Links for 12-12-2017

Links for 12-3-2017

Links for 11-2-2017

  • The Department of Justice is contemplating whether to charge at least six Russian government officials in the Democratic National Committee computer hacking case.

  • Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) won’t run for re-election.

  • The Senate approved 27 Trump nominees today, including 16 ambassadors.

  • The Trump administration imposed punitive duties on Canadian softwood lumber imports.

  • Four Democratic election workers in Philadelphia were charged with crimes, including “intimidating voters, casting bogus ballots, and falsely certifying the results in their polling place.”

    Perhaps the most flagrant incident (at least among the ones we know of) involved a pair of husband and wife Republican voters who both cast their ballots for the GOP candidate. One of the votes was registered properly while the other was replaced with a write-in ballot with the name of the Democrat filled in, effectively nullifying the vote for their household.

  • Michael Brendan Dougherty writes that we’re on the slippery slope to shunning the Founders:

    Previously, civil-rights activists such as King reconciled white America’s devotion to the nation’s founding and their own ambition to living as equals under the law by casting the Declaration and other artifacts of the Founding as a “promissory note” whose liberties need to be justly extended to all human beings in America. And many today say that we can honor the Founders because, unlike the the Confederates, the principles they enshrined in our Founding documents could be used against the injustice of slavery and white supremacy.

    It is my contention that this way of honoring the Founders will soon begin to seem dishonest to liberals. It will be seen as a concession to a recalcitrant prejudice and a political reality that is rapidly disappearing, the same way civil unions for same-sex couples are now seen.

    It is easy to imagine a writer who grew up reading Ta-Nehisi Coates on “the First White President” looking back at Bouie’s assertion that we have statues to Jefferson on account of his authorship of the Declaration of Independence with a jaundiced eye. That future man of letters will observe that the Declaration’s invocations of liberty and its pretensions of universalism were merely Whig propaganda against a King. He will assert that Jefferson did not actually believe that all men were so endowed by their creator. He will hasten to add that as America achieved the political sovereignty, Jefferson became more convinced of white supremacy, more secure in the view that white liberty could be guaranteed only through black bondage. Many reading this argument will conclude that by raising statues to Jefferson we are crediting him only for his hypocrisy, a privilege only white racists and slavers get in America. They will conclude, in other words, that America has spent centuries sanctifying its foundational hypocrisy. Land of the Free, home of the enslaved.

  • Gavin Williamson is the U.K.’s new Defense Secretary.

  • More than 180,000 people, most of them Kurds, have been displaced as a result of the fighting between the Peshmerga and the Iraqi army and its Shiite militia allies.

  • Iraq’s central government wants control of Kurdistan’s oil exports.

  • A Spanish judge ordered that nine leaders of Catalonia’s secessionist government be held in custody pending a trial.

Links for 9-12-2017

Links for 8-11-2017

  • Robert Tracinski writes that “No One Expects the Google Inquisition, But It’s Coming”:

    Someone followed up by sending further leaks to the media, consisting of photos of internal message board discussions showing that some other Googlers agreed with Damore, at least in part. The obvious purpose of those leaks is to keep up the pressure on Google, to set off an inquiry into how many other horrible, raging, sexist bigots—as Damore has been styled in the technology media—also need to be purged from the company. That’s the clear implication: that Google needs to conduct a thorough investigation to root out any other James Damores who might be lurking there.

    Later:

    This is how an organization gets eaten away by vicious politics. By giving one set of its employees the impression that they can leak to the press to get people who disagree with them fired, Google has apparently inspired another set of its employees to leak information to get the first group harassed. Talk about creating a “hostile work environment.”

    Later still:

    What’s relevant here is that Google now faces a pattern in which its employees are taking internal information and leaking it to the media, against the company’s own rules and safeguards, in order to achieve political objectives. If the wider public starts to figure out that this is happening, they just might decide this is not a company they want to trust with their information or access to their lives.

  • Sabo put up posters near Google’s office in Venice, California:
    Sabo Google poster

  • Kevin Williamson writes that Donald Trump is treating Mitch McConnell as a scapegoat, but McConnell is not the only person responsible for the failures of the Republican-controlled Congress:

    Trump presented himself to the voters as a master negotiator and dealmaker, but that of course was the character he played on television, not the actual man. Trump cannot sit down with congressional Republicans — much less a bipartisan coalition — and negotiate a deal on health-care reform. The reasons for this are straightforward: There is disagreement among Republicans about what policies should be forwarded, and President Trump does not know what he himself thinks about any of them, because he does not think anything about any of them, because he doesn’t know about them. Trump does not do details — he does adjectives. He wants a “terrific” health-care system. So does Bernie Sanders, but the two of them don’t agree on what that means in practice. At least, they don’t agree anymore: Trump has in the past endorsed the same single-payer system that the grumpy little socialist Muppet from Vermont prefers, which he, or whoever writes the books published under his name, described at some length in his 2000 offering The America We Deserve. He pointed to Canada as an example of how health care in the United States should be organized. He might even have believed that for a week or two, but Trump is simply too lazy to do the intellectual work necessary to develop a coherent position beyond his facile superlatives.

  • Comparing Census Bureau numbers with statistics from the Election Assistance Commission indicates at least 462 counties have more registered voters than residents of voting age:

    But California’s San Diego County earns the enchilada grande. Its 138 percent registration translates into 810,966 ghost voters. Los Angeles County’s 112 percent rate equals 707,475 over-registrations. Beyond the official data that it received, Judicial Watch reports that LA County employees “informed us that the total number of registered voters now stands at a number that is a whopping 144 percent of the total number of resident citizens of voting age.”

    All told, California is a veritable haunted house, teeming with 1,736,556 ghost voters. Judicial Watch last week wrote Democratic secretary of state Alex Padilla and authorities in eleven Golden State counties and documented how their election records are in shambles.

  • A second unit of Yazidi women fighters (the YPJ) entered Raqqa, Syria to fight ISIS.

  • Christians are leaving Iraq at even higher rates because their towns are wrecked, aid money isn’t flowing, and Kurdish and Shiite militias have divided up the Nineveh Plain:

    Checkpoints manned separately by Kurdish Democratic Party peshmerga fighters and Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Force (PMF) militias make it difficult for families to return. “At each of these checkpoints, we often wait up to two hours,” Markos told me. “Two weeks ago, I was turned back.”

    The KDP and the PMF have established a military Line of Control, effectively dividing the Assyrian Christian and Yazidi Nineveh Plain into two separate zones.

    Towns that used to be just a ten minute drive from each other are now walled off from one another, requiring hours to reach crossing points manned by the warring militias.

Links for 8-4-2017

  • The Department of Defense released the names of the two U.S. Army soldiers killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday: Specialist Christopher Harris of Jackson Springs, NC and Sgt. Jonathon Hunter of Columbus, IN.

  • American troops are on the ground in Yemen helping soldiers from the UAE and Yemen’s government push al Qaeda out of a stronghold.

  • Tom Nichols writes that we shouldn’t be happy to see so many generals on the White House staff:

    Rather, the problem is that the public’s eagerness to see a general impose order on the White House—with the president’s blessing, no less—represents a potentially dangerous bargain that at least some Americans seem willing to forge with serving and retired members of the U.S. military: we will accept dysfunction in the Oval Office, it seems, so long as there are enough generals ensconced around it as insurance against disaster.

    This is a complete reversal of long-lasting and stable traditions of American civil-military relations. The United States has a civilian commander in chief in order to provide a civilian check on the power of the military, not the other way around. To hope that Kelly and H.R. McMaster in the White House, and Gen. James Mattis at the Pentagon, will somehow restrain the president’s erratic impulses is a terrible development in our history, not because these are not fine men, but because too much reliance on them corrodes a key principle of the American constitutional order.

  • Former members of the National Security Council are trash-talking H.R. McMaster, claiming that McMaster holds views opposite Donald Trump’s on Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, and China.

  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Department of Justice is stepping up its investigations of the Trump administration’s many leaks, and that it charged four people with leaking classified information.

  • The U.S. drafted a U.N. resolution that would cut North Korea’s exports by a third. North Korea earns $3 billion a year by exporting coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore, and seafood.

  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Congress that the State Department is not removing the term “genocide” from its characterization of ISIS’ actions in Iraq and Syria, but members of Congress are unhappy about the Trump administration’s failure to spend appropriated money to help Christians, Yazidis, and other religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq.

  • A Public Policy Polling survey puts Senator Jeff Flake’s job approval rating in Arizona at 18%.

  • Toyota and Mazda plan to spend $1.6 billion building a factory in the U.S. They’re also planning to cooperate on electric car development. As part of the deal Toyota and Mazda are taking (relatively small) stakes in each other’s business.

  • Volkswagen executive Oliver Schmidt pleaded guilty to cheating on diesel emissions tests. He faces up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $400,000.

  • In Los Angeles County, California there are 144 registered voters for every 100 citizens of voting age.

  • The U.S. military used to be a big advocate for Turkey, but no more:

    There are many problems in bilateral ties, from U.S. cooperation with the Syrian Kurdish YPG, to the Turkish decision to buy Russian weapons systems, to the increasing anti-American, anti-European, and anti-Western rhetoric coming out of Turkey. And this rhetoric should not be ignored because it has been going on for the last 15 years, and it has started to go mainstream because it is being supported by government officials and pro-government media. According to the most recent Pew Center report, whereas other countries are worried about ISIS, global warming, refugee flows, cyberattacks, and economic collapse as key global threats, uniquely among all nations, Turks view the U.S. as a major global threat. No other country polls like Turkey, and this is not accidental – it is linked to anti-Americanism that the AKP has been feeding to its own people since its rise in 2002, as well as issues in bilateral ties. These anti-American sentiments are now quite mainstream in Turkey. That should concern the U.S., and Secretary Mattis is aware of it.

    Later:

    I would say that the people who have the most negative views of Turkey in Washington are, unfortunately, in the U.S. military as a result of a series of events, all of which took place under Erdogan’s watch. Turkey’s refusal to join the Iraq war in 2003, the collapse of Turkish-Israeli ties, the Turkish decision to buy Chinese air defense systems (although they backed down on that), Turkey’s recent decision now to buy Russian missiles, and Turkey’s lax policy in allowing radicals to cross into Syria in an effort to undermine Assad, all of these factors have hurt the relationship. And of course, from the Turkish perspective, the U.S. reticence to fully support Turkey against the Kurdish PKK group over the last decade – as well as the U.S. decision to fully support the Kurdish YPG against ISIS in Syria – has really soured the relationship.

  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit tossed the first degree murder conviction of a former Blackwater employee who fired on unarmed Iraqis in Baghdad in 2007, killing 14 people. The court also ordered resentencings for three other former Blackwater employees who were convicted in the same case.

  • Nolan Peterson writes that supplying American weapons to Ukraine would be a huge morale boost for Ukraine’s army.

  • Last month the Australian Federal Police disrupted an ISIS plot to plant a bomb on an airliner. Four people were arrested. They were working at the direction of ISIS operatives in Syria, who mailed them bomb components.

  • Javier El-Hage describes what’s likely to happen with Venezuela’s new constituent assembly, which met for the first time today:

    It is likely that the new assembly, which includes Maduro’s wife as well as Diosdado Cabello (widely considered the No. 2 man, behind Maduro, of chavismo), will attempt to write a constitution like the one the Castro regime imposed on the Cuban people in 1976, putting all branches of government under the control of one party. The new constitution will also likely enumerate rights and liberties, even as it includes a provision similar to the one in Article 62 of the Cuban constitution warning that “none of the freedoms which are recognized for citizens can be exercised contrary to … the existence and objectives of the socialist State, or contrary to the decision of the Cuban people to build socialism and communism” — canceling any real opportunity for a constitutional government.

Links for 7-19-2017