Philippines City Invaded By Islamic State Fighters

May 24th, 2017

While all eyes were on Manchester, fighters loyal to the Islamic State were launching a big attack half a world away:

A group of heavily-armed militants from a group linked to Isis have reportedly stormed a city in the Philippines and engaged in firefights with the national army.

Residents of Marawi City, in the south of the country, were urged to remain indoors as at least 15 gunmen from a Muslim rebel group called Maute stormed the streets brandishing assault rifles.

The group, which is also known as the Islamic State of Lanao, have reportedly received support from Isis.

Troops and a special police force were deployed to the city after residents in a nearby village raised the alarm and appealed for help.

Marawi City is the provincial capital of Lanao del Sur on the southern island of Mindanao.

Like many countries in Asia and the south Pacific, the Philippines has been fighting a Muslim insurgency on and off for quite a while. In fact, if you count the original Moro War fought and won by General Pershing, since 1899. Groups in the Philippines alone that have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State include the Abu Sayyaf Group, Ansar al-Khilafah (also on Mindanao), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (also on Mindanao), and Jemaah Islamiyah (a transnational Islamic terrorist group which which carried out the Bali bombing also has cells in in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia). And that doesn’t count the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (also on Mindanao), with which the government signed a peace agreement in 2014.

The fight against the Islamic State is one war that extends across the entire globe. Hopefully President Trump understands this fact better than Obama did…

(Hat tip: Jihad Watch.)

22 Dead in Manchester Jihad Attack

May 23rd, 2017

Another week, another deadly jihad attack on Europe. Current numbers: 22 people were killed (including an eight year old) and 59 injured in an explosion at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena. Many of the victims were under 16 years old. The explosion occurred where people were queued at the ticket office to get in rather than inside the concert venue.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility.

The Mirror has continuing updates, including the name of the suicide bomber (AKA “some jihadist asshole”).

Jihad Watch put up a video of a woman whose legs were bleeding from nails from the bomb.

There was, as usual, the requisite outpouring of Emotional Expressions It Is Acceptable To Display Rather Than Actually Addressing the Problem of Islamic Terrorism:

And David Frum decided to be an even bigger tool than usual:

To which Instapundit replied:

Getting Instapundit to cuss at you is like being such an asshole that Mary Poppins has no choice but to pop a cap in your ass.

Posting sad Tweets and changing icons are the things that western liberals do in order to not feel bad about themselves rather than actually deal with the problem of radical Islam.

Feeling sad will not stop Islamic terrorism.

Compassion will not stop Islamic terrorism.

Candlelight vigils will not stop Islamic terrorism.

Pledging to fight “Islamophobia” will not stop Islamic terrorism.

Hashtags will not stop Islamic terrorism.

Changing your Twitter and Facebook icons will not stop Islamic terrorism.

The only things that stop Islamic terrorism are restricting the flow of terrorists and their enablers into your country, and destroying Islamic terrorist networks and the countries that support them. Completely and utterly destroying the Islamic State probably won’t end terrorism, but it will likely take the wind out of their sails for a while. When the west hits back hard (as in Iraq in 2003, or after Israel hit PLO targets in the Bekaa Valley in 1982), Islamic terrorism drops in the aftermath.

Until the west is serious about destroying radical Islam, many more attacks like Manchester (and Paris, and London, and…) lie ahead.

Texas vs. California Update for May 22, 2017

May 22nd, 2017

We’re in the home stretch of hammering out the Texas biannual state budget, which has to be completed by May 29. Until then, enjoy another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Texas is once again ranked the best state for business, while California is ranked the worst. (Hat tip: Will Franklin’s Twitter feed.)
  • California’s big-government model eats its young:

    In this era of anti-Trump resistance, many progressives see California as a model of enlightenment. The Golden State’s post-2010 recovery has won plaudits in the progressive press from the New York Times’s Paul Krugman, among others. Yet if one looks at the effects of the state’s policies on key Democratic constituencies— millennials, minorities, and the poor—the picture is dismal. A recent United Way study found that close to one-third of state residents can barely pay their bills, largely due to housing costs. When adjusted for these costs, California leads all states—even historically poor Mississippi—in the percentage of its people living in poverty.

    California is home to 77 of the country’s 297 most “economically challenged” cities, based on poverty and unemployment levels. The population of these cities totals more than 12 million. In his new book on the nation’s urban crisis, author Richard Florida ranks three California metropolitan areas—Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego— among the five most unequal in the nation. California, with housing prices 230 percent above the national average, is home to many of the nation’s most unaffordable urban areas, including not only the predictably expensive large metros but also smaller cities such as Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo. Unsurprisingly, the state’s middle class is disappearing the fastest of any state.

    California’s young population is particularly challenged. As we spell out in our new report from Chapman University and the California Association of Realtors, California has the third-lowest percentage of people aged 25 to 34 who own their own homes—only New York and Hawaii’s are lower. In San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego, the 25-to-34 homeownership rates range from 19.6 percent to 22.6 percent—40 percent or more below the national average.

  • California continues to slouch toward socialized medicine. “California’s current system relies in large part on employer-sponsored insurance, which is still the source of health care coverage for tens of millions of people. That coverage would disappear under SB 562. Instead of receiving coverage financed by their employers, working Californians would see a tax increase of well over $10,000 per year for many middle-income families.” (Hat tip: Legal Insurrection.)
  • “If you live in California, have a job and pay taxes Governor Jerry Brown would like you to know that you’re a freeloader and he’s tired of your complaining.”
  • “Congratulations, California. You keep electing these same Democrats over and over again. and then you act surprised when they make you one of the most heavily taxed populations in the country. And when you finally raise your voices to protest the out of control taxation and spending, the state party’s titular leader is brazen enough to come straight out and tell you what he really thinks of you.”
  • Has the Democrats latest gas tax hike created an actual tax revolt in California? (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • One lawmaker is the target of a recall petition over the tax hike: “Perceived as the most vulnerable of the legislative Democrats who passed Gov. Jerry Brown’s gas and vehicle tax package by a razor-thin margin, freshman state Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, faced an intensifying campaign to turn him out of office, potentially depriving his party of the two-thirds majority that allowed them to pass Brown’s infrastructure bill in the first place.”
  • Vance Ginn’s monthly summary of Texas economic data. Lot’s of data, including the fact that all major Texas cities created jobs in 2016 except Houston, which was down just a smidge.
  • San Bernardino could go bankrupt again.
  • Buying a house in Southern California is insane. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • California starts selling bonds for the doomed “high speed rail.”
  • 40-60 “youth” flash mob robs passengers on Oakland BART train. The complete absence of descriptions or pictures cues the astute modern American reader in to the ethnic makeup of the mob. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • “Gov. Jerry Brown and state Treasurer John Chiang have a plan to help cover the state’s soaring pension payments: Borrow money at low interest rates and invest it to make a profit. What could go wrong?” I can see it now: “Come on seven! Baby needs a new High Speed Rail!” Also this: “The problem was exacerbated because Brown’s so-called pension “reform” of 2012 failed to significantly rein in retirement costs. Statewide pension debt has increased 36 percent since his changes took effect.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Riverside utilities dispatcher triples salary to nearly $400,000 with state’s 10th largest overtime payout.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • And speaking of California public employees working overtime:

    The time cards Oakland city worker Kenny Lau turned in last year paint a stunning, if not improbable, picture of one man’s work ethic.

    Lau, a civil engineer, often started his days at 10 a.m. and clocked out at 4 a.m., only to get back to work at 10 a.m. for another marathon day. He never took a sick day. He worked every weekend and took no vacation days.

    He worked every holiday, including the most popular ones that shut down much of the nation’s businesses: 12 hours on Thanksgiving and eight hours on Christmas.

    In fact, his time cards show he worked all 366 days of the leap year, at times putting in 90-plus-hour workweeks. He worked so much that he quadrupled his salary. His regular compensation and overtime pay — including benefits, $485,275 — made him the city’s highest-paid worker and the fourth-highest overtime earner of California public employees in 2016.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • The Los Angeles Unified School District has decided it can break federal immigration laws at will. “No immigration officers will be allowed on campus without clearance from the superintendent of schools, who will consult with district lawyers. Until that happens, they won’t be let in, even if they arrive with a legally valid subpoena.” There’s no way such a genius decision could possibly backfire on them… (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • How California hurts the poor by jacking up traffic fines. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “San Diego using loophole to hand out large raises during pay freeze.” It’s a blatant attempt to evade Proposition B.
  • An auditor funds the University of California President’s office of Janet Napolitano had a secret slush fund:
    • The Office of the President has accumulated more than $175 million in undisclosed restricted and discretionary reserves;
      as of fiscal year 2015–16, it had $83 million in its restricted reserve and $92 million in its discretionary reserve.

    • More than one-third of its discretionary reserve, or $32 million, came from unspent funds from the campus assessment—an annual charge that the Office of the President levies on campuses to fund the majority of its discretionary operations.
    • In certain years, the Office of the President requested and received approval from the Board of Regents (regents) to
      increase the campus assessment even though it had not spent all of the funds it received from campuses in prior years.

    • The Office of the President did not disclose the reserves it had accumulated, nor did it inform the regents of the annual undisclosed budget that it created to spend some of those funds. The undisclosed budget ranged from $77 million to
      $114 million during the four years we reviewed.

    • The Office of the President was unable to provide a complete listing of the systemwide initiatives, their costs, or an assessment of their continued benefit to the university.
    • While it appears that the Office of the President’s administrative spending increased by 28 percent, or $80 million, from fiscal years 2012–13 through 2015–16, the Office of the President continues to lack consistent definitions of and methods for tracking the university’s administrative expenses.

    An Ex-Obama Administration official with a secret slush fund? What are the odds?

  • Texas continues to attract net in-migration from every region.
  • California wants to tax rockets launched from California into orbit, based on miles traveled away from California. I’m sure many of Texas own spaceflight companies will welcome any business California drives out…
  • Speaking of spaceflight, Elon Musk’s Space X, just like Telsa, is more emblematic of subsidies and special favors than the free market:

    Tesla survives on the back of hefty subsidies paid for by hard-working Americans just barely getting by so that a select few can drive flashy, expensive electric sports cars. These subsidies were originally scheduled to expire later this year, and Tesla is lobbying hard to make sure that taxpayers continue to pay $7,500 per car or more to fund their business model. Tesla even tried to force taxpayers to pay for charging stations that would primarily benefit their business. That is not what Musk’s high priced image managers will tell you, but it’s the truth.

    SpaceX is even worse — its business model isn’t to invest its money developing competing space products that meet the same safety and reliability standards as the rest of the industry. Instead, its business model is to get billions in taxpayer money and push, bend, and demand regulatory special favors. Then, it produces a rocket that is more known for failed launches, long delays, and consistently missed deadlines.

  • How California’s air emission rules went to far.
  • “California may end ban on communists in government jobs.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Bachrach Clothing Stores File for Bankruptcy Protection in Los Angeles.”
  • “California solar installer HelioPower filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Nevada.”
  • Hudson Products relocating from Tulsa to Rosenberg, Texas.
  • “Bay Area bookseller Bill Petrocelli is filing a lawsuit against the state of California, hoping to force a repeal of the state’s controversial ‘Autograph Law.’ The law, booksellers claim, threatens to bury bookstore author signings under red tape and potential liabilities. Petrocelli, co-owner of Book Passage, filed Passage v. Becerra in U.S. District Court for the North District of California, pitting the bookstore against California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra.” As a bookseller on the side, I can tell you that California’s law is particularly asinine and is completely ignorant of the signed book trade.
  • A Long, Hard Look at Weiner’s Sentence

    May 20th, 2017

    Apologies in advance, but I’ve got to use up this pallet of Anthony Weiner puns I got at Sam’s or they’ll all be expired by the time he gets out of prison. So let’s quit dicking around and talk about the details on the prick’s plea bargain.

    Are the sentencing guidelines for Weiner’s underage sexting plea bargain too stiff or too soft? Both:

    So the guidelines should be 10 years in federal prison, but because it’s Anthony Weiner he’s only going to get about 2? Isn’t that extremely suspicious? Is this preferential treatment for a connected Democrat?

    Well, it’s got a very unfortunate appearance, I think.

    Here’s what may be going on.

    Fist, Weiner got struck by lightning, in a way. It’s quite rare for the feds to prosecute someone for sexting a teen like this. It’s vastly more common for the state to handle it, and generally the consequences would be much less severe if the state prosecuted. Weiner got caught up in this because of his prominence and connection to high-profile people and high-profile investigations. If he were Tony Weynor, married to a hairdresser in Brooklyn, he almost certainly wouldn’t get federally investigated or prosecuted for this. His social, political, and media prominence, combined with his idiocy and recklessness, made his actions the equivalent of doing something right in front of the cop — the cop feels duty-bound to arrest you. The U.S. Attorney’s office may have thought that he was facing unfairly disproportionate consequences — ten years instead of perhaps probation or a minor sentence stateside — because of who he was, and might have thought some leniency was appropriate.

    Second, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines are arcane. It’s a thicket of “use this guideline, but wait, cross-reference to that guideline if factor X is present.” Here, the base guideline applying to the offense dictates a far more lenient result — one in the 21-27 month range the government is going to recommend. But because Weiner apparently encouraged a minor to send him explicit pictures, the guideline cross-references to a far, far harsher guideline designed for “sex trafficking.” I suspect that the U.S. Attorney’s Office thought that the Sentencing Commission didn’t contemplate such a harsh guideline being applied to a sexting-a-minor offense that normally would not be prosecuted in federal court.

    So are you saying he’s getting a sweet deal, or not?

    He’s getting a terrible deal by being prosecuted federally for conduct that only very rarely would attract federal prosecution. But he’s getting an extraordinarily lenient, compassionate, humane deal within that context. I have only very rarely seen a recommendation for a sentence so dramatically below the guideline range when the defendant wasn’t cooperating in an important case.

    Look, the system strikes some people with lightning. Those people normally get ground up mercilessly. Anthony Weiner’s getting struck by lightning but then treated with very unusual mercy. I don’t disagree with the arguments that the guideline sentence is too high, or that nobody intended for the sex trafficking guideline and its harsh results to be applied to sexting with a teen. But I’m troubled by who gets that consideration and who doesn’t. Federal court dishes out brutal mandatory minimum sentences and guideline sentences to people all the time. People like Anthony Weiner get sympathy and special consideration; people think about whether the law is fair as applied to them. People generally don’t ask that about most defendants.

    (Most Shocking voiceover) “He used to be cock of the walk, but now Anthony Weiner is going to be doing…hard time.”

    Keep in mind that the day before Weiner copped his plea bargain, former uniformed Secret Service officer Lee Robert Moore was was sentenced to 20 years in prison for “sending sexually explicit photos of himself to underage girls — while he was on duty at the White House.”

    Weiner’s wife, former (and future?) Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, officially filed for divorce from Weiner. The only thing she can be critisized for (in this particular instance) is waiting so long. But I’m pretty sure it’s easier to get full custody of your child when the other party in the divorce is a registered sex offender.

    She might have another reason: “So long as she remained ‘Mrs. Weiner,’ Abedin could claim spousal protection and dodge taking the stand in her husband’s underage sexting case. Now that Weiner has pleaded guilty, there can be no trial — so she has no need for the spousal protection.”

    People in Hillary Clinton’s circle do seem to have an aversion to taking the witness stand under oath.

    All in all, it’s a flaccid end to what Democrats once considered a rising political star…

    And let’s not forget the first man who broke the original Weiner sexting story:

    Now some images:

    LinkSwarm for May 19, 2017

    May 19th, 2017

    Another eventful week, and not just for the special-prosecutor and impeachment talk freakout Democrats are having. (Looks like they failed to learn the lesson of “Fitzmas.”)

    Now the LinkSwarm:

  • “Almost every promise made eight years ago about Obamacare turned out to be a falsehood.”

    No, you couldn’t keep your insurance plan, doctor or provider in many cases. No, it didn’t save $2,500 per family (more like cost $2,500 more per family). No, it didn’t lead to expanded patient choice. And yes, the tax increases and insurance mandates damaged the economy and cost jobs. We are now left with insurance markets that have entered a death spiral. The entire health insurance market will financially implode unless it’s changed.

  • “Several raids by federal and local authorities across Los Angeles on Wednesday led to the arrests of 44 MS-13 gang members, including murderers, CNN reported. The series of 50 raids occurred before dawn and were led by ATF agents and 1,000 other officers who have been working on the case for around three years. More than half of the 44 gang members arrested were undocumented immigrants, while three members are currently on the run.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Boston prosecutors go out of their way not to deport a foreign national for bank robbery. Result? Two American citizens murdered.
  • More proof that the Obama Administration used national security intelligence gathering to spy on domestic political opponents.
  • Anthony Weiner pleads guilty. “Prosecutors said they would ask for 21 months to 27 months in prison for Weiner once his plea is entered. He will also be required to register as a sex offender.” That would put him safely past the 2018 midterm elections, but not the 2020 election…
  • The peoples of the bubbles:

    “Call it the zeroth bubble.

    In it are the self-proclaimed elites of government and media. The residents of the zeroth bubble reside in coastal enclaves and surrounded by elaborate systems that protect them from those who live in the first, second and third bubbles.

    The residents of the zeroth bubble often secure permanent employment in the form of government sinecure or job-hopping between government, media, academia, lobbying, and public relations.

    Their personal security is assured by heavily-armed forces that offer many of them around-the-clock protection.

    There is little crossover from the zeroth bubble to the first. And certainly less still between the zeroth and the second.

    It’s also safe to say that the device has yet to be invented that can measure the empathy that the elites feel for the residents of the third bubble.

    Which helps explain why illegal immigration — from human- and drug-smuggling to MS-13 — is of no concern to the Chamber of Commerce, or your typical Senator, or Thomas Friedman of The New York Times.

    The zeroth bubble people wouldn’t ever see the results of the open borders policies they espouse and support, nor can they even countenance them.

    In fact, they’re sufficiently disconnected from the residents of the first bubble that they missed the entire Trump phenomenon.

  • Scott Adams looks at positives (the economy, jobs) and negatives (“Unproven allegations of Russian collusion with Trump campaign”) of the Trump era. “All the important stuff is trending positive.”
  • President Trump rolls back another Obama Administration power grab:

    President Donald Trump reversed another eleventh-hour Obama administration regulation, rolling back Democrats’ effort to push private sector workers into state government retirement plans.

    Trump signed House Resolution 66 on Wednesday, undoing a regulation adopted by the Department of Labor on October 31, 2016. The department’s rule would have allowed state and local governments to create IRA accounts for private sector workers and automatically deduct contributions from their paychecks without the protections savers enjoy under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • Draining the swamp: Half of EPA advisory board dismissed. Also: “The Interior Department has also frozen the work of more than 200 advisory boards, committees and subcommittees last week.” Just think of all the damage they won’t be able to do to the American economy for a while…
  • Democratic congressional leaders: Ixnay on the mpeachmentinay alktay! (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • In Montana, Democrats have recruited a signing socialist in favor of gun control for their candidate.
  • “Routine arrest of arguing Muslims leads Minneapolis police to huge weapons cache and bomb-making devices.” (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • Former Social Justice Warrior on why she quit the cult:

    I see increasing numbers of so-called liberals cheering censorship and defending violence as a response to speech. I see seemingly reasonable people wishing death on others and laughing at escalating suicide and addiction rates of the white working class. I see liberal think pieces written in opposition to expressing empathy or civility in interactions with those with whom we disagree. I see 63 million Trump voters written off as “nazis” who are okay to target with physical violence. I see concepts like equality and justice being used as a mask for resentful, murderous rage.

    The most pernicious aspect of this evolution of the left, is how it seems to be changing people, and how rapidly since the election. I have been dwelling on this Nietzsche quote for almost six months now, “He who fights with monsters, should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.” How easy is it for ordinary humans to commit atrocious acts? History teaches us it’s pretty damn easy when you are blinded to your own hypocrisy. When you believe you are morally superior, when you have dehumanized those you disagree with, you can justify almost anything. In a particularly vocal part of the left, justification for dehumanizing and committing violence against those on the right has already begun.

    (Hat tip: PJMedia via Ace of Spades HQ.)

  • Signs of cognitive dissonance that show you’re winning the debate: “If you have been well-behaved in a debate, and you trigger an oversized personal attack, it means you won.”
  • #NeverTrump was (mostly) wrong.
  • The challenges of treating children who are born psychopaths:

    One bitter December day in 2011, Jen was driving the children along a winding road near their home. Samantha had just turned 6. Suddenly Jen heard screaming from the back seat, and when she looked in the mirror, she saw Samantha with her hands around the throat of her 2-year-old sister, who was trapped in her car seat. Jen separated them, and once they were home, she pulled Samantha aside.

    “What were you doing?,” Jen asked.

    “I was trying to choke her,” Samantha said.

    “You realize that would have killed her? She would not have been able to breathe. She would have died.”

    “I know.”

    “What about the rest of us?”

    “I want to kill all of you.”

    (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)

  • “Rear Adm. Robert Gilbeau, the first admiral ever convicted of a federal crime while on active duty, was sentenced on Wednesday to 18 months in prison for lying to investigators about his involvement in a bribery scandal that has ensnared numerous Navy officers.” That would be for the Fat Leonard scandal. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Senate Conservative Fund-backed Ralph Norman wins primary for South Carolina’s Fifth Congressional seat by 203 votes.
  • “After a drug search, a cop brushes some residue off his shirt and within minutes falls to the floor overdosing.” Carfentanyl, which is 10,000 times more potent than morphine, sounds less like a drug and more like a chemical warfare agent…
  • UK election watch: Why Labour is about to get wiped out in Wales:

    it becomes clear that what you’re seeing is the strange death of Labour Wales – one that goes back further and deeper than June 2016.

    In its heartlands, Labour was always a working-class party, and what’s changed is that the working class has been smashed up. The physical traces of that are evident all over south Wales. The mines are now museum pieces. The Sony factory in Bridgend has long since gone, while the town’s Ford plant is reportedly preparing to shed over half its workers. What’s replaced those careers? A scan of the windows of the recruitment agencies tells you: fork-lift drivers, warehouse staff, “recycling operatives”. All at around minimum wage, and hardly any full-time.

    For decades, Labour took this area and its other heartlands for granted – while it flirted with Mondeo Man and Worcester Woman. It parachuted in its plastic professional politicians – just think of the way Tristram Hunt was airlifted into Stoke – and ignored the need to nurture local talent. Now in Wales and elsewhere, it is paying the price of decades of ingrained arrogance.

    (Hat tip: The Political Hat.)

  • “German Chancellor Angela Merkel has threatened the British government with ‘consequences’ if it were to restrict immigration from the EU member states after the country formally breaks away from the union.” This brings up a number of questions, foremost among them why does she care? First, why should the leader of one country care how another country sets its immigration policy? Second, this suggests that Frau Merkel thinks she’s President of the EU rather than Germany (to be fair, so does most of the world). Third, why would the EU fight to make it easier for their own citizens to leave the EU? Why it’s almost as if Merkel is more loyal to the interests of open borders elites than the German people. Or else the EU wants to dump more Islamic “refugees” on the UK…
  • Texas House Speaker Joe Straus seems to have finally met his match in Lt. Governor Dan Patrick:

    Joe Straus looked like a speaker unquestionably in charge. Then things started falling apart.

    The problems for the speaker have been caused by a small group of Republican legislators known as the Freedom Caucus. The core group is nine lawmakers out of the 150-member House, and sometimes they can get their vote up to nineteen. Even some conservative Republicans complain that the Freedom Caucus is not truly Republican, but rather a group of libertarians more bent on causing chaos in the House than anything else. Some of the most prominent members are Matt Schaefer of Tyler, Jeff Leach of Plano, and Matt Rinaldi of Irving. Their titular leader is Bedford Representative Jonathan Stickland, who uses parliamentary rules to kill other members’ bills and then strongly objects when his own legislation suffers a similar fate. The Freedom Caucus opposes Straus but have generally been an ineffective annoyance.

    That changed on April 27, when the House endured sixteen hours of debate on an anti-immigration bill to address so-called sanctuary cities. In the course of the debate, Schaefer offered an amendment to prevent police chiefs from restricting their officers from asking people who have been detained about their immigration status. In a moment of conciliation, Schaefer offered to pull down his amendment if Democrats would stop offering their own amendments designed to make Republicans look heartless and cruel. Some Democrats wanted to take the deal, but Representatives Armando Walle of Houston, Cesar Blanco of El Paso and Roland Gutierrez of San Antonio argued against it. By refusing to compromise, the three guaranteed that the so-called “show me your papers” amendment would become part of the bill that Abbott eventually signed into law.

    But undeniably, Straus had an opportunity to affect the outcome of that bill. He could have kept it bottled up as he was doing with the bathroom bill, though he had allowed a similar sanctuary cities bill to go through the House in 2011. Straus also could have demanded discipline out of his chairs to vote against Schaefer. The amendment went on the bill by a vote of 81-64, with fourteen of Straus’s committee chairs voting for the Schaefer amendment, while three other members of his leadership team were away at a conference committee on the budget. Straus needed to switch only a dozen votes to keep the most controversial language out of the bill.

    The Freedom Caucus was empowered, at least in perception.

    In the days that followed, caucus members got an amendment on a foster care bill to prevent the vaccination of children who have been removed from their homes until a court ordered the child’s permanent removal. And last week they used maneuvers to slow down the House calendar so that a “safety net” bill failed to pass to keep agencies subject to the sunset review process alive even if their reauthorization legislation failed. And finally, they won passage of an amendment to a State Bar of Texas bill to make it an affirmative defense for a lawyer under disciplinary review to claim he or she acted because of a sincerely held religious belief—an amendment that Democrats viewed as giving lawyers the ability to discriminate against the LGBT community.

    After the religious beliefs amendment passed on a vote of 85-59, Representative Rafael Anchia of Dallas blurted out, “Last session these guys couldn’t pass gas. Now they’re running the floor.”

    Several senior Republican members of the Straus leadership team have told me they don’t feel like anyone is in charge in the House. One called it a rudderless ship. None said they are ready to abandon Straus or revolt against him, though the frustration is rising.

    With the Freedom Caucus suddenly finding some success in the House, Patrick no doubt saw an opportunity to reassert control of the session. The death of the House version of the “safety net” bill was important. It’s called a safety net bill because it allows agencies under sunset review to continue operating. It has to pass. With the demise of the House’s bill, the only option left is the Senate’s version. And Patrick made clear he intends to hold that bill hostage.

    In his press conference Wednesday, flanked by the flags of Texas and the United States, Patrick noted that he had control of the Senate version of the safety net bill. Then he demanded the House surrender on using the state’s rainy day fund to pay for a revenue shortfall in the budget; that the House accept both a private school voucher program in a substantially reduced school funding plan, and a controversial property tax reform for cities and counties; and that some form of his bathroom bill receive House approval. Otherwise, Patrick would force a special session to get what he wants.

    Ignore the analysis of the Freedom Caucus. What’s really going on here is that Patrick has emboldened House Republicans who previously lived in fear of Straus’ vengeance to actually start acting like Republicans again.

  • The Germans are coming…to lower your grocery bill.
  • Turns out that female college graduates are now making more than their male counterparts. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Roger Ailes, RIP.
  • Deal reached on Dallas pension crisis? (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Saudis to Make $6 Billion Deal for Lockheed’s Littoral Ships.” This is evidently just one component of a $110 billion arms deal negotiated by both the Trump and Obama Administrations. Though most famous for aircraft, Lockheed has built combat ships off and on for decades and, especially after their merger with Martin Marietta in 1995, has a lot of fingers in a lot of defense contracting pies. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Austin’s Brackenridge Hospital closes.
  • Good things for a track coach: Burning speed. Bad things for a track coach: burning his own home.
  • “How ‘social justice warriors’ are like McCarthyites and the Ku Klux Klan.”
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates’ social justice warrior Marvel comic Black Panther & The Crew cancelled after two issues due to low sales. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Slowdive just released their first new album in two decades. It’s excellent and you should buy it.
  • Camille Paglia Slams Hillary Clinton (Again)

    May 18th, 2017

    Everyone’s favorite renegade lesbian feminist is back in the news with another interview filled with pithy quotes.

    Like this bit on Hillary Clinton:

    Misogyny played no significant role whatever in Hillary Clinton’s two defeats as a presidential candidate. This claim is such a crock! What a gross exploitation of feminism—in the service of an unaccomplished woman whose entire career was spent attached to her husband’s coat tails. Hillary was handed job after job but produced no tangible results in any of them—except of course for her destabilization of North Africa during her rocky tenure as secretary of state. And for all her lip service to women and children, what program serving their needs did Hillary ever conceive and promote? She routinely signed on to other people’s programs or legislative bills but spent the bulk of her time in fundraising and networking for her own personal ambitions. Beyond that, I fail to see how authentic feminism can ever be ascribed to a woman who turned a blind eye to the victims of her husband’s serial abuse and workplace seductions. The hypocrisy of feminist leaders was on full display during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, which incontrovertibly demonstrated Bill Clinton’s gross violation of basic sexual harassment policy. Although I had voted for him twice, I was the only feminist at the time who publicly condemned Clinton for his squalid and unethical behavior with an intern whose life (it is now clear) he ruined. Gloria Steinem’s slick casuistry during that shocking episode did severe damage to feminism, from which it has never fully recovered.

    Nor is she much kinder to Elizabeth Warren:

    Elizabeth Warren, a smug Harvard professor, is no populist. She doesn’t have an iota of Bernie Sanders’ authentic empathic populism—but Sanders will be too old to run next time around. I tried to take Warren seriously during the run-up to the primaries, but her outrageous silence about Sanders’ candidacy when he was battling the corrupt Hillary machine made me see Warren as the facile opportunist that she is. She craftily hid from sight throughout the primaries—until Hillary won the nomination. Then all of a sudden, there was bouncy, grinning Warren, popping in and out of Hillary’s Washington mansion as vice-presidential possibilities were being vetted. What an arrant hypocrite! Warren stands for nothing but Warren.

    And her positioned on Donald Trump is considerably more nuanced than most Democrats these days:

    Donald Trump’s retro style of confident masculinity (which dates from the Frank Sinatra/Hugh Hefner period) was surely a major factor in his victory and represents what was probably an inevitable and necessary course correction in American gender relations. The delirious excesses of unscientific campus gender theory, translated into intrusive government regulations by elite school graduates saturating the Obama administration, finally hit a wall with the electorate. The mainstream big-city media too have become strident echo chambers of campus gender dogma, as demonstrated by last year’s New York Times fiasco, where two wet-behind-the-ears reporters fell on their faces in trying to prosecute the Trump of his casino days as a vile sexist. I mercilessly mocked that vacuous article in my Salon.com column and stand by every word I wrote.

    As usual with Paglia, her opinions tend to defy easy categorization as left or right, so there’s much here to chew on and disagree with, but she’s always worth a look.

    Jihad Watch’s Robert Spencer Poisoned in Iceland

    May 18th, 2017

    This is a story that needs attention:

    Last Thursday, I gave a lecture on the jihad threat at the Grand Hotel in Reykjavik, Iceland. Shortly thereafter, a young Icelandic Leftist registered his disapproval of what I said by poisoning me.

    It happened after the event, when my security chief, the organizers of the event, and Jihad Watch writer Christine Williams, who had also been invited to speak, went with me to a local restaurant to celebrate the success of the evening.

    At this crowded Reykjavik establishment, I was quickly recognized. A young Icelander called me by name, shook my hand, and said he was a big fan. Shortly after that, another citizen of that famously genteel and courteous land also called me by name, shook my hand, and said “F**k you.”

    We took that marvelous Icelandic greeting as a cue to leave. But the damage had already been done. About fifteen minutes later, when I got back in my hotel room, I began to feel numbness in my face, hands, and feet. I began trembling and vomiting. My heart was racing dangerously. I spent the night in a Reykjavik hospital.

    What had happened quickly became clear, and was soon confirmed by a hospital test: one of these local Icelanders who had approached me (probably the one who said he was a big fan, as he was much closer to me than the “F**k you” guy) had dropped drugs into my drink. I wasn’t and am not on any other medication, and so there wasn’t any other explanation of how these things had gotten into my bloodstream.

    For several days thereafter I was ill, but I did get to Reykjavik’s police station and gave them a bigger case than they have seen in good awhile. The police official with whom I spoke took immediate steps to identify and locate the principal suspects and obtain the restaurant’s surveillance video.

    Iceland is a small country. Everyone knows everyone else. And so as it happened, I was quickly able to discover the identity, phone number, and Facebook page of the primary suspect, the young man who claimed he was a “big fan.” I don’t intend to call him. Icelandic police will be contacting him soon enough, if they haven’t done so already.

    However, I did look at his Facebook page, and as I expected, I saw nothing that might indicate that he really was a “big fan” of my work, or that he held any views out of the mainstream — which is, courtesy of Iceland’s political and media elites, dominated entirely by the Left.

    The most likely scenario is that this young man, or whoever drugged me, heard that a notorious “racist” was coming to Reykjavik, by chance saw me in the restaurant, and decided to teach me a lesson with some of the illegal drugs that are as plentiful in Reykjavik as they are anywhere else.

    According to a PJ media article, “A hospital test confirmed that I had been poisoned — Ritalin mixed with MDMA (Ecstasy).”

    Summarizing The Stupidity Of That Washington Post Trump Shared Intel Story

    May 17th, 2017

    Let me see if I can summarize the interlocking rings of stupidity on that Washington Post story that President Trump allegedly shared super-duper mega-secret intelligence on the Islamic State with Russians.

    A newspaper that has long functioned as an extension of the Democratic Party and which has endlessly covered up Obama Administration scandals, that hates President Donald Trump, lied about him during and after the 2016 Presidential campaign, and just called for his impeachment, publishes a story that depends 100% on anonymous sources to make assertions of improper intelligence sharing with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, allegations which were denied by every U.S. official who was actually in the room when this supposed security breach happened, and about which National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster states that President Trump did not actually know the source of the intelligence methods that were theoretically compromised during the meeting.

    It’s not that I trust everything Donald Trump says, it’s simply that, for all his bullshitting, negotiating ploys and verbal gamesmanship, I trust President Trump far more than the media that irrationally loathes and despises him, especially when it comes to 100% anonymous sources, who are most likely swamp holdovers who already hated Trump, will do anything to see him fail, and will not be punished in any way if the story turns out to be fabricated from whole cloth.

    And here’s the kicker: Since it is well within the President’s power to declassify information, I really don’t care if he did share intelligence with the Russians. The Russians are scumbags and a geopolitical foe, but they’re against the Islamic State, the subject of the supposed shared intelligence, mainly because their client states Syria and Iran are against them. I don’t trust Trump as much I would trust Reagan, Bush41 or Bush43 to properly conduct foreign policy and dole out classified intelligence, but I still trust him several orders of magnitude more than Obama or Clinton functionaries or their extensions working for the Washington Post. (Given that the Post recently hired Clinton fixer John Podesta, the man who helped create the Russia hacked the election narrative, as a columnist, there are obviously cases were those two roles are actually one and the same…)

    Arrest Uresti

    May 16th, 2017

    Democratic State Senator Carlos Uresti’s offices were raided by the FBI and IRS in February. Today, the other shoe finally dropped:

    A federal grand jury has indicted Texas state Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two counts of securities fraud, among other charges, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

    There were 13 charges in all, stemming from two separate corruption cases:

    The Four Winds indictment

    Uresti served as general counsel in 2014 for the now-defunct San Antonio company Four Winds Logistics. Investors have claimed that company CEO Stan Bates wasted their money on personal expenses and vacations, and the investigation has so far led to at least three guilty pleas from officials at Four Winds.

    The grand jury also indicted Bates and Four Winds consultant Gary L. Cain, federal investigators said.

    Bates founded the company to trade “frac sand,” which is used in hydraulic fracturing to extract oil and gas from shale rock. Documents filed months ago that outline the investigation claim that company officials in 2014 wired money from the company to personal bank accounts controlled by conspirators or their spouses; sent altered bank statements for the Four Winds’ general operating account to potential investors; and emailed an investor a spreadsheet that falsely showed the investor’s investment was used to buy fracking sands.

    “The indictment alleges that the defendants’ scheme developed an investment Ponzi to market hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. fracking) sand for oil production,” federal officials said in their statement Tuesday. “It further alleges that the defendants made false statements and representations to solicit investors in Four Winds. The defendants allegedly used funds from more recent investors to pay earlier investors and for personal expenses.”

    Uresti, Bates and Cain face the following charges in this indictment:

  • Uresti: One count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, five substantive counts of wire fraud, two counts of securities fraud, one count of engaging in monetary transactions with property derived from specified unlawful activity, and one count of being an unregistered securities broker.
  • Bates: One count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, one count of wire fraud, two counts of securities fraud, and three counts of engaging in monetary transactions with property derived from specified unlawful activity.
  • Cain: One count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and seven counts of engaging in monetary transactions with property derived from specified unlawful activity.
  • Uresti would face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of being an unregistered securities broker. Additionally, each man could face up to 20 years in prison for each fraud charge and up to 10 years in prison for each money laundering charge.

    The Reeves County indictment

    This indictment alleges that, from January 2006 to September 2016, Uresti and Vernon C. Farthing III, of Lubbock, conspired with others to pay and accept bribes in order to secure a Reeves County Correctional Center medical services contract for Farthing’s company, federal officials said.

    The indictment specifically alleges that Farthing paid Uresti $10,000 a month as a marketing consultant and that half of that sum was then given to a Reeves County official for his support and vote to award the contract to Farthing’s company, federal officials said.

    Uresti and Farthing face the following charges in this indictment:

  • Uresti: One count of conspiracy to commit bribery and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
  • Farthing: One count of conspiracy to commit bribery and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
  • If convicted of both charges, both men would each face up to 25 years in prison.

    (Hat tip: Dwight.)

    The post title is mainly there for the alliteration, as Uresti is expected to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Bemporad at 11 AM in San Antonio.

    Attempted BlueHost Phishing Attack

    May 16th, 2017

    Just got this phishing attempt purporting to be a domain change notification.

    Raw source (slightly edited to remove my email address, and with added line breaks to keep the block from spilling into my righthand links column):


    Delivered-To: [my email address]
    Received: by 10.129.168.138 with SMTP id f132csp137359ywh;
    Tue, 16 May 2017 04:25:08 -0700 (PDT)
    X-Received: by 10.25.145.78 with SMTP id y14mr3013524lfj.182.1494933668196;
    Tue, 16 May 2017 04:21:08 -0700 (PDT)
    X-Received: by 10.25.145.78 with SMTP id y14mr3013498lfj.182.1494933666719;
    Tue, 16 May 2017 04:21:06 -0700 (PDT)
    ARC-Seal: i=1; a=rsa-sha256; t=1494933666; cv=none;
    d=google.com; s=arc-20160816;
    b=EkN54HW9eTyfd0jOfsRVNR0X/FcZbGItIa0uZOBR4HJp7/98oZ6n1B7FLmwrWmZrv4

    5dDu5xxwEZUzXOGnickvxjN/j4xeYRwg4QRKcl1oGU/sN1/28cbmMhz+cPm/9IiocabJ

    lbM3KY9yS06l8Tqks6NqCjYu37tBecVsdXCIDs97H8jlGMftPJtfHwSjp4NB8

    Atmse85rgzAUDI3VQ0heJUNaej7eJ3iQZUoO4WUrE2a83+zL1RFIxhMy

    xwuntOSRaMWqjkjUb0z pwB6DYLaFL6I4OBemO2fQ9KPAVSArN+W6yiD/

    WTdHOH80EG6taU55R0BSe3v0Cm/JSjA

    tGng==
    ARC-Message-Signature: i=1; a=rsa-sha256; c=relaxed/relaxed; d=google.com; s=arc-20160816;
    h=date:message-id:content-transfer-encoding:mime-version:from:subject
    :to:delivery-date:arc-authentication-results;

    bh=3vPc/J8rnDJTfIYUKavWvnMr/

    efHU9EsfJ+Vu6fidbs=;b=fgaxPBNn1/vQIC45obi02J30mqqvoJ8yrp

    N9bGIHG2rvWt1Qmtxt4ik7dyARWJDqzvOQnNMHX+

    4bC1fVD1qcmjntpe0fkMR8HbYywI8r3k3rZArnj79fVoWJX

    wzb0akib3zyGGSFLS+nZ1fkCdPfmU96JmPYevKmB3l0v86yU/

    aj2WqNE+Olvc6s14wuBXia8rzGtWtsLHIlm2zmqS2NFLNTv

    CapcNPx8ZQvOQEA37pv6oRmlnz/XOg7Rwi4dIrzaAbtY8wv0sI/29

    EjXFkxsVgvXKHIRVc685xWXYuYKATJGIzfccUNJaP/

    TBuhLI7uS8uo7QBkm+B21jhl0x

    AnNw==
    ARC-Authentication-Results: i=1; mx.google.com;
    spf=pass (google.com: domain of cq99590@annika.timeweb.ru designates 2a03:6f00:1::5c35:605f as permitted sender) smtp.mailfrom=cq99590@annika.timeweb.ru
    Return-Path:
    Received: from annika.timeweb.ru (annika.timeweb.ru. [2a03:6f00:1::5c35:605f])
    by mx.google.com with ESMTPS id p5si688773lfp.49.2017.05.16.04.21.06
    for
    (version=TLS1_2 cipher=AES128-SHA bits=128/128);
    Tue, 16 May 2017 04:21:06 -0700 (PDT)
    Received-SPF: pass (google.com: domain of cq99590@annika.timeweb.ru designates 2a03:6f00:1::5c35:605f as permitted sender) client-ip=2a03:6f00:1::5c35:605f;
    Authentication-Results: mx.google.com;
    spf=pass (google.com: domain of cq99590@annika.timeweb.ru designates 2a03:6f00:1::5c35:605f as permitted sender) smtp.mailfrom=cq99590@annika.timeweb.ru
    Delivery-date: Tue, 16 May 2017 14:21:06 +0300
    To: lawrenceperson@gmail.com
    Subject: Domain: BATTLESWARMBLOG.COM. Warning 5946
    From: Bluehost
    X-Priority: 4 (Low)
    Mime-Version: 1.0
    X-Mailer: Php_libMail_v_2.0(webi.ru)
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8
    Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64
    Message-Id:
    Date: Tue, 16 May 2017 14:21:06 +0300

    RGVhciBCbHVlaG9zdCBjdXN0b21lciBMQVdSRU5DRSBQRVJTT04s
    DQoNClRoaXMgbm90aWZpY2F0aW9uIGlzIGdlbmVyYXRlZCBhdXRvb
    WF0aWNhbGx5IGFzIGEgc2VydmljZSB0byB5b3UuDQpXZSBoYXZlI
    HJlY2VpdmVkIGEgcmVxdWVzdCB0aGF0IHRoZSBuYW1lIHNlcnZlcn
    MgYmUgY2hhbmdlZCBmb3IgdGhlIGZvbGxvd2luZyBkb21haW4gbm
    FtZShzKToNCg0KQkFUVExFU1dBUk1CTE9HLkNPTQ0KDQpJZiB5b3U
    gYXJlIG1vbml0b3JpbmcgdGhpcyBuYW1lIHdpdGggRG9tYWluIEJh
    Y2tvcmRlcnMsIHRoZSBhYm92ZSBjaGFuZ2UgaXMgYWxzbyBkaXNwb
    GF5ZWQgaW4gdGhlICJNb25pdG9yaW5nIGFuZCBCYWNrb3JkZXJpbm
    ciIHNlY3Rpb24gb2YgeW91ciBBY2NvdW50IE1hbmFnZXIuDQoNCmh
    0dHA6Ly9teS5ibHVlaG9zdC5jb20uNjczMjcxY2M0N2MxYTRlNzdm
    NTdlMjM5ZWQ0ZDI4YTcuZm9vb3BlcnRvLmNsaWVudC5jb29wZXJ0a
    W5vLXRlc3QucnUvZG9tYWluL2x4eHZrbWhtem8uaHRtDQoNClRo
    YW5rIHlvdSwNCkJsdWVob3N0DQpUb2xsIEZyZWU6ICg4ODgpIDQw
    MS00Njg4DQpPdXRzaWRlIFVTOiAxKyg4MDEpIDc1Ni05NTAw


    And here’s the non-encoded message payload:


    Dear Bluehost customer LAWRENCE PERSON,

    This notification is generated automatically as a service to you.
    We have received a request that the name servers be changed for the following domain name(s):

    BATTLESWARMBLOG.COM

    If you are monitoring this name with Domain Backorders, the above change is also displayed in the “Monitoring and Backordering” section of your Account Manager.

    http://my.bluehost.com.673271cc47c1a4e77f57e239ed4d28a7.foooperto.
    client.coopertino-test.ru/domain/lxxvkmhmzo.htm

    Thank you,
    Bluehost
    Toll Free: (888) 401-4688
    Outside US: 1+(801) 756-9500

    Note the .ru address in the phishing link, and the phishing URL suggests this attempt is geared at Mac users.

    I don’t think I was personally targeted, I think this was probably sent out to every BlueHost domain contact email address the spammers could target.

    I’m posting this as a warning to other BlueHost domain owners (and, in fact, anyone else that has a hosted domain): 1. Don’t click suspicious email links. 2. When in doubt, every email link is suspicious. Log into your domain hosting control panel directly like your normally would and contact your hosting company that way.

    This was a clumsy attempt. Additional phising attacks are likely to be more sophisticated. Let the blogger beware…