Links for 3-31-2017

  • Donald Trump used White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney to threaten Congressman Mark Sanford (R-SC) (a Freedom Caucus member) with a primary challenge over his opposition to ObamaCare Lite:

    “The president asked me to look you square in the eyes and to say that he hoped that you voted ‘no’ on this bill so he could run (a primary challenger) against you in 2018,” Sanford said Mulvaney told him.

    He added that Mulvaney made it clear he did not want to deliver the message but did so at Trump’s insistence.

    “I’ve never had anyone, over my time in politics, put it to me as directly as that,” Sanford said, perhaps understating just how monumental it is for a sitting president to openly go after members of his own party.

    Alexandra DeSanctis writes:

    Yesterday morning’s tweet was yet another indication that Trump doesn’t understand the importance of coalition-building, or perhaps even that he believes his incredible “deal-making” skills will somehow compensate for the loss of Freedom Caucus votes. Without the 35 official members of the HFC, the House GOP has just 216 representatives, two fewer than what’s needed to pass a bill without any Democratic support. It would be a mistake for the president to believe that his legislative agenda — to the extent that he has one at all — will benefit from such open attacks against a crucial subset of his own party.

    What’s more, this belligerence toward the HFC has put the president on a collision course with the people representing his most ardent supporters. By and large, Freedom Caucus members come from districts Trump dominated in November. Though there is reason to believe the most passionate Trump voters will side with him in any political conflict, even within the GOP, it is unwise for him to set himself against the very politicians who give voice to the populist wave that swept him into office.

  • The person who “unmasked” Trump transition team members was “very well known, very high up, very senior in the intelligence world, and is not in the FBI. This led to other surveillance, which led to other names being unmasked.” Ben Shapiro writes:

    So, here’s the summation: it appears that members of the Obama administration not only wanted to preserve intelligence from the supposedly grubby hands of the Trump Team, a high-ranking intelligence official under Obama deliberately unmasked members of the Trump transition team in order to embarrass them. And that would only work if there were rumors about nefarious activity without proof of it – unmasking somebody for doing something completely innocuous would mean little publicly. Yet we still have no evidence of nefarious activity from any member of the Trump Team.

    That’s a scandal, folks.

    And that does require a real investigation.

  • People are curious why Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen still has a job now that Donald Trump is in office. Firing Koskinen should have been a priority for Trump.

  • Matthew Continetti writes that Senator Chuck Schumer is the Yasser Arafat of the Democratic Party:

    Schumer is so practiced at saying one thing to Democratic elites and another to the Democratic base that it is easy to fall for his charade. But neither Arafat nor Schumer should fool you. Schumer is a hypocrite and a liar and out for no one but himself. And it is for these reasons that his threat to filibuster Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch should be viewed with incredulity.

  • The Washington Free Beacon produced a great video illustrating the hypocrisy of Senate Democrats on filibustering Supreme Court nominees:

  • Donald Trump gave the Department of Defense more leeway to attack al Shabaab.

  • Dylann Roof will plead guilty to state murder charges. Under the deal Roof will be sentenced to life in prison, which won’t mean much since he received the death penalty in his federal trial.

  • AT&T won a $6.5 billion contract to build and operate a nationwide cellular network for first responders.

  • A survey of foreigners residing in Japan indicated there’s widespread discrimination in work and housing and frequent public examples of racism:

    In a separate question, 29.8 percent of those who responded to the survey said they either “frequently” or “occasionally” heard race-based insults being hurled at them, mostly from strangers (53.3 percent), bosses, co-workers and business partners (38.0 percent) and neighbors (19.3 percent).

  • A car bomb killed the head of Ukrainian counterintelligence in the Donetsk region, Lieutenant Colonel Oleksandr Kharaberiush. Donetsk is the area of hottest conflict between Russia (and its proxies) and Ukraine.

  • Russia is mastering hybrid warfare in Ukraine, which combines propaganda, fake news, cyberwarfare, and conventional weapons.

  • The leader of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish HDP party, Selahattin Demirtas, went on a hunger strike in the prison where he’s being held.

Links for 3-30-2017

Links for 3-29-2017

  • California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed 15 felony charges against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt of the Center for Medical Progress for secretly recording Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of baby body parts. The charges related to recording someone without their consent. Becerra has received at least $5,535 in campaign contributions from Planned Parenthood. The Center for Medical Progress responded with a new video showing a Planned Parenthood official describing what they do (or don’t do) when a baby is born alive during an abortion:

  • U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May officially kicked off the Brexit process by sending a letter to the E.U. that invokes Article 50.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis asked Donald Trump to relax restrictions on U.S. involvement in the fighting in Yemen:

    This official and several others said that Mattis and his advisers have asked for removal of President Barack Obama’s prohibitions, which would enable the military to support Emirati operations against the Houthis with surveillance and intelligence, refueling, and operational planning assistance without asking for case-by-case White House approval.

  • The FBI charged a State Department employee with a top secret security clearance, Candace Marie Claiborne, with concealing a years-long relationship with two Chinese intelligence agents. The FBI says Claiborne started accepting cash and gifts from the agents in 2010.

  • Ben Shapiro thinks many conservatives who support Donald Trump are suffering from Stockholm syndrome:

    It now appears that the cognitive dissonance associated with Trump support has morphed into full-blown Stockholm syndrome, with conservatives now waiving principle not to defeat Hillary Clinton, but to back Trump down the line. Many conservatives now say that Trump’s American Health Care Act was the best available bad option. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and President Trump had presented a crap sandwich, to be sure, but it was the best available crap sandwich. Never mind its 17 percent public-approval rating. Never mind its accelerated death spiral. Never mind its new entitlement, its maintenance of key Obamacare regulations, or its increased premiums for the next few years.

    Trump wanted it; thus it was good; thus it had to be passed. It was The Best We Were Going To Do™.

    Except that it wasn’t. It wasn’t the legislative process that required a bill cramdown on the president’s own party within a three-week period. It wasn’t the legislative process that offered an ultimatum to conservatives to embrace the suck. It wasn’t the legislative process that demanded conservatives sign on to all the policies they opposed when Obama promulgated them. It was Trump. And because Ryan thought that his best option involved parlaying with Trump rather than going through the rough business of policymaking, he negotiated with himself to create a one-off bill, hoping that Trump would bring the anti-establishment conservatives and that he’d bring the establishment Republicans.

    It failed, in part because of Trump’s artificial deadline, in part because Trump would never have pushed a truly conservative piece of legislation that did away with preexisting-conditions regulations, and in part because Ryan decided to go along with Trump’s program in order to push through his long-awaited structural changes to Medicaid. And then, to top it off, Trump deployed famed subtle touch Steve Bannon to scream at Republicans about how they had to get their minds right or they’d spend the night in the box.

  • Westinghouse Electric filed for bankruptcy due to losses stemming from nuclear power plant construction projects.

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition wants to change parliamentary rules so a member of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party can’t assume a ceremonial post if AfD wins seats in the next election.

Links for 3-28-2017

Links for 3-27-2017

Links for 3-26-2017

Links for 3-25-2017

  • Philip Klein thinks the Republican party’s failure to repeal ObamaCare is the biggest broken political promise ever:

    Republicans were always moving the goal posts on voters. That is, during campaign season, they made boasts about repeal, and then once in office, they talked about procedural complications. In 2010, they campaigned on repeal, but by 2011, they said they needed the Senate. In 2014, they won the Senate, but by 2015 they said as long as Obama was in office, nothing would become law. In 2016, they told conservative voters, even reluctant ones, that if they voted for Trump despite any reservations, they’d finally be able to repeal Obamacare. In November, voters gave them unified control of Washington. And yet after just two months on the job, they have thrown in the towel and said they’re willing to abandon seven years of promises.

    Later:

    In this case, the hardliners were playing a productive role by pointing out the real policy consequences of the piecemeal approach being pursued by the House leadership. Though we’ll never know for sure how the numbers might of looked if a vote had taken place, it’s clear that many centrist members of the Republican caucus were also prepared to vote this bill down. House conservatives, if they could be blamed for anything, it’s for having the audacity to urge leadership to actually honor seven years of pledges to voters to repeal Obamacare. If anybody was moving the goal posts, it wasn’t Freedom Caucusers, it was those who were trying to sell a bill that kept much of Obamacare’s regulatory architecture in place as a free market repeal and replace plan.

    Later:

    What’s so utterly disgraceful, is not just that Republicans failed so miserably, but that they barely tried, raising questions about whether they ever actually wanted to repeal Obamacare in the first place.

  • Jeffrey Tucker writes on what must replace ObamaCare if it’s actually going to help people:

    The first priority is that competition must be restored through some measure of deregulation. The mandates must go. The pre-set benefits packages must die. Insurers must gain control over their business affairs and customers have to be able to shop and choose.

    It is not about ideology. It is about a system of health care insurance that actually works to serve the common good. We must regain flexibility to inspire innovation and achieve profitability. This must happen or else premiums will keep going up. This is a requirement. Obamacare failed because it disabled the market. Any reform must restore that market. This is more important than any other feature of reform.

    Trumpcare or Ryancare or whatever you want to call it does not do that. It replaces a mandate to buy with a tax incentive to buy. Otherwise it leaves the problem of the absence of genuine competition in place. True, the alternative doesn’t do anything about the transfer of payments, but, if you follow Hayek, you know that these are less important to eliminate than are the barriers to competition.

  • The night before his revelation about intelligence gathering that targeted Donald Trump’s transition team, Congressman Devin Nunes received a communication on his phone while he was in an Uber with a committee staffer. Nunes abruptly exited the car and disappeared for the evening. Is there a whistleblower behind Nunes’ revelation?

  • An American immigration judge granted asylum to a Singaporean blogger named Amos Yee. Singapore had jailed Yee twice. The Department of Homeland Security opposed Yee’s asylum request.

  • The U.S. military is investigating a close air support strike in Mosul that allegedly killed dozens of civilians.

  • Four Egyptian soldiers died when their vehicle hit an IED in the Sinai Peninsula.

  • UKIP’s only member of parliament, Douglas Carswell, is leaving the party to stand as an independent. Nigel Farage has called for Carswell to quit, and a UKIP donor named Arron Banks intends to run against Carswell.