Links for 8-11-2017

  • Robert Tracinski writes that “No One Expects the Google Inquisition, But It’s Coming”:

    Someone followed up by sending further leaks to the media, consisting of photos of internal message board discussions showing that some other Googlers agreed with Damore, at least in part. The obvious purpose of those leaks is to keep up the pressure on Google, to set off an inquiry into how many other horrible, raging, sexist bigots—as Damore has been styled in the technology media—also need to be purged from the company. That’s the clear implication: that Google needs to conduct a thorough investigation to root out any other James Damores who might be lurking there.

    Later:

    This is how an organization gets eaten away by vicious politics. By giving one set of its employees the impression that they can leak to the press to get people who disagree with them fired, Google has apparently inspired another set of its employees to leak information to get the first group harassed. Talk about creating a “hostile work environment.”

    Later still:

    What’s relevant here is that Google now faces a pattern in which its employees are taking internal information and leaking it to the media, against the company’s own rules and safeguards, in order to achieve political objectives. If the wider public starts to figure out that this is happening, they just might decide this is not a company they want to trust with their information or access to their lives.

  • Sabo put up posters near Google’s office in Venice, California:
    Sabo Google poster

  • Kevin Williamson writes that Donald Trump is treating Mitch McConnell as a scapegoat, but McConnell is not the only person responsible for the failures of the Republican-controlled Congress:

    Trump presented himself to the voters as a master negotiator and dealmaker, but that of course was the character he played on television, not the actual man. Trump cannot sit down with congressional Republicans — much less a bipartisan coalition — and negotiate a deal on health-care reform. The reasons for this are straightforward: There is disagreement among Republicans about what policies should be forwarded, and President Trump does not know what he himself thinks about any of them, because he does not think anything about any of them, because he doesn’t know about them. Trump does not do details — he does adjectives. He wants a “terrific” health-care system. So does Bernie Sanders, but the two of them don’t agree on what that means in practice. At least, they don’t agree anymore: Trump has in the past endorsed the same single-payer system that the grumpy little socialist Muppet from Vermont prefers, which he, or whoever writes the books published under his name, described at some length in his 2000 offering The America We Deserve. He pointed to Canada as an example of how health care in the United States should be organized. He might even have believed that for a week or two, but Trump is simply too lazy to do the intellectual work necessary to develop a coherent position beyond his facile superlatives.

  • Comparing Census Bureau numbers with statistics from the Election Assistance Commission indicates at least 462 counties have more registered voters than residents of voting age:

    But California’s San Diego County earns the enchilada grande. Its 138 percent registration translates into 810,966 ghost voters. Los Angeles County’s 112 percent rate equals 707,475 over-registrations. Beyond the official data that it received, Judicial Watch reports that LA County employees “informed us that the total number of registered voters now stands at a number that is a whopping 144 percent of the total number of resident citizens of voting age.”

    All told, California is a veritable haunted house, teeming with 1,736,556 ghost voters. Judicial Watch last week wrote Democratic secretary of state Alex Padilla and authorities in eleven Golden State counties and documented how their election records are in shambles.

  • A second unit of Yazidi women fighters (the YPJ) entered Raqqa, Syria to fight ISIS.

  • Christians are leaving Iraq at even higher rates because their towns are wrecked, aid money isn’t flowing, and Kurdish and Shiite militias have divided up the Nineveh Plain:

    Checkpoints manned separately by Kurdish Democratic Party peshmerga fighters and Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Force (PMF) militias make it difficult for families to return. “At each of these checkpoints, we often wait up to two hours,” Markos told me. “Two weeks ago, I was turned back.”

    The KDP and the PMF have established a military Line of Control, effectively dividing the Assyrian Christian and Yazidi Nineveh Plain into two separate zones.

    Towns that used to be just a ten minute drive from each other are now walled off from one another, requiring hours to reach crossing points manned by the warring militias.

Links for 7-18-2017

  • Alexandra DeSanctis writes that there’s plenty of blame to go around for the Senate’s failure to repeal ObamaCare:

    And if those negotiations failed, as they did time and again over the past month, a competent, savvy Republican president might have been able to make up the difference. Instead, Donald Trump evidently lacked the political capital and intellectual substance to forge any kind of compromise on health care. He apparently went into office with next to no idea of what he wanted in terms of policy, and his famed “deal-making” ability either disappeared or was rendered null by his unpopularity, dearth of political experience, and general unwillingness to grasp how Washington works.

    Ben Domenech places the blame squarely on Mitch McConnell:

    At the end of the day, it wasn’t small government ideology that killed this bill. Mitch McConnell’s crafted backroom solution couldn’t even get the support of Jerry Moran. The joint announcement yesterday that neither he nor Mike Lee could support this bill was a kindness, saving face after it became clear this was headed toward defeat – and not because of Ted Cruz, who was always going to get to yes, but because of a collection of moderates who spent years lying about their opposition to Obamacare for political reasons. Murkowski, Hoeven, Capito, Heller, Portman, and Collins wanted to have it both ways: they wanted to defend the Medicaid expansions (that bolsters the budgets in many of their states) while making noises about fixing the private insurance markets that have devastated their middle class. This is a failure of imagination and policy, and a reminder that moderation does not equate to intelligence.

  • Victor Davis Hanson writes on the fifth American war:

    So who is winning this fifth American conflict, and why?

    Progressivism.

    It has an insidious appeal to human nature, offering contexts and arguments for dependency — which is defined as the consequence of some sort of prior unethical exploitation (rather than chance, bad luck, or personal pathology, perhaps in addition to exploitation) and therefore deserving of proper recompense. Progressivism promises a transcendence over nature’s limitations through superior education, proper training, and correct reasoning, as if poverty, illness, and inequality were not innate to human nature but results of selfishness and ignorance and so rather easily remedied. It confuses technological progress with a credo that human nature itself evolves in predictably progressive ways, thereby supposedly making obsolete institutions and protocols (from the Constitution itself to ancient ideas such as deterrence) that were once time-honored.

  • Elizabeth Corey attended a conference on intersectionality at the University of Notre Dame, and discovered intersectionality is a religion:

    Intersectionality is a wholly academic invention that plays a large role in this movement. Indeed, it stands in the vanguard of the progressive academy, allied with critical race studies, queer studies, women’s studies, and ethnic studies. Intersectional scholars proudly proclaim their goal: to smash the neoliberal, corporate, heteropatriarchal academy and then to reinvent it in a way that rejects traditional notions about what universities are meant to do. These scholars also want to redefine the family and to abolish the “binary” of man and woman.

    Later:

    At the end there was a question and answer period. I asked whether and how [professor Patricia Hill] Collins would suggest that intersectionality engage with its adversaries, the hated conservatives. Given the polarization of America right now, did she see some way for the two camps to communicate or find common ground? The vehemence of her answer was startling. “No,” she said. “You cannot bring these two worlds together. You must be oppositional. You must fight. For me, it’s a line in the sand.” This was at once jarring and clarifying.

  • Eliot Bakker argues that the U.S. needs to leave its air base in Qatar until the country stops supporting terrorism.

  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions promised new civil asset forfeiture initiatives — seizing the assets of people accused of, but not convicted of, committing a crime.

    Although the details have yet to be released, Sessions’ directive appears likely to loosen the restrictions on “adoptions” of forfeiture cases by the federal government—an alarming prospect for opponents of asset forfeiture.

    “Reversing the ban on adoptive seizures would revive one of the most notorious forms of forfeiture abuse,” Sheth said. “So-called ‘adoptive’ seizures allow state and local law enforcement to circumvent state-law limitations on civil forfeiture by seizing property and then transferring it to federal prosecutors for forfeiture under federal law. Bringing back adoptive seizures would create a road map to circumvent state-level forfeiture reforms.”

  • Claremont McKenna College punished seven students for shutting down a speech by Heather Mac Donald. Three students received one year suspensions, two received one semester suspensions, and two were put on “conduct probation.”

  • Iraqi security forces are shooting suspected ISIS fighters or throwing them from buildings in part because they don’t trust the Iraqi government to imprison them.

    The belief by Iraqi soldiers and militiamen that their own government is too corrupt to keep captured Isis fighters in detention is one reason why the bodies of Isis suspects, shot in the head or body and with their hands tied behind their backs, are found floating in the Tigris river downstream from Mosul. Revenge and hatred provoked by Isis atrocities are motives for extrajudicial killings by death squads, but so is distrust of an Iraqi judicial system, which is notoriously corrupt and dysfunctional.

  • The Trump administration is planning new sanctions against Venezuelan government officials accused of human rights violations.

  • The Trump administration again certified that Iran is complying with Barack Obama’s nuclear deal, although it imposed sanctions on a group of Iranians who are “linked to the illicit procurement of equipment or technology for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or military.”

  • Separatists in eastern Ukraine announced a new state that encompasses not just the territory they control, but all of Ukraine. The new state is called “Malorossiya.”

  • Given the rate of new construction in Pyongyang, you’d think economic sanctions against North Korea aren’t working.

Links for 7-17-2017

Links for 7-10-2017

  • A C–130 crashed in Mississippi, killing five people. It’s not clear if it was a U.S. Air Force plane or a National Guard plane.
  • A U.S. Army soldier named Ikaika Kang was arrested and charged with providing material support to ISIS.
  • The Trump administration is continuing an Obama administration policy of illegally routing ObamaCare tax revenues to insurance companies ahead of the Treasury:

    In addition to paying insurers up to $20 billion—repeat, $20 billion—between 2014 and 2016, the law also required those assessments on employers to fund $5 billion in payments to the Treasury, offsetting the cost of another Obamacare program. For whatever reason, the employer assessments the past three years have not yielded the $25 billion needed to fund $20 billion in payments to insurers, plus the $5 billion in payments to the Treasury. In the event of such a circumstance, the law states that the Treasury should be paid before health insurers.

    So what did the Obama administration do? You guessed it. They paid health insurers first, and gave the Treasury—taxpayers like you and me—the shaft.

    Later:

    So, it seems, has the new administration. The report on reinsurance included not a word about making payments to the Treasury Department, reimbursing taxpayers the billions they are owed under the law. Nor did the report mention potential actions to sue health insurers to reclaim funds they received that are rightly owed to the U.S. Treasury.

  • Mitch McConnell plans to bring TrumpCare up for a vote in the Senate next week, and the bill will reportedly lack the Cruz-Lee Consumer Freedom Amendment that would allow insurance companies to sell policies that don’t comply with ObamaCare regulations.
  • Mitch McConnell is using his super PAC and companion 501(c)4 group to defeat House Freedom Caucus member Mo Brooks in Alabama’s special election for U.S. Senate. McConnell favors Luther Strange, who was appointed to the seat but faces a contentious primary election to keep it.
  • The Hill reported that James Comey’s memos about his conversations with Donald Trump are government property and half of them contain classified information. This implies that Comey may have leaked classified information, which could put him in the company of Hillary Clinton and David Petraeus.
  • A new peer-reviewed study indicates that “‘nearly all’ of the warming shown in current temperature datasets from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Met Office in the United Kingdom are the result of adjustments made to the datasets after temperatures were recorded.”

    “The conclusive findings of this research are that the three GAST data sets are not a valid representation of reality,” the authors wrote. “In fact, the magnitude of their historical data adjustments, that removed their cyclical temperature patterns, are totally inconsistent with published and credible U.S. and other temperature data. Thus, it is impossible to conclude from the three published GAST data sets that recent years have been the warmest ever — despite current claims of record setting warming.”

    “Nearly all of the warming they are now showing are in the adjustments,” meteorologist Joe D’Aleo, who co-authored the study, said to the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Each dataset pushed down the 1940s warming and pushed up the current warming.”

  • Luma Simms writes that Islamic activist Linda Sarsour is “inciting sedition from Muslims in America”:

    I am a Christian immigrant from Iraq. We know what Muslim agitation and radicalization looks like and where it leads. Sarsour knew full well how what she said would affect the particular community she was speaking to. This was no women’s march, this is a talk to the Muslim community, in which she chastises those who would accept our government peacefully.

    Later:

    Underlying this entire speech is a fundamental assumption: The American government is oppressive and it is our duty to resist and fight against it. Anyone inside and outside the Muslim community who assimilates, who sides with American government, is an oppressor and should be resisted. This is warfare mentality; it is agitation and incitement. But will the Muslim community heed Sarsour?

  • Mike Newall wrote a fascinating account of Philadelphia’s shuttered Ascension of Our Lord cathedral, which is now a shooting gallery for heroin users:

    So Father Murphy and Sister Raymond walked the few blocks to the church that long was the jewel of the neighborhood, until it wasn’t. They stepped through a window, glass crunching underneath their feet.

    In the half-light, they could make out thin forms. Some shot heroin in the pews, some laid half-naked on mattresses. Others stumbled past in their stupor, not noticing the priest and nun in their presence.

    Father Murphy did all he could think to do. He began to bless them.

  • Illinois’ first budget in two years is full of holes:

    To address the state’s nearly $15 billion in unpaid bills, Illinois depends heavily on borrowing. Lawmakers approved $6 billion of 12-year bonds to raise money for repayments. But State Representative Greg Harris, the House Democrats’ point person on the budget, has acknowledged there is only enough revenue to support half of that borrowing amount.

    Illinois will also borrow up to $1.2 billion from various state accounts that have accumulated cash for specific purposes, while “sweeping” cash from other accounts –a government version of looking under couch cushions that is expected to yield $300 million.

    Illinois’ $130 billion pension liability is one of the largest in the nation, and the new budget takes only small steps to address the structural underfunding of Illinois’ five retirement systems.

  • Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over ISIS in Mosul.
  • Siemens said two of its electricity-generating gas turbines were moved “against its will” from Russia to Crimea. Siemens claims that it will “initiate criminal charges against the responsible individuals,” but it’s not clear how you do that in Russia.
  • North Korea’s latest intercontinental ballistic missile can reach Australia, and they don’t have a missile defense system.
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Iraqi Kurds shouldn’t hold a referendum on independence.
  • On Sunday, Turkey’s Republican People’s Party (CHP) staged a huge protest against Erdogan in a suburb of Istanbul.
  • Israel’s head of military intelligence, Major General Herzi Halevi, confirmed that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is building advanced missile manufacturing facilities in Lebanon. Hezbollah would use these missiles in its next war with Israel, and if they have enough of them they could overwhelm Israel’s missile defense systems.
  • The deputy head of China’s state asset manager, Zhang Xiwu, was arrested on corruption charges. China’s Assets Supervision and Administration Commission is the world’s largest controlling company.

    There is more than meets the eye to the case of Zhang Xiwu, who once regulated more than 150 Chinese companies and their one trillion dollars in assets. Zhang is the latest crony of Zeng Qinghong, the former Chinese Communist Party vice-chair and number two member of an influential political faction, to run into trouble in recent months, and Zhang’s fall suggests that a case is being built against his political patron.

  • Julie Borowski believes the “Fight for 15” will be a huge help to introverted consumers:

Links for 1-27-2017

  • Alexandra DeSanctis wrote a good account of the March for Life in Washington, D.C., including Mike Pence’s speech.

  • Donald Trump signed an executive order limiting immigration and refugees from Muslim countries with terrorism issues. The order also gives priority to Christian refugees from Syria.

  • Mitch McConnell indicated he’s not willing to invoke the nuclear option to get Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee approved.

  • GDP growth in 4Q16 slowed to 1.9%. For the full year, the economic growth rate was only 1.9%. The U.S. hasn’t seen a 3% annual economic growth rate since 2005.

  • People who support California’s secession are now collecting signatures to get a proposition on the ballot in 2019. The proposition, if approved, would remove clauses from the state’s constitution that declare California to be an inseparable part of the United States.

  • Robert Tracinski takes a New York Times science journalist to task for failing to even try to explain the math behind global warming temperature data:

    [Times reporter Justin] Gillis is right. There are a lot of different sets of data, and the issue is complex. So why didn’t he explain any of that complexity to readers of the New York Times? Because complexity leaves room for doubt, and on this issue, doubt cannot be permitted.

    Speaking of which, you’ll notice that I just quoted Roy Spencer, Richard Lindzen, and Judith Curry. Who are these people, just some crazy bloggers? Enemies of science? Dr. Spencer is a former NASA climatologist and now a principal research scientist at UAH. Dr. Lindzen is emeritus Alfred P. Sloan professor of meteorology at the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at MIT, and Judith Curry was, until her retirement just a few weeks ago, chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

    A science journalist interested in an accurate, balanced assessment of the temperature data might talk to and quote people like this. The New York Times and other big mainstream media organizations long ago adopted an explicit policy of blacklisting these dissidents.

  • A federal district court judge blocked a Texas regulation requiring health care providers to bury or cremate babies:

    During two public hearings, department leaders heard stories of abortions, miscarriages, and general grief over losing a baby. While anti-abortion groups argued that the rule was a means to bring human dignity to the fetuses, reproductive rights advocates said the rule was another way for Texas to punish women who chose an abortion, saying the cost of the burials would be passed on to patients, making abortions harder to obtain for low-income Texans.

    During multi-day court hearings earlier this month, state attorneys said the rule was designed to provide aborted or miscarried fetuses a better resting place than a landfill. They also argued that there would be no cost for patients to worry about and only miniscule costs for providers. The state also said that there were multiple groups willing to help with costs.

    But Center for Reproductive Rights lawyers argued the rule had no public health merits and no clear directions on how it would work for providers. Providers who testified noted it was unclear if they would be on the hook for fines and disciplinary action from Texas if the nonprofit groups mishandled the fetuses. They also said separating fetuses away from other medical waste would likely mean an uptick in costs for transportation and new disposal procedures.

  • The Texas Supreme Court ruled that University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall can’t sue UT System Chancellor Willliam McRaven to obtain records. That ends Hall’s investigation of corruption at UT, particularly since Governor Greg Abbott declined to nominate Hall to another term.

  • A cybersecurity specialist who works for Russia’s Federal Security Service, Sergei Mikhailov, was arrested and charged with leaking information to U.S. intelligence. Three other people have been charged in the case, including an employee at Kaspersky Labs, an antivirus and internet security software vendor.

Links for 11-16-2016

Links for 6-5-2016