Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

LinkSwarm for April 28, 2017

Friday, April 28th, 2017

It’s been a week, so enjoy an extra-late Friday LinkSwarm

  • There’s lots of meat in President Trump’s tax reform proposal:

    Individual Reform

    Tax relief for American families, especially middle-income families:

  • Reducing the 7 tax brackets to 3 tax brackets of to%, 25% and 35%
  • Doubling the standard deduction
  • Providing tax relief for families with child and dependent care expenses
  • Simplification:

  • Eliminate targeted tax breaks that mainly benefit the wealthiest taxpayers
  • Protect the home ownership and charitable gift tax deductions
  • Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax
  • Repeal the death tax
  • Repeal the 3.8% Obamacare tax that hits small businesses and investment income
  • Business Reform

  • 15% business tax rate
  • Territorial tax system to level the playing field for American companies
  • One-time tax on trillions of dollars held overseas
  • Eliminate tax breaks for special interests
  • Texas House passes anti-Santuary City bill that fines officials for violating federal immigration laws.
  • North Korean ballistic missile test fails. Cue the sad trombone.

  • Obama’s Iran deal was even worse than we thought. “By dropping charges against major arms targets, the administration infuriated Justice Department officials — and undermined its own counterproliferation task forces.”
  • If Democrats keep moving left, they could experience another election like 1972:

    The highest-profile Democratic-party supporters are increasingly smug Hollywood actors, rich Wall Street and Silicon Valley elitists, and embittered members of the media, along with careerist identity groups and assorted protest movements — a fossilized 1972 echo chamber.

    Democrats’ politically correct messaging derides opponents as deplorable racists, sexists, bigots, xenophobes, homophobes, Islamophobes, and nativists. That shrill invective only further turns off Middle America. Being merely anti-Trump is no more a successful Democratic agenda than being anti-Nixon was in 1972.

  • If the election were held today, Trump would still beat Clinton.
  • Former Mayor of Hubbard, Ohio pleads guilty to raping a four year old. Go ahead, guess which party he’s a member of.
  • The Other McCain does his part for sexual assault awareness month.
  • The media does indeed live in a bubble, both geographic and ideological, of its own making.
  • Hundreds of illegal voters in North Carolina. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Nancy Pelosi: tried, drunk or stroke? (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • 107 Cancer Papers Retracted Due To Peer Review Fraud. But don’t worry: All climate science is completely on the level…
  • When Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke swore up and down he never hire any campaign consultants, what he meant was he’d hire some.
  • “Facebook and Google confirmed as victims of $100M phishing scam.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • President Trump as a systems thinking President.
  • NYPD corruption scandal. Bribes? Check. Guns? Check. Prostitutes? Check. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Marine Le Pen heads to a runoff with Emmanuel Macron on May 7. Is there a better figurehead for modern Globalism than a Socialist investment banker?
  • Dishonest medical equipment startup Theranos used a shell company to secretly buy outside lab equipment to actually run the lab tests they were faking as coming from their own equipment. And check out that picture caption: “[CEO] Elizabeth Holmes speaks at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting.” Because of course she did.
  • Liberals love denouncing the imaginary Christian theocracy of The Handmaid’s Tale (now a miniseries) because it keeps them from having to think about the real Islamic ones oppressing women all over the world right at this very moment.
  • Related: “Lesbian Couple Discover Islamic Culture During Exciting International Trip.”
  • “When God sends a Plague of Wild Boars against you, he’s done sending messages, and is now sending armored bacon.”
  • Less than half of Democrats know a gun owner.
  • Richard Gere blacklisted in Hollywood on China’s orders.
  • Sonny Bunch has some “helpful” advice for Democrats. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Nordstrom selling $425 fake muddy jeans. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • You too can own a baseball inscribed to Justice Antonin Scalia by Joe DiMaggio.
  • “My Boyfriend Ate Nothing But Pineapple For A Week And Now His Dick Is Covered In Bees.”
  • 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.
  • More Susan Rice Domestic Surveillance Fallout

    Thursday, April 6th, 2017

    The fallout continues from the Susan Rice/Obama Administration domestic surveillance “unmasking” scandal:

  • The Trump campaign wasn’t the Obama Administration’s first use of America’s National Security intelligence gathering against domestic targets. They first used them against supporters of Israel and opponents of Obama’s Iran deal:

    “At some point, the administration weaponized the NSA’s legitimate monitoring of communications of foreign officials to stay one step ahead of domestic political opponents,” says a pro-Israel political operative who was deeply involved in the day-to-day fight over the Iran Deal. “The NSA’s collections of foreigners became a means of gathering real-time intelligence on Americans engaged in perfectly legitimate political activism—activism, due to the nature of the issue, that naturally involved conversations with foreigners. We began to notice the White House was responding immediately, sometimes within 24 hours, to specific conversations we were having. At first, we thought it was a coincidence being amplified by our own paranoia. After a while, it simply became our working assumption that we were being spied on.”

    This is what systematic abuse of foreign-intelligence collection for domestic political purposes looks like: Intelligence collected on Americans, lawmakers, and figures in the pro-Israel community was fed back to the Obama White House as part of its political operations. The administration got the drop on its opponents by using classified information, which it then used to draw up its own game plan to block and freeze those on the other side. And—with the help of certain journalists whose stories (and thus careers) depend on high-level access—terrorize them.

    Two inquiries now underway on Capitol Hill, conducted by the Senate intelligence committee and the House intelligence committee, may discover the extent to which Obama administration officials unmasked the identities of Trump team members caught in foreign-intelligence intercepts. What we know so far is that Obama administration officials unmasked the identity of one Trump team member, Michael Flynn, and leaked his name to the Washington Post’s David Ignatius.

    “According to a senior U.S. government official,” Ignatius wrote in his Jan. 12 column, “Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials as well as other measures in retaliation for the hacking. What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions?”

    Nothing, the Times and the Post later reported. But exposing Flynn’s name in the intercept for political purposes was an abuse of the national-security apparatus, and leaking it to the press is a crime.

    This is familiar territory. In spying on the representatives of the American people and members of the pro-Israel community, the Obama administration learned how far it could go in manipulating the foreign-intelligence surveillance apparatus for its own domestic political advantage. In both instances, the ostensible targets—Israel and Russia—were simply instruments used to go after the real targets at home.

    In order to spy on U.S. congressmen before the Iran Deal vote, the Obama administration exploited a loophole, which is described in the original Journal article. The U.S. intelligence community is supposed to keep tabs on foreign officials, even those representing allies. Hence, everyone in Washington knows that Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer is under surveillance. But it’s different for his American interlocutors, especially U.S. lawmakers, whose identities are, according to NSA protocol, supposed to be, at the very least, redacted. But the standard for collecting and disseminating “intercepted communications involving U.S. lawmakers” is much less strict if it is swept up through “foreign-foreign” intercepts, for instance between a foreign ambassador and his capital. Washington, i.e. the seat of the American government, is where foreign ambassadors are supposed to meet with American officials. The Obama administration turned an ancient diplomatic convention inside out—foreign ambassadors were so dangerous that meeting them signaled betrayal of your own country.

    During the long and contentious lead-up to the Iran Deal the Israeli ambassador was regularly briefing senior officials in Jerusalem, including the prime minister, about the situation, including his meetings with American lawmakers and Jewish community leaders. The Obama administration would be less interested in what the Israelis were doing than in the actions of those who actually had the ability to block the deal—namely, Senate and House members. The administration then fed this information to members of the press, who were happy to relay thinly veiled anti-Semitic conceits by accusing deal opponents of dual loyalty and being in the pay of foreign interests.

    Snip.

    The reason the prior abuse of the foreign-intelligence surveillance apparatus is clear only now is because the Russia campaign has illuminated it. As The New York Timesreported last month, the administration distributed the intelligence gathered on the Trump transition team widely throughout government agencies, after it had changed the rules on distributing intercepted communications. The point of distributing the information so widely was to “preserve it,” the administration and its friends in the press explained—“preserve” being a euphemism for “leak.” The Obama team seems not to have understood that in proliferating that material they have exposed themselves to risk, by creating a potential criminal trail that may expose systematic abuse of foreign-intelligence collection.

    (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)

  • The question of which (if any) laws the Obama Administration broke is secondary to the bigger question of abuse of power:

    Abuses of power are offenses against the public trust. They often overlap with a criminal offense, but they are not the same thing as a criminal offense. For example, a politician who accepts money in exchange for political favors commits both the crime of bribery and an impeachable offense of corruption. The jurors in the bribery case need not find that the politician breached his public trust; they need only find an intentional quid pro quo — payoff in exchange for favor. By contrast, the breach of public trust is central to the impeachment case: To remove the pol from office, there would be no need to prove the legal elements of a criminal bribery charge beyond a reasonable doubt, but it would have to be demonstrated that the politician is unfit for office. If it is a petty bribe, a prosecutor might ignore it, but the public should want to throw the bum out.

    This is why a “high crime and misdemeanor” — the constitutional standard for impeachment — need not be an indictable criminal offense. It may be a chargeable crime, but it need not be one.

    A famous example (though one not much remarked on during the last several years) is the second article of impeachment against President Richard M. Nixon. It alleged (my italics):

    Using the powers of the office of President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in disregard of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has repeatedly engaged in conduct violating the constitutional rights of citizens, impairing the due and proper administration of justice and the conduct of lawful inquiries, or contravening the laws governing agencies of the executive branch and the purpose[s] of these agencies.

    The impeachment allegation went on to describe how Nixon had, among other things, directed the FBI, CIA, and IRS to investigate innocent Americans for reasons unrelated to national security or law enforcement. For the most part, these directives were not violations of penal statutes. But they were, individually and collectively, heinous abuses of presidential power warranting impeachment.

    If the new reporting is to be believed, Rice orchestrated the unmasking of communications involving the Democrats’ political rivals — the Trump campaign. Her current stress on the lawfulness of the intelligence collection is a straw man. No credible commentator is claiming (based on what we currently know) that the intelligence-collection activities of the FBI, CIA, and NSA were illegal. As I explained yesterday in my aforementioned column, the surveillance and collection operations were undertaken pursuant to statute (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) as well as to the president’s constitutional authority to collect foreign intelligence (the exercise of which authority is laid out in a longstanding executive order, EO 12,333).

  • Susan Rice is a crummy liar.
  • “Funny how no ‘unmasking’ was done for the Hillary campaign:”

    CNN and a lot of the media aren’t covering the Rice story at all, but when the Associated Press, the New York Times, and others report it, many say the Trump administration is trying to divert attention from the Trump-Russia collusion story. The media present the Trump-Russia collusion story as true even though there is absolutely nothing yet to show that. They present the claim that Trump was spied on as a false story even though we have 100% proof that Trump people were listened to and that the information was leaked to the press.

    Anyone who believes that Trump wasn’t specifically targeted for political reasons probably still believes that the Benghazi killings were caused by a video, that Obama had no idea the IRS was targeting political opponents, that Obama had no idea Hillary was violating the law by using a non-secure server until three years after she left, that Obama had no idea his administration was gun-running to Mexico, and that Hillary and her aides had no intent to break the law.

    The media and Democrats should be absolutely ashamed that they haven’t had any concern about facts for a long time. If there is any collusion, it is between the media and Democrats to destroy Trump, no matter what the facts are.

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • “Why is mainstream media trying to cover up the Susan Rice story?”

    The New York Times, for example, didn’t feature the Rice story at all on Monday. And in the piece it did publish buried on page A16 that was hilariously titled, “Trump Tries to Deflect Russia Scrutiny, Citing ‘Crooked Scheme’ by Obama,” the paper of record shrugged off the controversy because the story came from “conservative news media outlets.”

    You know, “conservative” like the impossibly down-the-middle Eli Lake of Bloomberg View or via an objective reporter like Fox’s Adam Housley.

    The Washington Post also failed to feature the story in any capacity either, instead relegating it to a blog post that referred to the Rice story as a “fake scandal.” Democracy dies in darkness, as they say.

    “Fake scandal” was also the way CNN anchor Chris Cuomo described the story to viewers of “New Day” on Tuesday.

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.) Of course, to ask the question is to answer it:

  • “The media only has an interest in intrigue when it involves Republicans.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • The House Intelligence Panel wants Susan Rice to testify.
  • Scott Adams: “We don’t know all the facts yet, but we do know that Trump’s claim of being “wiretapped” by Obama is starting to look dangerously close to something similar to the truth. CNN did not see that coming, and it would be awkward to walk-back all of their mocking. So they just sort of ignored it.”
  • LinkSwarm for February 17, 2017

    Friday, February 17th, 2017

    Welcome to another Friday LinkSwarm! Absent from this roundup is who really got National Security Advisor Mike Flynn axed, because there’s not enough time in the world to read all those links…

  • Illegal alien convicted of that voting fraud Democrats swear doesn’t exit. Pro-tip: One key to avoiding deportations is to avoid committing felonies… (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • “If a border wall stopped a small fraction of the illegal immigrants who are expected to come in the next decade, the fiscal savings from having fewer illegal immigrants in the country would be sufficient to cover the costs of the wall.”
  • Revised executive travel order coming soon?
  • Former Democratic Senator Jim Webb has a message for Democrats:

    The Democrats have not done the kind of self reflection that they should have, starting in 2010. And I was talking about this in the ’10 elections. You’ve lost white working people, you’ve lost flyover land, and you saw in this election what happens when people get frustrated enough that they say, ‘I’m not going to take this Aristocracy.’ You know Bernie’s a good friend of mine, Bernie can talk about Aristocracies all he wants.

    You know, the fact that you’ve made money doesn’t make you a member of that philosophy. Look at Franklin Roosevelt. But there is an Aristocracy now that pervades American politics, it’s got to be broken somehow, in both parties, and I think that’s what the Trump message was that echoed so strongly in these flyover communities.

    One wonders if Webb was using “flyover country” for emphasis, or if Democrats actually use “flyover country” seriously when taking amongst themselves. If so, they might add that to the list of reasons middle America hates Democratic coastal elites…

  • Obama vastly increased the NSA’s powers on his way out the door. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • This Politico piece on thinkers that have influenced Steve Bannon (and thus President Trump) is neither to be taken entirely at face value, nor dismissed out of hand. It includes mention of Curtis Yarvin AKA Mencius Moldbug AKA “the Urbit guy” that Social Justice Warriors keep trying to keep from speaking, as well as the author of the much-cited “Flight 93 Election” manifesto. They’re interesting thinkers, but I rather doubt they’re at the center of Trump’s political ideas.
  • Over 100 rioters from President Trump’s inauguration indicted on rioting charges.
  • Trump and the GOP congress have already cut $2.8 billion in regulations. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “The EU country whose brutal crackdown on Muslim migrants makes Trump look liberal.” Spoiler: It’s Hungary.
  • Woman who lived under Hitler says Trump isn’t Hitler.
  • Iowa follows Wisconsin’s lead on reigning in the power of public sector unions.
  • Prominent Jewish Democrats are increasing uneasy with Keith Ellison as DNC chair. “‘It’s almost like the Democrats want to entirely destroy their party,’ [Democratic New York state assemblyman Dov] Hikind said. ‘When someone like Ellison can be a leading candidate to be the head of a major party, we’re in a lot of trouble.'”
  • Pro-Palestinian reporter changes his mind after living in Israel for 18 months:

    Before I moved to Jerusalem, I was very pro-Palestinian. Almost everyone I knew was. I grew up Protestant in a quaint, politically correct New England town; almost everyone around me was liberal. And being liberal in America comes with a pantheon of beliefs: You support pluralism, tolerance and diversity. You support gay rights, access to abortion and gun control.

    The belief that Israel is unjustly bullying the Palestinians is an inextricable part of this pantheon. Most progressives in the US view Israel as an aggressor, oppressing the poor noble Arabs who are being so brutally denied their freedom.

    Snip.

    IT WASN’T until the violence became personal that I began to see the Israeli side with greater clarity. As the “Stabbing Intifada” (as it later became known) kicked into full gear, I traveled to the impoverished East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan for a story I was writing.

    As soon as I arrived, a Palestinian kid who was perhaps 13 years old pointed at me and shouted “Yehud!” which means “Jew” in Arabic. Immediately, a large group of his friends who’d been hanging out nearby were running toward me with a terrifying sparkle in their eyes. “Yehud! Yehud!” they shouted. I felt my heart start to pound. I shouted at them in Arabic “Ana mish yehud! Ana mish yehud!” (“I’m not Jewish, I’m not Jewish!”) over and over. I told them, also in Arabic, that I was an American journalist who “loved Palestine.” They calmed down after that, but the look in their eyes when they first saw me is something I’ll never forget. Later, at a house party in Amman, I met a Palestinian guy who’d grown up in Silwan. “If you were Jewish, they probably would have killed you,” he said.

    Snip.

    Even the kindest, most educated, upper-class Palestinians reject 100 percent of Israel ‒ not just the occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank. They simply will not be content with a two-state solution ‒ what they want is to return to their ancestral homes in Ramle and Jaffa and Haifa and other places in 1948 Israel, within the Green Line. And they want the Israelis who live there now to leave. They almost never speak of coexistence; they speak of expulsion, of taking back “their” land.

  • UK journalists heads explode when Trump’s climate advisor tells them the truth. (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Gay liberal New York writer does even-handed profile of Milo…and is instantly ostracized. “I realized that, for the first time in my adult life, I was outside of the liberal bubble and looking in. What I saw was ugly, lock step, incurious and mean-spirited.”
  • The MSM lose their minds when Trump lets outlets other than themselves ask questions.
  • The media spends months complaining Trump won’t let them ask question, then complains when he does because they don’t like the answers.
  • Ann Althouse watches President Trump’s press conference so I don’t have to.
  • The New York Times is very upset President Trump is fighting back. “The constant Moonbat attacks on Trump are one of the reasons Trump won. And Trump knows that the vast majority of the media, which votes Democrat and allows their person political beliefs to color all their coverage, will never give him a chance and or honest coverage so why not fight back?” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Islamic State suicide bomber kills 100 at Sufi mosque in Pakistan.
  • Paris burns again.
  • Putin is cozying up Iran just as it’s suffering the same demographic crash affecting so many nations:

    Iran is dying, and no one knows it better than Vladimir Putin, who worked successfully to raise Russia’s fertility rate, unlike Iran’s theocrats, who have failed to persuade Iranians to have children.

    Russia’s relationship to the only Shi’ite state of significance is less an alliance than a dalliance, motivated by Moscow’s fear of Sunni radicalism and its desire to establish a strategic beachhead in the Middle East.

    But Iran is a depreciating asset whose value will disappear within a 20-year horizon. The question is not whether, but at what price Russia will trade it away.

    Snip.

    First, Iran may well become the first country in the world that will get old before it gets rich. Its fertility rate (the number of live births over the lifetime of an average woman) fell from 7 in 1979 to perhaps 1.7 today.

    That produced an enormous generation of people now in their 20s to 40s who have very few children. As this generation ages, the proportion of Iranians over the age of 60 will soar from about 7% today to around 40% by mid-century.

    Other countries face an aging crisis, but with ten times the per capita income: Iran’s nominal GDP per capita is only US$5,300, compared with US$56,000 for the United States, for example.No poor country can care for an elderly population comprising two-fifths of the total. Iran will undergo an economic disaster unprecedented in history. That is baked in the cake, and nothing its government can do will make much different at this late stage.

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • Louisiana Democrat state senator resigns after repeatedly beating his wife.
  • New York coop provides a microcosm of why Socialism doesn’t work:

    The year isn’t off to a good start for the Park Slope Food Coop. In January, two members of the venerable Brooklyn institution were accused of stealing more than $18,000 worth of goods. Each had been caught shoplifting once, and when police consulted surveillance tapes, it turned out that the two men (one of whom was 79 years old!) had some seriously sticky fingers.

    Snip.

    In 2013, The New York Times reported the shop lost $438,000 in stolen items.

    But that’s only a drop in the bucket compared to the value that’s recently been lost from the coop’s pension fund. The fund — which is for staff, not members — had been invested in small, speculative companies and racked up two years of losses.

    According to the Times, “It appears to have gone into hedge-fund mode years ago, when one co-op member, also a hedge-fund investor, made stock-picking his unpaid job.” Last summer, members were told that the coop had to pour in more than $1 million to keep it flush.

    Snip.

    In 2011, for instance, coop members were caught paying other people — notably their nannies — to take over their 2-hour-per-week shifts at the market. As it turned out, the well-heeled bankers and lawyers and psychiatrists in the neighborhood who bill several hundred dollars an hour for their time didn’t think rearranging the broccoli was worth it.

    Hat tip: Instapundit, who also offers up the following illustration:

  • Blocking a road? Expect the NYPD to haul your ass to jail. (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • More problems for Bill Clinton’s pal: “Pedophile Jeffrey Epstein is accused of luring an underage girl into his elaborate sex trafficking enterprise under the guise of using his wealth and connections to get her into a prestige NYC college.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Bill Maher defends booking Milo Yiannopoulos in the face of liberal boycotts.
  • Dear diabetics: You know that “U.S. ends subsidies for blood sugar testing strips” thing your more credulous friends posted on Facebook? Debunked.
  • Austin health food chain MyFitFoods shuts down.
  • Rare book heist in London: “In the early morning hours of January 30, a gang of thieves, in a carefully coordinated scheme, broke into a warehouse near London’s Heathrow airport and made off with over £2 million in rare books. The books, belonging to three different rare book dealers, were being shipped to the United States for the 50th Annual California International Antiquarian Book Fair this past weekend.” Complete list here. (Hat tip: Bill Crider.)
  • He contains multitudes:

  • He divided them.
  • Aleppo Falls

    Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

    The Syrian city of Aleppo has fallen to pro-Assad forces. This was an all-but-inevitable result, given the Russian airpower backing Bashar Assad and the disorganized nature of the opposing forces and the desultory backing those forces received from the likes of Saudi Arabia and, intermittently, a feckless Obama Administration.

    The reduction of Aleppo had all the hallmarks of modern urban siege warfare: grinding, bloody and merciless. (Having advisors from a military with extensive institutional experience with it (Stalingrad, Grozny) probably helped Assad.) Many western observers wailed about the horror of it, evidently unaware either than this is the way modern urban warfare is fought, or that Bashar Assad’s father Hafez was every bit as ruthless in destroying Hama in 1982 as his son was in the investment of Aleppo. Endless heart-tugging pictures of bloody children aren’t going to change the ruthless nature of Middle East conflict, nor obscure the fact that America had no good options in Syria. Remember, there were no good sides in the Syrian civil war, and no faction worth backing.

    The wider Syrian civil war still grinds on, as does the war against the Islamic State and the wider Sunni-Shia conflict (never mind that Alawites are about as Shia as Lutherans are Jewish). If Obama’s goal was to engender a Sunni-Shia civil war throughout the Middle East (and there’s a grimly Machiavellian case to be made that this might be in the best long-term interests of the United States), he’s done a bang-up job. Otherwise Obama’s policy there (like the rest of the world) has been an unmitigated disaster. Foes like Iran and Russia feel contempt for us, while erstwhile allies like the Saudis (who are, indeed, scumbags, though preferable to whatever nightmare Islamic caliphate would replace them were they to fall) no longer trust us. (And indeed, have even less reason to do so now that Obama has cut off precision munitions sales to them over targeting policy in Yemen, a position both irrationally petulant and deeply ineffectual.)

    Those worried about the effect Donald Trump’s inexperience might have on our Middle East policy needn’t. How could he do worse?

    Concrete: Border Walls and Battlefields

    Sunday, November 20th, 2016

    Since one of my readers has a keen interest in concrete (hello, Andrew!), I though this round up on the battlefield uses of concrete would be of interest. And by “interest” I mean “slow Sunday filler.”

    One of the first uses for concrete on the battlefield was in response to growing numbers of IEDs. As early as 2004, the major tactical and technical focus in Iraq was oriented at stopping these roadside bombs. One of the primary tactics used to fight the IED threat was to line every major road with twelve-foot-tall concrete T-walls. Soldiers spent days, weeks, and months lining first every major highway and then other, smaller roads with concrete barriers. At over $600 a barrier, the cost of concrete during the eight years of the Iraq War was billions of dollars.

    o be sure, concrete walls did not eliminate the IED threat. As with any protective obstacle, they should have been under direct observation, which was not always feasible. Consequently, the enemy adapted by placing IEDs in or on top of barriers. They also used advanced forms of IEDs from foreign sources—explosively formed penetrators, many of which US military officials believe originated in Iran—that could penetrate any concrete wall. This allowed IEDs to be placed on the opposite, non-road side of barriers. But the concrete walls did take away the ease of access for enemy forces to emplace IEDs, degrade the lethality of their homemade devices, and forced them towards specialized materials that could be interdicted at checkpoints—which themselves were most effective when concrete walls were used to canalize traffic to them. They also took away the ability of insurgents to freely transit Baghdad with large, vehicle-borne IEDs, which created mass casualties and threatened the authority of the Iraqi government.

    IEDs were not the only major threat to American forces. Shortly after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, US forces also began to come under direct attack by mortars and rockets in their outposts and bases. These attacks became even more dangerous when US forces moved out of large bases and into smaller outposts deep in cities and among the populations, where the ability to maintain safe standoff distances or retaliate to indirect fire was difficult for fear of causing civilian casualties. Again, the solution was concrete. Slabs were placed to form not only the walls of compounds, but also walls around and bunkers between every structure within them. This significantly reduced the effects of any enemy incoming fire.

    They also used concrete to besiege Sadr City:

    In March 2008, in what would later be called the Battle for Sadr City, coalition forces weaponized concrete. Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr had ended a standing ceasefire in response to the government of Iraq’s offensive in the southern, mainly Shiite city of Basra, and set in motion large-scale attacks by loyal members of Jaish al-Mahdi (JAM), the Sadrists’ armed militia, against coalition and Iraqi forces across Baghdad. Their attacks included overrunning Iraqi security forces’ checkpoints, infesting Baghdad’s roads with IEDs, and launching 107-mm rockets and mortar fire at targets in Baghdad, including the International Zone (aka the Green Zone).

    The keys to the enemy’s operation were their resources and support within Sadr City. This Shiite enclave is over thirteen square miles in size and, at the time of the battle, was estimated to have over two million residents. Coalition forces had previously conducted successful raids against JAM leadership in Sadr City. But any element that went into Sadr City had only a few minutes to get in and out before JAM forces were able to swarm like killer bees on the intruders. Finally, after an October 2007 air strike that killed a number of civilians, the Iraqi prime minister placed Sadr City off limits to US forces. This entire sector of Baghdad was a safe haven for enemy forces from which to launch attacks, and a no-go area without express permission from the highest command levels.

    In response to the situation, the US forces basically engaged in siege warfare. But atypical to historic examples, instead of attacking to break through fortified wall, they imposed the siege on the enemy by building walls. Reminiscent of a medieval siege engine, each night US forces drove up to the limits off Sadr City with massive cranes and trucks loaded with twelve-foot-tall T-walls. On a good night, soldiers could emplace over 122 barriers. Enemy forces attacked the soldiers putting in the walls and it was not uncommon to be hanging concrete while attack helicopters, tanks, and Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles returned fire.

    Within thirty days, soldiers emplaced over 3,000 T-wall sections to create a three-mile wall that interconnected with previously emplaced walls and ultimately completed the encirclement of Sadr City. The wall successfully restricted the ability of JAM to move supplies and conduct attacks outside the now-enclosed enclave, took away critical firing points outside the wall from which the International Zone was within range of their rockets and mortars, and created checkpoints were known terrorists could be separated from the population. Iraqi security forces and US soldiers did enter the city to clear major sections, but the wall allowed them to reduce external attacks and conduct operations at their initiative.

    Their very effectiveness is the real reason Democrats oppose building the wall along the Mexico border: Walls work.

    In other concrete news:

  • Other effective walls liberals hate include those Israel built around the West Bank and Gaza, which have radically reduced terrorist attacks by Palestinians. Lebanon must have leaned something from that approach, because now they’re building a tall concrete wall and watchtowers “around the Ain al-Hilweh [Palestinian] refugee camp in the southern Lebanese city of Sidon.”
  • Concrete that protects electronics from EMP attack.
  • In the “new-to-me” category, evidently concrete canvas is now available for both military and civilian uses.
  • (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)

    FBI Reopens EmailGate Probe—Did Hillary Get Weinered?

    Friday, October 28th, 2016

    No sooner do I put up the latest Clinton Corruption update when all hell breaks lose:

    FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers Friday the bureau is reviewing new information related to Hillary Clinton’s personal email server, a political bombshell that comes 11 days ahead of the election.
    After recommending earlier this year that the Department of Justice not press charges against the former secretary of state, Comey said in a letter to eight congressional committee chairmen that investigators are examining newly discovered emails that “appear to be pertinent” to the email probe.

    “In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear pertinent to the investigation,” Comey wrote the chairmen. “I am writing to inform you that the investigative team briefed me on this yesterday, and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.”

    In an apparently paywalled story, the New York Times is claiming that the new emails came not from the zillions of WikiLeaks emails, but from Anthony Weiner’s personal electronic devices.

    weinered

    On top of that, Attorney General Loretta Lynch has now declined to cooperate with a congressional investigation into the Iran money-for-hostages deal.

    It appears as though people who claimed that Hillary had the election in the bag were a tad premature…

    LinkSwarm for January 5, 2016

    Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

    I hope everyone else has had a happier New Year than I, since my father passed away after a long battle with cancer Sunday.

    On the plus side, I saw the new Star Wars and the Texans made the playoffs. Doesn’t quite balance out, though…

  • Remember: It’s OK to rape 13-year olds as long as you’re a well-connected Democratic Party donor. Remember, this is the case that had Bill Clinton taking the Lolita Express to Pedophile Island.
  • “Nobody needed criminal convictions to drop Cosby – just multiple accusations of sexual assault and some out-of-court payouts. But multiple accusations of sexual assault, out-of-court payouts and the loss of his law license are apparently not enough to bar Bill Clinton from another eight years in the White House.”
  • Hillary Cliton’s many conflicts of interest:

    At Hillary Clinton’s confirmation hearing for secretary of state, she promised she would take “extraordinary steps…to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.”

    Later, more than two dozen companies and groups and one foreign government paid former President Bill Clinton a total of more than $8 million to give speeches around the time they also had matters before Mrs. Clinton’s State Department, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.

    Fifteen of them also donated a total of between $5 million and $15 million to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, the family’s charity, according to foundation disclosures.

  • Six things a Washington Post reporter found out following Ted Cruz around. “The majority of the undecided voters I have spoken with have said they were very impressed after hearing Cruz speak. Many of them said they were undecided coming into a rally and supported him when it was over.”
  • Obama to judicial branch: “Screw you, I’m going to give work permits to illegal aliens you’ve ordered deported.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • “Unfortunately, 2016, the little of it that we have so far seen, is already beginning to look like another year of Grim Slide, of a world stumbling down a slippery slope to become less secure, less stable, and less free.”
  • People are forgetting what an awful festering hellhole the Soviet Union was.
  • Iran and Saudi Arabia have severed diplomatic relations over Saudi execution of a Shiite cleric, and Kuwait has recalled their ambassador from Tehran; don’t be surprised if the other Sunni nations follow suit. Good thing we have a Nobel Peace Prize winner in the White House…
  • Turkey’s Prime Minister: Hey, you know who was a model of effective leadership? Adolf Hitler.
  • Swiss General: Europe “On The Verge Of Civil War,” Citizens Must Arm Themselves.
  • Oslo police: “We Have Lost the City.”

    It looks like Karachi, Basra, and Mogadishu all rolled into one. People sell drugs openly just next to the Gronland subway station.

    It’s not Norway or Europe anymore, except when there is welfare money to be collected. The police have largely given up. Early in 2010 Aftenposten stated that there are sharia patrols in this area, and gay couples are assaulted and chased away.

  • Mass sexual assaults involving up to 1,000 Arab men on New Year’s Eve in Cologne.
  • “IRS Employee Whose Job Was Assisting Victims Of Identity Theft Charged In $1 Million Identity Theft Tax Fraud.” (Hat tip: Instapundit)
  • Rahm Emanuel’s failure in Chicago is emblematic of the blue model failure in America’s cities. “The city’s bloated pension obligations have already forced Emanuel to make severe education cuts. It will continue to force cuts in city services in various cities, making it harder and harder for mayors to govern, and increasing the antagonism among various constituencies.”
  • Murder rates drop as concealed carry permits soar.” Plus this: “Between 2012 and 2014 the number of black permit holders increased from 10,389 to 17,594, according to the report.”
  • Mississippi Democratic City Councilman urges constituents to hurl rocks and bricks at the police.
  • Armed mother successfully defends home and children against three armed thugs. But gun-grabbers want to disarm her
  • Bahamas resort project gives in to Chinese demands to secure more construction loans. Result: Bankruptcy.
  • Ben Carson’s campaign staff quits. There’s a reason president of the United States isn’t an entry-level job…
  • Former feminist now a pro-life activist who is disillusioned with feminism. (Hat tip: John C. Wright.)
  • Confessions of a social justice warrior white knight. “Their communities thrive on self loathing disguised as elitism…SJWs insist their goal is to make everyone equal, and for a long time I believed it, but their communities actually enforce factionalism and division.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Wendy Davis: Still digging.
  • The NSA Spied on Congress

    Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

    So the NSA spied on congress in the course of spying on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    NSA snooping allegedly found Netanyahu and his aides leaked details of the negotiations gained through Israeli spying, coordinated talking points with Jewish-American groups against the deal and asked those lawmakers who were undecided on the deal how it could get their vote, according to the report.

    The administration decided that monitoring Netanyahu served a “compelling national security purpose,” according to the Journal, which cited unnamed current and former U.S. officials.

    Of course, the “compelling national security purpose” was that Netanyahu was making Obama look bad by opposing his asinine Iran nuke deal.

    When you’re as lawless as the Obama Administration, and spy on as many people as the NSA spies on, Stuff Happens. Including, evidently, Separation of Powers violations.

    Is there any abuse of power by the Obama Administration that would surprise us at this point?

    (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

    $500 Million for 54 Syrian Rebels?

    Saturday, September 19th, 2015

    Anyone paying attention has long known what a miserable failure Obama’s Syrian strategy (such as it is) against Bashar Assad has been. But only recently has it come to light just how ridiculously expensive that miserable failure has been:

    The aim was to identify reasonably secular moderate fighters in Syria, transfer them to third-party countries in the region, train them, equip them, and reintroduce them into the theater of operations. By August of this year and $500 million later, the Pentagon acknowledged that only 54 Syrian rebels had been prepared for combat. Less than a month later, almost all of them had been killed or captured.

    $500 Million for 54 guys? What were they, hand-crafted artisanal rebels? Where did the money go? Did they hire Damien Hirst to make each of their 54 uniforms? Did each of the 54 make a $1 million donation to the Clinton Foundation? Even by the pathetic standards of the Obama Administration that’s a ridiculous amount of graft, fraud and waste. You could easily have trained and equipped an effective mercenary brigade for that much money.

    There were actual reasons to support the removal of Assad early in the Obama Administration, but the rise of the Islamic State rendered most of them obsolete. Now that Obama and Kerry have rolled over to let Assad’s paymasters in Tehran rub their furry bellies, there’s no point in pretending to equip opposition fighters beyond Obama’s desire to keep up the facade of a Syrian policy as a sop to his wounded vanity.

    Since Obama can’t topple Assad and is singularly unwilling to fight a real war against the Islamic State, at this point we should probably just let Iran, Syria and Russia try their hands at crushing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s barbaric caliphate. A long, grinding Sunni-Shia civil war in Mesopotamia is probably among the least bad outcomes available for the region after Obama’s serial bungling…

    (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll on Instapundit.)