Links for 4-30-2018

  • An American soldier was killed in eastern Afghanistan and a second was wounded.

  • Dr. Tom Coburn writes that a balanced budget amendment isn’t enough to curb the federal government’s overspending problem:

    But here’s the rub. Even if Congress did have the political fortitude to tighten its own belt, a balanced-budget amendment could not rescue the nation from the looming fiscal crisis. In fact, passing a balanced-budget amendment without other needed reforms would be like straining out a gnat only to swallow a camel; it would make the situation worse, rather than better.

    Two little words tell us why: unfunded mandates. We all know that one of the feds’ favorite pastimes is foisting expensive rules, regulations and policies upon the states. Does anyone doubt that this practice would increase dramatically under a balanced-budget amendment? Congress can simply make its own budget look better by casting more of a burden on the budgets of our state and local governments.

    Its other alternative, of course, is to raise our taxes. Having spent a long time in Congress, I can tell you that if you think cutting spending is the natural response to a balanced-budget requirement, you aren’t thinking like the average member of Congress.

    A real solution to the federal fiscal insanity must go deeper than the parchment salve of a balanced budget. A real solution must restore meaningful limitations on the size, scope, and jurisdiction of the federal government, curtailing its ability to dabble in matters the Constitution does not delegate to it, but reserves to the states and the people. In short, we need to make the federal government look a lot more like the one laid out in the Constitution.

    There is a path that will get us there. The only solution big enough to confront our federal problems is the tool for constitutional amendment provided to our state legislatures in Article V.

  • Israel appears to have discovered where Iran was storing missiles in Syria, and it proceeded to blow them up. One explosion registered as a magnitude 2.6 earthquake.

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel grabbed a trove of documents on Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Iran has always claimed that it never had a nuclear weapons development program, but Netanyahu says the documents prove otherwise.

  • Jayme Metzgar writes that “Alfie Evans is What Happens When Kids Belong to Society, Not Parents”:

    If you think you care more about Evans’ suffering than his own mother who grew him inside her body, more than his own father who sits by his bedside every hour, I have two words for you: you don’t. If you think you know more about his quality of life or his feelings than the two people who have nurtured him every day of his life: you don’t.

    If you think he, and other children like him, would be better off without parents loving them as the individuals they are, and fighting for them every day: you could not be more wrong.

  • John Daniel Davidson writes that “Alfie Evans’ Death Illustrates the Monstrous Logic of the Welfare State”:

    But the brazen illogic of the state insisting that it is in your own best interests if you cease to exist serves the overarching logic of the welfare state, which is power. When the national health service decides, for instance, that your sick child must be allowed to die because it is in the child’s best interests, what it really means—but is not quite willing to say outright—is that is in the best interests of the state that your child be allowed to die.

  • Britain’s House of Lords voted to give parliament the final say over the Brexit agreement in a defeat for Prime Minister Theresa May.

  • ISIS claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings in Kabul. The second bomber targeted journalists who were on the scene covering the first bombing; at least nine journalists were killed and six wounded.

  • Controlling words is key to controlling culture:

Links for 3-22-2018

Links for 3-5-2018

Links for 10-30-2017

Links for 10-13-2017

Links for 9-17-2017

  • The U.S. Constitution was signed 230 years ago today. The Founders’ Constitution is a good resource to learn how the Constitution was written, as is Hillsdale College’s free Introduction to the Constitution class. Mark Meckler writes that it’s time to use Article V of the Constitution to restore it.

  • Bloomberg details how wealthy Chinese people use “visa fixers” to move to the U.S. via the EB–5 program:

    The U.S. hit its annual quota of 10,000 EB–5 visas for the first time in 2014. Eighty-five percent of them went to Chinese nationals. The quota system stipulates that no country’s citizens can claim more than 7 percent of the total EB–5 visas in a year, as long as any other country wants them. But demand from outside China is small—though it’s growing—so in practice, citizens of every other country go directly to the front of the line and Chinese investors hoover up whatever’s left. The most visas ever claimed by a country other than China was 903, by South Korea in 2009.

  • Kevin Williamson writes that Donald Trump wasn’t rolled by Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi over DACA, but Trump did roll his voters:

    Trump has run into trouble, mostly as a result of the fact that he does not know what he is doing and is too lazy to learn how to do the job. He has made an ethic of willful ignorance, and as a result he failed to get some relatively easy things done: In spite of what you hear on talk radio and from the talking mouths on cable news, Republicans do want to repeal the Affordable Care Act. But that’s a big piece of domestic policy that requires presidential leadership of the sort that Trump is simply unable to offer, having given no serious thought to the question other than to say that he’d prefer a “great” and “terrific” system to the current one, preferably at a lower price. How do get that done without raising taxes to fund new subsidies — while keeping the expensive and market-distorting but very popular preexisting-conditions rules — is non-obvious. Congressional Republicans under the leadership of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, two very fine opposition leaders who so far have not shown themselves to be very adept at governing, were unable to coalesce around a credible alternative to the ACA — or even around a non-credible alternative. End result: humiliating failure.

    Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, lifelong Republicans both, are familiar enough with humiliation. Trump can barely endure it; he care barely endure a critical word from Joe Scarborough without flying into a conniption. And so he was driven by his vanity and his thin skin into the arms of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, desperate for something to put into his “W” column and create the impression that he actually is getting something done.

    Later:

    With no market-oriented health-care reform and no hawkish immigration reform and the prospects of far-reaching tax reform looking shaky — even though Republicans exist for no obvious purpose other than cutting taxes — Trump is still looking for his big win. Even those who were willing to suspend the fully formed adult parts of their brains and give him the benefit of the doubt are coming around to the realization that he has no beliefs and no principles, and that he will sell out any ally, cause, or national interest if doing so suits his one and only true master in this life: his vanity. He didn’t get rolled by Pelosi and Schumer: His voters got rolled by him. That’s the real deal.

  • A woman threw acid on four American women at a train station in Marseille, France. Police say it was not a terrorist attack.

Links for 8-21-2017

  • The USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker near Singapore, and ten sailors are missing. Multiple compartments were flooded, and there’s a good chance the ten sailors drowned inside them — the fate of the seven sailors who died on the USS Fitzgerald when it collided with a container ship in June. Five sailors were injured, and four of them had to be evacuated by helicopter. The U.S. Navy is calling a temporary halt to operations to focus on safety.

  • The U.S. scaled back its non-immigrant visa operations in Russia, which means it will be difficult for business people, tourists, and students to travel to the U.S. People will have to apply for these visas in person at the embassy in Moscow, which is a problem for a country that spans eleven time zones. The move was taken in response to Russia’s decision to reduce the number of American diplomats allowed to operate in Russia by 755. It will be difficult for Russia to retaliate in kind, since it’s likely Russian business people need to travel to the U.S. more urgently than the reverse direction. Russia announced that Anatoly Antonov will be the next ambassador to the U.S. Antonov is currently a deputy foreign minister, and has been a deputy defense minister. Holding the defense position during Russia’s slow invasion of Ukraine earned Antonov a slot on European sanctions lists. 

  • Andrew McCarthy read the indictment of House IT contractors Imran Awan and Hina Alvi, and discovered it contains odd omissions:

    The indictment itself is drawn very narrowly. All four charges flow from a financial-fraud conspiracy of short duration. Only Imran Awan and his wife are named as defendants. There is no reference to Awan-family perfidy in connection with the House communications system.

    More bizarre still: There is not a word about Alvi’s flight to Pakistan, nor Imran Awan’s failed attempt to follow her there. This is not an oversight. The omission appears quite intentional.

    Later:

    To summarize, the indictment is an exercise in omission. No mention of the Awan group’s theft of information from Congress. Not a hint about the astronomical sums the family was paid, much of it for no-show “work.” Not a word about Wasserman Schultz’s keeping Awan on the payroll for six months during which (a) he was known to be under investigation, (b) his wife was known to have fled to Pakistan, and (c) he was not credentialed to do the IT work for which he had been hired. Nothing about Wasserman Schultz’s energetic efforts to prevent investigators from examining Awan’s laptop. A likely currency-transportation offense against Alvi goes uncharged. And, as for the offenses that are charged, prosecutors plead them in a manner that avoids any reference to what should be their best evidence.

  • Claire Galofaro profiled Aberdeen, Washington, many of whose residents voted for Donald Trump in the hope he’d help turn around their town’s dying economy. Galofaro asks what Trump has done for them in his first six months; aside from rolling back some regulations, he hasn’t done much.

    Now they come to discuss Trump, and their differing degrees of faith that he will make good on his promise to fix the rotting blue-collar economy that brought this despair to their doorstep.

    Many here agree that the thrashing and churning in Washington looks trivial when viewed from this place 3,000 miles away that so many residents have been trying so hard to save. Some maintain confidence that Trump will rise above the chaos to deliver on his pledge to resurrect the American dream. Others fear new depths of hopelessness if he fails.

    Blodgett just prays Trump understand the stakes — because in places like this, there is little room left for error from Washington, D.C. 

    There, he is tweeting insults about senators and CNN.

    Here, her neighbors have been reduced to living in cars.

  • The University of Texas at Austin removed three Confederate statues from its campus in a late night operation. Houston police arrested Andrew Schneck as he was preparing to blow up a Confederate statue in a park. Police and FBI agents found more explosives at Schneck’s home.

  • Spanish police located and killed Younes Abouyaaquoub, the man they believe drove a truck into a crowd of people in Barcelona. Abouyaaquoub hijacked a car during his escape from the scene and killed the driver.

  • President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey and Iran are discussing joint military action against the PKK and its Iranian affiliate, the PJAK.

  • China is still supplying North Korea with oil.

  • Jim DeMint explains that the federal government will never willingly surrender power, and the only solution available is an Article V convention: