Archive for the ‘Foreign Policy’ Category

LinkSwarm for June 23, 2017

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

Welcome to another Friday LinkSwarm! There’s so much news I’m going to punt “The Pelosi Question” to the weekend:

  • In case you hadn’t noticed, illinois is going bankrupt.
  • John Podesta to testify before the House Intelligence committee. Hopefully they’ll ask him about the allegations in Shattered that he and Robby Mook cooked up the entire “Russia hacked the election” fantasy within 24 hours of Hillary’s loss. And also about his and his brother’s documented financial ties to Russia.
  • Former state Department/CIA employee charged with espionage for China:

    A former State Department employee was arrested Thursday and charged with espionage for allegedly transmitting Top Secret and Secret documents to a Chinese government agent, according to an affidavit filed with the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, VA.

    Kevin Mallory, 60, of Leesburg is a self-employed consultant who speaks fluent Chinese. Court filings show that Mallory was an Army veteran who worked as a special agent for U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service from 1987 to 1990. Since then, Mallory has worked for various government agencies and defense contractors, maintaining a Top Secret security clearance. The Washington Post reports that Mallory was also an employee of the CIA.

  • A lot of hardcore Democrats are becoming increasingly uneasy about the way that Trump Derangement Syndrome has warped their party:

    We do know that Wednesday’s congressional attacker, James Hodgkinson, shared a conspiracy-tinged Change.org link on March 22, accompanied by the caption, “Trump is a traitor.” Once again, it has to be stressed that this information is woefully insufficient to conclude that the perpetrator was motivated by Russia-oriented conspiracy theories. Motivations are multifaceted, and often political beliefs “intersect” with mental distress, causing people to act violently. But the sharing of the link does indicate that Hodgkinson has been affected by the frenzied climate Democrats have stoked around the Russia issue.

    Once again, for extra emphasis: calling attention to the link Hodgkinson shared is not to say that Democrats are directly culpable for this shooting. That would be ridiculous. But the shared link does show that he was to some extent enmeshed in the conspiratorial paranoia that Democrats have knowingly fostered, at full-blast, for approaching an entire year. One ancillary consequence of fostering conspiratorial paranoia for a full year is that certain people with unstable mental predispositions may latch on and commit violent acts. But Democrats and liberals, in their self-assuredness, have been reticent to acknowledge this byproduct of their current political strategy. Proclaiming that the president engaged in treason — as many members of Congress and media figures have — is going to have an influence on the broader public, and included in that broader public are people who might be deranged and/or have violent inclinations.

    If you deny that the kind of overblown rhetoric that Democrats have specialized in over the past months — warning about traitorous subterfuge and foreign infiltration — can have any trickle-down effect on regular people, you’re deluding yourself.

  • It looks like Democrats are learning all the wrong lessons from Jon Ossoff’s loss:

    Democrats want a resistance. They want to impeach the President. They want full-blown socialism. They want to go further to the left than the tea party wanted to go right. A lot of activist Democrats are already interpreting Jon Ossoff’s loss as him not being aggressively anti-Trump enough.

    The Democrat base has moved way further left than where the American public is and at a time we seem to be in a pendulum swing back to the right, that could hurt them. As they start challenging Democrat incumbents with more liberal activists and start winning primaries in swing seats with radical progressives, they risk their ability to win.

    What makes this fun to watch is knowing they reject that idea and think the more radical and more militant the more likely their candidates will win. I cannot wait to watch their slate of moonbat crazy challengers.

  • All those “Ossoff’s loss was a moral victory” excuses? Vox says don’t believe it: “Don’t sugarcoat it — Ossoff’s loss is a big disappointment, and a bad sign, for Democrats. Democrats need to outperform Hillary Clinton to take back the House. Ossoff did worse than her.”
  • As bad as political violence is now, the 1960s and early 1970s were much worse.
  • Phil Montag, technology chairman for the Nebraska Democratic Party, was caught on audio saying he was glad Rep> Steve Scalise (R-LA) was shot and wishing he had died. Make that the ex-technology chairman for the Nebraska Democratic Party. Good. Pink slips seem to be the only thing these people pay attention to. (Hat tip: Gabriel Malor’s Twitter feed.)
  • “A professor at a Connecticut college said he was forced to flee the state after he received death threats for appearing to endorse the idea that first responders to last week’s congressional shooting should have let the victims ‘f**king die’ instead of treating them.” Step right up, Trinity College Professor Johnny Eric Williams! You’re the next contestant on “Trump Derangement Syndrome Ruined My Life!”
  • And speaking of Democrats losing it, “Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz accused ex-DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson of lying under oath when he said the DNC refused the help of the DHS in their hacking scandal.”
  • “This May was the Democratic National Committee’s worst May of fundraising since 2003. The DNC raised $4.29 million in May of this year, according to data recently released by the Federal Election Commission. It is the weakest take for national Democrats since May of 2003, when the party raised a paltry $2.7 million.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Did 5.7 million illegal aliens vote in 2008? (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • President Trump follows through on his campaign promise to kill deferred action for illegal alien parents, AKA DAPA.
  • TPPF’s Chris Jacobs is not impressed with the Republican Senate ObamaCare replacement bill. TPPF’s Chip Roy said:

    Simply put, the bill doubles down on the fundamentally flawed architecture of Obamacare and if implemented, will neither increase the actual care available to the people nor drive down the cost of care or insurance. It maintains Obamacare’s subsidy regime, retains almost the entirety of the regulatory architecture driving up people’s premiums and deductibles, continues the previous Administration’s unconstitutional bailouts to insurers, and maintains the Medicaid expansion for five more years before slowly attempting to reform the program.

  • More on the same subject: “Top Ten Ways Senate Obamacare Bill Is #FakeRepeal.”
  • ObamaCare tweet:

  • Liberal lawyer Alan Dershowitz states that Presidnet Trump’s tape bluff is perfectly legal. “What President Trump did was no different from what prosecutors, defense attorneys, policemen, FBI agents and others do every day in an effort to elicit truthful testimony from mendacious witnesses.” Also: “We must declare an armistice against using our criminal justice system as a political weapon in what has become a zero-sum bloodsport.”
  • Saudi king replaces crown prince with his own son.
  • Saudis foil Iranian sabotage attack on their offshore oilfields.
  • “Trump Imposes New Sanctions on Russia Over Ukraine.” Insert record scratch sound over derailment of the “Trump is Putin’s stooge” narrative here. Oh, also, New York Times: When you invade, occupy and annex territory, it’s not an “incursion,” it’s an “invasion.”
  • Helmut Kohl, the chancellor who oversaw German reunification, dead at age 87. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Remember all those “refugees” Angela Merkel invited in? “Up to three quarters of Germany’s refugees will still be unemployed in five years’ time.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Trump Administration Begins to Dismantle Obama Campus Rape Tribunals.” Good.
  • “CENTCOM confirms Islamic State’s ‘Grand Mufti’ killed in airstrike…Turki al-Bin’ali was killed in a May 31 airstrike in Mayadin, Syria.”
  • Amazon buying Whole Foods ties into their overall strategy of high fixed costs and returns to scale.
  • Alternate view: Amazon buying Whole Foods is this cycle’s AOL/Time Warner merger.
  • East Lansing, Michigan punishes man for daring to express pro-Christian thoughtcrime on Facebook.
  • “The amount of labor that once bought 54 minutes of light now buys 52 years of light. The cost has fallen by a factor of 500,000 and the quality of that light has transformed from unstable and risky to clean, safe, and controllable.”
  • The year-by-year descent into airline hell. But: More people are flying than ever before, and airlines are actually profitable. (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)
  • Man almost dies after getting swept away by a river while hiking, learns important survival lessons. (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)
  • Harvard introduces segregated commencement ceremony for black students. next up: Their own water fountains.
  • “A mentally ill homeless woman in Florida is accused of vandalizing a policeman’s patrol car and smearing feces on a church where she left the walls defaced with nonsensical writings against ‘patriarchy.'”
  • F-35 puts on an impressive demonstration at the Paris Air Show. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • F-16 catches fire at Houston airport.
  • The meaning of Bill Cosby’s hung jury:

    The extraordinarily high prosecutorial burden of proof in any criminal trial is intentionally designed to heavily favor defendants, because we long ago embraced as a society Blackstone’s principle. Formulated in the seventeen-sixties by the English jurist William Blackstone, the presumption is that it is better to have ten guilty people go free than that one innocent person suffer. Hard as it is to stomach today, embracing that calculus means that we should even want ten rapists (not to mention terrorists and murderers) to go free in order to protect the one falsely accused. Unfortunately, Cosby is one of those to escape criminal punishment. And, to put a fine point on the over-all gendered impact of requiring proof “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the inevitable effect of the heavy tilt toward defendants is that in sexual-assault trials, which involve mostly male defendants and mostly female accusers, men are favored over women.

    What works in Bill Cosby’s favor also works in Bill Clinton’s favor… (Hat tip: Christina Hoff Summers’ Twitter feed.)

  • 15 companies that made great games that still went bust. Spoiler: The phrase “bought by EA” appears a lot.
  • Colin Kaepernick seems to have decided that his career is indeed over. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Whipped cream fatality.
  • And that gives me the thinnest of possible justifications to post this classic:

  • LinkSwarm for June 12, 2017

    Monday, June 12th, 2017

    Enjoy a late, out-of-band LinkSwarm to start your week:

  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions is serious about border control:

    Sessions said 25 judges have already been deployed to detention centers on the U.S.-Mexico border, according to Politico. Another 50 judges will be “on the bench” later this year. A separate 75 judges will be added in fiscal 2018 at a cost of $80 million.

    The need is obvious. About half of all federal arrests in 2014 were for immigration crimes, and 93 percent of that figure took place at or near the border, the Bureau of Justice Statistics recently reported.

  • Leaked diplomatic cables show concern by other U.S. allies in the region that Qatar was backing terrorist groups.
  • More background on the Qatar vs. every other Sunni gulf state feud.
  • “President Trump continues to make sterling judicial nominations.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Trump as our Claudius.
  • Pundits keep telling President Trump he has to give up tweeting. Why would he, when his tweets make the media dance to his tune? (Hat tip: Scott Adams.)
  • “Obama Admin Did Not Publicly Disclose Iran Cyber-Attack During ‘Side-Deal’ Nuclear Negotiations.” Because why protect America’s cybersecurity when you can give billions to a jihad-supporting regime to sign a treaty they’ll refuse to follow?
  • “12 Democrat staffers arrested, charged with voter fraud.”
  • Congress should investigate if Attorney General Lynch pressured Comey to cover for Hillary Clinton, says notorious right-wing shill…Dianne Feinstein? (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Now that Democrats are getting getting hefty support from moneyed elites, they’re not so keen on wealth redistribution.
  • The Strange Death of Scottish Nationalism.” The Tories did badly in the snap election, but the Scottish National Party did much, much worse.
  • How Theresa May screwed up. And why on earth was she using Jim Messina as a political consultant? Because he did such a smashing job on the “Remain” campaign?
  • “EU, UN siphon off 100 million Euro annually to groups running anti-Israel campaign.”
  • “UK government paid London jihad mass murderer’s brother to fight ‘extremism.'”
  • Jim Goad covers the lunacy at Evergreen College. Tidbit: “The school bears the dubious distinction of being ‘one of the least selective universities in the nation with an admittance rate of 98%.'” *Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • So much news dropped last week that I didn’t get around to posting on the arrest of NSA contractor Reality Winner for leaking classified information. And does the name “Reality Winner” mean we’re living in a Philip K. Dick novel? Or a Thomas Pynchon novel?
  • But we should lit Winner’s weird name distract us from the fact she’s a complete and utter moron, “not only printing the document from her NSA computer but emailing the Intercept using her personal Gmail account from the same computer.” (More on printing microdot technology.
  • In any case, the MSM is omitting Winner’s long, documented history of far-left political activism.
  • “The Democrats don’t have a ‘white working-class problem.’ They have a ‘working-class problem.” Caveat: Lots of leftist blather. But it’s refreshing to see liberals admit just how badly the Obama economy sucked. (Hat tip: Mickey Kaus.)
  • Tweet:

  • “Italy’s populist Five Star Movement humiliated in municipal elections.” That’s Beppe Grillo’s left-wing populist Euroskeptic Party. Between this and France’s election, was Brexit the high-water mark of Euroskepticism? Maybe, until the next economic crisis.
  • Speaking of which, the slow-motion Spanish banking panic continues apace, and Spanish regulators have imposed a ban on short-selling.
  • Adam West, RIP.
  • Flying Goth.
  • Attempted cereal killing.
  • Joe’s Crab Shack files for bankruptcy.
  • “Man Fashions Fabulously Tiny Hats for Toad Who Visits His Porch Every Day.”
  • U.S. Backed Forces Enter Islamic State Capital of Raqqa

    Saturday, June 10th, 2017

    While the media was presenting wall-to-wall coverage of the Comey hearing, something a lit more momentous was happening in Syria: U.S.-backed forces entered the Islamic State capital of Raqqa:

    At Raqqa’s eastern edge, a handful of Syrian fighters cross a river by foot and car, all the while relaying their coordinates to the U.S.-led coalition so they don’t fall victim to friendly fire.

    This is their only way into al-Mishlab, the first district the Kurdish and Arab militias have swept into, in what the coalition says will be a long and difficult battle for Raqqa, Islamic State’s de facto “capital” in Syria.

    The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched their assault to capture the city this week.

    As artillery and coalition aircraft pounded targets in the city, SDF fighters moved in small groups into the district during a media trip organized by the SDF.

    “The comrades are advancing and Daesh forces are collapsing in front of us, but there are snipers obstructing our movements, and they are also shelling our positions with mortars,” said an SDF fighter who gave his name as Khalil.

    For months, air strikes and special forces from the U.S.-led coalition have helped them encircle Raqqa, which Islamic State seized in 2014 and has used as a base to plan attacks abroad.

    In a statement sent to Reuters, coalition spokesman Colonel Joseph Scrocca said the militants’ resistance had been “minimal” outside the city and that they were retreating “to protect their fortifications inside the city”.

    More from The Guardian:

    Kurdish and Arab forces backed by the US have entered Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqqa, setting the stage for what could be a months-long campaign to reclaim the militants’ largest stronghold in Syria.

    The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition of Kurdish and Arab fighters, breached the outer city limits of Raqqa, seizing a 1,000-year-old fortress in the west and a neighbourhood on the eastern side of the city, two days after announcing the start of the offensive.

    “Raqqa to them is the capital of the caliphate, and they [Isis] have fortified it to a great extent,” Nouri Mahmoud, a spokesman for the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Kurdish militia taking part in the assault, told the Guardian.

    The operation – codenamed Operation Wrath of Euphrates – to reclaim Raqqa is led by the SDF, whose largest component is the YPG, and is backed by US air power. If successful, it would deprive Isis of its second largest city, with a simultaneous campaign to take back Mosul in Iraq also under way.

    ISIS Livemap had this snapshot of the battle:

    Here’s an AFP video showing some of the fighting and devastation on the road to Raqqa:

    And here’s video from Kurdistan 24:

    It used to be that entering an enemy’s capital city was a big deal in the media, but information in U.S. outlets seems fairly scanty…

    Theresa May Screws Up

    Friday, June 9th, 2017

    Despite having an absolute majority in Parliament, Prime Minister Theresa May gambled she could increase Tory numbers in Parliament, strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations, and KO the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party by calling a snap election.

    The result: the Tories lost 12 seats and Labour picked up 29, meaning that the Tories no longer have an absolute majority. Because they still have the most seats in Parliament, the Tories will still get first crack at forming a coalition government, most likely with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland. “For as long as Corbyn leads Labour, we will ensure there’s a Tory PM.”

    Oddly enough, both Conservatives and Labour gained vote share at the expense of the minor parties. The conservatives increased their share of votes in Scotland, where they took several seats from the Scottish National Party. The Liberal Democrats gained three seats.

    I said when she scheduled the snap election that it was a bold but risky move, and it backfired. I think “campaign fatigue” might have had a role in May’s defeat, a classic “Hubris clobbered by Nemesis” move.

    If there’s one pattern to 21st century electoral politics, it’s apparently “never believe polls.”

    (Administrative note: So much news dropped yesterday that the LinkSwarm will probably be pushed out to Monday.)

    Is President Trump Behind Qatar Isolation?

    Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

    When news came down that Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt were cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar, I speculated that this might be a direct result of President Trump’s recent trip to the Middle East. Noting longstanding belief that Qatar was the primary funding source for the Islamic State, I suggested “maybe a businessman like Trump thinks the easiest way to cramp the Islamic State’s style is to cut off their sugar daddy.”

    These two tweets from President Trump indicate I may be right:

    Caveat the first: Trump. Caveat the second: Trump’s Twitter feed, which is, as we all know, a nonstop notion buffet.

    Still, whether President Trump is behind the move or not, he’s already had more success cutting off terrorist funding than the feckless Obama Administration.

    China: Ghost Cities and Ghost Collateral

    Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

    Remember China’s ghost cities, the sprawling, mostly-empty cities built across China on credit?

    Well say hello to ghost collateral:

    Back in 2014, a scandal erupted when media reports confirmed what many had previously speculated about China’s banking system: namely that much of China’s staggering loan issuance had been built (literally) upon air and that billions (or trillions) in loan collateral had been “rehypothecated” between two, three or many more debtors – or never even existed – forcing banks to accept that they would never recover much if any of the pledged collateral – in most cases various commodities – if the economy were to suffer a hard-landing resulting in mass defaults. The most famous example involved collateral fraud at China’s 3rd largest port, Qingdao, where numerous borrowers were found to have “pledged” the same collateral of steel and copper to obtain funding from various banks.

    So how extensive is the problem?

    At risk of spoiling the surprise, what has been going on in China, either in conventional asset-backed lending, as well as among the more esoteric, complex commodity-funded deals, which we discussed extensively in the early part of 2013 is nothing less than pure fraud: in some cases, collateral that has been pledged simply doesn’t exist. In others, it disappears as borrowers in financial distress sell the assets. There are also instances in which the same collateral has been pledged to multiple lenders, i.e. rehypothecated. “One lawyer said he discovered that the same pile of steel was used to secure loans from 10 different lenders” Reuters reports.

    And while China was able to brush off its “ghost collateral” problems three years ago when it still had substantial debt incurrence capacity, and debt/GDP was about 100% lower, now that it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep the Ponzi scheme – by definition – running, especially with the recent crackdown on shadow banking, the pervasive collateral problems are about to become a huge headache for Beijing again: with the mainland facing its slowest growth in over a quarter of a century, defaults are mounting as borrowers struggle to repay their loans.

    It’s long been known that China’s economy is built, to some extent, on smoke and mirrors (even more so than our own economy). But it looks like it might be smoke and mirrors all the way down…

    Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar

    Sunday, June 4th, 2017

    This seems more than a regular diplomatic row:

    Saudi Arabia broke diplomatic relations and all land sea and air contacts with fellow Gulf Arab state Qatar on Monday, saying the move was necessary to protect the kingdom from what it described as terrorism and extremism.

    The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt also cut ties with Qatar on Monday.

    Crude and natural gas prices jumped after the news with global benchmark Brent up 1.42 percent to $50.66 a barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate up 1.45 percent to $48.35 a barrel. U.S. natural gas prices quoted at the U.S. Henry Hub jumped 1.37 percent to $3.040 per million British thermal units.

    Saudi Arabia’s official state news agency, citing an official source, said the kingdom had decided to sever diplomatic and consular relations with Qatar “proceeding from the exercise of its sovereign right guaranteed by international law and the protection of national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism”.

    Saudi Arabia cut all land air and sea contacts with Qatar “and urges all brotherly countries and companies to do the same.”

    It’s long been an open secret that wealthy Qataris were the primary financial backers of the Islamic State. By contrast, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt are all U.S. military allies.

    There’s been talk that Qatar wants to take a more conciliatory stance toward Iran, a move that has not been well-received by it’s fellow Sunni gulf states. It’s especially odd since Qatari soldiers have died defending the Saudi border as part of the Saudi fight with Iran’s Houthi proxies in Yemen.

    Could the harder line against Qatar be a side effect of President Trump’s recent trip to the Middle East? Maybe. Trump has set about fixings Obama’s foreign policy mistakes, and the Islamic State and the asinine Iran Deal are two of the biggest. And maybe a businessman like Trump thinks the easiest way to cramp the Islamic State’s style is to cut off their sugar daddy.

    It’s worth a try…

    Philippines Invasion Update

    Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

    Remember last Wednesday’s piece on Islamic State-affiliated fighters invading Marawi City in the Philippines? How are things looking there?

    Much worse:

    A Muslim militant group linked to ISIS attacked and took control of parts of Marawi city on Mindanao island in the southern Philippines last week. Philippine government troops have been evacuating civilians and fighting back, with soldiers on the ground and attack aircraft in the sky. Gunmen from local terrorist groups with ties to ISIS, called the Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf, overran the city, leading President Rodrigo Duterte to declare 60 days of martial law in Mindanao, as 85,000 residents fled to evacuation centers. While the government says it has now regained control of most of the city, fighting continues, and the death toll has climbed to nearly 100.

    Seems like last week’s “at least 15 gunman” may be on the low side.

    And the Maute fighters are bringing the Islamic State’s usual tidings of light and joy:

    In Marawi City, the Maute showed that it can be as brutal as ISIS. It executed eight city residents and dumped their bodies into the ravine, their hands tied behind their backs and with a sign saying “Munafik” (meaning hypocrite). Eyewitnesses said the terrorists took away those who could not recite the Islamic prayers. They beheaded hostages, killed military men and police, burned government facilities, destroyed hospitals and schools, and in general acted like lunatics out to destroy the city.

    DefenseOne offers up this map of the fighting.

    The latest reports say that Philippines armed forces have cleared 90% of Marawi City. Maute also claims it holds 200 hostages, though it could be exaggerating quite a bit.

    The Trump Administration has officially voiced support for the Duterte Administration’s fight against Maute.

    Here’s a WSJ video report that says the Islamic State assault on Marawi City may have been triggered by attempts to arrest Abu Sayyaf head Isnilon Hapilon (wanted by the FBI for beheading American Guillermo Sobero), and mentions the possible presence of foreign fighters:

    LinkSwarm for May 26, 2017

    Friday, May 26th, 2017

    Happy Memorial Day Weekend! A time to remember the fallen and enjoy a three day weekend. It’s also an Energy Star Sales Tax Holiday here in Texas, which could mean big savings on such varied items as refrigerators, water conservation or water efficient products, and various gardening products, including soil and mulch.

    Now on to the LinkSwarm!

  • Hey Democrats: How’s that “All Trump Derangement Syndrome, All the Time” working out for you? “A new Gallup Poll indicates that the rating for Democrats has slipped five points since November, while the low rating for the Republican Party remained about the same.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • What ObamaCare wrought: “The average individual purchaser of health insurance across the United States saw their premiums increase from $232 per month in 2013 to $476 per month in 2017, a ‘modest’ increase of over 100% in just a few years. To put that into perspective, that’s nearly $3,000 per year and roughly 9% of what the median American earns each year.”
  • More on Obama’s widespread, unconstitutional domestic surveillance:

    The National Security Agency under former President Barack Obama routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall, according to once top-secret documents that chronicle some of the most serious constitutional abuses to date by the U.S. intelligence community.

    More than 5 percent, or one out of every 20 searches seeking upstream Internet data on Americans inside the NSA’s so-called Section 702 database violated the safeguards Obama and his intelligence chiefs vowed to follow in 2011, according to one classified internal report reviewed by Circa.

    The Obama administration self-disclosed the problems at a closed-door hearing Oct. 26 before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that set off alarm. Trump was elected less than two weeks later.

    The normally supportive court censured administration officials, saying the failure to disclose the extent of the violations earlier amounted to an “institutional lack of candor” and that the improper searches constituted a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue,” according to a recently unsealed court document dated April 26, 2017.

  • Kurt Schlichter: Trump succeeds at his most important job:

    Looking at it objectively, as a guy who opposed Trump until he dispatched Ted Cruz, I have to consider all the facts and ponder the evidence carefully before awarding Donald Trump the grade of A+. He has done an incredible job of doing exactly what I had hoped he would do in the off chance he defeated that naggy harridan and her corps of gender indeterminate hipsters, coastal snobs, race hustlers, aspiring libfascists, media scum, and wussy pseudo-conservatives terrified that a Hillary loss would mean people might expect them to do more than wear bow ties and go on NPR to prattle about Burke in their high-pitched, nasal voices.

    There can be no serious debate. Donald Trump has done a truly outstanding job of not being Hillary Clinton.

    His not being Hillary Clinton was and remains my sole expectation of Donald Trump’s presidency. Nothing else matters in the end; it is enough that Trump foiled Felonia von Pantsuit’s creepy scheme to subjugate forever the deplorable mass of normal people she despises. The Obamacare repeal, tax reform, plus appointees of the quality of Gorsuch, Mattis and McMaster, and his lower court appointments – the inexplicable and damn-well-better-be-corrected-if-Trump-doesn’t-want-a conservative-rebellion omission of Justice Don Willett not withstanding – are merely icing on the red velvet cake of Trump’s not-being-Hillaryhood.

  • Mark Steyn weighs in on the Manchester attack, and, as usual, the difficulty is finding what not to quote:

    A few weeks ago the BBC reported that “approximately 850 people” from the United Kingdom have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight for Isis and the like. That’s more volunteers than the IRA were able to recruit in thirty years of the “Troubles”, when MI5 estimated that they never had more than a hundred active terrorists out in the field. This time maybe it’s the exotic appeal of foreign travel, as opposed to a month holed up in a barn in Newry.

    Carrying on in Germany, Angela Merkel pronounced the attack “incomprehensible”. But she can’t be that uncomprehending, can she? Our declared enemies are perfectly straightforward in their stated goals, and their actions are consistent with their words. They select their targets with some care. For a while, it was Europe’s Jews, at a Brussels museum and a Toulouse school and a Copenhagen synagogue and a Paris kosher supermarket. But Continentals are, except for political photo-ops on Holocaust Memorial Day, relatively heartless about dead Jews, and wrote off such incidents as something to do with “Israeli settlements” and “occupation” and of no broader significance.

    So they moved on to slaughter 49 gays in a nightclub in Orlando – the biggest mound of gay corpses ever piled up in American history and the worst terror attack on American soil since 9/11. But all the usual noisy LGBTQWERTY activists fell suddenly silent, as if they’d all gone back in the closet and curled up in the fetal position. And those Democrats who felt obliged to weigh in thought it was something to do with the need for gun control…

    So they targeted provocative expressions of the infidel’s abominable false religion, decapitating a French priest at Mass and mowing down pedestrians at a Berlin Christmas market. But post-Christian Europe takes Christianity less seriously than its enemies do, and so that too merited little more than a shrug and a pledge to carry on.

    So they selected symbols of nationhood, like France’s Bastille Day, Canada’s Cenotaph, and the Mother of Parliaments in London. But taking seriously assaults on your own nation’s symbols would require you to take your nation seriously, and most western citizens are disinclined to do so. As the great universal talismanic anthem of the age has it, “Imagine there’s no countries/It’s easy if you try…”

    So the new Caliphate’s believers figured out that what their enemy really likes is consumerism and pop music. Hence the attacks on the Champs-Élysées and the flagship Åhléns department store in Stockholm, and the bloodbath at the Eagles of Death Metal concert in Paris and now at Ariana Grande’s “Dangerous Woman” tour.

    Snip.

    But the arithmetic is not difficult: Poland and Hungary and Slovakia do not have Islamic terrorism because they have very little Islam. France and Germany and Belgium admit more and more Islam, and thus more and more terrorism. Yet the subject of immigration has been all but entirely absent from the current UK election campaign. Thirty years ago, in the interests of stopping IRA terrorism, the British state was not above preventing the internal movement within its borders of unconvicted, uncharged, unarrested Republican sympathizers seeking to take a ferry from Belfast to Liverpool. Today it declares it can do nothing to prevent the movement of large numbers of the Muslim world from thousands of miles away to the heart of the United Kingdom. It’s just a fact of life – like being blown up when you go to a pop concert.

    Read the whole thing.

  • 20 Coptic Christians slain in Egypt today. Update: Death toll now up to 28.
  • The threat of jihad is real. The threat of “Islamophobia” is not.
  • Obama Administration knowingly allowed MS-13 and Sureno 18 gang members to enter the country. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Denver city council decriminalizes wife-beating to keep illegal aliens from being deported:

    The Denver City Council agreed Monday to change to local sentencing guidelines in order to shield legal immigrants convicted of domestic violence from deportation proceedings.

    In a unanimous 12-0 vote, council members revised criminal penalties for several “low-level” crimes, reducing the maximum sentence to less than 365 days in jail. Under federal law, a criminal conviction that results in a sentence of a year or more is grounds for deporting any alien, including U.S. visa holders and legal permanent residents.

    (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)

  • Speaking of border control, there were over 700,000 visa overstays in 2016 alone. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “The Islamic State chops off children’s hands for refusing to execute prisoners.”
  • Allegedly body-slamming a reporter did not prevent Republican Greg Gianforte from handily beating singing socialist Rob Quist in a special election for Montana’s at-large congressional seat. Hey, remember when progressives were busy telling us it was OK to punch Nazis? Good times, good time…
  • Indeed, Gianforte raised over $100,000 right after news of the alleged assault spread. One need not condone violence to suggest that the Trump Derangement Syndrome-riddled press just might have an image problem with the American people… (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Estonia Expels Two Russian Diplomats; Moscow Warns This “Unfriendly Action Will Not Go Unanswered.'”
  • A game a lot of newly-minted college graduates will be playing:

    (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

  • A tweet:

  • Does Trump have a short attention span, or just the ability to quickly grasp the most important details? Scott Adams says the latter.
  • Adams also says its time to end presidential press briefings.
  • In the Middle East, Trump clears the very low bar of sucking less than Obama:

    The success – so far – of the president’s Middle East trip stands on the ashes of Obama’s failures. It’s easy to forget that for all Obama’s alleged expertise, his foray into the Middle East foundered on his arrogance and naiveté. In his 2009 Cairo speech, he unspooled clichés as wisdom, thinking that his name alone would put points on the board. He bought into the idea that the road to stability and peace in the Middle East went through Jerusalem.

    As Obama learned on the job, he came to believe that the road to peace went through Tehran, crafting an Iranian deal that alienated both our democratic ally Israel and our strategic Sunni allies, chief among them Saudi Arabia. In pursuit of his fantasy, he turned a blind eye to Iran’s crushing of the Green Revolution and dithered to the point of complicity in the Syrian abattoir. Meanwhile, Iran remains as implacably hostile and as determined to be a regional hegemon as ever.

    That is the context of Trump’s fawning reception. “Welcome, President Not Obama!”

  • Know who else funds President Trump a big step up from Obama? historically black colleges.
  • Mom’s advice to her son: Don’t marry a feminist. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • China has a huge debt problem. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Social Justice Warriors hound Portland burrito company out of business for “cultural appropriation.” This is why you can’t have nice things… (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Sea level guages show the oceans rising…but much more slowly than global warming alarmists predict.
  • Manchester bombing proves one of the most important element of preparedness is learning first aid skills.
  • Latest academic hoax: “the conceptual penis.”
  • He may not be President, but Ted Cruz is still the hero we need. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Robber, robber, pants on fire!
  • Enjoy your weekend!

    Debbie Wasserman Schultz Just As Good at Cybersecurity as at Running the DNC

    Thursday, May 25th, 2017

    Debbie Wasserman Schultz has long been the gift that keeps giving for Republicans. Her tenure at the top of the DNC saw dramatic declines Democratic Party officeholder at a time when Obama was still (theoretically) personally popular. Now her incompetence may be endangering not just the Democratic Party, but American security.

    Remember earlier this year when three Pakistani brothers (Abid, Imran, and Jamal Awan) who managed office IT for Democratic members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and other lawmakers were abruptly relieved of their duties on suspicion that they accessed congressional computer networks without permission?

    Refresher:

    Jamal handled IT for Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat who serves on both the intelligence and foreign affairs panels.

    “As of 2/2, his employment with our office has been terminated,” Castro spokeswoman Erin Hatch told TheDCNF Friday.

    Jamal also worked for Louisiana Democrat Rep. Cedric Richmond, who is on the Committee on Homeland Security.

    Imran worked for Reps. Andre Carson, an Indiana Democrat, and Jackie Speier, a California Democrat. Carson and Speier are members of the intelligence committee. Spokesmen for Carson and Speier did not respond to TheDCNF’s requests for comments. Imran also worked for the House office of Wasserman-Schultz.

    Then-Rep. Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat, employed Abid for IT work in 2016. She was a member of House committees dealing with the armed services, oversight, and Benghazi. Duckworth was elected to the Senate in November, 2016. Abid has a prior criminal record and a bankruptcy.

    Abid also worked for Rep. Lois Frankel, a Florida Democrat who is member of the foreign affairs committee.

    Also among those whose computer systems may have been compromised is Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Florida Democrat who was previously the target of a disastrous email hack when she served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 campaign.

    In addition to the brothers Awam, two more staffers, Hina Alvi (Imran Awan’s wife, who worked for Rep. Gregory Meeks (Democrat, New York) and Rao Abbas, were also fired. “The five current and former House staffers are accused of stealing equipment from members’ offices without their knowledge and committing serious, potentially illegal, violations on the House IT network.”

    (Though reports often list five members, Natalia Sova, another Awan wife, also worked as a staffer.)

    So when they were accused of stealing and improperly accessing information, they were fired, right? No. Because they were Muslims:

    Meeks said he was hesitant to believe the accusations against Alvi, Imran Awan and the three other staffers, saying their background as Muslim Americans, some with ties to Pakistan, could make them easy targets for false charges.

    “I wanted to be sure individuals are not being singled out because of their nationalities or their religion. We want to make sure everybody is entitled to due process,” Meeks said.

    “They had provided great service for me. And there were certain times in which they had permission by me, if it was Hina or someone else, to access some of my data.”

    [Rep. Marcia] Fudge [Democrat, Ohio] told Politico on Tuesday she would employ Imran Awan until he received “due process.”

    “He needs to have a hearing. Due process is very simple. You don’t fire someone until you talk to them,” Fudge said.

    On Wednesday, Lauren Williams, a spokeswoman for Fudge, wouldn’t provide details about Imran Awan’s firing but did confirm he was still employed in Fudge’s office as of Tuesday afternoon.

    The bottom line is simple – these House Democrats decided it was better to be at risk of hacking and extortion than to be accused of racism.

    Then it came to light that “House IT Aides Fear Suspects In Hill Breach Are Blackmailing Members With Their Own Data.” Turns out that the Awan brothers were incompetent at their jobs, but House Democrats refused to fire them or consider cheaper employees.

    Also this: “Court records show the brothers ran a side business that owed $100,000 to an Iranian fugitive who has been tied to Hezbollah, and their stepmother says they often send money to Pakistan.”

    More on that lovely individual the Awan brothers do business with:

    The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group has reported that while working for Congress, the Pakistani brothers controlled a limited liability corporation called Cars International A (CIA), a car dealership with odd finances, which took–and was unable to repay–a $100,000 loan from Dr. Ali Al-Attar.

    Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, wrote that Attar “was observed in Beirut, Lebanon conversing with a Hezbollah official” in 2012–shortly after the loan was made. Attar has also been accused of helping provoke the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq as a leader of Iraqi dissidents opposed to Saddam Hussein.

    After moving to the U.S., Attar made his money practicing medicine in Maryland and Virginia and defrauding Medicare, Medicaid and insurance companies by billing for non-existent medical procedures. The FBI raided his offices in 2009 and the Department of Health and Human Services sued his business partner in 2011.

    Attar was indicted in March 2012 on separate tax fraud charges after the IRS and FBI found he used multiple bank accounts to hide income. He fled back to Iraq to avoid prison.

    “He’s a fugitive. I am not aware of any extradition treaty with Iraq,”

    Then the story of the Awan brothers’ security breech took yet another strange turn:

    Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz threatened the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police with “consequences” for holding equipment that she says belongs to her in order to build a criminal case against a Pakistani staffer suspected of massive cybersecurity breaches involving funneling sensitive congressional data offsite.

    The Florida lawmaker used her position on the committee that sets the police force’s budget to press its chief to relinquish the piece of evidence Thursday, in what could be considered using her authority to attempt to interfere with a criminal investigation.

    The Capitol Police and outside agencies are pursuing Imran Awan, who has run technology for the Florida lawmaker since 2005 and was banned from the House network in February on suspicion of data breaches and theft.

    “My understanding is the the Capitol Police is not able to confiscate Members’ equipment when the Member is not under investigation,” Wasserman Schultz said in the annual police budget hearing of the House Committee On Appropriations’ Legislative Branch Subcommittee.

    “We can’t return the equipment,” Police Chief Matthew R. Verderosa told the Florida Democrat.

    “I think you’re violating the rules when you conduct your business that way and you should expect that there will be consequences,” Wasserman Schultz said.

    As one of eight members of the Committee on Appropriations’ Legislative Branch subcommittee, Wasserman Schultz is in charge of the budget of the police force that is investigating her staffer and how he managed to extract so much money and information from members.

    In a highly unusual exchange, the Florida lawmaker uses a hearing on the Capitol Police’s annual budget to spend three minutes repeatedly trying to extract a promise from the chief that he will return a piece of evidence being used to build an active case.

    “If a Member loses equipment and it is found by your staff and identified as that member’s equipment and the member is not associated with any case, it is supposed to be returned. Yes or no?” she said.

    Police tell her it is important to “an ongoing investigation,” but presses for its return anyway.

    The investigation is examining members’ data leaving the network and how Awan managed to get Members to place three relatives and a friend into largely no-show positions on their payrolls, billing $4 million since 2010.

    The congresswoman characterizes the evidence as “belonging” to her and argues that therefore it cannot be seized unless Capitol Police tell her that she personally, as opposed to her staffer, is a target of the investigation.

    When TheDCNF asked Wasserman Schultz Monday if it could inquire about her strong desire for the laptop, she said “No, you may not.” After TheDCNF asked why she wouldn’t want the Capitol Police to have any evidence they may need to find and punish any hackers of government information, she abruptly turned around in the middle of a stairwell and retreated back to the office from which she had come.

    Very curious indeed.

    It seems that Wasserman Schultz (and very possibly other Democratic congressmen) would prefer to see American intelligence compromised rather than have embarrassing personal information revealed. One wonders if the dismissed staffers were conveying information to overseas jihadis, or if they had incriminating information on any of the DNC, Obama or Hillary Clinton scandals so much in the news.

    Stay tuned…