Links for 5-7-2016

  • A Marine Corps AV–8B Harrier crashed just off the coast of North Carolina. The pilot ejected and was rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter.

  • Andrew McCarthy wants to see a conservative independent run for president, in part because it would help draw conservatives to the polls in November and increase the odds of Republicans retaining control of the Senate and House of Representatives:

    A credible campaign by a third candidate would give anti-Trump Republicans a reason to come to the polls. That is why it must be a bid by an independent Republican, not just a third-party run. The Libertarian and Constitution parties have some commendable elements, but they part company with conservative Republicans in salient ways and would not attract many disgruntled GOP voters. An independent conservative Republican bid could conceivably attract enough support to win states and, crucially, help elect conservative Republicans in down-ballot congressional races.

    While getting to 270 electoral votes is very unlikely, the independent bid could prevent other candidates from getting to 270. If the election is decided by the House, Trump or the independent Republican could win, but Clinton would not. Meantime, the independent bid could increase the chance of maintaining a Congress that could thwart a President Clinton or keep a President Trump in check.

  • Donald Trump has been lying about having recent “really nice conversations” with Marco Rubio, a claim that led to vice president speculation that Rubio has swatted down.

  • The Libertarian Party could have a big year if it nominates Austin Petersen for president instead of Gary Johnson.

  • The New York Times Magazine profile of President Obama’s alter ego, Ben Rhodes, is worth reading, if only to understand how the White House falsely sold the Iran deal:

    Rhodes’s innovative campaign to sell the Iran deal is likely to be a model for how future administrations explain foreign policy to Congress and the public. The way in which most Americans have heard the story of the Iran deal presented — that the Obama administration began seriously engaging with Iranian officials in 2013 in order to take advantage of a new political reality in Iran, which came about because of elections that brought moderates to power in that country — was largely manufactured for the purpose for selling the deal. Even where the particulars of that story are true, the implications that readers and viewers are encouraged to take away from those particulars are often misleading or false.


    The president set out the timeline himself in his speech announcing the nuclear deal on July 14, 2015: “Today, after two years of negotiations, the United States, together with our international partners, has achieved something that decades of animosity has not.” While the president’s statement was technically accurate — there had in fact been two years of formal negotiations leading up to the signing of the J.C.P.O.A. — it was also actively misleading, because the most meaningful part of the negotiations with Iran had begun in mid–2012, many months before Rouhani and the “moderate” camp were chosen in an election among candidates handpicked by Iran’s supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The idea that there was a new reality in Iran was politically useful to the Obama administration. By obtaining broad public currency for the thought that there was a significant split in the regime, and that the administration was reaching out to moderate-minded Iranians who wanted peaceful relations with their neighbors and with America, Obama was able to evade what might have otherwise been a divisive but clarifying debate over the actual policy choices that his administration was making.

    Rhodes on the mechanics of selling the deal:

    “We created an echo chamber,” he admitted, when I asked him to explain the onslaught of freshly minted experts cheerleading for the deal. “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”

    When I suggested that all this dark metafictional play seemed a bit removed from rational debate over America’s future role in the world, Rhodes nodded. “In the absence of rational discourse, we are going to discourse the [expletive] out of this,” he said. “We had test drives to know who was going to be able to carry our message effectively, and how to use outside groups like Ploughshares, the Iran Project and whomever else. So we knew the tactics that worked.” He is proud of the way he sold the Iran deal. “We drove them crazy,” he said of the deal’s opponents.

  • The American mining industry has lost 191,000 jobs since September 2014, the most recent employment peak.

  • Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore was suspended by the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission for ordering state probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. Moore says the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission has no authority over administrative orders issued to probate judges, so he’s contesting the suspension.

  • A Turkish court sentenced two prominent journalists to five years in prison for publishing a report showing a Turkish intelligence agency shipping weapons to Syrian rebels. The journalists were convicted of “divulging state secrets” but were acquitted of charges of espionage and conspiring to topple the government. There was an assassination attempt on one of the journalists outside the courthouse, hours before sentencing.

  • An Egyptian court recommended the death penalty for six people — including three journalists — for leaking state secrets and documents to Qatar. The journalists — two from Al Jazeera and one from a pro-Muslim Brotherhood news network — were sentenced in absentia.

  • A green-on-blue attack near Kandahar killed two Romanian soldiers and injured a third. This was the first green-on-blue attack in more than a year.

  • Saudi Arabia’s King Salman reshuffled his cabinet, including replacing the oil minister and the central bank governor.

  • The Labour Party’s Sadiq Khan was elected mayor of London with 57% of the vote, ending eight years of Tory control.