Posts Tagged ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’

LinkSwarm for June 23, 2017

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • LinkSwarm for June 16, 2017

    Friday, June 16th, 2017

    Briefer than normal due to a packed schedule today:

  • Coalition forces continue to advance in the Islamic State capital of Raqqa.
  • Speaking of Raqqa, Russia is saying one of its airstrikes there may have killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Great news if true, but right now the report should be taken with several grains of salt.
  • Illinois bonds headed toward junk status.
  • “Mueller Hires Clinton Foundation Lawyer for Russia Probe.” Transparent this is not… (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) reported that in the last six years around 220,000 criminal aliens have been booked in Texas jails. DHS confirmed to DPS that at least 148,000 or 66% of those criminal aliens had entered the U.S. illegally.”
  • “Qatar’s financial system is running out of dollars.”
  • ObamaCare is failing. “Not one Republican voted for Obamacare. A Democratic Congress passed and a Democratic president signed the legislation over the loud objections of the GOP. Conservative activists and legal groups fought tooth and nail to prevent its roll-out, and when that failed, they repeatedly warned it was doomed to failure.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • And some ObamaCare premiums have increased by more than 100% in the last four years.
  • More of those peaceful Democrats: “FBI Investigates Package With ‘White Powdery Substance’ Sent to GOP Candidate in GA-6.”
  • This piece on the current state of the Democratic Party comes with caveats, namely: a.) Rolling Stone, b.) Obviously hostile to Republicans, Trump, etc., and c.) Lots of “Ra-ra isn’t Tom Perez great” flacking. But look beyond that and there’s a cold-eyed assessment of just how badly off Obama left the Democratic Party:

    The Democratic Party is in the worst shape of its modern history. The presidency of Barack Obama papered over the fact that the party was being hollowed out from below. Over Obama’s two terms, Democrats ceded 13 governorships to the GOP and stumbled from controlling six in 10 state legislatures to now barely one in three. Across federal and state government, Democrats have lost close to 1,000 seats. There are only six states where Democrats control both the legislature and the governor’s mansion.

    More troubling: Even amid the great upwelling of anti-Trump resistance, Democratic favorability ratings have continued to tumble since Election Day – to just 40 percent in a May Gallup poll. “Our negatives are almost as high as Trump’s, as far as party goes,” says Rep. Tim Ryan, a rugged Ohio Democrat serving Youngstown. Ryan led an unsuccessful 63-vote insurgency against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in November because, he says, “We weren’t winning.”

    There is no official accounting for this erosion of power and popularity. Unlike the GOP in the aftermath of Mitt Romney’s 2012 defeat, Democrats have not published post-mortems. But get party insiders talking – with anonymity exchanged for candor – and there’s little debate about how the party went sideways.

    Responsibility rests foremost at the feet of former President Barack Obama. As a candidate, Obama sidestepped the party’s next-in-line culture, riding into the White House on the strength of a then-revolutionary digital-and-grassroots machinery of his own creation. “Obama was almost like the anti-Democrat,” a former DNC chair tells Rolling Stone. “The president didn’t care about the Democratic Party.”

    Once in office, Obama had the weight of the world to bear. He staved off financial collapse and secured health insurance for an estimated 20 million Americans, leveraging the party’s infrastructure for these fights. “When you’re at the head of the DNC and you have the White House,” says Sen. Tim Kaine, who chaired the party from 2009 to 2011, “a lot of the job is about promoting the president’s agenda.” But Obama and his team neglected a far less heroic duty: the care and feeding of the national party, which Democrats had rebuilt during the Bush years with a “50-state strategy” that had empowered Obama with dominant Democratic majorities in Congress.

    The GOP took full advantage of the president’s disregard for party politics. The Tea Party vaulted Republicans to control of the U.S. House and statehouses across the country in 2010 – putting the party in the driver’s seat for the once-a-decade redrawing of legislative boundaries known as redistricting. The White House mounted no resistance. “The Obama team, David Axelrod, had no organized structural redistricting [game plan],” says a longtime Democratic strategist. “The Republicans just ran up the fucking score everywhere. They got two or three extra congressional seats in state after state after state, creating lasting struggles to get back to a majority.” Case in point: Democratic House candidates netted 1.3 million more votes than Republicans in 2012, but secured 33 fewer seats.

    The 50-state strategy devolved under Obama into a presidential-battleground strategy, leaving state parties starved for cash and leadership. “Obama didn’t put resources into local parties unless it was for his re-election effort,” says the former party chair. Making matters worse: Obama tapped ambitious Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz – a favorite of White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett – to run the DNC in 2011. “That congresswoman had no idea what she was doing,” adds the former chair.

    Wasserman Schultz went rogue. In a rift with the White House that spilled into a story on Politico, she was criticized for using the DNC as a vehicle for self-promotion, hoping the office would serve as a springboard into House leadership. The White House made overtures to oust Wasserman Schultz, but she dug in, promising an ugly fight that could tar the president as both anti-woman and anti-Semitic. (Wasserman Schultz, who was forced to resign in the aftermath of the Russian hack of the DNC, declined to participate in this story.)

    Obama dodged that fight, and instead fostered Organizing for Action, the grassroots group born of his campaigns. “They had a mirror organization that did just their politics, and it weakened the DNC,” says a source in House leadership. “It directed money elsewhere and was not in the interest of the long-term stability [of the party]. It was a selfish strategy.”

    The hobbled DNC’s chief remaining value was as a fundraising vehicle. For Obama, it “was like his ATM – and Clinton was the same,” says the former chair. Clinton pioneered a strategy that allowed her largest donors to give $10,000 to each of 32 state parties participating in her Victory Fund. But that money didn’t stay in the states. Instead, nearly every penny was hoovered up to the DNC for the benefit of Clinton’s election.

    Clinton today says she found the DNC to be a liability. In an onstage interview at a Recode tech conference in May, Clinton recalled, “I get the nomination. . . . I inherit nothing from the Democratic Party. It was bankrupt. . . . I had to inject money into it – the DNC – to keep it going.” Clinton then raised eyebrows by indicting the DNC’s data, which the party had inherited from the Obama re-election campaign. “Its data was mediocre to poor, nonexistent, wrong,” Clinton said. (The DNC’s former data chief hit back, tweeting that Clinton’s broadside was “fucking bullshit,” but declined to be interviewed.)

    Under Obama, the party infrastructure was honed to elect a president. And being a presidential party is a powerful thing – until you lose the White House. The Clinton campaign lost significantly on its own merits, though the party is loath to admit it. The same candidate who was caught flat-footed by the rise of Obama in 2008 found herself stunned by the grassroots surge behind Sen. Bernie Sanders. “And she was really surprised by how strong Trump was – and part of it was she just sucked,” says the Democratic strategist, who criticizes Clinton despite being entrenched in her center-left, pro-trade wing of the party. “At a really fundamental level we gotta get people to acknowledge what a fucking piece of shit her campaign was.”

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • CNN’s Jim Acosta flat out lies about President Trump’s visit to wounded Representative Steve Scalise’s hospital room. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • More lying from CNN:

  • New York Times editorial about Rep. Scalise’s shooting is not just a lie, it’s actually libelous.
  • New bill aims to eliminate “structuring” civil asset forfeiture abuse. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • A profile of radical Islamist and left-wing media darling Linda Sarsour. “Her rise, and the celebration of her by progressives as one of their own, demonstrates how clearly and phenomenally Jews and Jewish concerns are being written out of the progressive movement.”
  • “DOJ Moves To Seize DiCaprio’s Picasso, Rights To ‘Dumb and Dumber To’ As Part Of 1MDB Case.” Or “Hollywood accounting meets a Malaysian dictator, and hilarity ensues!”
  • MLA votes against Israel boycott.
  • How Indians scam their way to Australian citizenship, and how a crackdown on the practice may crash Sydney and Melbourne property values. (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • President Trump orders the federal government to stop working on the Y2K bug.
  • “Is this some kind of bust?” (Hat tip: Dwight, who also came up with the Police Squad! reference.)
  • “My Trip to a Marijuana Dispensary, the Happiest Place in Boulder.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • All the people Billy Martin brawled with.
  • U.S. Backed Forces Enter Islamic State Capital of Raqqa

    Saturday, June 10th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More from The Guardian:

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

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

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

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

    ISIS Livemap had this snapshot of the battle:

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

    And here’s video from Kurdistan 24:

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

    Is President Trump Behind Qatar Isolation?

    Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

    Sunday, June 4th, 2017

    This seems more than a regular diplomatic row:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    It’s worth a try…

    Philippines Invasion Update

    Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

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

    Much worse:

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

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

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

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

    DefenseOne offers up this map of the fighting.

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

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

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

    LinkSwarm for May 26, 2017

    Friday, May 26th, 2017

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

    Now on to the LinkSwarm!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Snip.

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

    Read the whole thing.

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

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

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

    (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)

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

    (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

  • A tweet:

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

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

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

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

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

    Philippines City Invaded By Islamic State Fighters

    Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    (Hat tip: Jihad Watch.)

    22 Dead in Manchester Jihad Attack

    Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

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

    The Islamic State has claimed responsibility.

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

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

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

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

    To which Instapundit replied:

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

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

    Feeling sad will not stop Islamic terrorism.

    Compassion will not stop Islamic terrorism.

    Candlelight vigils will not stop Islamic terrorism.

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

    Hashtags will not stop Islamic terrorism.

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

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

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

    Summarizing The Stupidity Of That Washington Post Trump Shared Intel Story

    Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

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

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

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

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