Links for 6-30-2016

Links for 6-29-2016

  • Cause of Action is still digging into the IRS targeting scandal, and they’ve uncovered clear evidence that Lois Lerner violated federal law when she turned taxpayer records over to the Department of Justice. Eliana Johnson writes:

    The transfer of information at Lerner’s request came to light during a congressional investigation in 2014. What we know now, thanks to additional documents unearthed in years-long litigation by the good-government group Cause of Action, is that Lerner almost certainly broke the law when she transferred the documents. That casts a new light on the Justice Department’s decision last year not to prosecute Lerner, who had become the face of the IRS’s ham-handed effort to crack down on right-leaning groups, but against whom a criminal case might have been difficult to build.

  • Stephen Dinan writes that the Benghazi report is an illustration of Congress’ inability to oversee the executive branch:

    Despite repeated subpoenas and official requests for interviews or documents, the committee said the State Department obfuscated, the Defense Department misled, the CIA stalled, and President Obama himself refused to cooperate, prolonging the congressional probe and leaving investigators without the information they needed.

    Officials also repeatedly agreed to turn over information to Congress only if lawmakers treated it as classified, even though the administration had never made a formal determination that the information needed to be kept secret, the probe concluded.

    And there was little Congress could do to press its case, said Republicans on the Select Committee on Benghazi, who said Capitol Hill should change the laws to punish officials who refuse to cooperate with official probes.

  • Darryl Glenn won Colorado’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate; he was endorsed by Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, among others. Glenn will face incumbent Michael Bennet in November.

  • There’s another reason Donald Trump won’t release his tax returns: He has virtually no record of recent charitable giving – other than the $1 million for veterans that the media badgered him into coughing up.

  • Last month a Russian Federal Security Service officer on guard outside the U.S. embassy in Moscow beat up an American diplomat:

    This previously unreported attack occurred just steps from the entrance to the U.S. Embassy complex, which is located in the Presnensky District in Moscow’s city center. After being tackled by the FSB guard, the diplomat suffered a broken shoulder, among other injuries. He was eventually able to enter the embassy and was then flown out of Russia to receive urgent medical attention, administration officials confirmed to me. He remains outside of Russia.

  • Someone – most likely ISIS – detonated a car bomb in the Kurdish-held Syrian town of Tel Abyad, killing at least five people.

  • Marine Le Pen predicts what’s likely to happen after the Brexit vote:

    Brexit may not have been the first cry of hope, but it may be the people’s first real victory. The British have presented the union with a dilemma it will have a hard time getting out of. Either it allows Britain to sail away quietly and thus runs the risk of setting a precedent: The political and economic success of a country that left the European Union would be clear evidence of the union’s noxiousness. Or, like a sore loser, the union makes the British pay for their departure by every means possible and thus exposes the tyrannical nature of its power. Common sense points toward the former option. I have a feeling Brussels will choose the latter.

  • Under a consent decree Volkswagen will spend $10 billion to fix or buy cars with its emissions test-cheating diesel engine. The federal government and California are extracting another $4.7 billion from the company for pet projects:

    Under the Justice Department deal, VW will provide $2 billion over 10 years to fund programs directed by California and EPA to promote construction of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, development of zero-emission ride-sharing fleets and other efforts to boost sales of cars that do not burn petroleum.

    VW also agreed to put up $2.7 billion over three years to enable government and tribal agencies to replace old buses or to fund infrastructure to reduce diesel emissions.

    There’s also a $600 million settlement with 44 other U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Links for 6-28-2016

Links for 6-27-2016

  • The U.S. Supreme Court voted 5–3 to overturn aspects of a Texas abortion law, stating that requiring abortion clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers and requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital amounts to an “undue burden.” Of course the court decided this case in its capacity as National Medical Board, one of eight points in Clarence Thomas’ dissent called out by Bre Payton. The most important point in Thomas’ dissent comes at the end:

    Today’s decision will prompt some to claim victory, just as it will stiffen opponents’ will to object. But the entire Nation has lost something essential. The majority’s embrace of a jurisprudence of rights-specific exceptions and balancing tests is “a regrettable concession of defeat—an acknowledgement that we have passed the point where ‘law,’ properly speaking, has any further application.”

    In Kevin Williamson’s less elevated language, it’s all Calvinball – the left wing of the court wanted a particular outcome and spewed words onto paper to arrive at that outcome, the law (or logic) be damned. Given this, it’s stupid for right wingers to consider whether a conservative nominee to the Supreme Court would be an originalist – if you want to win decisions, you need an unthinking right wing legal zombie to counterweight an unthinking left wing legal zombie. And when all the zombies balance out, we can burn the whole thing down because the rule of law doesn’t matter anymore.

  • Former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis is overjoyed at the prospect of killing more babies.

  • The U.S. Supreme Court vacated the corruption convictions of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. Prosecutors may choose to try McDonnell again.

  • The New York Times reported that a group of officers within Jordan’s General Intelligence Directorate stole weapons shipments from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia intended for Syrian rebels and sold the weapons on the black market. The Jordanian officers were fired, but weren’t otherwise punished:

    After the Americans and Saudis complained about the theft, investigators at the G.I.D. arrested several dozen officers involved in the scheme, among them a lieutenant colonel running the operation. They were ultimately released from detention and fired from the service, but were allowed to keep their pensions and money they gained from the scheme, according to Jordanian officials.

    Some of the stolen weapons were used to kill two Americans working at a police training facility in Amman back in November.

  • Donald Trump doesn’t want Ted Cruz or John Kasich to speak at the Republican National Convention if they continue to refuse to endorse him. Trump may not have a choice, depending on what happens with the convention rules:

    But the speaking arrangements may not be entirely up to Mr. Trump. Because Mr. Cruz won a majority of delegates in at least eight states, he would probably be able to have his name entered into nomination, guaranteeing him a speech under party rules.

  • Russian intelligence agents are harassing U.S. diplomatic personnel all over Europe:

    But many of the recent acts of intimidation by Russian security services have crossed the line into apparent criminality. In a series of secret memos sent back to Washington, described to me by several current and former U.S. officials who have written or read them, diplomats reported that Russian intruders had broken into their homes late at night, only to rearrange the furniture or turn on all the lights and televisions, and then leave. One diplomat reported that an intruder had defecated on his living room carpet.

    In Moscow, where the harassment is most pervasive, diplomats reported slashed tires and regular harassment by traffic police. Former ambassador Michael McFaul was hounded by government-paid protesters, and intelligence personnel followed his children to school. The harassment is not new; in the first term of the Obama administration, Russian intelligence personnel broke into the house of the U.S. defense attache in Moscow and killed his dog, according to multiple former officials who read the intelligence reports.

    Given the way Putin works, the only sure way to stop this is for some of the Russian agents to experience unfortunate accidents.

  • There are signs of an insurrection against ISIS in Mosul. ISIS executed four of its top commanders in the city after they were convicted of treason.

  • Iran shelled Iraqi Kurdistan, claiming they were targeting terrorists.

  • Israel and Turkey will restore diplomatic relations. Israel agreed to pay $20 million to compensate the families of nine Turkish civilians who were killed by Israeli commandos as they tried to run the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip back in 2010.

Links for 6-26-2016

  • Paul Kengor’s fifth Trump v. Reagan article examines their faith:

    One of Reagan’s most-cherished images was George Washington kneeling in the snow in prayer at Valley Forge, which Reagan called the “most sublime image in American history.” Washington in prayer, said Reagan, “personified a people who knew it was not enough to depend on their own courage and goodness; they must also seek help from God, their Father and their Preserver.”

    That is the image and the mindset that a president needs when it comes to faith. We need men in the Oval Office who are humble, who seek forgiveness, who know they need and thus want forgiveness, and speak of the greatness of their nation and their God—not of themselves.

  • Donald Trump is backing away from his policies on mass deportation and banning Muslim immigration, but it’s not clear what his new policies are.

  • Donald Trump claims Texas would not secede from the U.S. if he was president because Texas “loves” him. Ummm…no.

  • The Traditionalist Worker Party held a rally at California’s capitol building and found itself outnumbered by counter-protesters, who attacked. Five people were stabbed in the resulting melee. The counter-protestors were dressed in black and went out of their way to avoid being recorded by the media.

  • Kurt Volker describes the real problem with Brexit:

    What is more significant—and more worrying about the Brexit vote—is that it demonstrates just how deep the gulf has become that separates governing elites and the people they are meant to govern.

    Whether in Europe or the United States, our ruling elites have pushed policies—political, economic and social—that go beyond what sits well with the basic sense of identity, security, common sense, and morality of many citizens.

    Failure to control immigration? Amnesty? Social benefits for non-citizens when citizens are suffering? Nation-building wars abroad instead of nation-building at home? Massive debt? Failures to confront terrorism effectively? Businesses moving jobs overseas? Recession in the countryside while the capital prospers? Rapid changes in gender politics? Bizarre contortions of politically correct speech, which shout down what many see as common sense? It has left many in the electorate angry and disenfranchised. And when those in the public who feel this way have objected or resisted, elites have doubled-down, rather than listen and adjust.

    The rulers of the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States—take your pick—are so convinced that they know better than the masses, and that they are building a better world, that even in defeat, they are bemoaning how wrongly the masses have voted. And that is the looming danger for the future that the Brexit vote foreshadows: that elites will still not address the concerns of a large proportion of their own citizens.

  • The Iraqi military says it has driven ISIS from all of Fallujah.

  • Nigeria’s military claims it freed 5,000 people held by Boko Haram during operations in the northeastern part of the country.

Links for 6-25-2016

Links for 6-24-2016