Links for 12-13-2017

  • The U.S. Senate confirmed Don Willett to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on a 50-47 vote.

  • The FBI delivered copies of anti-Trump text messages exchanged between agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page to Congress, which prompted “interesting” questions when Deputy Attorney General Ron Rosenstein appeared before the House Judiciary Committee.

    Strzok and Page referred to Trump as an “idiot” during the Republican primaries, the text messages show. Other exchanges indicate that the pair supported Clinton for president over Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in the Democratic primaries.

    Politico noted a March 2016 text in which Page declared: “God trump is a loathsome human…omg he’s an idiot.”

    “He’s awful,” wrote back Strzok, who also texted that Trump was an “idiot” in another exchange.

    Later:

    “This guy thought he was super agent James Bond at the FBI,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said of Strzok, pointing to texts in which Strzok appeared to see it as his mission to protect the nation from Trump.

  • Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson submitted a court filing where he confirmed that he met with Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr and hired Ohr’s wife Nellie to help with opposition research against Donald Trump.

  • A sensational — and false — media story from the 2016 presidential campaign claimed there were ties between Donald Trump’s businesses and a Russian bank, Alfa. We now know that story originated with Fusion GPS.

  • Ben Shapiro details a lesson from Roy Moore’s loss in Alabama:

    For a year now, there’s been a myth among Republicans: the Legend of Trump.

    It goes something like this. Once upon a time, there was an unbeatable candidate, a world-famous politician whose husband had been president, who received unquestioning loyalty from the media. Then came the Dragonslayer: a real-estate mogul with a toilet of gold and a tongue of iron, who cut the unconquerable evil queen down to size and seized the throne from her. The laws of political gravity simply didn’t apply to him: He could utter any vulgarity, brazen through any scandal, batter down any media infrastructure. And if Republicans followed him — if they lit their torches from his — they too could slay dragons.

    Now, it’s quite possible that Donald Trump was the only Republican who could have defeated Hillary Clinton —other Republicans might have tried to take the high ground with a candidate significantly dirtier than the local garbage dump. Trump has no tact and no compunction, so he was always willing to drag her off her high horse. But Trump truly won not because he was a stellar candidate — far from it — but because Hillary Clinton was an awful candidate. And this means not only that his dragonslaying isn’t duplicable, but also that other candidates with similarly shady backgrounds who attempt to imitate him will end up failing dramatically.

    In other words, the laws of political gravity still apply.

  • Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton designated Lt. Governor Tina Smith as his choice to replace Senator Al Franken. Smith is a former Planned Parenthood lobbyist. And Franken hasn’t officially resigned yet.

  • A House and Senate conference committee says it cut a deal on tax legislation that lowers the corporate income tax rate to 21%. It also eliminates the corporate alternative minimum tax and the fine associated with ObamaCare’s individual mandate.

  • Joy Pullmann argues that instead of taxing college endowments, the federal government should cut the huge subsidies it pays to colleges:

    Currently, federal taxpayers subsidize colleges and universities to the tune of more than $130 billion every year, most of that going to student loans and grants. While some say federal student loans make taxpayers money, the truth is they cost taxpayers money, partially because many self-described students are the equivalent of a subprime mortgage, a situation easy federal money has exacerbated. Federal higher education subsidies have also nearly doubled since 2000, meaning it wasn’t the “old bad days” when we spent much less.

    Further, we now have a consistent set of economic research finding that federal student “aid” actually hurts both taxpayers and students by inflating the cost of college. One of the more recent such studies came from the Federal Reserve, which concluded that every $1 in federal “aid” increased college tuition by approximately 55 to 65 cents. Easy federal money is literally making the college cost problem worse.

  • Denise McAllister writes that the #MeToo movement is destroying trust between men and women:

    The breakdown of trust between the sexes is the tragic legacy of the modern feminist movement, but it has taken on a new fervor with the #MeToo campaign and the growing accusation that masculinity is vile, toxic, and inherently predatorial. Fear of men is legitimized, as accusation is treated as fact. Men are seen as “the enemy,” an embodied deviance that must be remolded into the image of a woman. Their sexuality is assumed to be naturally brutal, a threat to be controlled and reduced for the individual man to be considered “safe.”

    While women’s willingness to hold men accountable for criminal sexual behavior is to be applauded, the scorched-earth approach we are seeing today is destructive because it undermines trust. When anything from a naive touch during a photo shoot to an innocent attempt at a kiss is compared to rape and sexual abuse, we are not healing society but infecting relationships with the poison of distrust.

  • Two men pleaded guilty to operating the Mirai botnet, which used Internet of Things devices to disrupt web sites via distributed denial of service attacks. They also used these devices to conduct click fraud (online advertising fraud).

  • The Trump White House torpedoed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s idea of direct talks with North Korea.

  • The U.S. plans to give another $120 million to Lebanon’s military despite evidence that a chunk of it is likely to go to Hezbollah.

  • Russia is rapidly expanding its nuclear forces, and is on track to have 8,000 warheads by 2026. They’re also working on low-yield warheads that could be mounted on precision strike missiles; this combination elides current arms control treaties.

  • Human Rights Watch claims China has collected DNA, photos, fingerprints, iris scans, and blood type information from the entire population of Xinjiang province. This was done under the guise of a free health care program (“Physicals for All”), but is likely to be used to repress a restive population.

Links for 11-30-2017

Links for 8-22-2017

Links for 8-10-2017

  • Donald Trump thanked Vladimir Putin for ordering a reduction in the number of American diplomats in Russia because it reduced the State Department’s payroll (in reality, the diplomats are being sent back to the U.S., and are not necessarily being laid off). This is one of those things that you can think to yourself, but you shouldn’t say out loud. Trump has trouble with this concept.

  • The chattering classes have been discussing the possibility of negotiating an Iran-style nuclear deal with North Korea to discourage a war. John Daniel Davidson points out that Bill Clinton negotiated a deal with North Korea back in 1994 that’s strikingly similar to Barack Obama’s Iran deal. Jim Geraghty adds this:

    As with the Iran deal many years later, the deal with North Korea was not a formal treaty and thus never ratified by Congress.

    Of course, the North Koreans cheated; the U.S. provided oil, two light water reactors, and a new electric grid, altogether worth roughly $5 billion, in exchange for promises.

    Clinton’s deal resulted in North Korea possessing nuclear weapons, and Obama’s deal with Iran will end the same way.

  • A U.S. Navy destroyer conducted another “freedom of navigation” operation in the South China Sea, sailing to within 12 miles of Mischief Reef, one of China’s artificial islands.

  • Two of U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s top aides quit: chief of staff Steven Groves and communications director Jonathan Wachtel.

  • In the context of Google’s firing of James Damore for “perpetuating gender stereotypes,” Joy Pullmann argues that it’s time to end all discrimination policies and restore equal protection:

    Since Google is a private company I have no problem with them making unequal hiring and promotion rules. I am all in favor of discrimination — the freedom to set one’s own criteria for making decisions — and free association, for any reason, as individuals’ constitutional and natural rights. If they wanted to be an all-man or all-woman or all-black or all-Asian company, or give preferences to whatever people they feel sorry for at the moment, that’s Google’s business. At the level they’re operating they could be an all-woman company and still have the world’s best engineers, as Harvard or Stanford could since many more qualified people apply than can be admitted.

    The problem is when they promise “equality” then deliver discrimination. It’s this hypocrisy Damore had the temerity to point out, and for which he was fired. It’s the same hypocrisy inside the famous “Animal Farm” slogan for totalitarianism: “All are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

  • For the Democratic Party, abortion is a positive good:

    Lindy West of the New York Times recently, and similarly, insisted that unfettered access to abortion is essential to women’s economic and other liberties. Hers is one of many denunciations, by party activists and progressive journalists, of the Democratic Party’s decision to support pro-life Democrats running in more conservative districts. Pro-choice activists in the past decade made the leap from regarding abortion as a tragic necessity to seeing it a positive social good; West now sees it as the central guarantor of American liberty.

    Later:

    On some level, [John C.] Calhoun and other pro-slavery ideologues recognized that any “right” to slavery would be destroyed the moment the United States recognized that nature’s law affirmed the liberty of enslaved African Americans. Lindy West similarly holds that the human and civil rights of women would be undermined if the rights of the unborn were recognized. Even to question the right to abortion is “to be, at best, indifferent to the disenfranchisement, suffering and possibly even the death of women. At worst it is to revel in those things, to believe them fundamental to the natural order.” For West, abortion is the key to women’s economic, political, and social rights in the United States. If abortion were to be shown to be inconsistent with the natural order, then Lindy believes every freedom gained for women would evaporate.

  • A grand jury indicted Benjamin Roden for bombing an Air Force recruiting office in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Roden is a former member of the Air Force. No one was hurt in the bombing.

  • Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro affirmed that the new constituent assembly is the most powerful institution in the country, saying, “I come to recognize its plenipotentiary powers, sovereign, original and magnificent.”

  • Cuba reportedly used a “sonic weapon” against American and Canadian diplomats, damaging their hearing. The Trump administration responded by expelling two Cuban diplomats, which seems wimpy.

  • British police broke up a huge child sex, prostitution, and drug ring:

    As a result of a massive ongoing investigation the police have named “Operation Sanctuary,” one British woman and a total of 17 men have been convicted of rape, conspiracy to incite prostitution, and illegally supplying drugs. The men, BBC notes, were from the “Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian, Iraqi, Iranian and Turkish communities and mainly British-born, with most living in the West End of Newcastle.”

  • Israel is building an underground wall around the Gaza Strip to prevent Hamas from tunneling into Israel. The wall will extend into the Mediterranean Sea to discourage commando attacks.

  • Tim Tebow shakes a kid’s hand, hits a three run homer:

  • PragerU: College Made Me a Conservative:

Links for 5-3-2017

Links for 1-31-2017

Links for 1-9-2017