Links for 1-3-2017

  • Members of the House of Representatives and newly elected members of the Senate were sworn in today. Yesterday the House adopted rules that crippled the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), which was created in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal in 2005. After public criticism and a pair of Donald Trump tweets, those rule changes were postponed — the House approved new rules that lacked the OCE changes. The OCE has been abused for partisan purposes and should be reformed, but the timing of this maneuver was stupid.

  • Someone in the Department of Homeland Security leaked a memo to Reuters describing a meeting with Donald Trump’s transition team:

    In a wide-ranging request for documents and analysis, President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team asked the Department of Homeland Security last month to assess all assets available for border wall and barrier construction.

    The team also asked about the department’s capacity for expanding immigrant detention and about an aerial surveillance program that was scaled back by the Obama administration but remains popular with immigration hardliners. And it asked whether federal workers have altered biographic information kept by the department about immigrants out of concern for their civil liberties.

    Later:

    The transition team also asked for copies of every executive order and directive sent to immigration agents since Obama took office in 2009, according to the memo summarizing the meeting.

  • A new Obama administration regulation adds the names of Social Security recipients who are “financially incompetent” (e.g. they can’t pay their own bills) to the list of people who are prohibited from buying guns. John Lott argues this will make it more difficult for elderly people to defend themselves.

  • The Washington Free Beacon published an excerpt from Bill Gertz’s new book, iWar: War and Peace in the Information Age.

  • Ford announced they’re scrapping plans to build a $1.6 billion plant in Mexico, and will instead spend $700 million to expand the existing Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan. Ford claims the change of plans is due to pro-growth policies they expect the Republican-controlled Congress and President Trump to enact. Trump has publicly criticized Ford’s plan to build the plant in Mexico.

  • Victor Davis Hanson writes on the current state of California:

    What makes the law-abiding leave California is not just the sanctimoniousness, the high taxes, or the criminality. It is always the insult added to injury. We suffer not only from the highest basket of income, sales, and gas taxes in the nation, but also from nearly the worst schools and infrastructure. We have the costliest entitlements and the most entitled. We have the largest number of billionaires and the largest number of impoverished, both in real numbers and as a percentage of the state population.

    California crime likewise reflects the California paradox of two states: a coastal elite and everyone else. California is the most contentious, overregulated, and postmodern state in the Union, and also the most feral and 19th-century.

  • The Turkish government wants to imprison Fethullah Gulen’s dentists for 15 years. Erdogan’s government keeps achieving new heights of absurdity.