Archive for the ‘Republicans’ Category

Demolishing the “Southern Strategy” Myth

Sunday, September 17th, 2017

Here’s a Prager University video demolishing the myth of the “Southern Strategy,” the idea that the party of Bull Conner and George Wallace magically became the party of civil rights and the Republican Party took their place as the party of racism.

(Hat tip: Adam Baldwin’s Twitter feed.)

Debt Limit Deal: Maybe Not Completely Awful?

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

There has been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth over the debt deal President Donald Trump made with congressional Democratic leaders that pushes U.S. debt over the $20 trillion mark.

Is it a bad deal? From my perspective, almost certainly. Debt is an existential threat to the Republic, and I believe that we should reduce spending by eliminating vast swathes of federal government programs (Federal housing sibsidies? End them. Department of Education? Eliminate it. Agribusiness subsides? End them all. Etc.) until the budget is balanced. Then you wouldn’t have to worry about hitting the debt limit at all.

Sadly, my position seems to be a decidedly minority one in D.C. Since politics is the art of the possible, it’s better to ask: How bad is President Trump’s deal among the constellation of actual debt limit deal possibilities?

The answer seems to be: Still not great, but maybe not as bad as first impressions.

It’s possible that President Trump went for the deal because he had no choice, as Republican congressional leadership was woefully unprepared on the issue:

With much of the Washington Republican establishment still grumbling about President Donald Trump’s decision earlier this week to strike a deal with Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, one prominent member of the House Freedom Caucus took to the Sunday Talk Shows to deliver what sounded like the faction’s official response to the week’s events.

In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan struck a delicate balance: criticizing the consequences of the president’s decision without impugning the man himself.

Jordan explained that while the Trump-Schumer-Pelosi deal wouldn’t be “good for the American taxpayer” the president can be excused for agreeing to it because Republicans in Congress failed to provide him with a suitable alternative.

And just like that, a member of the House’s most intransigent, conservative faction – the group that almost singlehandedly crushed the Trump administration’s health-care ambitions – turning the blame for Trump’s debt-ceiling can-kicking, and the powerful leverage that Democrats gained because of it, back on the president’s favorite opponents: Congressional Republicans.

Here’s Jordan:

I don’t think this was a good deal for the American taxpayer. We didn’t go anything to address the underlying $20 trillion debt but frankly what options did the president have in front of him? The first time the Republican conference talked about the debt ceiling was Sunday morning. And the Freedom Caucus had called for, nine and a half weeks ago, we said ‘don’t leave town until you have a plan on the debt ceiling’ and instead we went home for the longest August recess in a decade, longer even than in elections years.

Indeed, the deal House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wanted was actually worse for conservatives:

Trump on Wednesday agreed to the proposal of House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) to increase the national-debt limit for three months, and attach that to emergency aid for victims of Hurricane Harvey. But just days earlier, conservatives had been wringing their hands in fear that Schumer would turn the debt ceiling into the Democrats’ newest set of brass knuckles.

If not for the high-profile urgency of, in essence, stapling the debt limit to Harvey assistance, the pressing need to re-charge Uncle Sam’s credit card would have given Schumer a fresh way to beat up Republicans. Absent Harvey, Schumer and his band of toughs would have kidnapped the debt limit in exchange for something else, perhaps “DACA or death!” Instead, the debt-limit increase slid through, behind Harvey’s shield, with no last-minute hostage drama.

Trump rejected the offer of House speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) to extend the debt limit for 18 months, past the 2018 mid-term elections. This would have removed federal borrowing from the list of issues on which the GOP could have run next year. Obama hiked the national debt from $10.6 trillion to $19.9 trillion — a staggering 87.8 percent. That mess, and how to escape it, would have been a worthy GOP issue. Ryan and McConnell largely would have obviated that opportunity.

Ryan and McConnell’s 18-month proposal also would have deprived Republicans of a priceless “must pass” vehicle to which they could append items that Senate Democrats dislike. The GOP similarly handed Obama multiple long-term debt-limit extensions that prevented Republicans from sending him short-term debt-limit measures that he would have had to sign, notwithstanding amendments that rankled him. Republicans should not deploy the debt limit every month, in order to corner Schumer and Senate Democrats. But mothballing this weapon until spring 2019 smacks of unilateral disarmament.

From all reports, Ryan and McConnell were ready to drop-kick the debt-limit 18 months down the road, in return for . . . nothing. Even worse, as conservatives correctly complain, they did not tie the debt-limit boost to any structural reforms, such as a cap on federal spending as a share of GDP, adoption of the brilliant Penny Plan (which would balance the budget by cutting total spending by 1 percent every year for eight years), a private-sector audit of every federal department and sub-cabinet agency, or even converting Washington’s books from cash-basis to accrual accounting. Ryan and McConnell promised 18 months of borrowing and spending on autopilot. Trump properly rejected such fiscal brain death.

Now, in three months, fiscal conservatives can and should append reformist language to the next debt-limit increase. Ryan/McConnell would have denied them that opportunity until nearly two Easters hence.

If Schumer wanted to demand “DACA or death!” I would have seen how he likes death: no debt limit vote, cut spending until the budget is balanced, and let Schumer explain why it was necessary for welfare recipients to lose their checks so Democrats could amnesty more illegal aliens.

Like I said, mine seems to be a minority viewpoint.

There are also reports that the deal is written in such a way that McConell might get the last laugh:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wrote in some “extraordinary” provisions to the debt ceiling bill that could mean there won’t be another debt ceiling fight in 2017 after all, he revealed on “The New Washington” podcast Monday.

McConnell insisted, in the face of Democrats’ objections, that the bill be written to preserve the Treasury’s ability to extend federal borrowing power by moving money around within government accounts. In layman’s terms, that means the Republicans can work around the December debt limit deadline and push that issue into 2018.

All this is just rearranging deck chairs on the Debtanic as long as the driving motivation for current congressional leadership is avoiding bad poll numbers rather than actual conservative governance. But short of a debt deal that includes spine replacement surgery for congressional leadership, there seems precious little chance of congress fulfilling any of the myriad conservative promises they made when Obama occupied the White House.

LinkSwarm for September 8, 2017

Friday, September 8th, 2017

It would be swell if I could stop leading the LinkSwarm off with hurricane-related news, but Irma is now a class five hurricane headed straight at Florida. If you’re in any evacuation zones, heed authorities, as this does not look like a storm you want to ride out in place unless you have to. Hsoi’s preparedness checklist is also a good thing to go over earlier rather than later.

  • One reason President Donald Trump had to act on DACA: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and nine other states were threatening to sue to end Obama unconstitutional backdoor amnesty program.
  • “¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Obama lawyer who worked on DACA admits it’s probably unconstitutional.” And yes, the ASCII Shrugging Emoji is actually in the headline, so it just wouldn’t have felt honest to leave it out…
  • “Trump’s Crackdown on Illegal Aliens is Driving Wage-Growth in US Construction Industry by up to 30%.” In other news: Basic economics have not been repealed by liberal talking points. (Hat tip: Borepatch.)
  • Congress passes hurricane relief bill and debt ceiling hike. Both John Cornyn and Ted Cruz voted in favor of the bill. I haven’t read the bill, but I’m hoping it’s less stuffed with pork than the Sandy bill.
  • J.J. Watt’s Hurricane Harvey flood relief fundraiser hits $29 million.
  • What it takes to keep HEB stores up and running after a hurricane.

    One of my stores, we had 300 employees; 140 of them were displaced by the flooding. So how do you put your store back together quickly? We asked for volunteers in the rest of the company. We brought over 2,000 partners from Austin, San Antonio, the Rio Grande Valley. They hopped into cars and they just drove to Houston. They said, we’re here to help. It’s shitty work. For 18 hours a day, they’re going to help us restock and then they’ll go sleep on the couch at somebody’s house.

  • The bribery trial for New jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez gets under way.
  • “It Appears That Out-of-State Voters Changed the Outcome of the New Hampshire U.S. Senate Race.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Why Israel had to bomb Syria’s chemical weapons complex. For one thing, it looks like Iran, Assad and Hezbollah will all emerge strengthened from the Syrian civil war…
  • Speaking of Iran, they’re amassing new weaponry. “While all eyes are on North Korea, Iran is advancing its weapons technology. The country recently tested and announced the success of their new Bavar 373 long range, mobile, anti-missile defense system. Everything in the system is manufactured in Iran; it requires no support from outside sources.” However, since Iran has (to my knowledge) no wafer fabrication plants to produce integrated circuits, this statement is almost certainly false, at least as far as electronics goes. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • “Bulgaria is projected to have the fastest-shrinking population in the world.” I suspect this is a combination of communism (and its aftermath) sucking, of it wrecking disproportionately more damage on backward, mostly rural countries, and of the general trend in Europe toward a modern, unchurched, welfare state society, with its attendant population decline.
  • Betty DeVos vows to dismantle the Obama-era campus kangaroo rape courts. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Twitter Bans Activist Mommy for Tweeting Her Dislike of Teen Vogue’s Anal Sex Guide.” (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • This is disappointing.
  • Texans handled Harvey better than Louisianans handled Katrina because both their governments and societies are more functional.
  • Another day, another fake hate crime. (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • The American Railway union was founded on segregation. “George Pullman famously hired African Americans to work for him. Eugene Debs infamously did not allow African Americans to join his union striking against Pullman’s company.”
  • Al Gore’s new book being outsold by scientist’s book debunking Al Gore.
  • I laughed.
  • Hurricane/Flood Update for August 31, 2017

    Thursday, August 31st, 2017

    Welcome to a short, extra late Hurricane/flooding update, since I was busy much of the day working on this giant post about my library on my non-political blog.

    The death toll from Harvey is now up to 38.

    Some links:

  • Beaumont had their water supply knocked out by the flood.
  • Waters begin to recede in Port Arthur, but tons of homes and businesses are still flooded.
  • The BBC offers up a rainfall total map for Harvey. 40+ inches over five days is pretty hard to plan for…
  • Vice President Mike Pence and Governor Greg Abbott visit Rockport.
  • President Donald Trump has pledged $1 million of his own money for Hurricane relief.
  • Direct FEMA Assistance website.
  • Salvation Army disaster recovery.
  • JJ Watt has raised $10 million for flood relief so far, including $1 million from Wal-Mart. Update: over $12 million now, and headed for a new $15 million goal.
  • Charlie Hebdo brings the dumbeth. My reply:

  • Another Crop of Dan Backer Scam PACs

    Thursday, August 17th, 2017

    A commenter brought this up on a previous Dan Backer thread: Committee To Defend the President is another Dan Backer scam PAC, like so many others. (For those unfamiliar with Mr. Backer’s methods, he runs dozens of scam PACs that claim to be raising money for conservative causes and candidates, but somehow the vast majority of the money raised always seems to find it’s way into his pockets, much through “consulting” fees paid to other entities he owns.) That made me wonder how many more Dan Backer scam PACs had sprung up since I last looked. The tell, as usual, is sharing the same address as other Dan Backer scam PACs (203 South Union Street, Suite 300, Alexandria, VA, 22314).

    And I found even more using an Open Secrets Search.

    So here’s a comprehensive round-up of all the Dan Backer scam PACs and related organizations I’ve found, with the new ones in bold. Some of these are probably defunct.

  • American Defense News
  • Bit PAC
  • The Capitol Foundation: “The Capitol Foundation operates in and around the Greater Washington, DC metro region of DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Our mailing address is: 203 South Union Street, Suite 300, Alexandria, VA 22314. We can be reached at 202-210-5431 or via email at info@TheCapitolFoundation.org.”
  • Citizen Revolt PAC
  • Combat Veterans for Congress PAC (Actual address is in San Diego, and they seem to have sent more money on than the usual Becker PAC, but he’s still listed as Treasurer.)
  • Committee To Defend the President
  • The Committee to Draft Judge Andrew Napolitano for President
  • Conservative Action Fund
  • Conservative America Now
  • Constitutional Rights PAC
  • DB Capitol Strategies, consultancy owned and operated by Dan Backer, and the recipient of lots of his PAC’s “expenditures.”
  • Draft Newt
  • EaglesPAC
  • EndJeb2016.com
  • Finelli PAC
  • Freedom to Carry PAC
  • Freshman Hold’em PAC
  • Gator PAC
  • George Washington Leadership Foundation
  • Grassroots Victory
  • Great America PAC
  • In Flanders Field Fund: Subsidiary of The Capitol Foundation
  • InnovationPAC
  • Liberty USA PAC
  • One Nation PAC
  • Patriots for Economic Freedom
  • Peach Tea PAC
  • Progress Action Fund PAC (PAF PAC)
  • Restore Colorado
  • Revolution PAC
  • Special Operations Speaks
  • Stand With Rand
  • Stop Hillary PAC
  • Stop Pelosi PAC
  • Stop Reckless Economic Instability Caused by Democrats (go by ‘STOP R.E.I.D.’)
  • Stark360 PAC
  • Tea Party Forward
  • The Tea Party Leadership Fund
  • Themis PAC
  • Women Warriors PAC
  • ZetePAC (another Zeta Psi PAC)
  • ZP Action PAC (“ZP Action is in no way affiliated with Zeta Psi Fraternity of N.A. or the Zeta Psi Educational Foundation”)
  • There are too many worthy conservative causes and organizations you could be donating to to ever give anything associated with Dan Backer a dime.

    Straus Spikes Abbott Special Session Agenda By Adjourning Early

    Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

    Once again Texas Speaker Joe Straus has used parliamentary maneuvers to thwart conservative reform:

    In an unprecedented abuse of power, House Speaker Joe Straus unilaterally adjourned the Texas House without warning a day before the special session called by Gov. Greg Abbott was scheduled to end. In doing so, he ignored loud objections from the floor and denied members their right to vote on the move.

    Shortly after the Texas House voted to approve a half-billion-dollar education spending program, State Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R-Angelton) began briefing lawmakers on the progress of negotiations about a property tax reform measure. Bonnen told lawmakers he would not appoint a conference committee on what was arguably the center-piece legislation of both the governor and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick that was watered down over the weekend in the House.

    Instead, Bonnen told his colleagues, the Senate would have to take the House version or leave it.

    Then, without warning, State Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Humble) stepped to the microphone and moved that the House adjourn “sine die” – the constitutional language concluding the chamber’s work for the special session.

    Besides property tax reform, the adjournment killed the key issues in Gov. Abbott’s agenda, such as spending limits, privacy protections, paycheck protection, and more.

    Straus’ radical move could be a last hurrah for the liberal Republican speaker.

    The House Republican Caucus is scheduled to meet on Wednesday at 8:30am to discuss adopting procedures for a caucus nominee for speaker.

    After Straus gaveled the House out, conservative members confirmed on social media that the speaker ignored a chorus of objections and demands for a record vote on the motion to adjourn.

    It is Straus’s most insolent rebuke yet of Gov. Abbott’s authority to call a special session, and the basic foundations of our constitutional order.

    Over the past several sessions, Straus had gradually consolidated power, refusing to recognize member’s motion, refusing to allow members to lay out amendments, and refusing to answer questions or justify his actions on any legal basis.

    Governor Abbott was blunt about who was to blame for the special session failure:

    Gov. Greg Abbott laid the blame for the failure of the Legsialture to pass half of his 20-item special session agenda on the House and its speaker, Joe Straus, laying the groundwork for a challenge to Straus in the next session.

    In an interview with KTRH radio in Houston Wednesday morning, Abbott said he was gratified by the progress made in the special session, which ended a day early Tuesday, but unhappy with the failure of the House to even vote on nine of his agenda items.

    “I’m disappointed that all 20 items did not receive the up or down vote that I wanted,” the governor said.

    While the Senate worked quickly to pass 18 of his priorities at session’s start, Abbott said the House was “dilly-dallying” on unrelated matters, and laid the blame at the doorstep of the speaker, who he said had made plain during the regular session that he would block any transgender bathroom legislation in a regular or special session and delivered on that promise.

    “We [sic-LP] was not tricky. He was open and overt that he would not let it on the House floor,” Abbott said.

    The governor said he was especially disappointed that the session ended without agreeing on his top priority of property tax reform. He said he could call another special session at any time, but it would not make sense to do so with the same cast of characters, suggesting, “that’s why elections matter.”

    That seemed to be an invitation to members of the House Freedom Caucus to seek to replace Straus in the next session. In that he is on the same page at Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who blistered Straus at a sine die press conference Tuesday night.

    The Texas House Republican Caucus is meeting right now to address the Speaker question.

    Abbott Raises $41 Million and His Democratic Opponent Owns a Gay Leather Bar

    Thursday, August 10th, 2017

    Having contributed to a few Republican candidates over the years, I’m on all sorts of email solicitation lists. Including Governor Greg Abbott’s reelection campaign.

    Most election campaigns, I received 1-2 pieces of email a week. The Abbott campaign, by contrast, seems to send out at least 1-2 piece of email a day. By my count I’ve received some 90 email solicitations from the Abbott campaign this year, and the pace picked up notably in June.

    In fact, Abbott has amassed a campaign warchest of $41 million, despite no prominent Democrat having stepping forward to challenge him.

    That doesn’t mean no Democrats have stepped forward to challenge Abbott. Meet the de facto 2018 Texas Democratic Gubernatorial front-runner Jeffrey Payne of Dallas, the owner of The Dallas Eagle, a gay leather bar.

    Here’s his official photo as judge of “Internatonial Puppy Trainer Contest.” (Hint: No actual dogs are involved in this contest.)

    There are political races where being owner of a gay leather bar would not be a huge obstacle; say, a Mayoral race in San Francisco.

    A Texas Gubernatorial race is not one of them.

    It’s like the Texas Democratic Party went “We can’t possible do worse than Wendy Davis did in 2014!” and Fate said “Hold my beer!”

    Payne is the front-runner for having filed and for his willingness to loan $2.5 million of his own money to his campaign. But look for the Texas Democratic Party to desperately coax an old warhorse out of retirement, ala Paul Sadler in 2012, to avoid a complete down-ballot wipeout.

    LinkSwarm for July 28, 2017

    Friday, July 28th, 2017

    Supposed to hit 104° in Austin today, and 106° tomorrow. Try to keep your cool…

  • “Why Was Wife of DWS’s Swindler Staffer Allowed to Leave the Country?”

    In early March [Imran’s] wife, Hina Alvi, suddenly left the country for Lahore, by way of Doha, Qatar. Notwithstanding the return flight she booked for a date in September 2017, the FBI believes that she actually has no intention to return to the U.S. She had abruptly pulled the couple’s three daughters out of school without alerting the school’s staff, and brought them with her — along with lots of luggage and household goods — to Pakistan.

    (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

  • Mark Steyn on Tucker Carlson: Everything Democrats have looked for and not found in the Russia wild goose chase is actually, demonstrably present in the Imran Awan case:

    Steyn also notes: Why worry whether Vladimir Putin gave the DNC emails to Wikileaks when Debbie Wasserman Schultz just gave Imran Awan her DNC iPad password? (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • “The mainstream media are doing their best to ignore a bizarre, serious, and colorful story, but it’s not going to work.” Also: “Occam’s Razor suggests that DWS and the Dems were being blackmailed. For what? And what secrets, if any, were compromised by the members of the House Intelligence Committee who employed the Awan ring?” Note that both Steyn and American Thinker’s Thomas Lifson invoke Occam’s Razor to conclude that Debbie Wasserman Schultz was being blackmailed. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • This eye-opening Lee Smith piece in Tablet mag not only details how Fusion GPS came to gun up the Trump Russian fantasy (and how it’s plating both sides of the fence on Russia), but how deep research is now outsourced to opposition research firms:

    Donald Trump, Jr. appears to be the latest figure in President Donald Trump’s inner circle to be caught in the giant web of the Great Kremlin Conspiracy. Trump the younger said he was promised dirt on Hillary Clinton, but that all he got in his June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer was an earful about dropping the Magnitsky Act, which sanctions Russian officials involved in the death of a Russian lawyer who was killed in detention.

    If the Trump, Jr. meeting is just another chapter in the Beltway telenovela about Trump selling out America to the Russians through an ever-changing cast of supposed intermediaries—come back, Mike Flynn and Carter Page, we hardly knew ye—it sheds valuable light on the ways and means by which the news that fills our iPhone screens and Facebook feeds is now produced. You see, the Russian lawyer—often carelessly presented as a “Russian government lawyer” with “close ties to Putin”—Natalia Veselnitskaya, who met with Trump, also worked recently with a Washington, D.C. “commercial research and strategic intelligence firm” that is also believed to have lobbied against the Magnitsky Act. That firm, which also doubles as an opposition research shop, is called Fusion GPS—famous for producing the Russia dossier distributed under the byline of Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent for hire.

    Steele’s report, a collection of anonymously-sourced allegations, many of which were said to come from “high-ranking former Russian government officials”—i.e. not exactly the kinds of people who seem likely to randomly shoot the shit with ex-British spooks—detailed Trump’s ties to Russian officials and strange sexual obsessions. Originally ordered up by one of Trump’s Republican challengers, the dossier circulated widely in D.C. in the months before the 2016 election, pushed by the Clinton campaign, but no credible press organization was able to verify its claims. After Clinton’s surprise loss, the dossier became public, and it’s claims—while still unverified—have shaped the American public sphere ever since.

    Yet at the same time that Fusion GPS was fueling a campaign warning against a vast Russia-Trump conspiracy to destroy the integrity of American elections, the company was also working with Russia to influence American policy—by removing the same sanctions that Trump was supposedly going to remove as his quid pro quo for Putin’s help in defeating Hillary. Many observers, including the press, can’t quite figure out how the firm wound up on both sides of the fence. Sen. Chuck Grassley wants to know if Fusion GPS has violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

    As the founders of Fusion GPS surely understand, flexibility is a key recipe for success—and the more room you can occupy in the news cycle, the bigger the brand. After all, they’re former journalists—and good ones. Fusion GPS is the story of a few journalists who decided to stop being suckers. They’re not buyers of information, they’re sellers.

    Snip.

    For the past seven years, I’ve reported on and written about American foreign policy and what I saw as troubling trends in how we describe and debate our relationship to the rest of the world. What I’ve concluded during that period is that the fractious nature of those arguments—over the Iran Deal, for instance, or the war in Syria, or Russia’s growing role in the Middle East and elsewhere—is a symptom of a problem here at home. The issue is not about this or that foreign policy. Rather, the problem is that the mediating institutions that enabled Americans to debate and decide our politics and policies, here and abroad, are deeply damaged, likely beyond repair.

    The shape of the debate over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action illustrated this most clearly. The Obama White House turned the press into an instrument used not only to promote its initiatives, but also to drown out and threaten and shame critics and potential opponents, even within the president’s own party. Given the financial exigencies of a media whose business model had been broken by the internet, mismanagement, and the rise of social media as the dominant information platform, the prestige press sacrificed its independence for access to power. If for instance, your beat was national security, it was difficult at best to cross the very few sources of power in Washington that controlled access to information. Your job depended on it. And there are increasingly fewer jobs in the press.

    Read the whole thing.

  • Breakdown of Fusion GPS toes to Russia. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Another day, another failed ObamaCare repeal vote in the Senate, although the “skinny repeal” was nothing to write home about, Republicans John McCain, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted against it.
  • While we were concentrating on the Islamic State, the Taliban seized three districts in Afghanistan:

    The Afghan Taliban has overrun three districts previously held by the Afghan government in the provinces of Paktia, Faryab and Ghor over the past several days. The Taliban is demonstrating that it can sustain operations in all theaters of Afghanistan. The three districts are located in three different regions of the country.

    The district of Jani Khel in Paktia, a known stronghold of the Haqqani Network – the powerful Taliban subgroup that is based in eastern Afghanistan and in Pakistan’s tribal areas – fell to the Taliban earlier today after several days of heavy fighting, according to Afghan officials and the Taliban. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that the district headquarters buildings, the police headquarters and all security checkpoints are under his group’s control. Fighting is underway at a nearby military base.

    Jani Khel was effectively under Taliban control. At the end of March, the group claimed that all but six percent of the district, including the district center, was under Afghan government control.

    The districts of Taywara in Ghor in central Afghanistan, and Kohistan (or Lolash) in Faryab in the northwest fell to the Taliban on July 23 after several days of fighting. TOLONews confirmed that the two districts are now Taliban controlled and “government forces have not yet launched military operations to re-capture these districts.”

    The Taliban has also claimed it seized control of Pusht Koh in Farah province and Guzargah in Baghlan, however the reports cannot be independently confirmed. However Taliban reports on the takeover of districts have proven accurate in the pasts.

    The loss of the three districts shows that the Taliban is capable of conducting operations in all regions of the country. Even as the three districts fell, the Taliban is on the offensive in all of the other regions. Afghan security forces, which are sustaining record highs in casualties and desertions, is largely on the defensive in most areas of the country.

    (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)

  • The awful time Yazidi girls have recovering from Islamic State sexual slavery.
  • Liberals freak out over President Trump’s no trannies in the military policy. I don’t think most of America realized our military had trannies. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Defense of same ban by wounded Iraq veteran.
  • Texas special session update. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has gotten the Senate to consider and pass 18 bills in just the first week. Meanwhile, Speaker Joe Straus’ House hasn’t even considered most in committee yet.
  • Kid Rock can win.
  • Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke outraised Ted Cruz in Q2 for the 2018 Texas Senate race, but Cruz still has $5.7 million cash on hand.
  • Flashback: Trump has no path to 270 electoral votes. (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • We were close to nabbing Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in 2015 until a leak to the New York Times dried up information.
  • Congress passes veto-proof sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea.
  • Sweden now has 61 “no go” zones, up from 55 last year. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Convicted felon Brett Kimberlin loses in court yet again. “Nearly four years after Brett Kimberlin sued Patrick Frey, myself and numerous other defendants (including Michelle Malkin, Breitbart.com and Red State) in a bogus federal RICO suit, the case has finally concluded with Judge George Hazel granting Frey summary judgment.”
  • Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn to build $10 billion display plant in Wisconsin.
  • President Trump gets a huge welcome in Youngstown, Ohio. Bonus: People interviewed are sick and tired of hearing about Russia. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • “Greece Arrests Russian ‘Mastermind’ Behind $4 Billion Bitcoin Laundering Scheme.”
  • Dwight has DEFCON and Black Hat rundowns for you computer security boffins. Plus regular updates.
  • Appeals court invalidates D.C.’s ‘good reason’ constraint on public carry of firearms.”

    Because the District’s good-reason law merits invalidation under Heller regardless of its precise benefits, we would be wasting judicial resources if we remanded for the [lower] court to develop the records in these cases. … We vacate both orders below and remand with instructions to render permanent injunctions against enforcement of the District’s good-reason law.

  • NSA expert hacks “smart gun” with $1.5 million supercomputer. And by “NSA expert” I mean a random hacker and by $1.5 million supercomputer I mean $15 worth of magnets. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • 15 pro-illegal alien protestors arrested for blocking traffic near the capitol in Austin. Bonus: Only five actually reside in Texas.
  • Swarthmore commies disband after realizing they were all middle upper class white people. Also, “Swarthmore Commies” would make a good name for a rock band.
  • My piece on ISIS-pledged terrorist groups made it to Zero Hedge. Which I’m happy about. But the comments do seem to be much more Israeli/Jewish conspiracy theory-heavy than I’ve seen there in the past…
  • Speaking of which, no, Edward Snowden did not say that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s is really an Israeli Jew named Elliot Shimon. In fact, he specifically denied saying that through his lawyer.
  • Charlie Gard, RIP.
  • “A number of so-called scientific journals have accepted a Star Wars-themed spoof paper…an absurd mess of factual errors, plagiarism and movie quotes.”
  • Nice house, lots of room. The decoration scheme is a little…wait a minute…”
  • Spicer Blah Blah Scaramucci Blah Blah Don’t Care

    Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

    Sean Spicer Resigns Over Trump’s Appointment of Tony Scaramucci As Director of Communications.

    Many White House observers thank that you know what, I’m not going to finish that thought because I don’t care.

    Don’t. Care.

    The media loves to report rumors and gossip of whose in or out among White House staff as a means of undermining Trump. Ivanka is up! Reince is down! Bannon is out!

    95+% of it is crap, and the 5% that’s true is utterly useless. Why? Because it’s not actionable.

    Let’s say that Ivanka Trump is, as some commentators on the right breathlessly tell us, ascendant and trying to influence Trump policy in a more leftward direction. What good is such knowledge suppose to do me? Am I suppose to speak up so Trump will, what, take my advice over his daughter’s?

    Trump is gonna Trump. For good or ill.

    I can discuss policy decisions, make the case for those I support and against those I oppose. I have jack all influence over President Trump’s White House staffing decisions, and pretty much the overwhelming majority of the talking heads chattering endlessly about them are in the same boat. It’s elevating empty gossip over discussions of substantive policy in the hopes of damaging Trump’s ability to govern. (See also: Scott Adams noting how “the word chaos is engineered persuasion from someone on the left.”)

    I ignore it, and suggest others do the same.

    I just hope this doesn’t mean the end of Sean Spicier’s twitter account.

    LinkSwarm for July 21, 2017

    Friday, July 21st, 2017

    I’m getting to the point where my eyes automatically skip over stories with the words “Russia” or “Mueller” in the same way they skip over stories with the word “Kardashian.” So be advised the smattering of Russia news here is of the non-imaginary variety:

  • Hillary is even more unpopular than President Trump.
  • Liberals: “Democratic voters are fired up and ready to vote against Trump!” Polls: Eh, not so much.
  • To win back voters, Democrats need to be less annoying:

    No item in your life is too big or too small for this variety of liberal busybodying. On the one hand, the viral video you found amusing was actually a manifestation of the patriarchy. On the other hand, you actually have an irresponsibly large number of carbon-emitting children.

    All this scolding – this messaging that you should feel guilty about aspects of your life that you didn’t think were anyone else’s business – leads to a weird outcome when you go to vote in November.” The central premise is probably valid, but the piece itself is larded with lies and half-truths.

    True, but this piece comes with a very large caveat: In this course of describing why Social Justice Warriors annoy the living shit out of ordinary Americans, author Josh Berro (a registered Democrat) makes several sweeping assertions about the supposed popularity of tranny bathrooms, gay marriage and gun control that are simply false.

  • The real lessons of the Natalia Veselnitskaya affair. Including this:

    It’s clear that Natalia Veselnitskaya pulled a bait-and-switch on Donald Trump, Jr. She induced him to a meeting with the promise of information that could be used against Hillary Clinton, but delivered no such information. Instead, she used the meeting to lobby the son of the presumptive Republican nominee for president on the supposed evils of the Magnitsky Act.

    And this:

    Second, the pro-Russia element in Washington, D.C. is substantial and cuts across party and ideological lines. Dana Rohrabacher, dubbed Putin’s favorite congressman, is a conservative. Ron Dellums was among the most liberal members of Congress.

    Shame to hear that about Rohrabacher, who I did an interview with a long, long time ago.

  • The damage the Obama Administration did to the criminal justice system in America. “Under Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, the Department of Justice pushed the states to pass new laws. The goal was to make it impossible to hold repeat offenders in jail before trial. Why? Because so many repeat offenders are black.”
  • Still more about the madness at Evergreen State College. “I was told that I couldn’t go into the room because I was white.”
  • Trump ends Obama’s asinine CIA-run guns for Syrian jihadis program (though we’re still arming the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces). Naturally the MSM is spinning this as “Putin wins!”, but as I’ve argued before, we never had any national interest in arming anti-Assad jihadis in the first place.
  • President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are evidently telling Qatar and Saudi Arabia to play nice.
  • Iran says we’re violating the agreement Obama never bothered to have the Senate ratify. See if they can spin their centrifuges until the world’s smallest violin tumbles out.
  • Russia can’t modernize it’s one aircraft carrier because doing so might take ten years.
  • Turkey leaks secret locations of U.S. troops in Syria. With friends like these, who needs enemies? Turkey is long overdue for a reassessment of it’s NATO membership anyway… (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Speaking of Turkey, here’s the latest on their tiff with Germany. (Also via Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Poland on verge of passing a law forcing all their supreme court justices over a certain age, except those reappointed by the justice minister, to retire. The EU is complaining it’s a “blow to a independent judiciary,” while the ruling conservative Law and Justice Party is saying its getting rid of a lot of holdover communist judges.
  • “The USA (where there is a War On Drugs under way) has 30 times the overdose death rates per capita as Portugal (which legalized or decriminalized essentially all drugs 15 years ago).”
  • Even if Congressional Republicans still can’t repeal ObamaCare (in which case we need to replace them), the Trump Administration still has many options to chip away at it.
  • Sen. John McCain diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. Best wishes for his speedy recovery.
  • Kurt Schlichter says we must elect Kid Rock Senator, chiefly due to the conniptions it will induce in Never Trumpers like George Will and Bill Kristol.
  • Have Clinton donors lined up behind California Senator Kamala Harris as heir 2020 Presidential nominee? On the plus side, she would help shore up the Obama coalition among black voters. On the minus side, she does a much poorer job than Obama of hiding just far out on the left wing of the party she is. After all, this was a woman who preferred seeing Catholic hospitals serving the poor close unless they agreed to perform abortions.
  • The Washington Post is very, very upset that all their fake news isn’t moving their fake polls. “Maybe you shouldn’t have cried wolf all those other times. Or was this one another crying of wolf? You squandered your credibility, trying so hard to get Trump. You built up our skepticism and our capacity to flesh out the other side of any argument against Trump.”
  • “US Special Operators Are Moving Closer to the Fighting in Raqqa.” Evidence? “On July 17, 2017, pictures began to appear on social media of flat bed trucks carrying M1245A5 M-ATV mine protected vehicles. On July 20, 2017, additional images emerged of another convoy with more M1245s, as well as a number of up-armored Caterpillar D9 bulldozers.” The M1245A5 M-ATV is evidently only used by U.S. special forces. Bulldozers were also crucial to the battle of Mosul.
  • Up yours, Islamic State: bar reopens in Qaraqosh, Iraq, southeast of Mosul, liberated nine months ago.
  • This week Palestinians are rioting over (rolls dice) metal detectors.
  • Texas Speaker Joe Straus has received a no confidence vote from his hometown Bexar County Republicans.
  • “Nearly four out of every five dollars that Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren (D.) reported last quarter came from donors outside of her home state.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • “The White House said Thursday it had withdrawn or removed from active consideration more than 800 proposed regulations that were never finalized during the Obama administration as it works to shrink the federal government’s regulatory footprint.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • The Juice is loose. Well, not really: O.J. Simpson will not be released on parole until at least October. While I believe Simpson did indeed get away with a double homicide, he was acquitted of that charge, and his current parole is in line with his time served on the robbery and kidnapping charges of which he was actually convicted. Now Simpson can get back to paying off his civil lawsuit judgment.
  • “Newsweek Settles with Journalist Smeared by Kurt Eichenwald.” So. Much. Stupidity. “Eichenwald inferred that the only possible means by which Trump could have come across the misattributed quote was purposeful collusion with the Russians, and that the Wikileaks documents themselves had been altered.” Although, to be absolutely fair to everyone’s favorite seizure-prone tentacle-porn fan, plaintiff Bill Moran did not exactly cover himself in glory either… (Hat tip: Lee Stranahan’s Twitter feed.)
  • Sting hardest hit.
  • The story behind the hundred most iconic movie props of all time. I would have gone with Stonehenge rather than the 11 knobs from This is Spinal Tap… (Hat tip: VA Viper.)
  • “DC Comics Reboots Snagglepuss as ‘Gay, Southern Gothic Playwright.'” Honestly, I have so little interest in the original character this actually strikes me as an improvement. (Imagine the outrage if they brought back Scrappy Doo as an “antifa” agitator. That’s right, there wouldn’t be any, because everybody hates Scrappy Doo.) Though one wonders just who the audience is for this reboot; I doubt many urban hipsters will make their way to a comic store for the irony value…
  • No, get all the way off my lawn, you stupid kids!