were indicted earlier this year in Houston for illegally procuring high-tech equipment for Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. One of them, Bahram Mecanic, was a repeat offender, and had been busted twice before as an Iranian procurement agent.

    Obama commuted the sentences of three others who were already in jail, and ordered federal prosecutors in Vermont to drop charges against the seventh man, Nima Golestaneh, who was extradited from Turkey and pled guilty in December to hacking U.S. defense contractors to steal sensitive software.

    And it gets better. The U.S. also agreed to either drop prosecution or to revoke international arrest warrants, known as “Red Notices,” against another fourteen Iranians wanted for illegally procuring U.S. weapons spare parts or high technology for Iran’s missile and nuclear weapons programs.

    Because, as we now know, Iran has no intention of building nuclear weapons and their nuclear program is entirely peaceful. Obama told me so.

  • The Obama administration is campaigning against a bill under consideration by Israel’s Knesset that would require non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are principally funded by foreign governments to identify as foreign agents. One of Hillary Clinton’s emails that the State Department released is from retired ambassador Thomas Pickering, who suggested using leftist NGOs to destabilize Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and force a new round of Israeli/Palestinian talks. This probably wasn’t the only time such a tactic was discussed within the Obama administration, and it helps explain why the administration opposes requiring NGOs to disclose the sources of their funding.

  • In 2011 Hillary Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin turned down a suggestion by a senior State Department official that Clinton start using State’s official email server and Blackberry client hardware.

  • The Pentagon’s new strategy for fighting ISIS looks like it came out of a World War I history book rather than a special operations manual. The Baghdad government is an obstacle to success: “Meanwhile, Iraqi leaders have begun imposing restrictions on the size and scope of the U.S. military force in their country. Factions within Baghdad’s Shiite-led government are influenced by neighboring Iran and thus oppose expanding the American military mission there.” Turkey isn’t helping either: “The Islamic State’s lifeline to the outside world — for money, weapons and people — runs through Turkey’s porous southern border.”

  • Joy Pullmann writes that James O’Keefe’s new Common Core undercover videos are only the tip of the Common Core iceberg. She describes how big government created a highly regulated curriculum/textbook market that only three large publishers compete in, which produces the expected outcome: “When companies can earn money not by producing good things people want to buy but by influencing politicians to tilt the playing field in their favor, quality drastically suffers.”

  • Walter Russell Mead wrote an excellent article on the emergence of Jacksonian populism:

    From immigration policy, touted as ending the era when American whites were the population of the United States, to gun policy and to regulatory policy, President Obama and his coalition aim to crush what Jacksonians love, empower what they fear, and exalt what they hate.

    Later:

    The secure working class wages that underpinned two generations of rising affluence for the white (and minority) industrial working class have disappeared. That isn’t just about money; the coherence of Jacksonian communities and family life has been seriously impaired. These are the points Charles Murray makes in his harrowing Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010; they have been recently reinforced by studies documenting a holocaust of lower and lower middle class whites.

    These devastating changes, utterly ignored by an upper middle class intellectual and cultural establishment that not so secretly hopes for a demographic change in America that will finally marginalize uncredentialed white people once and for all, make Jacksonians angry and frustrated, but they also make it harder to develop an organized political strategy in response to some of the worst and most dangerous conditions faced by any major American demographic group today.

    Mead concludes with this:

    Jacksonian America has lost all confidence in the will or the ability of the political establishment to fight the threats it sees abroad and at home. It wants what it has always wanted: to take its future into its own hands.

    The biggest story in American politics today is this: Andrew Jackson is mad as hell, and he’s not going to take it anymore.

  • Rogue Afghan policemen murdered nine of their colleagues, stole their weapons, and joined the Taliban.

  • Middle Eastern stock markets dropped sharply after the U.S. and other countries dropped sanctions against Iran. Iran plans to export 500,000 barrels of oil a day, which will won’t help the price of oil in an oversupplied market.

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sued the leader of the CHP political party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, for implying that he is a dictator. Insulting Turkey’s president is a crime punishable by four years in prison.