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

Links for 3-25-2016

  • The U.S. killed Abd al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli, the second-in-command of ISIS, in Syria. The Department of Defense isn’t providing any details of how this went down.

  • RedState: “Donald Trump is a Garbage Human Being Who is Leading a Movement of Other Garbage Human Beings”

  • Allahpundit’s reaction to the National Enquirer story about rumors of private investigators looking into allegations that Ted Cruz had affairs:

    My impression of Cruz, take it or leave it, is that he’s been running for president since he was six years old. Even to a supporter like me, he often comes off like a man who hasn’t had a thought in 20 years that wasn’t somehow devoted to advancing his career. His message discipline is so strict that he can seem, even in personal conversation, as someone not quite fully human. If you’ve never read it before, go read Andrew Ferguson’s story about trying to have a low-key chat with Cruz during a car ride after a long day of covering him, only to have Cruz mechanically lurch into one of his stump speeches — leading Ferguson to want to open the car door and throw himself into oncoming traffic. To his political rivals he’s famously calculating, and his campaign is acclaimed as the most well organized and disciplined in the field. He can seem at times less like a person than a highly advanced conservative robot that hasn’t quite made it all the way through the uncanny valley. As I say, better men than Cruz have been ruined by a weakness for skirt-chasing, but he strikes me as a guy who has, and has had, his eyes on the prize and only on the prize for a very long time. If this is anything more than a smear aimed at driving a wedge between a candidate and his evangelical fans, I’ll be surprised to put it mildly. But form your own judgment. I’ll never talk someone out of believing something they really want to believe

    Whatever else happens, though, I think we can now safely write off the chances of a Trump/Cruz unity ticket at the convention. If Cruz wasn’t #NeverTrump before, he will be soon: “I will say this, I do not make a habit out of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my family.”

  • Angelo Codevilla argues that President Obama effectively endorses the Cuban government’s use of hunger to control the island’s population:

    When Barack Obama dined at Castro’s in Havana, it may not have occurred to him that the vast majority of Cuba’s people are undernourished, and that keeping Cubans scrambling for their next meal is an essential part of the Castro regime’s hold on power.

    Later:

    Obama’s socio-political tribe has admired the Castro regime from its inception, envying its power to reshape society along common Progressive lines. The degree to which modern progressives yearn to do to America what Castro has done to Cuba may be seen in their lack of objection to, indeed support of, the Castro regime’s power to choose who will eat well and who will live on the edge.

    Later:

    Fishing is strictly limited. Slaughtering an animal is punishable by eight years’ imprisonment, and buying a piece of illegally slaughtered meat gets you three. Of course, millions of people in the countryside do such things, while city dwellers try to build connections with country folk who can deliver contraband. Minor officials collaborate by taking bribes. But this endemic corruption is as dangerous as it is essential to life.

  • Based on his reaction to the Brussels bombings while in Cuba and Argentina, Matthew Continetti writes that President Obama is “Our Secretary-General In Chief”:

    Rarely has Obama’s attitude toward terrorism been brought into such stark relief. Why does he respond so perfunctorily, so coolly, so stoically to the mayhem? Not because he lacks sympathy. Because he believes his job is to restrain America from overreaction, from hubris, from our worst instincts of imperialism and oppression.

    Yes, the thinking goes, ISIS and al Qaeda are threats to be fought, contained, defeated. But the greater threat, in Obama’s view, is that Americans may become scared, afraid, disrupted, divided. We might invade Iraq again, or cut off immigration and trade, or discriminate against the Muslim minority. That is the real danger against which this president stands. Terrorism will burn itself out. The problem of American maximalism remains.

    This is not the sort of thing you expect to hear from an American president. It’s what you expect from a secretary general of the United Nations, from the president of the European Commission, from the foreign ministry of France circa 2002. It’s the worldview of the international NGO, of the multilateral bureaucrat: Terrorism? We can manage. But the U.S. hyper-power? We’ve got to put a lid on this problem, stat.

  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection intercepted a semi-submersible vessel containing $200 million worth of cocaine.

  • Some American intelligence analysts believe North Korea has developed a miniaturized nuclear warhead. Combined with North Korea’s recent claim to have successfully tested a solid-fuel rocket engine, they’re on course to build nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles.

  • Iran is deploying special forces soldiers from its regular army to Syria and Iraq. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has been fighting in Syria for some time, but deploying Iranian Army troops to Syria is new.

  • Egypt’s army claims it killed 60 Islamic militants in the northern Sinai Peninsula.

  • Russia plans to deploy missile defense systems and drones on the Kurile Islands, the ownership of which is disputed between Russia and Japan.

  • A Turkish court closed the espionage trial of two journalists to the public. Many people doubted the journalists would receive a fair trial, and this move reinforced the doubts.