Links for 2-9-2017

Links for 1-3-2017

  • Members of the House of Representatives and newly elected members of the Senate were sworn in today. Yesterday the House adopted rules that crippled the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), which was created in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal in 2005. After public criticism and a pair of Donald Trump tweets, those rule changes were postponed — the House approved new rules that lacked the OCE changes. The OCE has been abused for partisan purposes and should be reformed, but the timing of this maneuver was stupid.

  • Someone in the Department of Homeland Security leaked a memo to Reuters describing a meeting with Donald Trump’s transition team:

    In a wide-ranging request for documents and analysis, President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team asked the Department of Homeland Security last month to assess all assets available for border wall and barrier construction.

    The team also asked about the department’s capacity for expanding immigrant detention and about an aerial surveillance program that was scaled back by the Obama administration but remains popular with immigration hardliners. And it asked whether federal workers have altered biographic information kept by the department about immigrants out of concern for their civil liberties.

    Later:

    The transition team also asked for copies of every executive order and directive sent to immigration agents since Obama took office in 2009, according to the memo summarizing the meeting.

  • A new Obama administration regulation adds the names of Social Security recipients who are “financially incompetent” (e.g. they can’t pay their own bills) to the list of people who are prohibited from buying guns. John Lott argues this will make it more difficult for elderly people to defend themselves.

  • The Washington Free Beacon published an excerpt from Bill Gertz’s new book, iWar: War and Peace in the Information Age.

  • Ford announced they’re scrapping plans to build a $1.6 billion plant in Mexico, and will instead spend $700 million to expand the existing Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan. Ford claims the change of plans is due to pro-growth policies they expect the Republican-controlled Congress and President Trump to enact. Trump has publicly criticized Ford’s plan to build the plant in Mexico.

  • Victor Davis Hanson writes on the current state of California:

    What makes the law-abiding leave California is not just the sanctimoniousness, the high taxes, or the criminality. It is always the insult added to injury. We suffer not only from the highest basket of income, sales, and gas taxes in the nation, but also from nearly the worst schools and infrastructure. We have the costliest entitlements and the most entitled. We have the largest number of billionaires and the largest number of impoverished, both in real numbers and as a percentage of the state population.

    California crime likewise reflects the California paradox of two states: a coastal elite and everyone else. California is the most contentious, overregulated, and postmodern state in the Union, and also the most feral and 19th-century.

  • The Turkish government wants to imprison Fethullah Gulen’s dentists for 15 years. Erdogan’s government keeps achieving new heights of absurdity.

Links for 12-27-2016

  • Victor Davis Hanson explains how President Obama’s foreign policy differs from ancient foreign policy that actually works, even today:

    In contrast, when a national leader repeatedly lectures the world on peace, takes options off the table, uses the megaphone to blast his own country’s flaws and distance himself from its supposedly checkered past, heralds soft power, and in psychodramatic fashion issues rhetorical red lines, deadlines, and step-over lines, then he erodes deterrence (in becoming predictably passive). And the while, his empty sanctimoniousness grates rivals and invites gratuitous adventurism. The gunslingers of the world vie to gain a reputation by showing other outlaws how enervated the once-robust sheriff has become, despite his trash-talking — and sometimes they stage a shoot-out on Main Street for no apparent reason other than that they can.

  • A judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit revived lawsuits filed by Judicial Watch and Cause of Action over how the State Department and the National Archives handled Hillary Clinton’s emails.

  • An engineer who worked for Hamas and Hezbollah, Mohammed al-Zawari, was gunned down in Tunisia. Al-Zawari was an expert on drones, and was reportedly working on underwater drones that could be used to attack Israel’s offshore natural gas platforms.

  • Adriel Kasonta writes that it’s time for the EU to get tough on Turkey:

    According to Hans-Christian Ströbel, a Green-party member of the German Bundestag, Turkey’s intelligence agency MIT has around 6,000 informants in Germany alone. These informants reportedly pass the names of dissidents to the MIT, which adds them to the government’s blacklist of people it wishes to arrest in the future. Intelligence expert and author Erich Schmidt-Eenboom explained in an interview with The Local that each informant could be responsible for monitoring 500 people with Turkish roots in Germany, which is a home to around 3 million Turks. This would also mean that these spies are each monitoring more people than the Stasi did in West Germany during the Cold War.

    The main difference between the MIT and the Stasi, according to Schmidt-Eenboom, is that the later engaged primarily in gathering military, political, and economic intelligence in West Germany, rather than targeting former citizens. “This is no longer about intelligence reconnaissance, but rather this is increasingly being used for intelligence repression,” he warned.

  • Gunmen broke into the home of a prominent Iraqi female freelance journalist, Afrah Shawqi al-Qaisi, and kidnapped her.

  • An Argentine judge indicted former President Cristina Fernandez, accusing her of participating in a corruption scheme that stole money from public road projects.

Links for 12-13-2016

Links for 11-8-2016

  • Former Libertarian candidate for president Austin Petersen: “I despise Gary Johnson…but I voted for him.”

  • Rachel Lu wrote an elegy for the Tea Party:

    The Tea Party also may be remembered in years to come as the nursery for some great statesmen. Fledgling politicians like Mike Lee, Paul Ryan, and Ben Sasse cut their teeth in this period, and the effects of that conditioning can still be seen in their thinking as they become more seasoned. They understand with considerable nuance why the welfare state has failed. They appreciate the fearsome dimensions of our looming entitlement crisis and our burgeoning national debt. The Tea Party’s concerns are written into the political DNA of our brightest rising stars, and this is a promising sign. For a politician, coming of age in a small-government moment is an advantage, much like having been given effective discipline as a child. It helps in accomplishing great things.

  • Victor Davis Hanson wrote a long list of reasons why the next president is screwed:

    Another problem the new president will face is corruption. Under the Obama administration, malfeasance has now warped the most sacrosanct and once unimpeachable agencies, well beyond the State and Justice Departments. Americans, after the Lois Lerner’s Fifth Amendment plea, have lost confidence in the Internal Revenue Service, vital for a system of self-tax reporting. During the Hillary Clinton email investigations, FBI Director James Comey did to the once-venerable FBI what Lerner had done to the IRS—allowed politics to warp policy as he handed out immunities to Clinton officials and ignored to draw the logical conclusions from the data of his own investigations. The result is that no one believes that either the FBI or IRS runs disinterested investigations of the powerful. The VA, the Secret Service, the GSA, ICE, and the EPA are either guilty of not enforcing current laws and statues, of becoming utterly incompetent, or of freelancing without legislative oversight—or of all three combined. The common denominator is the belief that government does not serve the citizenry, but serves the wishes of the chief executive.

  • An international election observer from Greece retweeted a pro-Clinton tweet, which suggests he may not be as impartial an observer as he’s supposed to be.

  • The jury hearing the Rolling Stone false rape story lawsuit awarded $3 million in damages to Nicole Eramo, the University of Virginia dean of students. Eramo had asked for $7.5 million.

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement accusing a television journalist, Ilana Dayan, of trying to bring down his government.

  • Three Pakistani civilians and one Indian soldier were killed in the latest clashes in Kashmir.

Links for 8-2-2016

Links for 7-12-2016