Links for 9-12-2017

Links for 8-25-2017

Links for 7-30-2017

  • The U.S. responded to the latest North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile test by flying two B–1Bs over South Korea. The U.S. also successfully tested a THAAD missile against a medium range ballistic missile.

  • The number of American diplomats being kicked out of Russia by Vladimir Putin totaled to 755.

  • Kevin Williamson compares Donald Trump to a failed, simpering Glengarry Glen Ross character:

    He [Trump] has had a middling career in real estate and a poor one as a hotelier and casino operator but convinced people he is a titan of industry. He has never managed a large, complex corporate enterprise, but he did play an executive on a reality show. He presents himself as a confident ladies’ man but is so insecure that he invented an imaginary friend to lie to the New York press about his love life and is now married to a woman who is open and blasé about the fact that she married him for his money. He fixates on certain words (“negotiator”) and certain classes of words (mainly adjectives and adverbs, “bigly,” “major,” “world-class,” “top,” and superlatives), but he isn’t much of a negotiator, manager, or leader. He cannot negotiate a health-care deal among members of a party desperate for one, can’t manage his own factionalized and leak-ridden White House, and cannot lead a political movement that aspires to anything greater than the service of his own pathetic vanity.

    He wants to be John Wayne, but what he is is “Woody Allen without the humor.” Peggy Noonan, to whom we owe that observation, has his number: He is soft, weak, whimpering, and petulant. He isn’t smart enough to do the job and isn’t man enough to own up to the fact. For all his gold-plated toilets, he is at heart that middling junior salesman watching Glengarry Glen Ross and thinking to himself: “That’s the man I want to be.” How many times do you imagine he has stood in front of a mirror trying to project like Alec Baldwin? Unfortunately for the president, it’s Baldwin who does the good imitation of Trump, not the other way around.

  • This is hilarious: “Republicans on Sunday urged President Donald Trump’s new chief of staff John Kelly to rein in the chaos within the White House on Monday but said the retired Marine Corps general will be challenged to assert control.” If you believe John Kelly is going to rein in Donald Trump, I have a bridge to sell you.

Links for 7-11-2017

Links for 7-10-2017

  • A C–130 crashed in Mississippi, killing five people. It’s not clear if it was a U.S. Air Force plane or a National Guard plane.
  • A U.S. Army soldier named Ikaika Kang was arrested and charged with providing material support to ISIS.
  • The Trump administration is continuing an Obama administration policy of illegally routing ObamaCare tax revenues to insurance companies ahead of the Treasury:

    In addition to paying insurers up to $20 billion—repeat, $20 billion—between 2014 and 2016, the law also required those assessments on employers to fund $5 billion in payments to the Treasury, offsetting the cost of another Obamacare program. For whatever reason, the employer assessments the past three years have not yielded the $25 billion needed to fund $20 billion in payments to insurers, plus the $5 billion in payments to the Treasury. In the event of such a circumstance, the law states that the Treasury should be paid before health insurers.

    So what did the Obama administration do? You guessed it. They paid health insurers first, and gave the Treasury—taxpayers like you and me—the shaft.

    Later:

    So, it seems, has the new administration. The report on reinsurance included not a word about making payments to the Treasury Department, reimbursing taxpayers the billions they are owed under the law. Nor did the report mention potential actions to sue health insurers to reclaim funds they received that are rightly owed to the U.S. Treasury.

  • Mitch McConnell plans to bring TrumpCare up for a vote in the Senate next week, and the bill will reportedly lack the Cruz-Lee Consumer Freedom Amendment that would allow insurance companies to sell policies that don’t comply with ObamaCare regulations.
  • Mitch McConnell is using his super PAC and companion 501(c)4 group to defeat House Freedom Caucus member Mo Brooks in Alabama’s special election for U.S. Senate. McConnell favors Luther Strange, who was appointed to the seat but faces a contentious primary election to keep it.
  • The Hill reported that James Comey’s memos about his conversations with Donald Trump are government property and half of them contain classified information. This implies that Comey may have leaked classified information, which could put him in the company of Hillary Clinton and David Petraeus.
  • A new peer-reviewed study indicates that “‘nearly all’ of the warming shown in current temperature datasets from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Met Office in the United Kingdom are the result of adjustments made to the datasets after temperatures were recorded.”

    “The conclusive findings of this research are that the three GAST data sets are not a valid representation of reality,” the authors wrote. “In fact, the magnitude of their historical data adjustments, that removed their cyclical temperature patterns, are totally inconsistent with published and credible U.S. and other temperature data. Thus, it is impossible to conclude from the three published GAST data sets that recent years have been the warmest ever — despite current claims of record setting warming.”

    “Nearly all of the warming they are now showing are in the adjustments,” meteorologist Joe D’Aleo, who co-authored the study, said to the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Each dataset pushed down the 1940s warming and pushed up the current warming.”

  • Luma Simms writes that Islamic activist Linda Sarsour is “inciting sedition from Muslims in America”:

    I am a Christian immigrant from Iraq. We know what Muslim agitation and radicalization looks like and where it leads. Sarsour knew full well how what she said would affect the particular community she was speaking to. This was no women’s march, this is a talk to the Muslim community, in which she chastises those who would accept our government peacefully.

    Later:

    Underlying this entire speech is a fundamental assumption: The American government is oppressive and it is our duty to resist and fight against it. Anyone inside and outside the Muslim community who assimilates, who sides with American government, is an oppressor and should be resisted. This is warfare mentality; it is agitation and incitement. But will the Muslim community heed Sarsour?

  • Mike Newall wrote a fascinating account of Philadelphia’s shuttered Ascension of Our Lord cathedral, which is now a shooting gallery for heroin users:

    So Father Murphy and Sister Raymond walked the few blocks to the church that long was the jewel of the neighborhood, until it wasn’t. They stepped through a window, glass crunching underneath their feet.

    In the half-light, they could make out thin forms. Some shot heroin in the pews, some laid half-naked on mattresses. Others stumbled past in their stupor, not noticing the priest and nun in their presence.

    Father Murphy did all he could think to do. He began to bless them.

  • Illinois’ first budget in two years is full of holes:

    To address the state’s nearly $15 billion in unpaid bills, Illinois depends heavily on borrowing. Lawmakers approved $6 billion of 12-year bonds to raise money for repayments. But State Representative Greg Harris, the House Democrats’ point person on the budget, has acknowledged there is only enough revenue to support half of that borrowing amount.

    Illinois will also borrow up to $1.2 billion from various state accounts that have accumulated cash for specific purposes, while “sweeping” cash from other accounts –a government version of looking under couch cushions that is expected to yield $300 million.

    Illinois’ $130 billion pension liability is one of the largest in the nation, and the new budget takes only small steps to address the structural underfunding of Illinois’ five retirement systems.

  • Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over ISIS in Mosul.
  • Siemens said two of its electricity-generating gas turbines were moved “against its will” from Russia to Crimea. Siemens claims that it will “initiate criminal charges against the responsible individuals,” but it’s not clear how you do that in Russia.
  • North Korea’s latest intercontinental ballistic missile can reach Australia, and they don’t have a missile defense system.
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Iraqi Kurds shouldn’t hold a referendum on independence.
  • On Sunday, Turkey’s Republican People’s Party (CHP) staged a huge protest against Erdogan in a suburb of Istanbul.
  • Israel’s head of military intelligence, Major General Herzi Halevi, confirmed that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is building advanced missile manufacturing facilities in Lebanon. Hezbollah would use these missiles in its next war with Israel, and if they have enough of them they could overwhelm Israel’s missile defense systems.
  • The deputy head of China’s state asset manager, Zhang Xiwu, was arrested on corruption charges. China’s Assets Supervision and Administration Commission is the world’s largest controlling company.

    There is more than meets the eye to the case of Zhang Xiwu, who once regulated more than 150 Chinese companies and their one trillion dollars in assets. Zhang is the latest crony of Zeng Qinghong, the former Chinese Communist Party vice-chair and number two member of an influential political faction, to run into trouble in recent months, and Zhang’s fall suggests that a case is being built against his political patron.

  • Julie Borowski believes the “Fight for 15” will be a huge help to introverted consumers:

Links for 7-8-2017

  • Two U.S. Air Force B–1Bs conducted a live fire drill in South Korea, along with other American and South Korean planes. The B–1Bs flew along the demilitarized zone during the exercise.

  • Ivanka Trump sat in for her father during some G20 meetings, which freaked people out on the political left but not so much on the right. Jonah Goldberg commented:

  • Stephen F. Hayes is not impressed with Rex Tillerson’s account of the meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, particularly with respect to Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election:

    Tillerson reported that after the two men had a “robust and lengthy exchange on the subject,” Putin “denied such involvement, as I think he has in the past.” Putin’s denials are false, of course, and the offenses are grave. Russia’s election meddling is part of a longer pattern of provocation largely ignored by the Obama administration and now tolerated by Trump. But the president apparently didn’t want to let reality intrude on his desire for better relations (he began his meeting by telling Putin that he was “honored” to meet him) and Tillerson didn’t seem to care. “So, more work to be done on that regard,” Tillerson said, dismissively.

    Set aside as yet unproven allegations of Trump-Russia collusion. The available facts are deeply troubling. Russia waged a persistent, hostile campaign against the United States in an effort to affect the outcome of the election – or at least influence perceptions of it. And the current administration doesn’t seem to care.

    Discussions with respect to the Syrian crisis weren’t much better in Hayes’ view:

    So in April the U.S. government accused Russia of complicity in an unprovoked chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians. And on Friday, the secretary of State claimed that America and Russia have exactly the same objectives in Syria.

    And then Tillerson went even further. On matters where the United States and Russia have different views, he said, it may be that the Russians (who are actively backing a dictator slaughtering his own people) have got “the right approach and we’ve got the wrong approach.” Imagine for a moment the reaction from Republicans if John Kerry had made such a claim.

  • A Russian company partially owned by Siemens, Interautomatika, was hired to install two electricity turbines in Crimea. It’s starting to look like Siemens skirted sanctions against Russia by using this company as an intermediary.

  • Janice Rogers Brown plans to retire from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which will give Donald Trump an important vacancy to fill.

  • Andrew A. Michta writes on the demise of the nation-state:

    There is an ever-expanding terminology generated to describe the current vortex engulfing the West—be it “illiberal democracy,” “populism,” or (from the extreme Left) “neo-fascism.” But all the terms are attempting to grapple with the same truth: The weakening of the consensus that the nation-state should remain paramount in world politics lies at the base of the deepening political crisis in Western democracies. Since patriotic civic education all but disappeared from American public schools as well as from Europe’s government school curricula, two generations of Western elites have been progressively unmoored from their cultural roots, often all but bereft of even a rudimentary sense of service to and responsibility for the nation as a whole. As fractured group identities and narratives of grievance began to replace a sense of patriotism and national pride, college educated elites across the West became ever-more self-referential in their pursuits, locked in an exercise of inward-looking collective expiation for the centuries of Western racism, discrimination, and “privilege”—all allegedly the hallmarks of the culture they have inherited, which they must redefine, or repudiate altogether.

    Later:

    The hypothesis that institutions ultimately trump culture has over the past quarter century morphed into an article of faith, alongside the fervently held belief that nationalism and democratic politics are at their core fundamentally incompatible. The decades-long assault on the very idea of national identity steeped in a shared culture and defined by a commitment to the preservation of the nation has left Western leadership frequently unable to articulate the fundamentals that bind us and that we thus must be prepared to defend. The deepening fight over the right of the central government to control the national border—which is at the core of the Western idea of the nation-state—is emblematic of this situation.

  • Iraqi forces claim they’re close to victory over ISIS in Mosul.

  • Voters in Mongolia elected a former martial arts star, Khaltmaa Battulga, as the country’s next president.

Links for 7-7-2017