Links for 5-5-2017

  • A U.S. Navy SEAL was killed fighting al Shabaab in Somalia. Two other SEALs were wounded.

  • The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee started an investigation of Barack Obama’s Iran deal, specifically looking into whether the Obama administration undermined counterproliferation efforts targeting Iranian weapons trafficking.

  • Donald Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of the Army, Mark Green, withdrew his name from consideration. Leftist groups attacked Green because he believes transgenderism is a mental illness.

  • The Department of the Interior is reviewing 21 national and five marine monuments that were created by previous administrations. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be stripped of their status as monuments.

  • Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said this to Donald Trump yesterday: “Mr. President, I affirm to you that we are raising our youth, our children and grandchildren, in a culture of peace.” This is a lie.

  • Kevin Williamson writes that TrumpCare and ObamaCare fail to recognize the economic concept of scarcity:

    We have perfectly functional markets in all sorts of life-and-death goods. They expect you to pay up at the grocery store, too, but poor people are not starving in the American streets, because we came up with this so-crazy-it-just-might-work idea of giving poor people money and money analogues (such as food stamps) to pay for food. It is not a perfect system, but it is preferable, as we know from unhappy experiences abroad, to having the government try to run the farms, as government did in the Soviet Union, or the grocery stores, as government does in hungry, miserable Venezuela. The Apple Store has its shortcomings, to be sure, but I’d rather have a health-care system that looks like the Apple Store than one that looks like a Venezuelan grocery store.

    There is a certain libertarian tendency to look at messes such as the Affordable Care Act and the American Health Care Act and throw up one’s hands, exclaiming: “Just let markets work!” We should certainly let markets work, but not “just.” We aren’t going to let children with congenital birth defects suffer just because they might have stupid and irresponsible parents, and we are not going to let old people who have outlived their retirement savings die of pneumonia because we don’t want to spend a couple of thousand bucks treating them. But we also do not have a society in which everybody is on Section 8 and food stamps, nor do we want one. Developing sensible, intelligently run, reasonably generous welfare programs for those who cannot or simply have not done it for themselves is a relatively small project, but trying to have government impose some kind of political discipline on the entirety of the health-care system — which is as explicit a part of the current daft Republican health-care program as it is of Obamacare — is a different kind of project entirely.

  • The French presidential election is Sunday, and today 9GB of emails from Emmanuel Macron’s campaign appeared online.

  • Russia deployed several units of Chechen and Ingush special forces troops from the North Caucasus region to Syria:

    “I think this represents Moscow’s grudging recognition that it’s stuck in a quagmire,” says Mark Galeotti, a senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations in Prague. In their hybrid civil-military role, capable of a wide range of operations, these brigades have become a go-to deployment for the Kremlin as it seeks to assert itself in various theaters abroad. Chechen fighters have appeared alongside pro-separatist Russian “volunteers” in eastern Ukraine, and several battalions of Chechen servicemen also entered Georgia during its brief war with Russia in August 2008, occupying the town of Gori. At least some of the Chechen troops deployed in Syria have combat experience in eastern Ukraine, with the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reporting that one of the Chechen commanders is Apti Bolotkhanov, who spent substantial time fighting alongside pro-Russian forces in the Donbass.

    But beyond their skill on the battlefield, the brigades are valuable to Moscow for other reasons. Russian society and leadership have proved extremely sensitive to casualties in Syria; the Kremlin has gone to extreme lengths to hide its losses. Casualties are often only publicly confirmed after observers find the tombstones of deceased soldiers in their hometown cemeteries. Moscow’s official figures only account for 30 dead in Syria — with the true figure likely much higher. Using nonethnic Russian special personnel might protect the Kremlin from a public backlash sparked by rising battlefield casualties. Losses incurred by the new, North Caucasian contingent are unlikely to trigger such a response. Russian society carries a deep-seated resentment toward natives of the region, in particular Chechens, after two wars in the 1990s and multiple terrorist attacks since.

  • Russia, Turkey, and Iran defined “de-escalation” zones in Syria and declared that American aircraft cannot fly over them.

  • NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory published a video of what the Cassini probe saw when it dove between Saturn and its rings:

Links for 4-10-2017

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 1-25-2017

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Links for 10-25-2016

Links for 7-26-2016