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 3-10-2017

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 10-21-2016

  • The American soldier killed in Iraq by an IED was actually a sailor, Chief Petty Officer Jason C. Finan. He was assigned to an ordinance disposal unit.

  • ISIS staged an attack in the heart of Kirkuk, Iraq, diverting attention from the Iraqi offensive against Mosul.

  • Mark Hemingway wrote an excellent article on what we’ve learned from the John Podesta emails released by WikiLeaks:

    And what a story they tell. America’s greatest novelists could not have concocted a tale that so perfectly confirms dark suspicions about how the liberal elites running America really operate. Taken in total, the picture Podesta’s emails present is of a man whose tentacles are adroitly moving all the levers of power. In retrospect, Podesta’s casual attitude toward Clinton’s email problems doesn’t look oblivious—it looks prescient. Why should he worry about disgrace for Hillary Clinton when he and his friends in politics, business, and the media dictate what becomes a scandal?

    Later:

    According to the New Republic, the most damning of the lot is an October 6, 2008, email from Michael Froman, currently the U.S. Trade Representative. He formerly served as chief of staff for Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin in the Clinton White House and worked with Barack Obama at the Harvard Law Review. At the time he emailed Podesta, Froman was an executive at Citigroup and Podesta was co-chair of Obama’s presidential transition team. The email had the subject “Lists.” Attached to the email were three lists of people who could fill 31 Obama cabinet positions, organized by sex and ethnicity.

    “[The lists] correctly identified Eric Holder for the Justice Department, Janet Napolitano for Homeland Security, Robert Gates for Defense, Rahm Emanuel for chief of staff, Peter Orszag for the Office of Management and Budget, Arne Duncan for Education, Eric Shinseki for Veterans Affairs, Kathleen Sebelius for Health and Human Services, Melody Barnes for the Domestic Policy Council, and more,” notes David Dayen in the New Republic. “For the Treasury, three possibilities were on the list: Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, and Timothy Geithner.” In other words, a month before the 2008 election, an executive at Citigroup, which would soon receive the largest federal bailout of any bank during the financial crisis, was basically dictating the makeup of the Obama cabinet.

  • Matthew Continetti writes on “The Crisis of the Conservative Intellectual”:

    This is the crisis of the conservative intellectual. After years of aligning with, trying to explain, sympathizing with the causes, and occasionally ignoring the worst aspects of populism, he finds that populism has exiled him from his political home. He finds the détente between conservatism and populism abrogated. His models—Buckley, Burnham, Will, Charles Murray, Yuval Levin—are forgotten, attacked, or ignored by a large part of the conservative infrastructure they helped to build. He finds the prospect of a reform conservatism that adds to our strengths while ameliorating our weaknesses to be remarkably dim. Such conservatism has exactly two spokesmen in the Senate. It has a handful of allies in the House and states.

    From the Panama Canal to the Tea Party, from Phyllis Schlafly to Sarah Palin, the conservative intellectual has viewed the New Right as a sometimes annoying but ultimately worthy friend. New Right activists supplied the institutions, dollars and votes that helped the conservative intellectual reform tax, crime, welfare, and legal policy. But that is no longer the case. Donald Trump was the vehicle by which the New Right went from one part of the conservative coalition to the dominant ideological tendency of the Grand Old Party.

  • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte partially walked back his statement about separating from the U.S.

  • Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) is forming “youth branches” in the country’s mosques, which a skeptical person would deem a vehicle for indoctrination.

  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gives you advice on cyber security:

Links for 7-22-2016

Links for 6-24-2016

Links for 6-17-2016