Links for 7-8-2018

  • The soldier who died in a green-on-blue attack in Afghanistan has been identified as U.S. Army Cpl. Joseph Maciel, of South Gate, California.

  • The Trump administration halted ObamaCare’s “risk adjustment payments,” which were basically health insurance company bailouts.

  • Kevin Williamson writes on Democrats’ complaints about gerrymandering and plans to pack the Supreme Court:

    Drawing up new legislative districts is an inherently political exercise; as one longtime legislator told me long ago when I was young and ignorant, it is the most political thing a legislature regularly does. A few progressives lately have argued, following a road-to-Damascus conversion on the issue, that “extreme gerrymandering” makes necessary a move to redistricting by purportedly scientific means employed by disinterested nonpartisan experts, who are sure to be disinterested and nonpartisan in the sense that the New York Times is a nonpartisan newspaper and the American Bar Association is a disinterested seeker of excellence in the legal profession.

    If the control of state legislatures were split 32 to 14 in the Democrats’ favor rather than in the Republicans’ favor, as things currently stand, we’d be hearing precisely nothing about this. Most people who pay any attention to politics understand that, which is why the Left’s efforts to whip up national hysteria over redistricting (or the Electoral College, or the fact that the First Amendment really does protect political communication, after all) have not come to much. Hypocrisy may not count for a great deal in politics, but sometimes it does tamp down the energy associated with a particular issue. People do tend to notice that there is no antiwar movement on the left when there’s a Democratic president.

  • A federal district court judge shot down the government’s attempt to resume its prosecution of Cliven Bundy, his family, and his supporters:

    Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro said again in a filing Tuesday that prosecutors “willfully” failed to disclose to defense lawyers evidence that government agents provoked the Bundy family into calling supporters to their defense by acts “such as the insertion and positioning of snipers and cameras surveilling the Bundy home.”

    Navarro said she found no reason to reconsider her dismissal of charges in January against Bundy, sons Ryan and Ammon Bundy and Montana militia leader Ryan Payne.

  • Theresa May’s Brexit Secretary, David Davis, resigned, saying he can’t support her business-friendly, “soft Brexit” plan:

    “The general direction of policy will leave us in at best a weak negotiating position, and possibly an inescapable one,” Davis said in his resignation letter to May.

    He criticised May’s decision to maintain a “common rule book” with the EU, mirroring the bloc’s rules and regulations, saying it would hand “control of large swathes of our economy to the EU and is certainly not returning control of our laws”.

    “It seems to me that the national interest requires a Secretary of State in my Department that is an enthusiastic believer in your approach, and not merely a reluctant conscript.”

  • A British woman, Dawn Sturgess, died of Novachok poisoning. Her male friend who was also poisoned is still in the hospital in critical condition.

  • Another critic of Vladimir Putin living in exile in Britain turned up dead. Nikolai Glushkov was found strangled to death on the day he was supposed to appear in court in a case involving Aeroflot.

  • A team of six SAS soldiers credited their Belgian Malinois dog for saving their lives during an ambush in northern Syria.

  • Iraqi police opened fire on protesters near Basra; there are differing accounts of how many people were killed or wounded. People were protesting against “a shortage of jobs, electricity, water and other basic services.”

  • Six members of Tunisia’s security forces were killed in an ambush near the border with Algeria.

  • Turkey’s government fired 18,000 civil servants, half of them from the police force.

  • Judges in Brazil are battling one another over releasing former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from prison. Some people (and apparently some judges) want him to run for president again:

    Appeals court judge Rogerio Favreto, who served in the Justice Ministry under Lula and was appointed by his handpicked successor, ruled earlier on Sunday that the former president should have the same conditions to campaign as other candidates.

    However, the chief justice of the TRF–4 appeals court, Carlos Eduardo Thompson Flores, granted a request from prosecutors to keep Lula in prison, blocking Favreto’s ruling.

Links for 4-11-2018

  • Senator Rand Paul endorsing a Convention of States:

  • Confirming rumors that have been circulating for months, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) won’t run for re-election. Denis Ross (R-FL) isn’t running for re-election, either.

  • The Congressional Budget Office broke the law when it deemed the omnibus spending bill’s ObamaCare insurer bailout a net savings.

  • Bellingcat analyzed open source data on the latest chemical weapons attack in Syria, and it looks like Bashar al-Assad’s regime dropped a chlorine tank on an apartment building from a helicopter, and that accounted for the majority of the deaths.

  • John Daniel Davidson toured San Francisco’s homeless camps:

    In other words, San Francisco is rich and beautiful—and it doesn’t care what Republicans think. Like many large U.S. cities, Democrats here preside over a political monoculture. Less than 10 percent of San Franciscans voted for Donald Trump in 2016, and the city hasn’t had a GOP mayor since 1964. The Board of Supervisors (the city council) is technically nonpartisan, but every seat on the board is occupied by a registered Democrat. The top four candidates in the current mayoral race—an African-American woman, an Asian-American woman, an Hispanic woman, and an openly gay man—will all be “firsts,” no matter who wins the special election in June. Also certain: the winner will be a Democrat.

    The absence of any organized political opposition, combined with its vast wealth, makes San Francisco a kind of proof-of-concept for progressive governance. If there’s anywhere progressives should be able to enact their schemes for a perfectly-ordered society, it’s here. A booming tech industry has made vast new resources available to the city: the 2017–18 municipal budget exceeds $10 billion, nearly a third larger than the budget was a decade ago. City government now spends roughly $11,500 per person each year, more than any other city in the country (including New York) and almost double per capita state spending.

    That’s why the housing and homelessness problems besetting the city open it up to more than mere mockery from conservatives but substantive criticism of progressive governance writ large. It’s not just homeless encampments that bedevil San Francisco, but also the flight of the middle class and the emergence of a kind of citywide caste system: the wealthy, the service class, and the destitute. In some ways, San Francisco is becoming something progressives are supposed to hate: a private club for the super-rich.

  • China is developing a nuclear-capable, air-launched ballistic missile and a modified bomber to carry it.

  • An Algerian Il–76 military transport plane crashed about 20 miles southwest of Algiers, killing 257 people.

  • Saudi Arabia claims it shot down another three ballistic missiles fired by the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Links for 3-4-2018

  • The Washington Post detailed one of North Korea’s schemes for “laundering” coal, which relied on help from a rarely-used Russian port. In this case the coal originated in North Korea but ended up in South Korea and Japan.

  • Axios obtained a copy of a grand jury subpoena sent by Robert Mueller’s investigators to a witness last month. The subpoena sought all communications with ten people, including Donald Trump, Hope Hicks, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Carter Page, and Steve Bannon.

  • Kevin Williamson writes on Donald Trump’s lack of knowledge about policy or how the federal government works:

    The formal term for what’s at the root of all this is “rational ignorance.” Many of you will have experienced the phenomenon of the very smart person who has very dumb ideas about politics — and who, if challenged, will immediately retreat into the vaguest of generalities, and often ends up displaying surprising ignorance about the most basic public-policy questions. These are the people who believe that you can walk into Walmart and buy a machine gun, that foreign aid represents half of federal spending, that the CIA introduced crack into inner-city neighborhoods, etc., and who tend not to know things like who their representative in Congress is or how our tax system works. Why are these smart and often very successful people so ignorant about politics? Because they’ve spent their lives getting really smart about a different subject and achieving their success in a field in which political knowledge isn’t very important. This is why Albert Einstein had such batty ideas about politics.

    Later:

    The fact that most people who don’t make their living thinking about politics tend not to think very much or very carefully about politics does not mean that they are not interested in politics or do not care about it. Far from it. But, as Robin Hanson reminds us, politics is not about policy. Politics is about tribe. How we align politically is based for most people almost entirely on how we wish to position ourselves socially and culturally. At the moment, our politics is marked by a kind of inverse partisanship: It isn’t that Trump partisans think the Republican party is so great — they just think those other guys are so awful that any alternative is acceptable. That’s the “But Hillary” defense, a moral get-out-of-jail-free card for right-wing talk-radio hosts and their listeners. Democrats have their own version of that, which is why they don’t argue that Republicans are wrong about tax policy or abortion but that they are racists, misogynists, homophobes, captive to corporate greed, etc. We end up with a political discourse in which both sides are, at their broadest points, heavily invested in their insistence that there is no good-faith disagreement about policy — there is only the eternal conflict between the guys in the white hats and the guys in the black hats.

  • Germany has a coalition government after a five month delay. Members of the Social Democratic Party voted to join Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats.

  • Slovakia’s President Andrej Kiska is pushing for measures to restore confidence in the government after the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak. The president can’t bring down a government, but he is adding to public pressure to bring down Prime Minister Robert Fico’s three party coalition government.

  • Al Qaeda’s Group for Support of Islam and Muslims confirmed that French forces killed six of its leaders during simultaneous raids in Mali and Algeria.

Links for 3-19-2016

Links for 9-22-2014