Links for 9-24-2017

  • Donald Trump nominated Trey Trainor to the Federal Election Commission, and Kevin Williamson suspects Democrat Senators are going to find him too Catholic to hold office, a cover for another objection:

    Trainor has been described as a “principled libertarian” by retiring FEC commissioner Lee Goodman, whose term Trainor will complete if he is confirmed. He describes himself as someone who simply wants to see the law implemented. “At the end of the day, the First Amendment says what it says, and there’s a reason it’s the First Amendment: The right of political speech of citizens is of utmost importance if we want to continue to have a functioning republic.” The real debate, he says, is not so much over the content of federal election law but the question of where — and to whom — that law applies. Questions about donations to candidates, campaign committees, and political parties are largely well-settled, but there are live issues involving organizations that have broader missions and that are controlled neither by candidates or political parties.

    The Democrats want to have a system under which the New York Times can engage in political advocacy without restriction but Citizens United is prohibited from showing a film critical of Hillary Rodham Clinton in the weeks leading up to an election — the heads-I-win-tails-you-lose method of regulating campaign finances.

    And that is what the campaign against Trey Trainor is really about.

  • At least some of the opposition to Donald Trump’s policies are funded by Department of Justice and Department of Housing and Urban Development slush funds that the Obama administration filled via legal settlements stemming from the 2008 financial crisis:

    The Obama administration’s massive shakedown of Big Banks over the mortgage crisis included unprecedented back-door funding for dozens of Democratic activist groups who were not even victims of the crisis.

    At least three liberal nonprofit organizations the Justice Department approved to receive funds from multibillion-dollar mortgage settlements were instrumental in killing the ObamaCare repeal bill and are now lobbying against GOP tax reform, as well as efforts to rein in illegal immigration.

    Later:

    The payola is potentially earmarked for third-party interest groups approved by the Justice Department and HUD without requiring any proof of how the funds will be spent. Many of the recipients so far are radical leftist organizations who solicited the settlement cash from the administration even though they were not parties to the lawsuits, records show.

  • William Jacobson notes that the NFL’s protest rules are a ratchet that only turns left:

    The NFL is as political an organization as there is, now. It picked sides in the culture war, and the side it picked is decidedly left. The NFL refused to allow the Dallas Cowboys to display a decal honoring the Dallas police killed by a Black Lives Matter supporter, yet it is completely supporting the “right” of players to kneel on the sideline while the National Anthem is played, as both a sign of support for the Black Lives Matter movement and an anti-Trump protest.

    The entire Steelers team stayed in the locker room during the national anthem — except former U.S. Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva, who served three tours in Afghanistan.

  • A French soldier was killed fighting ISIS near the Iraq/Syria border. Around 1,200 French soldiers are serving in Iraq and Syria.

  • The U.S. bombed an ISIS camp in the Libyan desert, 150 miles southeast of Sirte.

  • The Spanish government is blocking access to internet domains associated with Catalonia’s independence referendum.

  • Rudaw published an interesting interview with Iraqi Christians who were asked what they’d like to see in a new constitution for an independent Kurdistan.

  • Iran imposed an air embargo on Iraqi Kurdistan ahead of the independence referendum, and staged war games along the border.

Links for 9-20-2017

Links for 9-19-2017

  • John Sexton collected several videos showing buildings in Mexico City shaking and collapsing after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake. This earthquake struck 32 years to the day after a magnitude 8.1 earthquake killed thousands of people.

  • Fred Lucas summarized Donald Trump’s U.N. speech for The Daily Signal. An hour or so after Trump’s speech, former White House adviser Sebastian Gorka delivered a speech along the same lines to Hillsdale College supporters: 

  • CNN reported that investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort before and after the election. The warrants for the wiretapping were issued by the FISA court.

  • Sig Sauer asked the Trump administration to withdraw an export license for $1.2 million in American-manufactured weapons that were to be sold to Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s bodyguards — the same bodyguards who beat up protesters outside the Turkish embassy in Washington, D.C., earning many of them an indictment.

  • Former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson accused the Trump-era EPA of being non-transparent. Jackson used the email alias “Richard Windsor” to shield her EPA emails from Freedom of Information Act requests, so she has practical experience in this area. Jackson is now a vice president at Apple.

  • Israel used a Patriot missile to shoot down a drone over the Golan Heights. The drone was probably manufactured by Iran and flown for the benefit of Hezbollah.

  • The U.S. opened a small military base in Israel to support a missile defense system. The base is located within an Israeli Air Force base.

  • Alex Gorka makes offers insightful observations on Turkey’s purchase of a S–400 missile defense system from Russia:

    The system is not operationally compatible with the systems used by NATO countries, which gives Turkey a military capacity independent of the alliance. NATO commanders will not have control over it. The identification friend or foe (IFF) equipment won’t prevent Turkey from using it against NATO aircraft and missiles. Reaching full operational capability will require Russian personnel to be stationed in Turkey on advice, assistance and training missions.

    The technology transfer component of the S–400 deal is especially important as it would allow Turkey to rapidly expand domestic defense industry with Russia’s help. Russia would supply two batteries and help Ankara build two more such systems. A few years ago, the US refused to let Turkey produce Patriot air defense systems on its soil and the deal was off.

    Ankara does not have industrial infrastructure to produce air defense systems. Russian specialists will have to come and build it from scratch. As a result, Russia will get access to the defense infrastructure of a NATO member state. The agreement to build the Akkuyu nuclear power plant in Turkey, which is to be launched by 2023, is another example of fruitful economic cooperation.

  • Turkey deployed tanks and rocket launchers along its border with Iraqi Kurdistan and said they’d remain deployed there until the day after the September 25 independence referendum.

  • Jonah Cohen argues the Kurds deserve a homeland:

    Western leaders and policymakers who bemoan the referendum can, if they choose, flatter themselves as “realists.” And, true, they are not speaking from the philosophical tradition of Locke and Lincoln and Mill. But the irony here is that violence will be more likely, not less, if the Kurdish people aren’t allowed to express their visceral desires through a democratic process. History teaches that we ought to tread carefully around liberty-longing people with pent-up political rage. Up till now, Iraqi Kurds have been more than restrained, loyal to the West, sacrificing much for the American-led coalition. Without a political path toward their dream of statehood – without “a street empty of bloodstains,” to borrow words of Kurdish poet Kajal Ahmad – at least some of them will likely conclude that democracy has failed, leaving them no other choice but guerrilla warfare and chaos.

  • British police arrested a third suspect in the London tube bombing.

  • The Telegraph reports that climate change represents less of a threat than predicted because the models are wrong. I know, you’re shocked.

    Climate change poses less of an immediate threat to the planet than previously thought because scientists got their modelling wrong, a new study has found. New research by British scientists reveals the world is being polluted and warming up less quickly than 10-year-old forecasts predicted, giving countries more time to get a grip on their carbon output.

    An unexpected “revolution” in affordable renewable energy has also contributed to the more positive outlook.

  • Russian helicopter pilots participating in the “Zaphod 2017” war games should probably work on their aim and stop endangering bystanders:

Links for 9-18-2017

Links for 9-15-2017

Links for 9-14-2017

Links for 9-12-2017