Links for 4-12-2017

Links for 3-31-2017

  • Donald Trump used White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney to threaten Congressman Mark Sanford (R-SC) (a Freedom Caucus member) with a primary challenge over his opposition to ObamaCare Lite:

    “The president asked me to look you square in the eyes and to say that he hoped that you voted ‘no’ on this bill so he could run (a primary challenger) against you in 2018,” Sanford said Mulvaney told him.

    He added that Mulvaney made it clear he did not want to deliver the message but did so at Trump’s insistence.

    “I’ve never had anyone, over my time in politics, put it to me as directly as that,” Sanford said, perhaps understating just how monumental it is for a sitting president to openly go after members of his own party.

    Alexandra DeSanctis writes:

    Yesterday morning’s tweet was yet another indication that Trump doesn’t understand the importance of coalition-building, or perhaps even that he believes his incredible “deal-making” skills will somehow compensate for the loss of Freedom Caucus votes. Without the 35 official members of the HFC, the House GOP has just 216 representatives, two fewer than what’s needed to pass a bill without any Democratic support. It would be a mistake for the president to believe that his legislative agenda — to the extent that he has one at all — will benefit from such open attacks against a crucial subset of his own party.

    What’s more, this belligerence toward the HFC has put the president on a collision course with the people representing his most ardent supporters. By and large, Freedom Caucus members come from districts Trump dominated in November. Though there is reason to believe the most passionate Trump voters will side with him in any political conflict, even within the GOP, it is unwise for him to set himself against the very politicians who give voice to the populist wave that swept him into office.

  • The person who “unmasked” Trump transition team members was “very well known, very high up, very senior in the intelligence world, and is not in the FBI. This led to other surveillance, which led to other names being unmasked.” Ben Shapiro writes:

    So, here’s the summation: it appears that members of the Obama administration not only wanted to preserve intelligence from the supposedly grubby hands of the Trump Team, a high-ranking intelligence official under Obama deliberately unmasked members of the Trump transition team in order to embarrass them. And that would only work if there were rumors about nefarious activity without proof of it – unmasking somebody for doing something completely innocuous would mean little publicly. Yet we still have no evidence of nefarious activity from any member of the Trump Team.

    That’s a scandal, folks.

    And that does require a real investigation.

  • People are curious why Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen still has a job now that Donald Trump is in office. Firing Koskinen should have been a priority for Trump.

  • Matthew Continetti writes that Senator Chuck Schumer is the Yasser Arafat of the Democratic Party:

    Schumer is so practiced at saying one thing to Democratic elites and another to the Democratic base that it is easy to fall for his charade. But neither Arafat nor Schumer should fool you. Schumer is a hypocrite and a liar and out for no one but himself. And it is for these reasons that his threat to filibuster Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch should be viewed with incredulity.

  • The Washington Free Beacon produced a great video illustrating the hypocrisy of Senate Democrats on filibustering Supreme Court nominees:

  • Donald Trump gave the Department of Defense more leeway to attack al Shabaab.

  • Dylann Roof will plead guilty to state murder charges. Under the deal Roof will be sentenced to life in prison, which won’t mean much since he received the death penalty in his federal trial.

  • AT&T won a $6.5 billion contract to build and operate a nationwide cellular network for first responders.

  • A survey of foreigners residing in Japan indicated there’s widespread discrimination in work and housing and frequent public examples of racism:

    In a separate question, 29.8 percent of those who responded to the survey said they either “frequently” or “occasionally” heard race-based insults being hurled at them, mostly from strangers (53.3 percent), bosses, co-workers and business partners (38.0 percent) and neighbors (19.3 percent).

  • A car bomb killed the head of Ukrainian counterintelligence in the Donetsk region, Lieutenant Colonel Oleksandr Kharaberiush. Donetsk is the area of hottest conflict between Russia (and its proxies) and Ukraine.

  • Russia is mastering hybrid warfare in Ukraine, which combines propaganda, fake news, cyberwarfare, and conventional weapons.

  • The leader of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish HDP party, Selahattin Demirtas, went on a hunger strike in the prison where he’s being held.

Links for 3-28-2017

Links for 3-17-2017

Links for 3-13-2017

Links for 2-24-2017

  • CNN reported that the Trump administration asked the FBI to “knock down” media reports about contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia. The Trump administration denied the report.

  • Donald Trump signed an executive order that creates a “regulatory reform” task force within each federal agency:

    The sweeping order directs every federal agency to establish a task force to ensure each has a team to research all regulations and take aim at those deemed burdensome to the U.S. economy and designate regulatory reform officers within 60 days and must report on the progress within 90 days.

  • Matthew Continetti writes on “The New Nationalism in America”:

    Above all, nationalism means distinguishing between members of a political community and outsiders, and privileging the former over the latter. Such distinctions make many people profoundly uncomfortable. Look at the headlines surrounding the Trump administration’s policies on refugees, travel from failed or terrorist-sponsoring states, and illegal immigration. Witness the recent debate in the pages of National Review over Ramesh Ponnuru and Rich Lowry’s qualified defense of nationalism. There are some conservatives who seem to believe that there is no such thing as the American people, only an American idea. But this gets it backward. Without the people, there would be no idea. Americans may come from all over the world, we may profess every religion, but we are bound together not just by our founding documents but by those mystic chords of memory of which Lincoln spoke, by our love of the land, its natural beauty, its inhabitants, its history, by what our people have achieved, what they have lost, what they have endured.

    What’s uncomfortable is often necessary. That is the case today. Reducing illegal immigration, reforming legal immigration to prioritize skilled workers and would-be citizens, asserting national prerogatives in trade negotiations, spending on the military and defense research, “betting on ideas” rather than on social insurance, bureaucracy, and rent-seeking, saving the idea of national community through the promulgation of our shared language, literature, art, film, television, music—this is the beginning of a nationalist agenda. But only the beginning.

  • A Washington Post reporter, Jon Finer, recalls his time covering Colonel H.R. McMaster (now Lieutenant General and National Security Adviser) during the battle for Tal Afar, Iraq in 2005:

    The morning the operation began, he [McMaster] recounted how insurgents had recently murdered a child, placed an explosive in his body and then detonated it when his father came to retrieve him. “The greatest privilege of a professional soldier,” he said, “is to have the opportunity to kill these people.”

  • A new scientific paper suggests large swings in Earth’s climate may be tied to variations in the Earth’s orbit, specifically interactions between Earth and Mars.

  • Syrian rebels backed by Turkey cleared ISIS out of al-Bab. After that, two suicide car bombs near al-Bab killed 65 people.

  • Christian families are fleeing the Sinai Peninsula after ISIS murdered seven Christians in three weeks.

  • Charles Schmitz offers an interesting explanation of why Yemen is important to Saudi Arabia:

    For Saudi Arabia, Yemen is a vital security interest. The Saudis have long claimed a dominant role in shaping Yemen’s domestic politics. Yemen’s desert border with Saudi Arabia is a source of anxiety for the Kingdom’s leaders. Yemenis are poor, Yemen’s large population is still growing, and the Yemeni state has not been able to manage its economy successfully. Saudis fear that Yemen will implode, and Yemen’s problems will spill across the border into the Kingdom.

  • A Philippine senator who has been a leading critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, Leila de Lima, was arrested on charges that she accepted bribes from drug traffickers.

  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s wife, Akie, is entangled in a controversy over a new elementary school that purchased land from the government at a steep discount.

  • Malaysia says Kim Jong Nam was killed by VX nerve agent. VX is created by combining two compounds, and two women rubbed their hands on Kim’s face at Kuala Lumpur’s airport.

Links for 2-23-2017

  • Donald Trump told Reuters that he wants to expand America’s nuclear arsenal. Trump also complained about Russia’s violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

  • Paul Mirengoff argues that Donald Trump’s nomination of Alex Acosta as Secretary of Labor is bad news for conservatives:

    But the most relevant consideration is Acosta’s record in the Justice Department under President Bush, first as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division and then as Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. Sources say his record is not conservative.

    They say that during his time at DOJ, Acosta’s priority wasn’t the advancement of the administration’s policy goals. Rather, it was to stay on the good side of left-wing civil rights groups.

    Acosta sought to accomplish this primarily by meeting their demands to bring certain kinds of cases and by not bringing cases the left didn’t like. But Acosta’s appeasement of the left seems to have gone further than that. I’m told that in crunch time during the 2004 election, he was more accommodating to the Democrats than to the Republicans on voting issues with the potential to influence the outcome.

  • Two Chinese dissidents argue that Donald Trump is right on China and trade:

    During the 1992 U.S. presidential campaign, Governor Bill Clinton harshly criticized Bush for “kowtowing” to China, echoing a not-uncommon conservative critique of the American response to the Tiananmen massacre. There was a vigorous debate over whether to continue linking China’s Most Favored Nation (MFN) trade status with its human-rights improvements. But one year after assuming the presidency, President Clinton reversed the policy on the theory — widely supported by American corporations, columnists, pundits, and lawmakers — that robust trade would inevitably result in prosperity and the growth of the Chinese middle class, which would in turn demand more political freedom.

    Subsequent history has demonstrated the folly of this line of thinking.

    Later:

    President Trump must keep his promise to be tough on unfair trade practices that harm America. With China currently relying on the U.S. and other big markets to keep its already faltering economy afloat, Trump has significant leverage, and he must use it to press for real Chinese economic liberalization, withdrawing China’s permanent MFC status and linking it to the removal of trade barriers and liberalization of all sectors, as well as to human-rights improvements. Workers in both China and America will thank him for the resulting improvement in their lives.

  • Heather Mac Donald writes on the riots accompanying Milo Yiannapoulos scheduled appearance at the University of California Berkeley:

    Several Berkeley professors circulated emails downplaying the significance of the violence. Déborah Blocker, associate professor of French, reported to her fellow profs about the anarchy on campus: “Mostly this was typical Black Bloc action, in a few waves —very well-organized and very efficient. They attacked property but they attacked it very sparingly, destroying just enough University property to obtain the cancellation order for the MY event and making sure no one in the crowd got hurt” [emphasis in original]. (In fact, a woman was pepper-sprayed while giving an interview and her husband was beaten so badly that several ribs were broken, among other assaults on campus.)

    Later:

    Taylor’s analysis provides a window into the future. Absent a radical change in police morale, periodic rioting and assaults on perceived Trump supporters and other disfavored persons will likely continue. Those assaults began before the inauguration; they have continued since then. In the Black Lives Matter era, police officers are hunkered down, fearful of using lawful tactics that will be labelled racist by politicians and the mainstream media. This is not just a Bay Area phenomenon. The listless response to the Baltimore rioting in 2015 anticipated the Berkeley passivity. The ideology of victimhood, pumped into the body politic by universities, easily morphs into a justification not just for the suppression of speech but also for violent resistance to imagined oppressors. College graduates have been told for years that the U.S. is systemically racist and unjust; the rioters’ nauseating sense of entitlement to destroy other people’s property and to sucker-punch ideological foes is a natural extension of this profound delegitimation of the American polity.

  • The Dakota Access pipeline protest camp is empty. About 39 people were arrested on the last day.

  • A group of lawyers who worked for the Obama administration formed a nonprofit called United to Protect Democracy, which will file lawsuits against the Trump administration.

  • A strange racketeering lawsuit in North Carolina involving tobacco sales suggests that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives was involved in an off-the-books scheme to fund its undercover operations.

  • Project Veritas started releasing audio that was secretly recorded inside CNN’s headquarters in 2009.

  • The U.S. Air Force appears to have purchased a system from an Israeli company that counteracts small drones like the ones ISIS uses.

  • Russia plans to deploy troops to the Kuril Islands this year. Japan and Russia both claim ownership of these islands.

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping promised Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte that China would not build structures on Scarborough Shoal, one of the disputed islands in the South China Sea.

  • The Danish government has been paying welfare benefits to people fighting in Syria for ISIS.

  • Former NATO Secretary General and Prime Minister of Denmark, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, says America must lead, even if it doesn’t want to. He’s also written a book about this.