Links for 8-3-2016

  • The Obama administration shipped $400 million in cash to Iran the same day that Iran released four Americans, which sounds a lot like a ransom payment (the administration denies this, of course). Since then Iran has arrested another three Americans, whom some people might call hostages.

  • Donald Trump suggested that he would be OK with Russia keeping Crimea, and he stated Russia isn’t in Ukraine. John Schindler discusses what this means:

    There are two options to explain so many errors by Trump in a few sentences. Either he is clueless about Crimea and Ukraine, being totally unfamiliar with the basic issues, and decided to pontificate on the subject regardless while on national television. Or he is consciously parroting Kremlin propaganda. There is no third choice here.

    That Trump is seriously deficient in matters of foreign affairs and national security is no secret, since he seems to lack basic awareness of any military issues, therefore that he simply talked on live TV without knowing anything cannot be ruled out.

    Trump’s tune on Ukraine changed after he hired Paul Manafort.

  • Another Donald Trump adviser, Carter Page, spoke at the New Economic School in Moscow last month, where he praised Russia and criticized the U.S.

  • Ross Douthat writes on Paul Ryan’s Faustian bargain with Donald Trump:

    But more than most politicians Ryan has always laid claim to a mix of moral and substantive authority; more than most he has sold himself to the right’s intelligentsia and the centrist media as one of Washington’s men of principle. And both that authority and that brand are being laid waste in this campaign.

    Every time Ryan talks about patriotism, every time he talks about conservative ideals, the orange face of Trump seems to rise moon-like behind his shoulder — a reminder that this patriot and idealist is supporting, for the highest office in the republic and the most powerful position in the world, a man that he obviously knows (including, one assumes, from firsthand exposure) to be dangerous, unstable, unprincipled and unfit.

    Long after this election is over, that effect will endure. Every piety that the speaker utters, every moral posture that he strikes, will be received with derision by anyone who remembers the months that he spent urging Americans, albeit through gritted teeth, to make Donald Trump commander-in-chief.

    And moral authority is not the only kind of authority that matters. Successful political leadership also depends on a kind of inherent dignity, a steeliness in the face of challenges and threats and foes, a sense that when the crisis comes you will not be easily dominated or bent to another’s will.

  • The Trump Taj Mahal casino will close after Labor Day. Donald Trump opened the casino, but it’s currently owned by Carl Icahn.

  • The Republican establishment managed to knock off a House Freedom Caucus member from Kansas, Tim Huelskamp, who was a three term incumbent. Several conservative state house and senate allies of Governor Sam Brownback lost their primaries, too.

  • Miles Smith draws parallels between people in the 1800s who declared slavery a positive good and people from today who declare abortion a positive good:

    Once the cancer of individual autonomy metastasizes in a society, the moral corpus of the populace turns into a grotesque and sickly version of its former self. Bereft of religion or a transcendent understanding of the rule of law, individuals co-opt the state, attempting to conform reality to their individual vision of how reality should be. In the case of abortionists, they must willfully disregard demonstrable and overwhelming scientific evidence as well as two millennia of Judeo-Christian revelation and natural law philosophy in order to dehumanize the unborn. They cannot allow any of this evidence to interfere with their belief that, far from being a gross violation of human and natural rights, abortion is in fact a positive good not just for women but for society at large. Rather than a person with human dignity made in the image and likeness of God, the unborn child becomes a clump of cells or, at best, a “potential person” who does not yet have any constitutional rights.

    Likewise, slavery extremists ignored centuries of Christian teaching. They embraced repugnant theories espousing the abhorrent notion that African-Americans were of a different species, the result of a separate act of creation. This allowed them to justify relegating slaves to subhuman status. Josiah Nott, an early racial theorist and eugenicist who supported American slavery, believed that superior races must eventually subjugate and eradicate inferior species for the good of the human race. Nott argued that his world had advanced “in civilization more rapidly than in former times, and mainly for the substantial reason that the higher types of mankind have so increased in power that they can no longer be molested by the inferior.” Modern American abortion advocates espouse the same idea. Society has advanced to the point that we are able to remove the weak and helpless who might disrupt the higher type of life enjoyed by the strong and healthy.

  • As an interim response to a continuing federal lawsuit, Texas is relaxing its photo voter ID law to the point of near-meaninglessness for November’s election.

  • Native Americans living on reservations have no private property rights, which leaves them economically impoverished.

  • Kevin Williamson writes that Venezuela has reached the end of Hayek’s road to serfdom.

  • The New York Times detailed an ISIS unit called Emni, which started as the group’s internal security force but expanded to include foreign terror operations. It selects Europeans who traveled to Syria to join ISIS, trains them, and sends them back to Europe to conduct attacks.

  • North Korea launched a ballistic missile that landed in Japanese waters. The missile traveled about 620 miles, one of North Korea’s longest launches.

  • The leading contender to replace Nigel Farage as head of UKIP, Steven Woolfe, was excluded from the party ballot because he turned in his paperwork too late.