Links for 12-13-2017

  • The U.S. Senate confirmed Don Willett to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on a 50-47 vote.

  • The FBI delivered copies of anti-Trump text messages exchanged between agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page to Congress, which prompted “interesting” questions when Deputy Attorney General Ron Rosenstein appeared before the House Judiciary Committee.

    Strzok and Page referred to Trump as an “idiot” during the Republican primaries, the text messages show. Other exchanges indicate that the pair supported Clinton for president over Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in the Democratic primaries.

    Politico noted a March 2016 text in which Page declared: “God trump is a loathsome human…omg he’s an idiot.”

    “He’s awful,” wrote back Strzok, who also texted that Trump was an “idiot” in another exchange.

    Later:

    “This guy thought he was super agent James Bond at the FBI,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said of Strzok, pointing to texts in which Strzok appeared to see it as his mission to protect the nation from Trump.

  • Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson submitted a court filing where he confirmed that he met with Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr and hired Ohr’s wife Nellie to help with opposition research against Donald Trump.

  • A sensational — and false — media story from the 2016 presidential campaign claimed there were ties between Donald Trump’s businesses and a Russian bank, Alfa. We now know that story originated with Fusion GPS.

  • Ben Shapiro details a lesson from Roy Moore’s loss in Alabama:

    For a year now, there’s been a myth among Republicans: the Legend of Trump.

    It goes something like this. Once upon a time, there was an unbeatable candidate, a world-famous politician whose husband had been president, who received unquestioning loyalty from the media. Then came the Dragonslayer: a real-estate mogul with a toilet of gold and a tongue of iron, who cut the unconquerable evil queen down to size and seized the throne from her. The laws of political gravity simply didn’t apply to him: He could utter any vulgarity, brazen through any scandal, batter down any media infrastructure. And if Republicans followed him — if they lit their torches from his — they too could slay dragons.

    Now, it’s quite possible that Donald Trump was the only Republican who could have defeated Hillary Clinton —other Republicans might have tried to take the high ground with a candidate significantly dirtier than the local garbage dump. Trump has no tact and no compunction, so he was always willing to drag her off her high horse. But Trump truly won not because he was a stellar candidate — far from it — but because Hillary Clinton was an awful candidate. And this means not only that his dragonslaying isn’t duplicable, but also that other candidates with similarly shady backgrounds who attempt to imitate him will end up failing dramatically.

    In other words, the laws of political gravity still apply.

  • Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton designated Lt. Governor Tina Smith as his choice to replace Senator Al Franken. Smith is a former Planned Parenthood lobbyist. And Franken hasn’t officially resigned yet.

  • A House and Senate conference committee says it cut a deal on tax legislation that lowers the corporate income tax rate to 21%. It also eliminates the corporate alternative minimum tax and the fine associated with ObamaCare’s individual mandate.

  • Joy Pullmann argues that instead of taxing college endowments, the federal government should cut the huge subsidies it pays to colleges:

    Currently, federal taxpayers subsidize colleges and universities to the tune of more than $130 billion every year, most of that going to student loans and grants. While some say federal student loans make taxpayers money, the truth is they cost taxpayers money, partially because many self-described students are the equivalent of a subprime mortgage, a situation easy federal money has exacerbated. Federal higher education subsidies have also nearly doubled since 2000, meaning it wasn’t the “old bad days” when we spent much less.

    Further, we now have a consistent set of economic research finding that federal student “aid” actually hurts both taxpayers and students by inflating the cost of college. One of the more recent such studies came from the Federal Reserve, which concluded that every $1 in federal “aid” increased college tuition by approximately 55 to 65 cents. Easy federal money is literally making the college cost problem worse.

  • Denise McAllister writes that the #MeToo movement is destroying trust between men and women:

    The breakdown of trust between the sexes is the tragic legacy of the modern feminist movement, but it has taken on a new fervor with the #MeToo campaign and the growing accusation that masculinity is vile, toxic, and inherently predatorial. Fear of men is legitimized, as accusation is treated as fact. Men are seen as “the enemy,” an embodied deviance that must be remolded into the image of a woman. Their sexuality is assumed to be naturally brutal, a threat to be controlled and reduced for the individual man to be considered “safe.”

    While women’s willingness to hold men accountable for criminal sexual behavior is to be applauded, the scorched-earth approach we are seeing today is destructive because it undermines trust. When anything from a naive touch during a photo shoot to an innocent attempt at a kiss is compared to rape and sexual abuse, we are not healing society but infecting relationships with the poison of distrust.

  • Two men pleaded guilty to operating the Mirai botnet, which used Internet of Things devices to disrupt web sites via distributed denial of service attacks. They also used these devices to conduct click fraud (online advertising fraud).

  • The Trump White House torpedoed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s idea of direct talks with North Korea.

  • The U.S. plans to give another $120 million to Lebanon’s military despite evidence that a chunk of it is likely to go to Hezbollah.

  • Russia is rapidly expanding its nuclear forces, and is on track to have 8,000 warheads by 2026. They’re also working on low-yield warheads that could be mounted on precision strike missiles; this combination elides current arms control treaties.

  • Human Rights Watch claims China has collected DNA, photos, fingerprints, iris scans, and blood type information from the entire population of Xinjiang province. This was done under the guise of a free health care program (“Physicals for All”), but is likely to be used to repress a restive population.

Links for 12-12-2017

Links for 12-4-2017

Links for 12-2-2017

  • A top FBI agent assigned to Robert Mueller’s investigation, Peter Strzok, was removed from that position because he sent anti-Trump texts to another FBI employee. Then it gets worse:

    Peter Strzok, as deputy head of counterintelligence at the FBI, was a key player in the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server to do government work as secretary of state, as well as the probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election.

    During the Clinton investigation, Strzok was involved in a romantic relationship with FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who worked for Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, according to the people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

    The extramarital affair was problematic, these people said, but of greater concern among senior law enforcement officials were text messages the two exchanged during the Clinton investigation and campaign season, in which they expressed anti-Trump sentiments and other comments that appeared to favor Clinton.

    Note that the Andrew McCabe mentioned in that quote is married to a strong Clinton supporter himself.

  • Someone associated with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson leaked to Bloomberg that Jared Kushner is working with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on a plan to create and fund a Palestinian state. According to this account, Kushner isn’t keeping the State Department informed about these discussions.

  • The warhead on North Korea’s new Hwasong–15 missile failed to survive re-entry, which is a small, likely temporary blessing.

  • Honduras imposed a curfew after protests against presidential election results (or lack thereof) turned violent. So far three people have died and hundreds of people have been arrested.

Links for 12-1-2017

Links for 11-30-2017

Links for 11-28-2017