Links for 7-24-2017

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 7-8-2017

  • 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

Links for 7-5-2017

Links for 7-3-2017

  • Mark Steyn writes that bollards are proliferating as a response to terrorist attacks, both in the physical world and in people’s minds:

    So in what sense is Manchester “united”? Zamzam Ibrahim’s view of where she wants British society to wind up is no different in its essentials from the bomber’s. They’re both about the same age; the main difference is that Salman Abedi is in a zillion pieces being scraped off the pavement, and Zamzam Ibrahim will wind up in the House of Lords. And in a democratic age what matters is the disposition of the large number of people who stick around rather than the small number who self-detonate. If the issue is terrorism, Miss Ibrahaim is not a problem. If the issue is whether formerly cohesive societies can survive the mass importation of ever more people with a fundamentally different and incompatible vision of how that society should be run, she is in fact symptomatic of a much bigger problem than the occasional suicide-bomber or van-renter. As I put it the other day, after congratulating that Canadian sniper on his new world record for longest confirmed kill, what’s the point of picking off an ISIS barbarian at 3,450 meters halfway round the globe if back on the home front you keep importing thousands upon thousands who share his world view? Or at any rate incline more to his than to yours, at least when it comes to legal systems, the segregation of the sexes, etc.

  • Donald Trump’s Twitter feed is a lost opportunity to advance his agenda:

    In case you were distracted by something like the Senate health-care fight, the White House just finished a run of four policy-themed weeks (infrastructure, workforce development, tech and energy). This was designed to be the month the White House methodically forced the media and the public to reckon with its policy ideas, all focused on shaping the domestic policy of the future.

    Axios’ Shane Savitsky counted every tweet on @realDonaldTrump during that month and found that of 121 tweets by Trump himself, three related to these policy topics. If you include tweets on his feed that are clearly by aides (include video, pics, hashtags, etc.), it’s 14 for 195.

  • A federal district court judge issued an injunction blocking enforcement of California’s gun magazine confiscation law. California passed a law making it illegal to possess a gun magazine holding more than 10 rounds.

  • Google is donating $2 million to an anti-violence campaign that includes leading gun control organizations.

  • Illinois’ Department of Child and Family Services is requiring all people associated with the state’s child welfare system to enthusiastically buy into a kid’s self-proclaimed gender identity:

    Appendix K is extensive, but the upshot is simple: anybody who comes into contact with a self-identified transgender youth via the child welfare system must support and affirm the child’s chosen gender identity, at all times and without reserve. These kids must be protected from any kind of scrutiny or skepticism regarding their gender identity, or any situation that might cause them discomfort over their gender expression.

    Foster home or facility placements for children that don’t offer unconditional support for all gender identity claims shall be denied contracts. Any DCFS staff who are insufficiently enthusiastic about this approach must be re-educated and, if this is unsuccessful, dismissed.

  • Nolan Peterson’s latest dispatch from Ukraine:

    Prior to my arrival in 2014, I had watched a YouTube video of what had happened at this place during the revolution. The sky was gray in the video, and the trees were bare.

    Snipers hidden in the surrounding rooftops gunned down the protesters one by one as they ascended the street. Some dropped dead in a flash. Others folded to the ground like in slow motion. Eventually, the dead clustered where they had collectively sought shelter in their final moments.

    The protesters were unarmed. They wore motorcycle helmets and wielded shields fashioned out of the top of garbage bins and road signs for protection. As sniper fire cut down one wave of protesters at the top of the hill, their comrades would rush up to drag the dead and wounded away.

    After depositing the casualties in the nearby Hotel Ukraine lobby, the survivors did something amazing. They turned around and went back.

  • French President Emmanuel Macron summoned parliament to the Palace of Versailles and declared that he wants to reduce the number of seats in parliament by one-third. If parliament doesn’t quickly go along with his plan, Macron threatened a popular referendum.

  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party was clobbered in the Tokyo Metropolitan assembly election. The next election for the House of Representatives is scheduled for December 2018, so Abe and his party have time to stage a comeback, but they’re in a hole now.

  • There were 23 sexual assaults during a music festival in Norrkoping, Sweden, prompting organizers to cancel next year’s event.

  • A suicide bomber dressed as a veiled woman killed 14 people at a camp for displaced people west of Baghdad; thirteen people were injured. ISIS claimed responsibility.

  • Leaders of Afghanistan’s three largest ethnic minority political parties met in Turkey and issued a demand for reforms that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani must implement — if he doesn’t, they’re threatening mass protests. All of the leaders issuing these demands hold senior positions in Ghani’s government.

    The group, calling itself the Coalition for the Salvation of Afghanistan, said their aim was to “prevent the collapse of the government, avoid chaos and restore public trust.” They demanded that Ghani devolve power to cabinet ministries and provinces, stop “overreaching” his authority for personal motives, schedule long-promised elections, and obey the constitution and the law. It also called for Dostom’s full authority to be restored and a government attack against him to be investigated.

    Later:

    A variety of political figures and observers reacted skeptically to the news, suggesting that the ethnic minority leaders, all of whom have had differences with Ghani while in office, may be less interested in government reforms than in using a period of public anger and unhappiness to press for political advantage. They also noted that Ghani, an ethnic Pashtun, has been criticized for concentrating power in the hands of his ethnic and tribal allies and marginalizing other ethnic groups.

Links for 6-29-2017