Links for 7-17-2018

  • Byron York explains why Donald Trump doesn’t like to admit Russian interference in the 2016 election:

    There have always been two parts to the Trump-Russia probe: the what-Russia-did part, which is the investigation into Russia’s actions during the campaign, and the get-Trump part, which is the effort to use the investigation to remove him from office.

    Trump’s problem is that he has always refused, or been unable, to separate the two. One is about national security and international relations, while the other is about Donald Trump.

    The president clearly believes if he gives an inch on the what-Russia-did part — if he concedes that Russia made an effort to disrupt the election — his adversaries, who want to discredit his election, undermine him, and force him from office, will take a mile on the get-Trump part. That’s consistent with how Trump approaches other problems; he doesn’t admit anything, because he knows his adversaries will never be satisfied and just demand more.

    Donald Trump now says he misspoke when he said he believed Vladimir Putin’s denial of Russian interference in the election over the conclusions of American intelligence agencies.

  • Paul Kengor notes that Democrats are now Russia hawks:

    It’s only a matter of time before Hillary Clinton heads to Wheeling waving a list of 205 Russian spies in the Trump State Department.

    Where’s old Tailgunner Joe Biden to charge Trump with “a conspiracy so immense”?

    This hypocrisy is outrageous. It’s outrageous that it took charges of Russian meddling against Hillary Clinton to finally make progressives give a damn about the dangerous deceit of the Kremlin.

  • New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Maryland sued the federal government over the $10,000 cap on deductions for state and local taxes included in the latest tax overhaul. These four states want the residents of other states to resume subsidizing their extremely high tax rates.

  • The Daily Caller identified the founder of Sleeping Giants, a left-wing activist group that works to shut down right-wing outlets via boycott campaigns: Matt Rivitz, an ad copywriter based in San Francisco.

  • Federal prosecutors charged another Honduran congressman with drug trafficking. The congressman, Midence Oqueli Martinez Turcioss, is not in custody.

  • Iran filed a lawsuit against the U.S. in the International Court of Justice, claiming the latest American sanctions violate a 1955 treaty.

  • John O’Sullivan wrote a good summary of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s “soft Brexit” plan and its aftermath:

    The commitments had been to an entirely new Brexit strategy that seemed to erase all of May’s famous red lines against what she would not accept in talks with Brussels. It was the kind of thing that gives shyster lawyers a bad name: Britain would leave the EU Customs Union but then join a common customs territory with the EU; leave the single market but accept “ongoing harmonization” with EU regulations; leave the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice but then instruct U.K. courts to follow ECJ precedents. May insisted that these proposals were the fulfillment of her public pledges. That was too much for anyone who believes that 2+2=4. David Davis resigned on Sunday evening; his junior minister, Steve Baker, did so the next morning; Boris followed that afternoon; and the resignations — of junior ministers, parliamentary political secretaries (the first step on the political ladder), party officials, constituency chairmen, and ordinary activists — have been flowing ever since.

  • Nicaraguan security forces moved against an opposition stronghold in Masaya. At least 275 people have been killed since protests started in April.

  • Afghan commandos raided a Taliban prison in Helmand province and freed 58 prisoners.

Links for 3-5-2018

  • John Kerry has been working with Iran’s ambassador to the U.N. and others to rescue the Iranian nuclear deal:

    With the Iran deal facing its gravest threat since it was signed in 2015, Kerry has been on an aggressive yet stealthy mission to preserve it, using his deep lists of contacts gleaned during his time as the top US diplomat to try to apply pressure on the Trump administration from the outside. President Trump, who has consistently criticized the pact and campaigned in 2016 on scuttling it, faces a May 12 deadline to decide whether to continue abiding by its terms.

    Kerry also met last month with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and he’s been on the phone with top European Union official Federica Mogherini, according to the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal the private meetings. Kerry has also met with French President Emmanuel Macron in both Paris and New York, conversing over the details of sanctions and regional nuclear threats in both French and English.

    This is about as blatant a violation of the Logan Act as you’ll find, but Dan McLaughlin argues Congress should repeal the Logan Act.

  • The Guardian reports that the Trump administration hired an Israeli private intelligence company to investigate two Obama administration officials, Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl, whose work was instrumental on the Iran nuclear deal. The Guardian treats this an unacceptable, but of course was OK for the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to hire a former MI6 agent (Christopher Steele) to investigate Donald Trump and his campaign, relying on Russian sources for information.

  • Andrew McCarthy argues that Rod Rosenstein and Robert Mueller need to publicly state whether there’s a criminal case against Donald Trump and the nature of that case:

    In every other independent-prosecutor investigation in modern history — Watergate, Iran-Contra, Whitewater/Lewinsky — the president and the public have known exactly what was alleged. The prosecutor was able to investigate with all the secrecy the law allows, but under circumstances in which we all understood what was being investigated and why the president was suspected of wrongdoing.

    After two years, we are entitled to nothing less. The president should direct Rosenstein to outline, publicly and in detail, the good-faith basis for a criminal investigation arising out of Russia’s interference in the election — if there is one. If he can’t, Mueller’s criminal investigation should be terminated; if he can, Mueller should be compelled to explain (unless Rosenstein’s disclosure makes it clear) why he needs to interview President Trump in order to complete his work.

    If Rosenstein and Mueller are reluctant to do that, it can only be because they’ve decided that not only their investigation but also their desire for secrecy take precedence over every other consideration, including the president’s capacity to govern domestically and conduct foreign policy in a dangerous world. But secrecy is not the nation’s top priority. It’s long past time to lay the cards on the table.

  • Two of James Comey’s allies within the FBI, James Baker and Lisa Page, quit their jobs yesterday. Baker is joining the Brookings Institution.

  • The Trump administration plans to end Temporary Protected Status for 86,000 Hondurans who happened to be in the U.S. when Hurricane Mitch hit their home country in 1999. Mark Krikorian writes that Congress needs to reform this program so presidents stop abusing it.

  • Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a fetal heartbeat bill into law, which means Iowa is now the state with the tightest restrictions on abortion. Of course implementation of the law will be blocked while it’s challenged in courts for years.

  • A magnitude 6.9 earthquake hit Hawaii’s big island after Kilauea erupted and sent lava flowing through a housing subdivision.

  • Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and more 1,000 other protesters were arrested ahead of Vladimir Putin’s inauguration.

Links for 1-19-2018

Links for 12-18-2017

Links for 12-5-2017

Links for 12-2-2017

  • A top FBI agent assigned to Robert Mueller’s investigation, Peter Strzok, was removed from that position because he sent anti-Trump texts to another FBI employee. Then it gets worse:

    Peter Strzok, as deputy head of counterintelligence at the FBI, was a key player in the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server to do government work as secretary of state, as well as the probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election.

    During the Clinton investigation, Strzok was involved in a romantic relationship with FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who worked for Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, according to the people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

    The extramarital affair was problematic, these people said, but of greater concern among senior law enforcement officials were text messages the two exchanged during the Clinton investigation and campaign season, in which they expressed anti-Trump sentiments and other comments that appeared to favor Clinton.

    Note that the Andrew McCabe mentioned in that quote is married to a strong Clinton supporter himself.

  • Someone associated with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson leaked to Bloomberg that Jared Kushner is working with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on a plan to create and fund a Palestinian state. According to this account, Kushner isn’t keeping the State Department informed about these discussions.

  • The warhead on North Korea’s new Hwasong–15 missile failed to survive re-entry, which is a small, likely temporary blessing.

  • Honduras imposed a curfew after protests against presidential election results (or lack thereof) turned violent. So far three people have died and hundreds of people have been arrested.

Links for 11-29-2017

  • The U.S. Air Force fired the commander of the Thunderbirds flight demonstration team, Lt. Col. Jason Heard. His boss cited a lack of confidence in his “leadership and risk management style.”

  • Yesterday Garrison Keillor published an op-ed in The Washington Post declaring “absurd” the idea that Senator Al Franken should resign over sexual harassment charges. Today Keillor was fired by Minnesota Public Radio over sexual harassment charges.

  • The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Carpenter v. United States, an important Fourth Amendment case dealing with the circumstances where law enforcement must obtain a search warrant to access cell phone records.

  • Mollie Hemingway points out more cases where the mainstream media bends “fact checks” to advance a political agenda, not to advance the truth:

    Far more troubling was the Washington Post’s fact check of Vice President Mike Pence’s claim that “There are more Americans working today than ever before in American history.” Now, a fact check of that statement means you check whether it’s true that more Americans work today than ever before. A reasonable person would suspect it has a high chance of being true if for no other reason than there are more Americans living today than ever before.

    In fact, it is factually correct to say that more Americans are working now than ever before. The Washington Post admits this, showcases the numbers (124 million, up from 65 million in 1968), and says Pence is “technically correct.” So they give him, quite amazingly, three Pinocchios, their little metric that summarizes their analysis of the truthfulness of the statement. Then they admit they wanted to give him four Pinocchios but were constrained by the fact that what he said was true. I’m not joking.

  • Andrew McCarthy argues that we need to create new national security courts to try terrorists instead of prosecuting them in civilian or military courts:

    These problems, it should be noted, are separate and apart from the main challenge: It is impossible to try terrorists under civilian due-process protocols without providing them generous discovery from the government’s intelligence files. This means we are telling the enemy what we know about the enemy while the enemy is still plotting to attack Americans and American interests. That’s nuts.

    The patent downsides of treating international terrorism as a law-enforcement issue are why critics, myself included, were hopeful that a shift to military prosecution of enemy combatants would improve matters — more protection of intelligence, and due process limited by the laws and customs of war. We were wrong. The experiment has been a dismal failure. To catalogue all the delays, false starts, and misadventures of the military-commission system would take another column or three. Suffice it to say that it was unfair and unrealistic to task our armed forces with designing a legal system on the fly even as they fought a complex war in which, unlike prior American wars, swaths of the American legal profession backed the enemy — volunteering to represent jihadist belligerents in challenges to military detention and prosecution.

  • Russia is a signatory to an Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe agreement requiring them to allow other countries to monitor military exercises that exceed certain parameters, such as the number of troops participating or the number of tanks involved. Russia always under-reports the size of its military exercises before they’re held to elide the monitoring requirement, then trumpets the huge number of troops and equipment involved afterward — numbers that would have triggered monitoring.

    Western concerns about the possible size and purpose of Zapad 2017 were a direct consequence of Russia’s consistent lack of transparency regarding its military activities over the last several years. Russia has consistently under-reported the numbers of troops involved in its exercises to avoid outside observation, and has conducted large no-notice “snap” exercises to test Western responses to unexpected troop activity. This behavior, coupled with Russia’s actions against Ukraine in 2014 and Georgia in 2008, contributes to the perception that Russia is prepared to use military force again against its neighbors and shows that it feels little obligation to play by the rules it has agreed to.

  • A commander of Bosnian Croat forces, Slobodan Praljak, committed suicide in a U.N. court by drinking poison. Judges had just rejected his appeal of a 20 year prison sentence for war crimes against Bosnian Muslims.

  • An exceptionally tight election for president of Honduras is triggering a political crisis.