Links for 10-14-2017

  • Michael Brendan Dougherty writes that the battle between Silicon Valley companies and America’s political elite will end badly for conservatives:

    Silicon Valley treats complaints from Western journalists and governments as serious priorities, and its ad hoc responses are inadvertently creating a hierarchy of linguistic freedom on the Internet. Chinese is the most-policed language on the Web, thanks to the Chinese government’s fanatical efforts. But after that, Silicon Valley itself is beginning to get into the censorship and editing game in German and English, though it can’t yet hire enough Arabic and Farsi interpreters to achieve the local cultural understanding that would enable effective censorship in those languages. This means that soon, Silicon Valley will be have overwhelming incentives, business and political, to quickly police speech that annoys important Anglophone liberals — which is to say, speech by Anglophone conservatives and right wingers.

    Later:

    There’s another thing working against Silicon Valley’s companies in their coming battle with governments and the media: While it isn’t strictly illegal to accidentally make the world a worse place to live in, there is a generalized feeling, especially among the richest consumers in the West, that the digital revolution has been a disaster for society as a whole, and for the psychology of most “information workers,” in particular.

    On the political level, the promises of Silicon Valley have been a chimera. Instead of powering young democratic movements in Iran, as promised, Silicon Valley’s social networks allowed Sunni extremists to launch civil wars and tear down authoritarian regimes in favor of Islamism. They allowed ISIS to groom and recruit among the lonely and disconnected in Europe, and send back terror.

  • Andrew McCarthy explains the media freak-out over Donald Trump’s faithfully executing ObamaCare:

    Notwithstanding the many outrageous, mendacious things the president says and tweets, the press is aghast that his “fake news” tropes against mainstream-media stalwarts resonate with much of the country. Well, if you want to know why, this latest Obamacare coverage is why. What Trump has actually done is end the illegal payoffs without which insurance companies have no rational choice but to jack up premiums or flee the Obamacare exchanges. The culprits here are the charlatans who gave us Obamacare. To portray Trump as the bad guy is not merely fake news. It’s an out-and-out lie.

    Later:

    President Obama understood that without reimbursement, the insurance companies would flee the exchanges or raise prices prohibitively. His signature legacy monument would be threatened. To prevent that, he violated the law. In 2014, his administration unilaterally began making non-appropriated cost-sharing payments to insurance companies. Those payments have continued, even through the first nine months of the Trump administration.

    These payments are blatantly illegal. The federal district court in Washington so ruled last year. For what it’s worth, I believe Judge Rosemary Collyer was wrong to grant the House of Representatives standing to sue the Obama administration. The Constitution gives Congress its own powerful tools to confront presidential lawlessness; the Article I branch does not need the Article III branch to do its heavy lifting. That said, Judge Collyer’s decision on the merits is unassailable.

  • U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley drove the strategy that resulted in Donald Trump declaring Iran in violation of Barack Obama’s nuclear deal.

  • Syrian Democratic Forces are allowing the remaining ISIS fighters in Raqqa to withdraw from the city. It’s not clear if non-Syrian ISIS fighters will be allowed to leave.

  • The Spanish government is threatening to take control of Catalonia if regional leader Carles Puigdemont fails to unambiguously deny that Catalonia has declared its independence.

Links for 10-3-2017

  • The U.S. ordered 15 Cuban diplomatic personnel to go home in retaliation for the “sonic weapon” attacks against American diplomats in Havana. The Cuban diplomats have a week to leave.

  • The U.S. Office of Special Counsel determined that U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley violated the Hatch Act when she re-tweeted Donald Trump’s endorsement of a South Carolina candidate from her personal Twitter account.

  • Yahoo said all three billion of its user accounts were compromised in a 2013 hacking. Previously Yahoo said “only” one billion accounts were compromised.

  • A Russian telecommunications company activated a new internet link to North Korea, which was previously limited to a single link supplied by China Unicom. The new link is handling about 60% of North Korea’s internet traffic, and it gives North Korea another avenue for committing cyber attacks.

  • American authorities alerted Egypt to a North Korean ship entering the Suez Canal that the U.S. believed was smuggling weapons. Egyptian authorities intercepted the ship and discovered 30,000 rocket propelled grenades. Then they learned the RPGs had been purchased by the Egyptian military:

    A U.N. investigation uncovered a complex arrangement in which Egyptian business executives ordered millions of dollars worth of North Korean rockets for the country’s military while also taking pains to keep the transaction hidden, according to U.S. officials and Western diplomats familiar with the findings. The incident, many details of which were never publicly revealed, prompted the latest in a series of intense, if private, U.S. complaints over Egyptian efforts to obtain banned military hardware from Pyongyang, the officials said.

  • The Iraqi parliament voted to strip its members from Kurdistan of their membership in the body. They furthermore want to strip them of their legal immunity so they can be prosecuted. Kurdistan plans to hold elections for its own president and parliament on November 1. Michael Rubin writes that Iraqi Kuristan’s leaders read the U.S. government completely wrong on their vote for independence. John Hannah writes that with Iraq, Iran, and Turkey taking steps to actively oppose an independent Kurdistan, the U.S. needs to engage to head off a disaster:

    There is now a real risk that U.S. warnings about the referendum’s most dangerous consequences could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is almost certainly the case that the ferocity of Washington’s public opposition in the days leading up to the vote unintentionally gave the KRG’s neighbors license to bully, threaten, and punish the Kurds. Largely missing from U.S. policy was any corresponding campaign of equal seriousness to deter those neighbors from responding with retaliatory actions that would only escalate the potential harm to U.S. interests and regional stability.

    Later:

    The urgent task confronting Washington is to short-circuit the dangerous escalatory dynamic now at work before it gets further out of hand. A high-level diplomatic initiative backed by the world’s major powers could give the parties the excuse they need to pause, back away from the brink, and begin exploring options on how to move past the immediate crisis triggered by the referendum. Substantive solutions may not be immediately available, but the process itself, imbued with sufficient outside support from Washington and other great-power capitals, could buy valuable time and space to calm the waters, begin the search for workable compromises, and at very least keep the very worst from happening.

  • Iraqi Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani passed away at age 83. Talabani was Iraq’s (largely ceremonial) president from 2005 to 2014, but he helped prevent factionalism from bringing down the Iraqi government. Talibani formed the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), a political party which usually enjoyed good relations with Iran, unlike his rival Massoud Barzani’s Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP).

Links for 9-12-2017

Links for 9-5-2017

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 7-5-2017

Links for 4-28-2017