Links for 7-15-2017

  • The U.S. killed the latest leader of ISIS in Afghanistan, Abu Sayed.

  • Walter Russell Mead on Trump scandals and our inability to focus on what’s important:

    Too many Democrats think that the Trump scandals, pushed to their logical conclusion, will bring an end to troubles that have seen the party sink to its lowest national ebb since the 1920s. By personalizing the problem, by thinking of Trump as a uniquely unscrupulous, uniquely insightful, but also uniquely incompetent demagogue, Democrats construct a reality for themselves in which his impeachment, or at least his humiliation, will leave upper middle class technocrats back securely in control of the regulatory state, the haute educational establishment and the media that really count. The rebels, abashed at the demonstrated unfitness of their leader, will disperse, the districts will demobilize, the Hunger Games will relaunch, and life in the Capital will go on as before.

    Perhaps unfortunately, life is not that simple. The problem the Democrats face has never been the Republican Establishment, the Tea Party, or the Trump insurgency. The Republican disarray of 2017 is nothing new; Republicans do not know how to fix health care or to solve the fiscal problems of local and state governments without raising taxes or cutting services anymore than Democrats do. What drives Republican success isn’t public confidence in Republican policy ideas, but a public belief that given a choice between a party committed to the status quo and a party open at least to reforming it, dumb reformers are a better choice than clever custodians of the status quo.

    Later:

    Meanwhile, we note with alarm that more and more of America’s energy goes into the endless process of two year presidential campaigns immediately followed by nonstop relitigation by scandal. We now cluster around our screens to catch the latest scandal mini-scoop the way we used to look at Iowa polling numbers before the caucus. Our intellectual and political energy is being consumed by the ephemeral at ever greater rates even as we run low on time to address genuinely vital issues. We are thinking about horse races, not the historic challenges that the United States faces at home and abroad.

  • American immigration officials left an Australian-run immigrant detention center in Nauru two weeks early, raising questions about whether the U.S. will accept the refugees staying there per an agreement with Australia’s government: “U.S. officials halted screening interviews and departed the Pacific island of Nauru on Friday, two weeks short of their scheduled timetable and a day after Washington said the United States had reached its annual refugee intake cap.”

  • Businesses in Bar Harbor, Maine are hiring Americans because the H–2B visa program reached its annual cap. They’re even offering higher wages to entice people to work. Who would have guessed that a domestic labor market could actually work?

    The shortage is so acute that companies are sweetening incentives for local workers. Searchfield says some businesses are offering flexible schedules that might appeal to older workers who might be interested in working only a day or two each week. And other companies have gone so far as to offer higher wages to entice locals.

  • The Social Security Administration’s trustees reported that the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds will be completely depleted in 17 years.

  • An academic study suggests that independent redistricting commissions gerrymander districts about as much as state legislators do.

  • One of the Israeli police officers killed on Temple Mount was the father of a weeks-old son. The other police officer had an engagement party scheduled for next week.