Links for 11-8-2017

  • Kevin Williamson writes on the Democrats’ election victories yesterday:

    So, here’s the math: Ed Gillespie, the Republican candidate for governor of Virginia, won nine out of ten votes among Virginians who approve of President Donald Trump. He lost nine out of ten votes among those who disapprove. He lost by nine points.

    Later:

    Because of the inflation of the American presidency, there often is a countercyclical partisan effect, usually felt in midterm congressional elections. Americans like to complain that Washington never gets anything done, and they have a marked preference for divided governments that help keep Washington from getting anything done. Trump is an unpopular figure, and an obnoxious one. He likes being the center of attention, which means that he is going to be a factor in the mayor’s race in St. Petersburg and the governor’s race in Virginia. If the American electorate continues to have a low opinion of him, then Republicans should calculate that drag into their electoral expectations.

    It is often the case that populism has a short shelf life, after which is ceases to be popular. There is a reason for that: Populism is almost always based on a false hope. Populist demagogues such as Trump arise when people are broadly dissatisfied with the national state of affairs and begin to lose confidence in critical institutions. Along comes a charismatic outsider — or someone doing a good impersonation of one — who offers an alternative. Trump-style populism is an almost entirely negative proposition: “I’m not one of Them.” What happens next is in most cases what’s been happening with Trump: The promise of radical change quickly gets mired down in the messy realities of democratic governance. (If you’re lucky, that’s what happens; absent the messy realities of democratic governance, what you end up with is Venezuela.) The “independent” man, the “outsider,” turns out not to have the experience, knowledge, or relationships to get much done. The savior doesn’t deliver the goods.

  • The Trump administration imposed new restrictions on trade with and travel to Cuba.

  • Apple CEO Tim Cook believes his company has free speech rights, but Masterpiece Cakeshop does not.

  • France’s parliament removed Marine Le Pen’s immunity from prosecution in a case where she tweeted graphic photos of ISIS’ handiwork.

  • Authorities in Saudi Arabia are still arresting people as part of the crown prince’s “corruption crackdown.”

  • The Philippines emulated China by starting to build an artificial island in the South China Sea, but they stopped after China complained.

Links for 7-1-2017

Links for 5-19-2017

Links for 5-15-2017

Links for 5-7-2017

Links for 4-29-2017

  • An American service member was killed by an “explosive device” outside Mosul.

  • Andrew McCarthy explained the role of grand juries and subpoenas in the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server, and concludes with this:

    I believe the Obama Justice Department had no intention of indicting Clinton; it wanted to help the presidential campaign by orchestrating her “exoneration” only after a thorough FBI probe. Having labored to conceal the fact that Clinton was under criminal investigation, Justice cannot have been happy about having to issue grand-jury subpoenas confirming it. But they knew three things: (a) it would have been indefensible for the FBI not to at least try to get the records; (b) there would only need to be a few subpoenas (maybe just a couple); and (c) the recipients would be telecommunications service providers, which are routinely directed to provide assistance in sensitive and even classified investigations, and which have a very strong record of not leaking. There was no real danger that the subpoenas issued would enhance the public understanding that Clinton was being investigated in connection with serious crimes.

  • The purges in Turkey continue, with Erdogan’s government firing another 3,900 people from the civil service and the military.

  • A co-president of the Democratic Council of Syria argues that his fellow Kurds are better allies of the U.S. than Turkey:

    On Tuesday, Turkey bombed the headquarters of Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, killing 20 of our soldiers. Immediately after the strike, the leaders of our forces – known as the People’s Protection Groups, or YPG – rushed from their operations center near Raqqa, where they’ve been working with the U.S. military to push the Islamic State out of its Syrian stronghold, to view the site of the attack. The American colonel and other officers who accompanied the YPG leaders were met by tens of thousands of protesters, including the mothers of soldiers who have died fighting the Islamic State. They asked the Americans a simple question: “How is it possible that our soldiers are fighting with you against ISIS while your ally Turkey is attacking us here?”

    Later:

    Erdogan is trying to force the United States to choose between us and Turkey. We don’t think such a choice is necessary, but it is worth considering what that choice entails. We, the Democratic Council of Syria, are an alliance of progressive, democratic parties that govern the Northern Syria Federation. Though we are besieged from all sides (by the Islamic State, the Assad regime and Erdogan’s Turkey), our region is more stable than any other part of the country. So much so, in fact, that in addition to our population of 3 million, we have taken in an additional 500,000 refugees (Christians, Sunnis, Shiites, Armenians and Yazidis) from across Syria.

    Sadly, there is a stark contrast between our democratic, egalitarian and progressive society and that of our neighbor, where Erdogan is consolidating power and turning Turkey into a totalitarian state. This is further shown by his recent “victory” in this month’s constitutional referendum, which he conducted after arresting a vast number of lawmakers, political leaders, journalists, union members and military leaders who do not agree with the Turkish president’s political narrative.

  • China deported an American citizen, Sandy Phan-Gillis, who was convicted of espionage this week after being held without trial for two years.

  • Marine Le Pen chose Nicolas Dupont-Aignan as her would-be prime minister. Dupont-Aignan lost in the first round of France’s presidential elections, and Le Pen is trying to pick up his supporters.

Links for 4-24-2017