Links for 7-16-2018

Links for 7-14-2018

Links for 7-7-2018

  • One American soldier was killed and two others were wounded during a green-on-blue attack in southern Afghanistan.
  • The political left may have chased Scott Pruitt out as EPA administrator, but they’re going to hate his (at least temporary) replacement, Andrew Wheeler, even more.
  • Andrew McCarthy writes that Democrats who say they’ll defend Roe v. Wade during the upcoming battle to confirm a Supreme Court justice are focused on the wrong court ruling — Planned Parenthood v. Casey has been the guiding case on abortion for the past 25 years:

    Here is reality: Casey’s refinement of the right judicially manufactured in Roe granted expansive and expanding room to regulate abortion. The validity of those regulations, not the core holding of Roe, is what dominates abortion litigation nowadays. It is unlikely that cases will present a need to grapple with Roe, it is even less likely that Roe will be overturned, and even if this highly unlikely event were to come to pass, it would not render abortion illegal. Instead, abortion would once again be a question for the states, the vast majority of which would guarantee some degree of access to abortion. We are not going to move into a post-Roe era, but even if we did, no woman who could obtain an abortion today would be unable to get one post-Roe.

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo concluded two days of talks with North Korean officials, who dissed the outcome after Pompeo left.

    The public complaint might be a real warning that Kim is about to break off contact, but it’s more likely just a test of the resolve of Pompeo and Donald Trump. North Korea knows how to manipulate negotiations, having very successfully done so in the past to win substantial concessions in return for empty promises. We knew this process would involve those attempts too; Pyongyang tried this before the summit and almost wound up with no meeting at all. They’re probing for weakness in the US negotiating team, and between the US and its allies. If we didn’t see a little of this, we might be better off worrying about whether we were giving the store away in negotiations.

  • Two American guided missile destroyers sailed through the Taiwan Strait.
  • Forty-nine people were killed and 48 are missing after heavy rains hit western and central Japan.
  • Al Shabaab detonated two car bombs in Mogadishu and stormed a government building that houses Somalia’s security and interior ministries. At least five people were killed and 21 wounded.

Links for 6-23-2018

  • Andrew McCarthy writes that Donald Trump can resolve the tension between the Department of Justice/FBI and Congress:

    Rosenstein and Wray work for Trump. And they are not Obama holdovers; they are Trump appointees. If they are defying Congress, it is because the president is permitting them to do so. Twitter tantrums and dark deep-state conspiracy theories don’t count; the president is empowered give his subordinates a direct order to comply with Congress’s demands, and to fire them immediately if they fail to do so. The president has the unilateral authority to disclose executive-branch files to lawmakers, including classified documents. Trump could have done this any time in the last 18 months.

    The FBI did turn over thousands of documents this week, including documents describing how it used informants to spy on Trump’s campaign. The FBI has not, however, turned over documents describing how they used the Steele dossier to obtain FISA court warrants for surveillance.

  • The Trump administration cancelled two more military exercises with South Korea to appease North Korea:

    The military previously announced it was halting all plans for a massive command post exercise known as Ulchi Freedom Guardian, which had been due to begin in August.

    The Pentagon said Friday that the suspension would include two joint Marine training exercises that had been “scheduled to occur in the next three months.”

  • The latest Department of Justice inspector general report says the FBI discovered 700,000 of Hillary Clinton’s emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop, copied there by Huma Abedin. Having obtained the emails, the FBI did next to nothing with them:

    Remember: Hillary Clinton’s attorneys produced approximately 30,000 of her emails, and they appear to have claimed that was the entirety of her work-related emails. Mrs. Clinton, staff and technical support had deliberately deleted approximately 33,000 emails that were just about “yoga” and “wedding plans.” They produced nothing from the beginning of her tenure as Secretary of State. Then, her server was wiped with “BleachBit.”

    Yet, lo and behold, here so many emails were. Hundreds of thousands of emails, the “entire file” — everything Clinton — including data from the BlackBerrys and other devices for which the FBI and DOJ decided not to run search warrants because they “assumed” they had been destroyed.

    So what did the FBI do with this “explosive” “bomb” including the “golden emails” on the BlackBerry that everyone knew was missing from the production?

    Nothing — at least nothing to obtain evidence.

    Later:

    United States Attorney Bharara was so sufficiently aware of the deafening silence from Washington that he instructed his chief counsel to document everything his office had done — “with a hundred percent accuracy.” “Things seemed unusual” to him, and he wanted a record of their actions, including their recovery of more than 700,000 emails.

  • The Department of Defense has recorded 20 incidents since last September where lasers were used against American pilots over the Pacific. China is believed to be responsible.

  • The president of Zimbabwe and the prime minister of Ethiopia both survived assassination attempts today.

  • Nearly 300 Turkish diplomats have requested asylum in Germany since the July 2016 coup attempt.

Links for 6-16-2018

Links for 6-15-2018

Links for 6-5-2018

  • The Federalist published an article by Dr. Tom Coburn that says the only way to restore the U.S. Constitution is a convention of states.

  • Pessimistic takes on the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission emerged today, including this one by Darel E. Paul:

    Jack Phillips and his lawyers leveled two distinct arguments in appealing his original conviction for violating the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act. The first argument asserted his First Amendment right to free speech. Phillips claimed that the creation and design of custom wedding cakes is an act of artistic expression protected by the Constitution, so that to force him by law to provide such a service against his will constitutes government-compelled speech. The second argument asserted Phillips’s First Amendment right to free exercise of religion. Phillips claimed that his sincerely held religious beliefs forbade him from endorsing same-sex marriage, and that the creation and design of a custom wedding cake would amount to just such an endorsement.

    Contrary to the over-enthusiastic reactions of some cultural conservatives, the Court did not rule in favor of Phillips on either of these substantive grounds. Its opinion is based wholly on procedural wrongs committed by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, wrongs that went uncorrected by the Colorado Court of Appeals. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy notes several derogatory comments about religion made by certain Commissioners hearing Phillips’s case. Kennedy clearly states that what is being violated here is Phillips’s entitlement to “neutral and respectful consideration” of his argument and a judicial process defined by “fairness and impartiality.” Because of the Commission’s “hostility” to religion, which was never corrected by higher Colorado courts, the process is tainted and the decision against Phillips is vacated.

    John Daniel Davidson points to an ominous footnote in the decision:

    A footnote in Justice Elena Kagan’s separate concurring opinion, joined by Justice Stephen Breyer, points to the reasoning the court might have employed if it had engaged this larger question—and it doesn’t bode well for advocates of free speech and freedom of religion.

    Later:

    In other words, Phillips’s religious beliefs about marriage—beliefs, by the way, which are orthodox teachings in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam—are not to be taken seriously. Nor is the notion that a baker who is asked to make a specialty cake that celebrates what is, for the baker, a religious ceremony, might be engaging in protected speech by creating that cake, in much the same way a photographer or any other artist does.

    For Kagan, the law may be construed to achieve a desired outcome, so long as those enforcing it don’t betray their animus toward certain religious beliefs.

    Here’s Andrew McCarthy’s take:

    In essence, Phillips won because the oxymoronic Colorado Civil Rights Commission was mean to him. The Court does not say how the commission should have decided the matter; it merely admonishes that, in future hearings, the commissioners must avoid being so indecorous, so overt in their hostility to unreconstructed Christians. Silent, smiling contempt is de rigueur: In the next case, just patiently hear out the baker, politely rule against him, and move on — no more grandstanding about how much religion sucks.

  • Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz personally tried to shut down the investigation into House IT aide Imran Awan, despite evidence uncovered by the House Office of Inspector General that Awan made “unauthorized access” to House servers.

  • ZTE reportedly signed a deal with the Commerce Department that allows the company to resume buying parts from U.S. suppliers. ZTE has been shut down since the U.S. imposed sanctions on the company in April. As part of the deal ZTE will pay a $1 billion fine and put $400 million in escrow.

  • The Kurdish YPG are withdrawing from Manbij, Syria to placate Turkey. Turkey claims the YPG will give up their weapons as they leave the city, which seems unlikely.

  • The Trump administration is intent on selling F-35s to Turkey, which makes little sense to many people outside the Trump administration.

  • An undergrad student at Columbia wrote an extraordinarily brave essay about racial double standards:

    An even cleverer study asked participants whether they would sacrifice an innocent person’s life to save the lives of one hundred. The innocent victim was either named “Tyrone Payton” (a stereotypically black name) or “Chip Ellsworth III” (a stereotypically white name.) Right-wing participants were equally likely to kill the innocent victim regardless of their perceived race. Left-wing participants, however, preferred sacrificing Chip over Tyrone. What’s more, left-wing participants were completely unaware of their pro-black bias.

    But to call it a ‘pro-black bias’ slightly misses the mark. It is better described as a tacit acknowledgement that modern-day blacks must be seen through the filter of history—not as autonomous individuals living in the present, but as dominoes in a chain of causation that stretches back to the middle passage. Viewed through this historical filter, blacks cease to be agents, instead becoming “puppets at the end of a string…dangling there…waiting to be made whole,” as Brown University economist Glenn Loury has put it. Once one adopts this stance of patronage towards blacks, it makes perfect sense to admit the black applicant over the white one, and to think extra hard before sacrificing Tyrone.

    The site that published this essay, Quillette, has a Patreon account that you should consider supporting.

  • A rare virus called Nipah that normally lives in fruit bats has spread to humans in Kerala, India, and has killed 17 out of 18 people who have contracted it.