Posts Tagged ‘Foreign Policy’

LinkSwarm for April 21, 2017

Friday, April 21st, 2017

Yesterday’s huge Texas vs. California update sucked up all my time, so today’s LinkSwarm is a little lite.

  • Texas residents should remember that tomorrow kicks off a preparedness sales tax holiday, giving you a chance to purchase batteries, fire extinguishers, etc. without paying sales tax on them.
  • How “diversity” is tearing France apart.
  • Another Paris shooting, another known wolf.
  • #Winning. “If your critics are reduced to complaining about what might be in your tax returns, you already won.”
  • USA Today staff too stupid to know the difference between tons and kilotons.
  • The real Russian stooge:

    The circumstantial evidence is mounting that the Kremlin succeeded in infiltrating the US government at the highest levels.

    How else to explain a newly elected president looking the other way after an act of Russian aggression? Agreeing to a farcically one-sided nuclear deal? Mercilessly mocking the idea that Russia represents our foremost geo-political foe?

    Accommodating the illicit nuclear ambitions of a Russian ally? Welcoming a Russian foothold in the Middle East? Refusing to provide arms to a sovereign country invaded by Russia? Diminishing our defenses and pursuing a Moscow-friendly policy of hostility to fossil fuels?

    All of these items, of course, refer to things said or done by President Barack Obama.

  • A strategy for repealing ObamaCare. How much inside baseball legislative wonkery can you stomach? Though it starts with full repeal. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Nothing says “class” quite like Democrats openly cheering the news that suicides among white males are up. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Controlling the border: “It’s not that there’s a new sheriff in town – it’s the fact that after eight years of Obama’s open-borders lawlessness there finally is a sheriff in town.”
  • The Trump Administration has actually carried out several successful reforms that got very little press.
  • You know all that “polls show Ted Cruz could lose in 2018” blather? Not so fast.
  • Scott Adams. “The people who know the most about science don’t think complex climate prediction models are credible science, and they are right.”
  • Trump gets U.S. aid worker held in Egypt for three years released. Naturally NYT buries the story on page 10…
  • 1. India’s government does yet another stupid thing. 2. “Technically correct is the best kind of correct.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Hognose of WeaponsMan RIP.
  • Oxygen-deprived naked mole rats turn into plants. Sort of.
  • Woman misunderstands, brings therapy dog to furry convention. Happy ending: “Furrycon ended up raising $10,000 for Pets for Vets.”
  • UK PM Theresa May Calls Early Elections

    Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

    This is unexpected (at least to me): UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced a plan to call a snap general election on June 8, despite the ruling Tories already having won an absolute parliamentary majority in 2015.

    Her statement:

    I have just chaired a meeting of the cabinet, where we agreed that the government should call a general election, to be held on 8 June.

    “I want to explain the reasons for that decision, what will happen next and the choice facing the British people when you come to vote in this election.

    “Last summer, after the country voted to leave the European Union, Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership, and since I became prime minister the government has delivered precisely that.

    “Despite predictions of immediate financial and economic danger, since the referendum we have seen consumer confidence remain high, record numbers of jobs, and economic growth that has exceeded all expectations.

    “We have also delivered on the mandate that we were handed by the referendum result. Britain is leaving the European Union and there can be no turning back.

    “And as we look to the future, the Government has the right plan for negotiating our new relationship with Europe.

    “We want a deep and special partnership between a strong and successful European Union and a United Kingdom that is free to chart its own way in the world.

    “That means we will regain control of our own money, our own laws and our own borders and we will be free to strike trade deals with old friends and new partners all around the world.

    “This is the right approach, and it is in the national interest. But the other political parties oppose it.

    “At this moment of enormous national significance there should be unity here in Westminster, but instead there is division. The country is coming together, but Westminster is not.

    “In recent weeks Labour has threatened to vote against the final agreement we reach with the European Union. The Liberal Democrats have said they want to grind the business of government to a standstill.

    “The Scottish National Party say they will vote against the legislation that formally repeals Britain’s membership of the European Union. And unelected members of the House of Lords have vowed to fight us every step of the way.

    “Our opponents believe because the government’s majority is so small, that our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change course. They are wrong.

    “They underestimate our determination to get the job done and I am not prepared to let them endanger the security of millions of working people across the country.

    “Because what they are doing jeopardises the work we must do to prepare for Brexit at home and it weakens the government’s negotiating position in Europe.

    “If we do not hold a general election now their political game-playing will continue, and the negotiations with the European Union will reach their most difficult stage in the run-up to the next scheduled election.

    “Division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit and it will cause damaging uncertainty and instability to the country.

    “So we need a general election and we need one now, because we have at this moment a one-off chance to get this done while the European Union agrees its negotiating position and before the detailed talks begin.

    “I have only recently and reluctantly come to this conclusion. Since I became prime minister I have said that there should be no election until 2020, but now I have concluded that the only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead is to hold this election and seek your support for the decisions I must take.

    “And so tomorrow I will move a motion in the House of Commons calling for a general election to be held on 8 June. That motion, as set out by the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, will require a two-thirds majority of the House of Commons.

    “So I have a simple challenge to the opposition parties, you have criticised the government’s vision for Brexit, you have challenged our objectives, you have threatened to block the legislation we put before Parliament.

    “This is your moment to show you mean it, to show you are not opposing the government for the sake of it, to show that you do not treat politics as a game.

    “Let us tomorrow vote for an election, let us put forward our plans for Brexit and our alternative programmes for government and then let the people decide.

    “And the decision facing the country will be all about leadership. It will be a choice between strong and stable leadership in the national interest, with me as your prime minister, or weak and unstable coalition government, led by Jeremy Corbyn, propped up by the Liberal Democrats, who want to reopen the divisions of the referendum, and Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.

    “Every vote for the Conservatives will make it harder for opposition politicians who want to stop me from getting the job done.

    “Every vote for the Conservatives will make me stronger when I negotiate for Britain with the prime ministers, presidents and chancellors of the European Union.

    “Every vote for the Conservatives means we can stick to our plan for a stronger Britain and take the right long-term decisions for a more secure future.

    “It was with reluctance that I decided the country needs this election, but it is with strong conviction that I say it is necessary to secure the strong and stable leadership the country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond.

    “So, tomorrow, let the House of Commons vote for an election, let everybody put forward their proposals for Brexit and their programmes for government, and let us remove the risk of uncertainty and instability and continue to give the country the strong and stable leadership it demands.”

    A snap election is a bold, risky move for May, but one that could pay off. With none of the post-Brexit vote gloom-and-doom scenarios of the Remain faction having materialized, Brexit’s popularity itself at all-time highs, the economy strong and the unpopular Jeremy Corbyn still leading Labour, May obviously thought now was the time to strike. She might be right: the Tories stand to pick up a lot of support from UKIP now that their raison d’etre is gone, while Scottish National Party looks poised to lock out Labour in the north yet again. But the downside is that if the Tories lose power, she goes down as the shortest serving PM since Bonar Law.

    No One Has A Functioning Mental Model of Trump

    Monday, April 17th, 2017

    For previous occupants of the White House, close observers could guess what actions a President might take in any given situation based on his ideology, personality, personal history, etc.

    No one seems to to have a working mental model for President Donald Trump.

    Let’s take a look at two sequential posts by Dilbert-creator and dedicated Trump-watcher Scott Adams. (And I’m picking on Scott Adams not because of his failings, but because he and his “Master Persuader” theory has heretofore been the best predictor of what Trump would do or say in any given situation.)

  • Post the First:

    My guess is that President Trump knows this smells fishy, but he has to talk tough anyway. However, keep in mind that he has made a brand out of not discussing military options. He likes to keep people guessing. He reminded us of that again yesterday, in case we forgot.

    So how does a Master Persuader respond to a fake war crime?

    He does it with a fake response, if he’s smart.

    Watch now as the world tries to guess where Trump is moving military assets, and what he might do to respond. The longer he drags things out, the less power the story will have on the public. We’ll be wondering for weeks when those bombs will start hitting Damascus, and Trump will continue to remind us that he doesn’t talk about military options.

  • Post the Second:

    As I blogged yesterday, the claim that Assad ordered a chemical attack on his own people in the past week doesn’t pass my sniff test. For Assad to order a gas attack now – while his side is finally winning – he would have to be willing to risk his life and his regime for no real military advantage. I’m not buying that.

    But let’s say the world believes Assad or a rogue general under his command gassed his own people. What’s an American President to do? If Trump does nothing, he appears weak, and it invites mischief from other countries. But if he launches 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian military air base base within a few days, which he did, the U.S. gets several benefits at low cost:

    1. President Trump just solved for the allegation that he is Putin’s puppet. He doesn’t look like Putin’s puppet today. And that was Trump’s biggest problem, which made it America’s problem too. No one wants a president who is under a cloud of suspicion about Russian influence.

    2. President Trump solved (partly) for the allegation that he is incompetent. You can hate this military action, but even Trump’s critics will call it measured and rational. Like it or not, President Trump’s credibility is likely to rise because of this, if not his popularity. Successful military action does that for presidents.

    3. President Trump just set the table for his conversations with China about North Korea. Does China doubt Trump will take care of the problem in China’s own backyard if they don’t take care of it themselves? That negotiation just got easier.

    4. Iran might be feeling a bit more flexible when it’s time to talk about their nuclear program.

    So in less than 24 hours, Adams went from “Trump is too smart to take that fishy bait” to “Trump is sure smart to have taken that fishy bait, and here’s why.”

    I opposed the Syrian strike but, like Adams, think it may have beneficial results in strengthening Trump’s hand in dealing with other world leaders.

    But the big takeaway here is that no one has a functioning mental model of what Trump is likely to do faced with any given situation. And that includes America’s foreign adversaries, who must of necessity tread more cautiously than they did under Obama.

  • LinkSwarm for April 14, 2017

    Friday, April 14th, 2017

    Good news, everyone! Your tax returns aren’t due until April 18th this year. So you can panic slightly later than usual…

  • How Trump won: by “consolidating the Republican base and then earning massive levels of support from whites without a college degree.” With lots of wonky demographic data goodness. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • More on that district-by-distract voting map in last week’s LinkSwarm.
  • The Beltway has a spending problem.
  • Republicans retain Kansas’ fourth congressional district.
  • Brian Krebs would like you to know thatches week’s Russian spammer arrest in Spain had nothing to do with election hacking.
  • Scumbag who killed Brian Terry with a Fast and Furious gun arrested in Mexico. (Insert innocent until proven guilty yada here.)
  • Hey Lois Lerner: If you want to seal your testimony because you think it might bring death threats, maybe you shouldn’t have used the IRS as a weapon against your domestic political enemies… (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • BATF spending taxpayer dollars on NASCAR race suites.
  • Did Hezbollah take out their own second-in-command?
  • Texas Governor Greg Abbott: build the border wall with funds withheld from sanctuary cities. (Hat tip: Dierctor Blue.)
  • Gavin McInnes at Taki’s Magazine thinks the Syria strike was five different 4D chessboard wins. Excerpts: “This shows women that America is in charge and we will keep the world’s children safe. Deep down, all they really want is a patriarchy.” And: “Obama’s legacy was the only death on April 6, 2017.”
  • U.S. forces drop a GBU-43/B Massive Ordinance Air Blast bomb on Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan.
  • “Obama’s covert drone war in numbers: ten times more strikes than Bush.” Details: “A total of 563 strikes, largely by drones, targeted Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen during Obama’s two terms, compared to 57 strikes under Bush. Between 384 and 807 civilians were killed in those countries.”
  • Inside baseball account of the Gorsuch confirmation battle. Also:

    It turned out the open seat was an “electoral asset” for Trump. Voters didn’t like him or Hillary Clinton. But once filling the seat became the “principal issue,” Trump had the advantage. Everyone knew she would dump Garland, a moderate, for someone further to the left.

    “We didn’t know if the president would be a conservative or not,” McConnell said. However, he had promised to pick a nominee from a list of 20 conservative jurists. (McConnell had advocated such a list.) “This reassured conservatives.” The result: he got 90 percent of the Republican vote and won.”

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • Daily Mail pays Melania Trump $2.9 million for calling her a whore.
  • Prisoners secretly build computers from recycled parts, hide them in the ceiling, hook them up to the prison network, and use them to commit fraud. “They were able to travel through the institution more than 1,100 feet without being checked by security through several check points, and not a single correction’s staff member stopped them from transporting these computers into the administrative portion of the building. It’s almost if it’s an episode of Hogan’s Heroes.” That’s some mighty fine correctional supervision there, Marion Correctional Institution…
  • Is the Trump dip over in gun sales? (Hat tip: Shall Not Be Questioned.)
  • Archeologist Jacques Cinq-Mars was attacked and shunned for offering up evidence that challenged the scientific consensus of the day. Good thing there’s no way that could possibly happen in climate research…
  • Why not a reverse auction for airline overbooking? (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Ft. Hood brings the Funk.
  • Austin-area massage parlor turns out to be a front for prostitution. Try to contain your shock.
  • Enjoy your Easter weekend!

    Clinton Corruption Update for April 13, 2017

    Thursday, April 13th, 2017

    With Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign due out April 18, it’s high time for a Clinton Corruption update. (And you may quibble that “Hillary being a nasty person” doesn’t qualify as “corruption,” but if I started doing separate “Hillary Clinton is a horrible human being” updates, I’d never have time to sleep…)

    The book excerpts show that Hillary was every bit as much a joy to work with as we all suspected:

    Hillary was so mad she couldn’t think straight. She was supposed to be focused on the prep session for that night’s Univision debate in Miami, but a potent mix of exhaustion and exasperation bubbled up inside.

    She’d been humiliated in the Michigan primary the night before, a loss that not only robbed her of a prime opportunity to put Bernie Sanders down for good but also exposed several of her weaknesses. How could she have been left so vulnerable? She knew — or at least she thought she did. The blame belonged to her campaign team, she believed, for failing to hone her message, energize important constituencies and take care of business in getting voters to the polls. And now, Jake Sullivan, her de facto chief strategist, was giving her lip about the last answer she’d delivered in the prep session.

    “That’s not very good,” Sullivan corrected.

    “Really?” Hillary snapped back.

    The room fell silent.

    “Why don’t you do it?”

    The comment was pointed and sarcastic, but she meant it. So for the next 30 minutes, there he was, pretending to be Hillary while she critiqued his performance.

    Every time the Yale lawyer and former high school debate champ opened his mouth, Hillary cut him off. “That isn’t very good,” she’d say. “You can do better.” Then she’d hammer him with a Bernie line.

    It wasn’t just Sullivan in her crosshairs. She let everyone on her team have it that day. “We haven’t made our case,” she fumed. “We haven’t framed the choice. We haven’t done the politics.”

    “She was visibly, unflinchingly pissed off at us as a group,” said one aide who was in the room for the humiliating scene. “And she let us know she felt that way.”

    Hillary had been up into the wee hours the night before, agitating over her loss. This is because we made poor choices about where we traveled, she thought. She emailed Robby Mook to tell him she believed she’d spent too much time in the cities of Detroit and Flint and not enough in the working-class white suburbs around them. Sensing just how angry she was, Mook responded by putting together a morning conference call so that Hillary could vent. But that didn’t settle her; if anything, it left her more perplexed and angry, as her debate-prep team witnessed firsthand.

    Her aides took the browbeating — one of several she delivered in person and on the phone that day — in silence. They had a lot of their own thoughts on what went wrong, some of which echoed Hillary’s assessment: her message was off for Michigan, and she had refused to go hard against trade; Mook had pinched pennies and failed to put organizers on the ground; the polling and analytics were a touch too rosy, meaning the campaign didn’t know Bernie was ahead; she had set up an ambiguous decisionmaking structure on the campaign; and she’d focused too heavily on black and brown voters at the expense of competing for the whites who had formed her base in 2008. The list went on and on.

    The underlying truth — the one that many didn’t want to admit to themselves — was the person ultimately responsible for these decisions, the one whose name was on the ticket, hadn’t corrected these problems, all of which had been brought to her attention before primary day. She’d stuck with the plan, and it had cost her.

    (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)

    More on the same theme:

    “Hillary’s been having screaming, child-like tantrums that have left her staff members in tears and unable to work,” a campaign aide told Klein in 2015, according to a New York Post report. “She thought the nomination was hers for the asking, but her mounting problems have been getting to her, and she’s become shrill and, at times, even violent.”

    According to the report, Hillary blasted a low-level campaign worker who had made a scheduling mistake. When Hillary viciously berated her, the worker turned and began to walk away. That’s when Hillary reportedly grabbed her by the arm.

    In one June 2016 report, it was revealed Hillary hurled a Bible at a Secret Service agent’s head, according to former agent Gary Byrne, who said her explosions grew worse as the Clintons’ time in the White House went on.

    Byrne warned Hillary was too “erratic, uncontrollable and occasionally violent” for the presidency.

    In other Clinton corruption news:

  • RussiaGate: Hillary Clinton and John Podesta’s Troubling Ties to Russia. Much will be familiar to regular BattleSwarm readers, but there’s some nice recap for those coming in cold:

    Unlike the revelations so far concerning Russian ties in the Trump camp, the Clinton deals involved hundreds of millions of dollars and enormous favors that benefitted Russian interests.

    Bill and Hillary Clinton received large sums of money directly and indirectly from Russian officials while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. Bill Clinton was paid a cool $500,000 (well above his normal fee) for a speech in Moscow in 2010. Who footed the bill? An investment firm in Moscow called Renaissance Capital, which boasts deep ties to Russian intelligence. The Clinton Foundation itself took money from Russian officials and Putin-connected oligarchs. They also took donations from:

  • Viktor Vekselberg, a Putin confidant who gave through his company, Renova Group
  • Andrey Vavilov, a former Russian government official who was Chairman of SuperOx, a research company that was part of the “nuclear Cluster” at the Russian government’s Skolkovo research facility
  • Elena Baturina, the wife of the former Mayor of Moscow, who apparently gave them money through JSC Inteco, an entity that she controls
  • (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • Ditto this National Review piece on the Clintons’ Russian ties:

    The shadiest deal that the Clintons hatched with Russia is called Uranium One. This outrage should mushroom into Hillary and Bill’s radioactive Whitewater scandal.

    Frank Giustra, a Canadian mining mogul and major Clinton Foundation donor, led a group of investors in an enterprise called Uranium One. On June 8, 2010, Rosatom, the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation, announced plans to purchase a 51.4 percent stake in the Canadian company, whose international assets included some 20 percent of America’s uranium capacity.

    Because this active ingredient in atomic reactors and nuclear weapons is a strategic commodity, this $1.3 billion deal required the approval of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). Secretary of State Clinton was one of nine federal department and agency heads on that secretive panel.

    On June 29, 2010, three weeks after Rosatom proposed to Uranium One, Bill Clinton keynoted a seminar staged by Renaissance Capital in Moscow, a reputedly Kremlin-controlled investment bank that promoted this transaction. Renaissance Capital paid Clinton $500,000 for his one-hour speech.

    While CFIUS evaluated Rosatom’s offer, Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer observed, “a spontaneous outbreak of philanthropy among eight shareholders in Uranium One” began. “These Canadian mining magnates decide now would be a great time to donate tens of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation.”

    These included Uranium One’s then-chairman, Ian Telfer, whose donations to the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative (CGSGI) totaled $3.1 million. Giustra himself gave $131.3 million to the Clinton Foundation. Before, during, and after CFIUS’s review, Schweizer calculates, “shareholders involved in this transaction had transferred approximately $145 million to the Clinton Foundation or its initiatives.”

    Others were less enthused about this deal.

    “Russia’s record of transferring dangerous materials and technologies to rogue regimes, such as those in Iran and Syria, is very troubling,” Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee at the time, wrote to CFIUS’s then-chairman, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. The top Republicans on the Financial Services, Homeland Security, and Armed Services Committees also signed Ros-Lehtinen’s letter of October 5, 2010.

    “We believe that this potential takeover of U.S. nuclear resources by a Russian government–owned agency would pose great potential harm to the national security of the United States,” the letter read, “and we urge the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to block the sale.”

    As a CFIUS member, Hillary could have heeded this warning and stopped Vladimir Putin from controlling a fifth of U.S. uranium supplies. America’s chief diplomat and former first lady either welcomed this prospect or was too uncharacteristically demure to make her objections stick.

    In either case, on October 23, 2010, within three weeks of that letter, CFIUS approved Rosatom’s purchase of a majority stake in Uranium One.

    Thanks to subsequent investments, Rosatom’s share of Uranium One grew to 100 percent by January 2013. Robert Gill of Morrison Williams Investment Management told Canada’s Financial Post: “By doing this acquisition, they can continue to build the company they intended to build, but they can do so without the transparency required by the public markets.”

    Rosatom CEO Sergei Kiriyenko crowed just after taking total control of Uranium One, “Few could have imagined in the past that we would own 20 percent of U.S. reserves.”

    A headline in Pravda boasted on January 22, 2013: “Russian nuclear energy conquers the world.”

    My old friend Michael Caputo performed public-relations work for Renaissance Capital in 1999–2000. He says it subsequently became “a practical arm of Vladimir Putin.” Caputo was stunned at the speed with which CFIUS approved Rosatom’s purchase of Uranium One.

    “In 2010–2011, I ran acquisition communications for Safran Group, the French government–controlled defense contractor which bought the US biometrics company L-1,” Caputo wrote in PoliticsNY.net. “It took us almost two years to gain CFIUS approval for France, an historic ally, to purchase a biometrics firm, not even remotely a strategic asset.” He added, “These two CFIUS approvals were happening at precisely the same time. Safran couldn’t buy a break and was questioned at every turn. Somehow, Kremlin-controlled Rosatom’s purchase sailed through on a cool breeze.”

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • Even more on John Podesta’s Russian ties:

    Rep. Louie Gohmert, an outspoken House Republican from Texas, is calling for a congressional investigation of John Podesta’s role with Rusnano, a state-run company founded by Russian President Vladimir Putin, The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group has learned.

    Podesta — Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign chairman and former President Bill Clinton’s White House chief of staff — first made contact with the Russian firm in 2011, when he joined the boards and executive committees of three related entities: Boston-based Joule Unlimited; Rotterdam-based Joule Global Holdings; Joule Global Stichting, the company’s controlling interest. All are high-tech renewable energy enterprises.

    Three months after Podesta’s arrival, Joule Unlimited accepted a 1 billion ruble investment from Rusnano, amounting to $35 million in U.S. currency. The firm also awarded a Joule board seat in February 2012 to Anatoly Chubais, Rusnano’s CEO, who has been depicted as a corrupt figure.

  • And how did Podesta react to these charges? He hit the Daily Caller with a cease and desist letter.
  • “Democratic super-lobbyist Tony Podesta grossed more than $500,000 to represent a Chinese company criminally convicted in March of sending illegal shipments of telecom equipment to Iran.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • “New Huma Abedin Emails Reveal Additional Instances of Clinton Sending Classified Information through Unsecured Emails, Special Favors for Clinton Donors.”
  • “Hillary Clinton had astonishing access to top secret documents after she left state department“:

    Hillary Clinton may have resigned her secretary role at the State Department in 2013 – but her access to top secret and classified information didn’t end then.

    Under Barack Obama, she was allowed to continue to view highly sensitive intel documents for years – well past her announced run for the presidency in April 2015, according to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. Why? Toward what possible end?

    So she could better write her memoir.

    File this in the “You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me” folder.

    And it wasn’t just Clinton who kept the power of top secret access. It was six of her former staffers, who went by the tag of “research assistants.”

  • “Hillary has no plans to return to work at Clinton Foundation.” Yes, “work.” Because cashing checks from influence-seekers is so strenuous…
  • The hagiographers at Vanity Fair talk about Hillary coming out of the woods.
  • Bill Maher: Stay in the woods:

    The shrill, annoying woman acting as Social Justice Warrior Policer of Jokes and Defender of the Hillary Faith is evidently Neera Tanden. Every time she speaks, just imagine tiny votes flying on fairy wings from the Democratic to the Republican side of the ledger; she’s that annoying.

  • A tweet, with video:

  • LinkSwarm for April 7, 2017

    Friday, April 7th, 2017

    Welcome to another Friday LinkSwarm!

    I’m still not wild about President Trump’s decision to strike a Syrian airfield with cruise missiles last night, but the decision makes more sense if you look at it less of a tool to make Bashar Assad mend his ways than as a warning shot across the bows of Ali Khamenei, Kim Jong-Un and Xi Jinping, the latter of whom President Trump just happened to be meeting with while the missiles were hitting Shayrat.

    Now some links:

  • Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed to the Supreme Court today. How’d that Nuclear Option work out for you in the long run, Harry Reid?
  • The Obama/Kerry policy on Syrian chemical disarmament has been such an astounding failure that even Polifact has been forced to admit it.
  • Here’s a really interesting precinct-by-precinct map of the 2016 presidential election, along with analysis of changes from previous maps.

  • Susan Rice has changed her story twice. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Intelligence agencies are stonewalling congressional information requests on unmasking scandal.
  • Even Rolling Stone has noticed Putin derangement syndrome.
  • Russia recognizes West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, while recognizing East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.
  • Russia has banned this image:

  • Jobless claims “are hovering near the lowest level since the early 1970s.” Now the trick is to produce enough sustained growth to get the Obama-discouraged long-term unemployed back into the workforce…
  • Dissecting the mainstream media’s dishonest response to every jihad attack.
  • “Conniving, spineless, duplicitous, misleading, double-crossing—Chuck Schumer is a fitting exemplar for the modern Democratic Party.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Intersectionality is a religion. (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Marines test polymers to cut weight.
  • College student who was once in pictures with Bill Clinton busted for prostitution. What are the odds? (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Justified shooting, unjustified indictment.
  • Mike Pence’s rules for not being alone with other women are probably less about preventing adultery than to prevent him from being framed and smeared by feminists.
  • “Ethicist” Pete Singer: Hey, let’s rape the retarded! It’s not like they’re real human beings…
  • The Royal Canadian Mounted Police can intercept your cell phone conversations.
  • Is Google prejudiced against ex-military employees?
  • ESPN is losing money hand-over-fist, but they’re still going shove the liberal culture war down your throat.
  • Oh the huge manatees…are doing just fine.
  • Hope you don’t need to use the stretch of I-35 near San Antonio this weekend: The Texas Department of Transportation is shutting it down for four days.
  • Don Rickles, RIP. With a great segment with him on the Tonight Show with Frank Sinatra.
  • Intervening in Syria is STILL a Bad Idea

    Thursday, April 6th, 2017

    Note: This post is 75% rerun by weight from this piece, because pretty much all the reasons listed there are still valid.

    Following a new report of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime in Syria, certain factions of the Washington establishment are demanding that President Trump “do something” to “punish” Assad.

    To which I reply: Why?

    Even assuming the report is true (at least some observers think the chemical attack report is a false flag), last time I checked, the United Nations had not made the United States the designated enforcer of Security Council Resolution 2118.

    We can’t back the good guys in the Syrian civil war because there are no good guys. Assad’s ruling faction are scumbags. The Russians backing Assad are scumbags. Hezbollah, fighting on Assad’s side, are scumbags. The Iranian mullahs backing Assad are scumbags. Turkey is currently ruled by Erdogan’s Islamist scumbags, and Turkey is more interested in attacking the Kurds than the Islamic State. The Free Syrian Army is riddled with Islamist scumbags. The al-Nusra front are scumbags. The Islamic State is made up of the very worst scumbags in the region (and world). The only notable faction that aren’t scumbags are the Kurds, who, as an ethnic and geographic minority, are in no position to rule Syria, or even a significant fraction of it.

    To the extent that Obama’s imaginary red lines and desultory, ineffectual backing of Syrian rebel groups harmed America’s reputation for competence in the region, the damage has already been done. (Indeed, the Obama/Clinton/Kerry strategy for fomenting regime change in the hope that things would turn out better, like a liberal funhouse mirror distorted reflection of George W. Bush’s far more limited regime change goals in Iraq, have made things worse across the region.) We have no pressing national interest at stake in the Syrian civil war, there’s not a contending faction (outside the peripherally-involved Kurds) worth backing, and it’s not apparent what such an intervention might reasonably achieve.

    All of which makes me incredulous when I read pieces that suggest that President Trump is considering military actions in Syria.

    Even some on the right have been agitating for the United States to “do something” in Syria, and S. E. Cupp’s Twitter timeline has (yet again) gone to an “all heart-tugging photos of Syrian children” format without saying why it is the United State’s interest to intervene in Syria or proposing anything concrete as to what form that intervention should take beyond vague talk of “safe zones.”

    A large part of the latest push to intervene in Syria still seems to be coming from an interest group called The Syria Campaign. Who is behind it?

    From that Zero Hedge piece:

    A careful look at the origins and operation of The Syria Campaign raises doubts about the outfit’s image as an authentic voice for Syrian civilians, and should invite serious questions about the agenda of its partner organizations as well.

    A creation of international PR firms

    Best known for its work on liberal social issues with well-funded progressive clients like the ACLU and the police reform group, Campaign Zero, the New York- and London-based public relations firm Purpose promises to deliver creatively executed campaigns that produce either a “behavior change,” “perception change,” “policy change” or “infrastructure change.” As the Syrian conflict entered its third year, this company was ready to effect a regime change.

    On Feb. 3, 2014, Anna Nolan, the senior strategist at Purpose, posted a job listing. According to Nolan’s listing, her firm was seeking “two interns to join the team at Purpose to help launch a new movement for Syria.”

    At around the same time, another Purpose staffer named Ali Weiner posted a job listing seeking a paid intern for the PR firm’s new Syrian Voices project. “Together with Syrians in the diaspora and NGO partners,” Weiner wrote, “Purpose is building a movement that will amplify the voices of moderate, non-violent Syrians and mobilize people in the Middle East and around the world to call for specific changes in the political and humanitarian situation in the region.” She explained that the staffer would report “to a Strategist based primarily in London, but will work closely with the Purpose teams in both London and New York.”

    On June 16, 2014, Purpose founder Jeremy Heimans drafted articles of association for The Syria Campaign’s parent company. Called the Voices Project, Heimans registered the company at 3 Bull Lane, St. Ives Cambridgeshire, England. It was one of 91 private limited companies listed at the address. Sadri would not explain why The Syria Campaign had chosen this location or why it was registered as a private company.

    Along with Heimans, Purpose Europe director Tim Dixon was appointed to The Syria Campaign’s board of directors. So was John Jackson, a Purpose strategist who previously co-directed the Burma Campaign U.K. that lobbied the EU for sanctions against that country’s ruling regime. (Jackson claimed credit for The Syria Campaign’s successful push to remove Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad’s re-election campaign ads from Facebook.) Anna Nolan became The Syria Campaign’s project director, even as she remained listed as the strategy director at Purpose.

    From The Syria Campaign’s own website:

    The Syria Campaign is a non-profit organisation registered as a company in the United Kingdom as The Voices Project—company number 8825761. (You can’t be a registered charity in the UK if most of your work is campaigning.)

    We have a Governing Board who are legally responsible for the organisation and oversee strategy and finance for The Syria Campaign. The board members are Daniel Gorman, Ben Stewart, Sawsan Asfari, Tim Dixon and Lina de Sergie.

  • Jeremy Heimans co-founded “a campaign group in the U.S. presidential elections that used crowd-funding to help a group of women whose loved ones were in Iraq hire a private jet to follow Vice-President Dick Cheney on his campaign stops, in what became known as the “‘Chasing Cheney’ tour” among other leftist activism.
  • Daniel Gorman heads “the UK’s largest festival of contemporary Arab culture.”
  • Ben Stewart is a Greenpeace activist who has a grudge against Russia for detaining 30 of his fellow travelers.
  • Sawsan Asfari is “active in various charities that help Palestinians across the Arab world” and is the wife of Syrian-born British billionaire Ayman Asfari.
  • Lina de Sergie seems to more commonly go by Lina Sergie Attar. “She is a Syrian-American architect and writer from Aleppo. She co-developed Karam’s Innovative Education initiatives: the creative therapy and holistic wellness program for displaced Syrian children and the Karam Leadership Program, an entrepreneurship and technology program for displaced Syrian youth.” Yes, I’m sure “holistic wellness” is a big priority for Syrian refugees. Karam’s Mission Statement: “We develop Innovative Education programs for Syrian refugee youth, distribute Smart Aid to Syrian families, and fund Sustainable Development projects initiated by Syrians for Syrians.”
  • Tim Dixon has quite an extensive resume, being a former speechwriter to two Australian Labor Party Prime Ministers and involved in a large number of causes:

    – a large-scale initiative to help change hearts and minds on the global refugee crisis;
    – The Syria Campaign, to move the world to action on the humanitarian crisis in Syria;
    – Everytown, the movement to tackle gun violence in America

  • Etc.

    So, to summarize: It’s run by international left-wing activists in favor of Europe accepting more “Syrian” “refugees”, soft jihadis, and gun banners.

    These are not the sort of people I want driving American national security decisions.

    The situation in Syria is horrible, but outside territory held by the Islamic State, it’s the same type of horrible that has plagued the Middle East pretty much constantly absent control by a ruling power with sufficient force to keep the endemic ethnic strife under wraps. Wars there are fought under Hama rules, not those of the Geneva Convention.

    It is not in the best interests of the United States to intervene militarily in Syria. We have no compelling national security interest in Syria right now, there’s no faction worth backing, and trying to “create safe areas” or “establish no-fly zones” would be dangerous, cost-prohibitive and unlikely to succeed.

    The fact that Barack Obama and John Kerry screwed up, drew a red line they were unwilling to enforce, pretended they got Syria to give up all their chemical weapons, and then walked away from their latest foreign policy disaster while loudly declaring victory doesn’t obligate President Trump to clean up their mess. Assad is a complete and utter bastard, but there is still no plausible candidate to replace him with that we could say with 100% certainty wouldn’t be just as big (or bigger) a bastard.

    Retaliating against Assad would be a huge distraction from something that is a compelling American (and world) interest: crushing the Islamic State so completely and thoroughly that it will arise again in our lifetime.

    Military intervention in Syria is still an amazingly foolish idea.

    Sometimes the best choice is doing nothing at all.

    Update: President Trump just launched a cruise missile strike at Syria. I suspect I hit post while the missiles were literally in the air. Word is this is a limited one-time strike. Is that’s the case, it may have a salutatory effect on the other bastards of the world like Kim Jong-Un, putting them on notice that President Trump is a whole lot more serious about using force than Obama was. If that’s the end of it, it may. turn out to be a net positive. But that’s a big if, and intervention in Syria is still a bad idea, for all the reasons listed above…

    LinkSwarm for March 31, 2017

    Friday, March 31st, 2017

    Welcome to April Fool’s Eve! Don’t believe anything you hear tomorrow. Especially if it’s from CNN…

  • Representative Moe Brooks of Alabama offers up a one sentence repeal of ObamaCare: “Effective as of Dec. 31, 2017, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is repealed, and the provisions of law amended or repealed by such Act are restored or revived as if such Act had not been enacted.” Get on it, GOP… (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Why not give CruzCare a try?
  • Single-payer’s future is Venezuela’s present: “The communist model for healthcare will result in everyone having a right to healthcare and no one getting any of it. There will be black market health care for those who can afford it, a lovely parallel system for the politically well connected, and a crumbling system of overworked, over-regulated providers working to give some care to all the rest of us.”
  • Scott Adams: “With the failure of the Ryan healthcare bill, the illusion of Trump-is-Hitler has been fully replaced with Trump-is-incompetent meme.”
  • CrowdStrike, Patient Zero in the “Russia hacked the Democrats” vector, backtracks key claims.
  • “Filibustering Gorsuch might be a pointless exercise when it comes to keeping him off the court, but it would have the advantage of giving angry Democratic activists something they desperately want: an opportunity to lash out in fury at Republicans.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Democratic senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Heidi Heitkamp (ND) announced they will vote for Gorsuch.
  • Leftists are taking this fact with their usual grace and tact:

    Yeah, I have no idea who Mr. Checkmark Who Has Fewer Followers Than Me is either…

  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has seven facts for Democrats to consider before filibustering Gorsuch. “There has never been a successful partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee.”
  • Hosni Mubarek freed in Egypt. But I mainly want to talk about the Times piece of an example of sins of omission by the newspaper of record. “The first democratic election, in 2012, brought to power a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Morsi. But he lasted only a year, making a series of political blunders that cost him the support of the military, crucial parts of the security apparatus and millions of Egyptians, who gathered in the streets in June 2013 to call for his removal.” Yes, one might call “engineering a murderous rampage and instituting a dictatorship in order to fully Islamicize Egyptian society” a “blunder”…
  • So how’s that boycott against North Carolina over the tranny bathroom law panning out? Not so hot. “Tourism has thrived: Hotel occupancy, room rates and demand for rooms set records in 2016, according to the year-end hotel lodging report issued last week by VisitNC, part of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.” (Hat tip: Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Twitter feed.)
  • “Former Obama Official Describes Last-Minute Rush to Spy on Trump Team, Conceal Intel Sources.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Someone in a small circle of Obama intelligence officials who knew the identity of that American No. 1 committed a felony by leaking Flynn’s name to media.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Chicago follows in Detroit’s footsteps.
  • Journalists who exposed Planned Parenthood’s baby parts selling scheme indicted on felony eavesdropping charges in California. By an amazing coincidence, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra received donations from Planned Parenthood. What are the odds?
  • There’s an actual Wikipedia article for a list of grenade attacks in Sweden, which have exploded (ha) since 2012. Many occurred in Malmo. Gee, what could possibly be driving all these grenade attacks?
  • Euroweenie to campaign for independence of the People’s Republic of Austin. Good luck with that. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.
  • Trump as The Mule from Isaac Asimov’s Foundation and Empire. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • President Trump reverses four Obama regulations. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • $15,000 of Soros money a month per team to fight Trump.
  • You know that “1973 Manhattan was a nightmare of smog” picture your liberal Facebook friends have been posting? Debunked.
  • Behind the scenes of 2016’s wipeout of Republicans in Harris County.
  • Texas Senate votes to end automatic union payroll deductions.
  • Attorney General Ken Paxton’s trial venue is being moved, which is a victory for the prosecution. Given the dismissal of the SEC charges the case is based on, I still think the long-term prognosis points to acquittal or dismissal.
  • Homeowner 3, Robbers 0.
  • Are your sexual fetishes social justice warrior approved, comrade? If not, then expect to be fired…
  • “Spiders could theoretically eat every human on earth in a year and still be hungry.” Obviously this cries out for a research grant and a pilot program…
  • Internet Security issue: “Typosquatting programming language package managers.”
  • Troll level: Godlike.
  • Five-year old suspended for imaginary gun.
  • An obituary for the author of The Anarchist’s Cookbook.
  • McSweeney’s on packing the liberal go-bag. (Hat tip: Gay Patriot’s Twitter feed.)
  • Don McLean’s “American Pie” added to the National recording registry. “I’m really delighted that the government has taken notice of me in this way, and not by tapping my phone or something.” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Want. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Hakeem Olajuwon: Better than Jordan.
  • Speaking of shocking statistics: “Steven Seagal released seven films in 2016. Seven.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • “Oh no! Not the bees! They’re in my eyes!
  • Johnny Rotten Backs Brexit, Trump

    Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

    I’ll take things likely to make liberals heads explode for $200, Alex:

    British cultural icon and punk rock godfather John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) has hailed the “joy” of populist, anti-establishment movements across the West.

    Mr Lydon backed Brexit, claimed President Donald J. Trump was unfairly smeared by the “left wing” media, and said he wanted to shake “fantastic” Nigel Farage’s hand for taking on elites.

    Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, the Sex Pistols frontman praised how the former UKIP leader led a flotilla of pro-Brexit fishermen in the so-called “Battle of the Thames” – when they faced off with a group of pro-EU millionaires and celebrities.

    “After that up-the-River-Thames argument he had with Bob Geldof, I wanted to shake [Nigel Farage’s] hand because it was silly beyond belief.

    “Where do I stand on Brexit? Well, here it goes: the working class have spoke, and I’m one of them, and I’m with them,” he said.

    The punk icon also said the unconventional outsider President Trump was a type of punk rock politician who was being unfairly attacked by the media establishment.

    He dubbed Mr. Trump “a complicated fellow”, adding: “As one journalist once said to me, is he the political Sex Pistol? In a way.

    “What I dislike is the left wing media in America are trying to smear the bloke as a racist, and that’s completely not true.

    “There are many, many problems with him as a human being but he’s not that, and there just might be a chance something good will come out of this situation because it terrifies politicians. This is a joy to behold for me.”

    When host Piers Morgan described Mr. Trump as “the archetypal anti-establishment figure”, Mr. Lydon said: “Dare I say, a possible friend.”

    All this will be quite a shock to American leftists who wore Anarchy in the UK buttons right next to their Mondale-Ferraro buttons back in the 1980s, figuring that punk was cool and anti-establishment and therefore automatically on leftism’s side.

    What liberals forget is that punk rock was itself a reaction to the discontents of the mid-1970s Wilson-Callaghan Labour governments of the UK, a period of high unemployment and labor unrest that would culminate (post-Lydon’s exit from the Pistols) in the “Winter of Discontent” that would bring Margaret Thatcher to power.

    It’s not like they sang “Bigger Government in the UK,” now is it?

    Punk was a rebellion against the establishment, and there are few establishments more entrenched than our political and media elites.

    Also note Lydon’s comment that “the working class have spoke, and I’m one of them, and I’m with them.” As I mentioned before, Brexit passed in large measure thanks to a working class who feel that global elites have abandoned them. In theory, the Labour Party should be able to capitalize on such working class resentment, but they can’t, because they’re largely part of that same global elite.

    Indeed, from “bitter clingers” to “basket of deplorable,” the defining characteristic of liberal parties in the West today seems to be their open contempt for the working class they once claimed to represent. Who among our nation’s Democratic Party elites could even plausibly claim to be “working class”?

    Note also Lydon’s dismissing media claims of Trump being a racist, a stance that will make Social Justice Warriors despise him (assuming they didn’t already).

    Lydon is nobody’s idea of a movement conservative, and I sincerely doubt he’ll be cutting campaign commercials for the Tories anytime soon. But he is his own man, and willing to call bullshit on politically correct lies, and that’s good enough for me.

    (Hat tip: BigGator5’s Twitter feed.)

    Hamas Sought More Accurate Maps to Aim Rockets

    Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

    “The Hamas terror group requested better quality maps from a Turkish charity in order to gain more accuracy when firing rockets, according to Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency.”

    Plus the usual diversion of humanitarian funds to terrorism:

    The Shin Bet discovered after questioning Muhammad Murtaja, who was arrested last month on suspicion of working on behalf of Hamas, that over the past two years the terror terror organization had asked the Turkish IHH organization for advanced satellite mapping programs to improve the accuracy of its rockets, the Hebrew-language Ynet news site reported.

    The Shin Bet investigation reportedly revealed that during its last war with Israel in 2014, Hamas used Google Maps in order to target locations in Israel, leading to most of the rockets missing their targets. Many of the other rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

    Murtaja, the manager of the Gaza branch of the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA), is accused of having taken advantage of his position in TIKA in order to direct funds and resources away from “meaningful humanitarian projects” and toward Hamas’s military wing.

    Honestly, the entire reason I’m linking this story is to use this:

    (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)