Links for 8-7-2018

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  • The Trump administration plans to hand out $12 billion to American farmers who have been hurt by retaliatory tariffs. From an economic perspective, this is about as wrong a thing that the administration could do — its own tariff policies hurt a favored constituency, and they’re going to “fix” it by handing out bundles of cash.

    Ben Sasse, another actual fiscal conservative, added in his own statement today that “tariffs and bailouts aren’t going to make America great again, they’re just going to make it 1929 again.” Pretty close: WaPo notes that the program Trump is using for the emergency farm bailout is the Commodity Credit Corporation, created in 1933 to help boost the economy during the Depression. The CCC is already empowered by statute to borrow $30 billion from Treasury, which means Trump can hand this money out without further congressional authorization. The momentous follow-up question is what happens if the trade war deepens by October and the White House wants another cash infusion for struggling industries — and there isn’t enough left in the CCC to cover it this time. Will the “small-government” GOP sign off on a larger bailout fueled by Trump’s protectionism, with Election Day looming?

    Survey says … of course they will. These people won’t defy him even on minor matters for fear of enraging his base. Do you think they’re going to go to war with MAGAnomics knowing how it might affect midterm turnout? And once they cave on the next bailout, they’ll need to cave on others. It’ll never be a “good time” to say no to agricultural welfare when a president from their own party has created the conditions necessitating that welfare. They’re picking up the tab until the trade war is over, like it or not. At best there’ll be cuts to other parts of the budget to “fund” the trade-war subsidies. It may be the starkest demonstration yet of how fraudulent the whole “tea party” era was.

  • The House of Representatives passed a bill that denies localities federal economic development funds for two years if they use an economic development justification for eminent domain. This was passed 13 years after the Kelo v. City of New London decision that legalized eminent domain seizures for “economic development” purposes.

  • The three major evening news programs have devoted more time to immigration than to any other Trump administration policy, and 92% of that coverage has been negative.

  • House and Senate conferees settled on a defense authorization bill, which includes the first U.S. policy on cyber warfare, conditionally limits American involvement in Saudi Arabia’s military campaign in Yemen, and puts a temporary hold on F–35 deliveries to Turkey.

  • The Border Patrol is arresting more people crossing illegally into the U.S. from Canada.

  • Doug Bock Clark tried to piece together what happened to Otto Warmbier, the young man arrested by North Korea who returned home unconscious, only to die a few days later:

    When Trump learned of Otto’s condition, he doubled down on the order for Yun to rush to Pyongyang and bring Otto home. The North Koreans were unilaterally informed that an American plane would soon land in Pyongyang and that United States diplomats and doctors would get off. “The president was very invested in bringing Otto home,” said a State Department official who was involved in the case and who was not authorized to speak on the record. “Listening to him deliberate on this, he sounded to me a lot more like a dad.” But, the official said, “we were very scared,” for though the North Koreans eventually said the plane would be able to land, no one knew what kind of welcome the Americans would receive on the ground. Yun explained, “The North Koreans said we could send a delegation to see Otto, but that we would have to discuss some of the conditions of getting him out once we got there.” And so Yun raced to assemble a diplomatic and medical team to save Otto.

  • North Korea is dragging its heels on returning the remains of American soldiers. The North Koreans probably want cash and concessions in return for the remains.

  • At least 74 people were killed by wildfires near Athens, Greece.

  • Israel shot down a Syrian fighter jet after it flew over the Golan Heights. The plane crashed in an ISIS-held area of Syria and the pilot was reportedly killed.

  • Andrew Klavan explains that E is for equality in the leftese dictionary:

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