Links for 8-3-2017

  • National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster fired three National Security Council staffers sympathetic to the Steve Bannon faction of the White House, and he’s preparing to fire more:

    The Trump staffers fired by McMaster had repeatedly clashed with career government staffers and holdovers from the Obama administration on issues as diverse as military strategies for Syria and Afghanistan, whether to tear up Obama’s landmark Iran deal, the controversial détente with Cuba, the U.S. role in confronting Islamic radicalism, and the Paris Climate Accord, according to these sources.

    More purges are said to be on the way, according to multiple insiders who described a list of at least four other senior NSC officials McMaster intends to target. Other sources confirmed the likelihood of more purges, but disputed some details on that list.

    The fired NSC employees opposed Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, which McMaster supports:

    NSC officials such as Cohen-Watnick, Harvey, and others had been making the case that Trump should scrap the Obama administration’s 2015 nuclear deal over increasingly aggressive Iranian ballistic missile activity and mounting evidence Tehran is breaching the accord. McMaster, as well as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and top Obama-era State Department officials who worked on the deal, have aggressively urged maintaining it.

    McMaster allowed his predecessor, Susan Rice, keep her security clearance despite suggestions that she abused her power to unmask the names of Americans who were caught in the NSA’s dragnet.

  • Transcripts of Donald Trump’s phone conversations with the presidents of Mexico and Australia were circulated among NSC staffers — perhaps including the staffers fired by H.R. McMaster — and now they’ve been leaked to The Washington Post.

  • Robert Mueller impaneled a grand jury to investigate Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election and that grand jury is issuing subpoenas. Mueller also inherited a grand jury that’s investigating Michael Flynn.

  • Four American soldiers were wounded in the suicide bomb attack that killed two soldiers in Afghanistan yesterday.

  • The U.S. Senate approved 65 of Donald Trump’s nominees after Democrats agreed to stop obstructing them. Two of the confirmed nominees, Jessica Rosenworcel and Brendan Carr, are headed to the FCC.

  • The inspector general for the Department of the Interior is investigating Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke over reports that he threatened Senator Lisa Murkowski over her position on ObamaCare repeal. The inspector general is doing this in response to a complaint filed by two House Democrats. In the meantime Zinke and Murkowski became drinking buddies.

  • The Center for Medical Progress asked the U.S. Supreme Court to lift the gag order that prevents it from publishing additional Planned Parenthood videos.

  • West Virginia Governor Jim Justice switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. There are now only 15 Democratic governors.

  • Actor Robert Hardy passed away at age 91. He played Siegfried Farnon in All Creatures Great and Small and Cornelius Fudge in the Harry Potter movies, among many other roles.

  • Matthew RJ Brodsky writes on the problem with Qatar:

    The list of problem areas is long. Qatar’s financial and political support for such a wide array of militant Islamist movements is unrivaled in the region and has been particularly overt, egregious, and brazen in recent years. Through a combination of the ruling Al Thani family or wealthy Qatari financiers, the oil-rich state backs al-Qaeda affiliates, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Taliban, Hamas, and others on the Sunni side of the ledger. Meanwhile, they continue to use their state-backed Al Jazeera network as a worldwide loudspeaker to promote the most radical Islamist propaganda, preaching hate and fomenting instability throughout the region.

    This support undermines and unnerves its neighbors, poisons the minds of the next generation of Arab youth, prevents any Palestinian moderation, and lessens the likelihood that Israel will see peace with more of its neighbors, much less in the wider region. Moreover, it serves to nurture only radical Islamist alternatives to take the place of the Islamic State once it is defeated on the battlefield.

  • Venezuela’s state prosecutor’s office opened an investigation into vote counting irregularities during the Sunday’s constituent assembly election.

Links for 8-1-2017

Links for 7-20-2017

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 6-14-2017

Links for 6-13-2017