Links for 10-13-2017

Links for 10-8-2017

  • Last week a Turkish employee at the U.S. consulate in Istanbul was arrested on charges of being connected to Fethullah Gulen. That prompted the U.S. to stop issuing visas to Turkish citizens, and the Turkish government responded in kind for American citizens.

  • The Turkish military sent scouts into Syria’s Idlib province and later shelled the area.

  • The Trump administration sent Congress a 70-point immigration enforcement plan:

    But the plans break serious new ground on the legal front, giving federal agents more leeway to deny illegal immigrants at the border, to arrest and hold them when they’re spotted in the interior, and to deport them more speedily. The goal, the White House said, is to ensure major changes to border security, interior enforcement and the legal immigration system.

    Later:

    All told, the list includes 27 different suggestions on border security, 39 improvements to interior enforcement and four major changes to the legal immigration system.

  • Kevin Williamson explains the nature and origin of the Second Amendment:

    Put another way: The right to keep and bear arms would still be there without the Second Amendment. Like the right not to suffer political or religious repression, it exists with or without the law. It is an aspect of the human being, not an aspect of the governments that human beings institute among themselves. The state does not grant the right — the state exists because the right exists and needs protecting from time to time. The state protects our rights from criminals and marauders, and the Constitution protects our rights from their protectors.

    No doubt that sounds like a lot of crazy talk to many of our progressive friends. “Rights from God! Imagine!” That is a critical failure of our most progressive institution, the schools, which consistently neglect — or decline — to provide our students with even a rudimentary education in American civics and the history of the American idea. It isn’t that the modern left-winger is obliged to accept the intellectual and philosophical basis of the American order, but he ought to understand that things are the way they are for a reason. The idea that the Second Amendment could simply be repealed —that’s that! — isn’t only an attack on the right to keep and bear arms: It is an attack on the American constitutional order per se. That our progressive friends often are so pristinely ignorant of the moral order underpinning the American founding is one of their great intellectual failures. They do not understand the American idea, and, as a result, they do not really understand their own ideas, either.

  • The New York Times published an exposé on Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual harassment, which the political left is conveniently ignoring, including our newly self-appointed arbiters of right and wrong, the progressive late night TV comedians. Even Saturday Night Live avoided commenting on Weinstein. Today the board of directors of The Weinstein Company fired Harvey Weinstein, effective immediately.

Links for 10-7-2017

  • The Department of Defense identified the fourth U.S. Army Green Beret killed in Niger as Sgt. La David T. Johnson.

  • Michael Brendan Dougherty takes on the argument that we don’t need a Second Amendment because ordinary Americans can’t defend themselves from a tyrannical government equipped with sophisticated weapons:

    Sometimes people put Schermer’s argument more baldly. They ask something like this: “Do you really think Bubba in camo gear hiding in the forest is going to take on the U.S. military? The U.S. military has nuclear weapons!”

    Who exactly do you think has stymied the U.S. in Afghanistan for 16 years? The Taliban is made up of Afghan Bubbas. The Taliban doesn’t need to defeat nuclear weapons, though they are humiliating a nuclear power for the second time in history. They use a mix of Kalashnikovs and WWII-era bolt-action rifles. Determined insurgencies are really difficult to fight, even if they are only armed with Enfield rifles and you can target them with a TOW missiles system that can spot a cat in the dark from two miles away. In Iraq, expensive tanks were destroyed with simple improvised explosives.

  • Racial identity politics is ruining one of Minnesota’s best public school districts:

    For years, the Edina Public Schools (EPS) have been one of the brightest stars in the firmament of Minnesota public education. Parents who moved to the affluent Twin Cities suburb gladly paid a hefty premium for a house, because it meant their kids could attend the district’s top-notch schools.

    But today, test scores are sinking in Edina’s fabled schools. One in five Edina High School students can’t read at grade level and one in three can’t do grade-level math. These test results dropped EHS’s ranking among Minnesota high schools from 5th to 29th in reading proficiency, and from 10th to 40th in math proficiency between 2014 and 2017. Across the district, about 30 percent of kids are not “on track for success” in reading, and the same is true for math.

    A number of factors may be at work here. Clearly, however, there’s been a profound shift in district leaders’ educational philosophy. In place of academic excellence for all, the district’s primary mission is now to ensure that students think correctly on social and political issues — most importantly, on race and “white privilege.”

  • The U.S. government finally stopped buying Russian helicopters for the Afghan military. The Afghan military’s “new” helicopters are refurbished Blackhawks.

Links for 10-5-2017

Links for 10-4-2017

Links for 7-3-2017

  • Mark Steyn writes that bollards are proliferating as a response to terrorist attacks, both in the physical world and in people’s minds:

    So in what sense is Manchester “united”? Zamzam Ibrahim’s view of where she wants British society to wind up is no different in its essentials from the bomber’s. They’re both about the same age; the main difference is that Salman Abedi is in a zillion pieces being scraped off the pavement, and Zamzam Ibrahim will wind up in the House of Lords. And in a democratic age what matters is the disposition of the large number of people who stick around rather than the small number who self-detonate. If the issue is terrorism, Miss Ibrahaim is not a problem. If the issue is whether formerly cohesive societies can survive the mass importation of ever more people with a fundamentally different and incompatible vision of how that society should be run, she is in fact symptomatic of a much bigger problem than the occasional suicide-bomber or van-renter. As I put it the other day, after congratulating that Canadian sniper on his new world record for longest confirmed kill, what’s the point of picking off an ISIS barbarian at 3,450 meters halfway round the globe if back on the home front you keep importing thousands upon thousands who share his world view? Or at any rate incline more to his than to yours, at least when it comes to legal systems, the segregation of the sexes, etc.

  • Donald Trump’s Twitter feed is a lost opportunity to advance his agenda:

    In case you were distracted by something like the Senate health-care fight, the White House just finished a run of four policy-themed weeks (infrastructure, workforce development, tech and energy). This was designed to be the month the White House methodically forced the media and the public to reckon with its policy ideas, all focused on shaping the domestic policy of the future.

    Axios’ Shane Savitsky counted every tweet on @realDonaldTrump during that month and found that of 121 tweets by Trump himself, three related to these policy topics. If you include tweets on his feed that are clearly by aides (include video, pics, hashtags, etc.), it’s 14 for 195.

  • A federal district court judge issued an injunction blocking enforcement of California’s gun magazine confiscation law. California passed a law making it illegal to possess a gun magazine holding more than 10 rounds.

  • Google is donating $2 million to an anti-violence campaign that includes leading gun control organizations.

  • Illinois’ Department of Child and Family Services is requiring all people associated with the state’s child welfare system to enthusiastically buy into a kid’s self-proclaimed gender identity:

    Appendix K is extensive, but the upshot is simple: anybody who comes into contact with a self-identified transgender youth via the child welfare system must support and affirm the child’s chosen gender identity, at all times and without reserve. These kids must be protected from any kind of scrutiny or skepticism regarding their gender identity, or any situation that might cause them discomfort over their gender expression.

    Foster home or facility placements for children that don’t offer unconditional support for all gender identity claims shall be denied contracts. Any DCFS staff who are insufficiently enthusiastic about this approach must be re-educated and, if this is unsuccessful, dismissed.

  • Nolan Peterson’s latest dispatch from Ukraine:

    Prior to my arrival in 2014, I had watched a YouTube video of what had happened at this place during the revolution. The sky was gray in the video, and the trees were bare.

    Snipers hidden in the surrounding rooftops gunned down the protesters one by one as they ascended the street. Some dropped dead in a flash. Others folded to the ground like in slow motion. Eventually, the dead clustered where they had collectively sought shelter in their final moments.

    The protesters were unarmed. They wore motorcycle helmets and wielded shields fashioned out of the top of garbage bins and road signs for protection. As sniper fire cut down one wave of protesters at the top of the hill, their comrades would rush up to drag the dead and wounded away.

    After depositing the casualties in the nearby Hotel Ukraine lobby, the survivors did something amazing. They turned around and went back.

  • French President Emmanuel Macron summoned parliament to the Palace of Versailles and declared that he wants to reduce the number of seats in parliament by one-third. If parliament doesn’t quickly go along with his plan, Macron threatened a popular referendum.

  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party was clobbered in the Tokyo Metropolitan assembly election. The next election for the House of Representatives is scheduled for December 2018, so Abe and his party have time to stage a comeback, but they’re in a hole now.

  • There were 23 sexual assaults during a music festival in Norrkoping, Sweden, prompting organizers to cancel next year’s event.

  • A suicide bomber dressed as a veiled woman killed 14 people at a camp for displaced people west of Baghdad; thirteen people were injured. ISIS claimed responsibility.

  • Leaders of Afghanistan’s three largest ethnic minority political parties met in Turkey and issued a demand for reforms that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani must implement — if he doesn’t, they’re threatening mass protests. All of the leaders issuing these demands hold senior positions in Ghani’s government.

    The group, calling itself the Coalition for the Salvation of Afghanistan, said their aim was to “prevent the collapse of the government, avoid chaos and restore public trust.” They demanded that Ghani devolve power to cabinet ministries and provinces, stop “overreaching” his authority for personal motives, schedule long-promised elections, and obey the constitution and the law. It also called for Dostom’s full authority to be restored and a government attack against him to be investigated.

    Later:

    A variety of political figures and observers reacted skeptically to the news, suggesting that the ethnic minority leaders, all of whom have had differences with Ghani while in office, may be less interested in government reforms than in using a period of public anger and unhappiness to press for political advantage. They also noted that Ghani, an ethnic Pashtun, has been criticized for concentrating power in the hands of his ethnic and tribal allies and marginalizing other ethnic groups.

Links for 1-3-2017

  • Members of the House of Representatives and newly elected members of the Senate were sworn in today. Yesterday the House adopted rules that crippled the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), which was created in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal in 2005. After public criticism and a pair of Donald Trump tweets, those rule changes were postponed — the House approved new rules that lacked the OCE changes. The OCE has been abused for partisan purposes and should be reformed, but the timing of this maneuver was stupid.

  • Someone in the Department of Homeland Security leaked a memo to Reuters describing a meeting with Donald Trump’s transition team:

    In a wide-ranging request for documents and analysis, President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team asked the Department of Homeland Security last month to assess all assets available for border wall and barrier construction.

    The team also asked about the department’s capacity for expanding immigrant detention and about an aerial surveillance program that was scaled back by the Obama administration but remains popular with immigration hardliners. And it asked whether federal workers have altered biographic information kept by the department about immigrants out of concern for their civil liberties.

    Later:

    The transition team also asked for copies of every executive order and directive sent to immigration agents since Obama took office in 2009, according to the memo summarizing the meeting.

  • A new Obama administration regulation adds the names of Social Security recipients who are “financially incompetent” (e.g. they can’t pay their own bills) to the list of people who are prohibited from buying guns. John Lott argues this will make it more difficult for elderly people to defend themselves.

  • The Washington Free Beacon published an excerpt from Bill Gertz’s new book, iWar: War and Peace in the Information Age.

  • Ford announced they’re scrapping plans to build a $1.6 billion plant in Mexico, and will instead spend $700 million to expand the existing Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan. Ford claims the change of plans is due to pro-growth policies they expect the Republican-controlled Congress and President Trump to enact. Trump has publicly criticized Ford’s plan to build the plant in Mexico.

  • Victor Davis Hanson writes on the current state of California:

    What makes the law-abiding leave California is not just the sanctimoniousness, the high taxes, or the criminality. It is always the insult added to injury. We suffer not only from the highest basket of income, sales, and gas taxes in the nation, but also from nearly the worst schools and infrastructure. We have the costliest entitlements and the most entitled. We have the largest number of billionaires and the largest number of impoverished, both in real numbers and as a percentage of the state population.

    California crime likewise reflects the California paradox of two states: a coastal elite and everyone else. California is the most contentious, overregulated, and postmodern state in the Union, and also the most feral and 19th-century.

  • The Turkish government wants to imprison Fethullah Gulen’s dentists for 15 years. Erdogan’s government keeps achieving new heights of absurdity.