Links for 12-28-2017

  • Alabama officials certified Doug Jones as the winner of the state’s U.S. Senate election despite a last-minute challenge from Roy Moore.

  • Kevin Williamson explains that the Masterpiece Cakeshop case is a continuation of the slippery slope that is anti-discrimination law:

    We ought to think a little about how far down the slope we want to go. Americans look instinctively to our Constitution and to our national political principles for guidance, and our attitude toward them is the civic version of sola scriptura. We tend to generalize when we ought to specify and sometimes to specify when we ought to generalize. The social and political condition of African Americans in the 1960s was indefensible and incompatible with our national ideals. Something needed to be done, and something was, imperfectly. But our generalizing from that has not always been intelligent or prudent or constructive. Jews often were treated shabbily in our country, and sometimes still are, but the case against Princeton’s numerus clausus system of discriminating against Jewish applicants was not the same as the case against Mississippi’s suppression of African Americans. The situation of gay Americans in 2017 is not very much like that of black Americans in 1935.

    It is not the case that discrimination is discrimination is discrimination. Telling a black man that he may not work in your bank because he is black is in reality a very different thing from telling a gay couple that you’d be happy to sell them cupcakes or cookies or pecan pies but you do not bake cakes for same-sex weddings — however much the principle of the thing may seem superficially similar. If the public sphere is infinite, then the private sphere does not exist, and neither does private life. Having a bakery with doors open to the public does not make your business, contra Justice Harlan, an agent of the state. A bakery is not the Commerce Department or the local public high school.

    Sure, bakery customers may travel there on public roads. But tell me: Isn’t that EPA-regulated air you’re breathing?

  • Axios reported that the Trump administration and Israel’s government agreed on a joint plan to counter Iran’s actions in the Middle East.

  • The State Department lifted all visa restrictions at its Turkish facilities after the Turkish government promised not to target the local hired help — two local employees were arrested earlier this year. Turkey denies that it provided such assurances.

  • Disney World broadened its repertoire to include security theater:

    According to a piece in the Miami Herald, Walt Disney World Resort Hotels has removed the “do not disturb” signs from the rooms in three of its hotels and replaced them with “room occupied” signs as part of a new security policy. What’s more, a Disney cast member will now be required to enter each hotel room at least once per day to “ensure gun safety,” according to Walt Disney World News today.

    Now, while I do appreciate that Disney wants to keep people safe, this is, quite frankly, a stupid idea. Stupid … but not surprising. After all, responding to violent incidents with overzealous, privacy-invading security theater is exactly what the government has been doing for years.

  • ISIS claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings in Kabul that killed 41 people and wounded 84. The targets were a Shiite cultural center and a news agency called Afghan Voice.

  • A small bomb went off at a supermarket in St. Petersburg, Russia, injuring 10 people.

  • China is testing a hypersonic glide vehicle-equipped medium range missile with the intention of deploying it around 2020. The missile, the DF–17, can be equipped with both nuclear and conventional warheads.