Links for 4-30-2018

  • An American soldier was killed in eastern Afghanistan and a second was wounded.

  • Dr. Tom Coburn writes that a balanced budget amendment isn’t enough to curb the federal government’s overspending problem:

    But here’s the rub. Even if Congress did have the political fortitude to tighten its own belt, a balanced-budget amendment could not rescue the nation from the looming fiscal crisis. In fact, passing a balanced-budget amendment without other needed reforms would be like straining out a gnat only to swallow a camel; it would make the situation worse, rather than better.

    Two little words tell us why: unfunded mandates. We all know that one of the feds’ favorite pastimes is foisting expensive rules, regulations and policies upon the states. Does anyone doubt that this practice would increase dramatically under a balanced-budget amendment? Congress can simply make its own budget look better by casting more of a burden on the budgets of our state and local governments.

    Its other alternative, of course, is to raise our taxes. Having spent a long time in Congress, I can tell you that if you think cutting spending is the natural response to a balanced-budget requirement, you aren’t thinking like the average member of Congress.

    A real solution to the federal fiscal insanity must go deeper than the parchment salve of a balanced budget. A real solution must restore meaningful limitations on the size, scope, and jurisdiction of the federal government, curtailing its ability to dabble in matters the Constitution does not delegate to it, but reserves to the states and the people. In short, we need to make the federal government look a lot more like the one laid out in the Constitution.

    There is a path that will get us there. The only solution big enough to confront our federal problems is the tool for constitutional amendment provided to our state legislatures in Article V.

  • Israel appears to have discovered where Iran was storing missiles in Syria, and it proceeded to blow them up. One explosion registered as a magnitude 2.6 earthquake.

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel grabbed a trove of documents on Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Iran has always claimed that it never had a nuclear weapons development program, but Netanyahu says the documents prove otherwise.

  • Jayme Metzgar writes that “Alfie Evans is What Happens When Kids Belong to Society, Not Parents”:

    If you think you care more about Evans’ suffering than his own mother who grew him inside her body, more than his own father who sits by his bedside every hour, I have two words for you: you don’t. If you think you know more about his quality of life or his feelings than the two people who have nurtured him every day of his life: you don’t.

    If you think he, and other children like him, would be better off without parents loving them as the individuals they are, and fighting for them every day: you could not be more wrong.

  • John Daniel Davidson writes that “Alfie Evans’ Death Illustrates the Monstrous Logic of the Welfare State”:

    But the brazen illogic of the state insisting that it is in your own best interests if you cease to exist serves the overarching logic of the welfare state, which is power. When the national health service decides, for instance, that your sick child must be allowed to die because it is in the child’s best interests, what it really means—but is not quite willing to say outright—is that is in the best interests of the state that your child be allowed to die.

  • Britain’s House of Lords voted to give parliament the final say over the Brexit agreement in a defeat for Prime Minister Theresa May.

  • ISIS claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings in Kabul. The second bomber targeted journalists who were on the scene covering the first bombing; at least nine journalists were killed and six wounded.

  • Controlling words is key to controlling culture:

Links for 4-28-2018

Links for 4-27-2018

  • The first meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un was long on photo ops and handshakes, but short on details regarding how North Korea will give up its nuclear weapons. Stories have been circulating to the effect that North Korea’s nuclear test site is unusable, damaged beyond repair after the country’s last test. American intelligence agencies believe the test site is still usable, and North Korea’s announced closure of the site could be quickly reversed.

  • David Catron explains why Alfie Evans will never escape Britain’s National Health Service alive:

    Though his [Tom Evans’] case was simple — set my son free to seek treatment elsewhere — and though he was granted hearing after hearing with “red judges” like Mr. Justice Hayden and legal luminaries like Sir Andrew McFarlane, the answer was always the same. Acquiescence in the pleas of Alfie’s parents wouldn’t have cost the NHS or the British taxpayer a farthing, yet Alfie’s doctors and the hospital didn’t even consider releasing him. Even when the Pope interceded and transportation was provided to move him to an Italian hospital that was ready to admit him, it somehow continued to be in “Alfie’s interest” to remain hostage to the NHS.

    If you don’t understand why the NHS and British courts refused, you don’t get socialized medicine. It is not, nor has it ever been, about health care. It’s about power. Once a government — any government — takes control of your health care, they own you and your children. Alfie’s parents and the British public had for months demanded Alfie’s release just to seek treatment by doctors competent enough to figure out what was wrong with him. But, for a socialized system, that’s dangerous.

    Later:

    By yesterday afternoon, they had Tom Evans dutifully tugging his forelock, and he was given multiple pats on the head by the British Ministry of Truth as well as the government organs on our side of the pond, all of which commended him for “working with the doctors.” British Member of European Parliament Steven Woolfe will introduce “Alfie’s Law,” which will certainly help his career. And where is Alfie himself? He is exactly where he was when all this started, in the iron grip of the NHS, a third-world socialized medical system from which no force can get him released — except of course for the grim reaper.

  • The Italian priest who has been at Alfie Evans’ bedside was booted out of the hospital because he kept reminding the staff that God is watching them and judging their sins against Alfie’s life.

  • Bethany Mandel writes that Alfie Evans is the reason Americans have the Second Amendment.

  • The House Intelligence Committee released its report on Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election, and it contains a curious detail: it was former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper who told CNN that James Comey briefed Donald Trump on the Steele dossier, which sparked the Russian collusion narrative in the media. When Congress questioned him about this in July 2017, Clapper denied talking to the media about the Comey briefing; Clapper has since changed his tune. Clapper is also the person who instructed Comey to brief Trump on the dossier, which makes the whole thing look like a setup. To top it off, Clapper is now a CNN contributor.

  • A federal district court judge tossed Paul Manafort’s lawsuit challenging Robert Mueller’s authority.

  • Congressman Patrick Meehan (R-PA) resigned and said he would repay the U.S. Treasury the money he used to settle a former staffer’s sexual harassment claim.

  • The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals finally approved Texas’ photo voter ID law. The state’s original photo voter ID law was quickly challenged, and the legislature modified it in 2017 to address the Fifth Circuit’s complaints.

  • Israeli troops shot and killed three protesters along the border fence with the Gaza Strip.

Links for 4-26-2018

Links for 4-25-2018

  • Syria is the biggest electronic warfare battlefield on the planet, and the Russians are fighting very well.

  • Russia’s government claims it has nothing to do with Russian civilians fighting in Syria, but Reuters reporters witnessed Russians getting off planes from Damascus and going to straight to a military base where a special forces unit operates:

    Reuters reporters saw a Syrian Cham Wings charter flight from Damascus land at the civilian airport in Rostov-on-Don on April 17 and watched groups of men leave the terminal through an exit separate from the one used by ordinary passengers.

    They boarded three buses, which took them to an area mainly used by airport staff. A luggage carrier brought numerous oversized bags and the men, dressed in civilian clothes, got off the buses, loaded the bags and got back on.

    The three buses then left the airport in convoy and headed south; two made stops near cafes along the way and one on the roadside. All three reached the village of Molkino, 350 km (220 miles) south, shortly before midnight.

    In the village, each bus paused for a minute or two at a checkpoint manned by at least two servicemen, before driving on. About 15–20 minutes later the buses drove back through the checkpoint empty. Publicly available satellite maps show the road leads to the military facility.

  • The U.S. Air Force successfully test launched a Minuteman 3 missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

  • Federal prosecutors are investigating whether Huawei violated U.S. sanctions against Iran.

  • The U.S. Senate Rules and Administration Committee voted along party lines to shorten the post-cloture debate period from 30 to 8 hours for most executive branch nominees. Senate Democrats have been using the rule to delay nominations and prevent the Senate from moving on to other business.

  • A U.S. State Department team is interviewing Rohingya men and women in refugee camps in Bangladesh, investigating accounts of murder, rape, and beatings in Myanmar.

  • Alexandra Desanctis expands the case of Alfie Evans, the U.K. toddler with a terminal illness who has been sentenced to die by doctors and judges, to the issue of selective abortion:

    In the United Kingdom, a young boy is fighting for his life. Alfie Evans’s doctors have deemed him unable to survive his terminal illness, and the state has forbidden his parents from removing him to Italy for further care, despite the fact that the Italian government has granted him citizenship and Italian doctors have agreed to treat him.

    This situation is a barbaric display of what can happen when judges have the authority to arbitrarily prevent parents from seeking treatment for their own child, even treatment outside the state’s purview. According to this judge, and the doctors he echoes, Alfie Evans must die, and he must die now.

    But this case is also an example of what can happen when our culture of death embraces the idea that human life, most especially the lives of suffering children, has no intrinsic value. (This belief is evident, too, in the growing debate over end-of-life care, physician-assisted suicide, and euthanasia.)

    Charles C. Camosy notes there are important differences between Alfie Evans’ case that of Charlie Gard:

    Like Charlie, Alfie has what appears to be a neurodegenerative disease, from which his UK doctors believe he will never recover. Like Charlie’s doctors, Alfie’s doctors believe that the damage to his brain means that his life is no longer worth sustaining, and they have recommended that his ventilator be withdrawn so that he can die—in his own best interests. Like Charlie, Alfie has the support of many people around the world, including Pope Francis, who want his life to be sustained. Indeed, Alfie has been made an Italian citizen, and Italy has volunteered to transport him to the Vatican’s Bambino Hospital—at no cost to the UK’s National Health Service. (This afternoon, a British judge dismissed the parents’ latest appeal of the court order preventing Alfie’s departure to Rome.)

    There are some important differences between the cases, however. Charlie’s disorder, though rare and poorly understood, was actually diagnosed. Alfie’s has not been. Charlie had been treated comprehensively by multiple kinds of medical teams, but Alfie has been seen almost exclusively by an acute care medical team. Physicians generally rate the value of the lives of their disabled patients lower than the patients do themselves, but acute care physicians, with their near-constant exposure to horrific conditions without seeing longer-term outcomes, are particularly prone to this kind of bias.

    But perhaps the most important difference between the cases is that when UK authorities ordered Alfie’s life support withdrawn, he did not die. At the time of this writing, he has been breathing on his own for nearly two days.

    In response to this remarkable turn of events, it appears that Alfie’s medical team is giving him some water and oxygen (not enough, according to some reports), but they are also apparently denying him typical levels of nutrition.

    This procedure can in no way plausibly be described as foregoing burdensome or extraordinary treatment. Making sure that a disabled child has proper nutrition and hydration, especially when he cannot get it on his own, is not a medical act. It is basic human decency.

  • Ford plans to narrow its U.S. vehicle lineup to almost exclusively trucks and SUVs. Ford’s car sales have been declining, and the only two they’re planning to sell in the U.S. going forward are the Mustang and the Focus Active crossover.

Links for 4-14-2018

Links for 4-13-2018