Links for 3-9-2017

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Links for 8-3-2016

  • The Obama administration shipped $400 million in cash to Iran the same day that Iran released four Americans, which sounds a lot like a ransom payment (the administration denies this, of course). Since then Iran has arrested another three Americans, whom some people might call hostages.

  • Donald Trump suggested that he would be OK with Russia keeping Crimea, and he stated Russia isn’t in Ukraine. John Schindler discusses what this means:

    There are two options to explain so many errors by Trump in a few sentences. Either he is clueless about Crimea and Ukraine, being totally unfamiliar with the basic issues, and decided to pontificate on the subject regardless while on national television. Or he is consciously parroting Kremlin propaganda. There is no third choice here.

    That Trump is seriously deficient in matters of foreign affairs and national security is no secret, since he seems to lack basic awareness of any military issues, therefore that he simply talked on live TV without knowing anything cannot be ruled out.

    Trump’s tune on Ukraine changed after he hired Paul Manafort.

  • Another Donald Trump adviser, Carter Page, spoke at the New Economic School in Moscow last month, where he praised Russia and criticized the U.S.

  • Ross Douthat writes on Paul Ryan’s Faustian bargain with Donald Trump:

    But more than most politicians Ryan has always laid claim to a mix of moral and substantive authority; more than most he has sold himself to the right’s intelligentsia and the centrist media as one of Washington’s men of principle. And both that authority and that brand are being laid waste in this campaign.

    Every time Ryan talks about patriotism, every time he talks about conservative ideals, the orange face of Trump seems to rise moon-like behind his shoulder — a reminder that this patriot and idealist is supporting, for the highest office in the republic and the most powerful position in the world, a man that he obviously knows (including, one assumes, from firsthand exposure) to be dangerous, unstable, unprincipled and unfit.

    Long after this election is over, that effect will endure. Every piety that the speaker utters, every moral posture that he strikes, will be received with derision by anyone who remembers the months that he spent urging Americans, albeit through gritted teeth, to make Donald Trump commander-in-chief.

    And moral authority is not the only kind of authority that matters. Successful political leadership also depends on a kind of inherent dignity, a steeliness in the face of challenges and threats and foes, a sense that when the crisis comes you will not be easily dominated or bent to another’s will.

  • The Trump Taj Mahal casino will close after Labor Day. Donald Trump opened the casino, but it’s currently owned by Carl Icahn.

  • The Republican establishment managed to knock off a House Freedom Caucus member from Kansas, Tim Huelskamp, who was a three term incumbent. Several conservative state house and senate allies of Governor Sam Brownback lost their primaries, too.

  • Miles Smith draws parallels between people in the 1800s who declared slavery a positive good and people from today who declare abortion a positive good:

    Once the cancer of individual autonomy metastasizes in a society, the moral corpus of the populace turns into a grotesque and sickly version of its former self. Bereft of religion or a transcendent understanding of the rule of law, individuals co-opt the state, attempting to conform reality to their individual vision of how reality should be. In the case of abortionists, they must willfully disregard demonstrable and overwhelming scientific evidence as well as two millennia of Judeo-Christian revelation and natural law philosophy in order to dehumanize the unborn. They cannot allow any of this evidence to interfere with their belief that, far from being a gross violation of human and natural rights, abortion is in fact a positive good not just for women but for society at large. Rather than a person with human dignity made in the image and likeness of God, the unborn child becomes a clump of cells or, at best, a “potential person” who does not yet have any constitutional rights.

    Likewise, slavery extremists ignored centuries of Christian teaching. They embraced repugnant theories espousing the abhorrent notion that African-Americans were of a different species, the result of a separate act of creation. This allowed them to justify relegating slaves to subhuman status. Josiah Nott, an early racial theorist and eugenicist who supported American slavery, believed that superior races must eventually subjugate and eradicate inferior species for the good of the human race. Nott argued that his world had advanced “in civilization more rapidly than in former times, and mainly for the substantial reason that the higher types of mankind have so increased in power that they can no longer be molested by the inferior.” Modern American abortion advocates espouse the same idea. Society has advanced to the point that we are able to remove the weak and helpless who might disrupt the higher type of life enjoyed by the strong and healthy.

  • As an interim response to a continuing federal lawsuit, Texas is relaxing its photo voter ID law to the point of near-meaninglessness for November’s election.

  • Native Americans living on reservations have no private property rights, which leaves them economically impoverished.

  • Kevin Williamson writes that Venezuela has reached the end of Hayek’s road to serfdom.

  • The New York Times detailed an ISIS unit called Emni, which started as the group’s internal security force but expanded to include foreign terror operations. It selects Europeans who traveled to Syria to join ISIS, trains them, and sends them back to Europe to conduct attacks.

  • North Korea launched a ballistic missile that landed in Japanese waters. The missile traveled about 620 miles, one of North Korea’s longest launches.

  • The leading contender to replace Nigel Farage as head of UKIP, Steven Woolfe, was excluded from the party ballot because he turned in his paperwork too late.

Links for 8-2-2016

Links for 7-1-2016

  • Today is the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, and The Telegraph produced an excellent real time account of what happened.

  • Attorney General Loretta Lynch won’t appoint a special prosecutor in the Hillary Clinton case despite her meeting with Bill Clinton, and said this about the FBI investigators and their report: “I fully expect to accept their recommendations.” She went on: “The final determination as to how to proceed will be contained within the recommendations in the report, in whatever format the team puts it together. That has not been resolved. There will be a review of their investigation. There will be a review of what they have found and determined to have happened and occurred, and there will be their determinations as to how they feel that the case should proceed.” Lots of words signifying nothing. Perhaps Bill Clinton trained her?

  • Hillary Clinton will reportedly meet with the FBI tomorrow.

  • The TSA is keeping you safe by beating up and arresting a disabled 19 year old girl who was returning home from St. Jude’s Hospital.

  • Remy celebrates the Fourth of July by explaining how terrorist attacks result in ordinary American citizens losing their civil liberties:

  • Donald Trump is whining that his primary opponents won’t endorse him, prompting this from Kevin Williamson:

    Trump is out whining like the spoiled little princess he is and always has been that his fellow Republican presidential contenders, having been vanquished, are not making good on their promise to support the GOP nominee, presumably himself. Trump is of course absolutely correct that Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, et al. did make that promise, and that to withhold their support now would constitute violating a solemn promise made in public to their supporters.

    Breaking that promise is absolutely the right thing to do.

    We allow for a certain amount of cynical calculation in politicians — politics ain’t beanbag, as Dooley says. It may be that Senator Cruz and Governor Kasich made that primary-debate promise to support the eventual nominee in the hope — in the idiotic, forlorn hope — that the Republican primary electorate would not be so backward and malevolent as to choose an imbecilic game-show host to the left of Hillary Rodham Clinton on most of the relevant issues of our time over a slew of solid and impressive if imperfect conservatives. I can see Ted Cruz reenacting the final scene of Planet of the Apes: “You maniacs! You did it!” Of course he didn’t think that Sean Hannity’s tangerine dream would become America’s Creamsicle nightmare, but here we are.

  • Nearly one million immigrants are ignoring deportation orders, and more than 170,000 of them are convicted criminals.

  • Josh Craddock argues that pro-lifers need to abandon their approach of working within the confines of Supreme Court decisions:

    The Hellerstedt decision reaffirmed that any significant impediment to abortion will be struck down under the existing judicial regime, even regulations designed to keep abortion “safe, legal, and rare” (a goal that has been embarrassingly adopted by many pro-life leaders). Such regulations, even if upheld, merely serve to sanitize abortion in the public eye. “At least there are no more Gosnells,” the well-intentioned public might say, as the local abortionist with hospital admitting privileges commits the same atrocities legally in a regulated clinic.

    Those who are serious about ending abortion need to acknowledge that laboring within the confines of Casey is futile. Hellerstedt proves that approach will never achieve abolition. We cannot satisfy ourselves with petty regulations on abortion that trim the abortion weed while strengthening its root.

    Later:

    The Supreme Court has long since undermined its own legitimacy as a fair and neutral arbiter. Last year’s ruling in Obergefell, as well as so many others, have exposed the Court as nothing more than another political branch—a robed oligarchy that has unconstitutionally aggrandized itself through the false doctrine of judicial supremacy and cloaked its unconstrained willfulness in the language of law.

    Later still:

    This naked power grab presents elected and appointed leaders with an opportunity to disregard and resist the Court’s unjust and illegitimate rulings. Although we ought not lightly upend our judicial system, there comes a time when gross disregard for human life and for our constitutional order should stir us from docile obedience and impel us to resistance.

  • Jonah Goldberg has an idea:

    The federal government needs to compile a list of women who shouldn’t be allowed to get abortions. The criteria for getting on the list must be flexible. If an official at, say, the NIH or FBI think that a woman should be a mother for some reason or other, he or she can block an abortion. Maybe the woman has great genes or a high IQ or the sorts of financial resources we need in parents. Let’s leave that decision where it belongs: in the hands of the government.

    Heck, there’s really no reason even to tell women if they’re on the “no abort” list. Let them find out at the clinic. And if they go in for an abortion only to discover they are among the million or more people on the list, there will be no clear process for getting off it, even if it was a bureaucratic error or case of mistaken identity.

  • Speaker of the House Paul Ryan scheduled a gun control vote for next week, and Brian Darling writes that this is yet another example of why Republicans lose.

  • Senator Sheldon Whitehouse claims the U.S. Navy is evaluating its base commanders on their belief in climate change and how they communicate its effects. If true, this explains a lot.

  • President Obama signed a bill that restructures Puerto Rico’s $70 billion debt and establishes an oversight board that’s supposed to steer the island out of its financial crisis. Puerto Rico still defaulted on a $1.9 billion general obligation bond payment today. Mario Loyola explains how federal government laws and regulations contributed to Puerto Rico’s predicament.

  • Two years of low oil prices pushed American shale oil producers to improve efficiency, and they’ve managed to stretch the output from shale wells significantly. In the Permian Basin in 2013, output from the average shale oil well dropped 28% four months after reaching peak production; in 2015 that was down to 18%.

  • U.S. intelligence agencies have identified nine training camps in Iran run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps that train Afghans to fight in Syria.

  • Austria’s Constitutional Court ordered the country’s presidential runoff election be re-run because mail-in ballots were mishandled during the last election.

  • Turkey’s parliament approved a law that restructures the country’s two highest courts. Most of the 711 judges on those two courts will be removed, giving President Recep Tayyip Erdogan an opportunity to stack the courts in his favor.

Links for 6-2-2016