Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

LinkSwarm for February 16, 2018

Friday, February 16th, 2018

This has probably been my busiest February on record. Enjoy a complimentary Friday LinkSwarm, try the waitress and tip the veal:

  • “It’s doubtful you can find a more succinct example of TDS than a seemingly inebriated Democrat Senator asking the aggregate intelligence apparatus, during a public session of congress, to give specific details of U.S. covert intelligence efforts to thwart Russian, Chinese and North Korean cyber-warfare.” Democratic Senator Jack Reed continues to long, proud tradition of questionable Rhode Island political figures…
  • In January, the first month under the Trump tax cuts, the federal government pulls in record tax revenues and runs a surplus. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • “The Genius Of Trump’s Food Stamp Proposal: You’re Not Supposed To Like Being On Welfare.”
  • Michael Leeden thinks the Islamic Republic of Iran is doomed. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Reminder: Everytown’s “school shooting statistics” are pure fabrication.
  • Democrats Fleeing Blue States, Infecting Red States With Failed Liberal Disease.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Not only are a new German frigate’s computer systems FUBARed, but the ship can’t even float right.
  • Wired writer doesn’t understand the difference between “Islamist” and “Muslim.”
  • “In Wake Of Corruption Trials, Maryland Ponders Disbanding Baltimore Police Department.”
  • For Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez, illegal aliens are more important than bullet-proof vests for officers.
  • Asian student at Harvard discovers that identity politics is a dead end.
  • Stop Trying To Shove Women Into STEM.” “There’s this big push to get girls into STEM — while there’s no commensurate push to get women into oil rig work, no complaints that there aren’t enough women hanging off the back of garbage trucks.” Also:

    We’ve recently found that countries renowned for gender equality show some of the largest sex differences in interest in and pursuit of STEM degrees, which is not only inconsistent with an oppression narrative, it is positive evidence against it. Consider that Finland excels in gender equality, its adolescent girls outperform boys in science, and it ranks near the top in European educational performance. With these high levels of educational performance and overall gender equality, Finland is poised to close the sex differences gap in STEM. Yet, Finland has one of the world’s largest sex differences in college degrees in STEM fields. Norway and Sweden, also leading in gender equality rankings, are not far behind. This is only the tip of the iceberg, as this general pattern of increasing sex differences with national increases in gender equality is found throughout the world.

  • Moron thinks poor people are too stupid to cook food.
  • Do you need carbs for Thyroid health? Science says no.
  • Cool. (Hat tip: Borepatch.)
  • Texas Democratic state Rep. Dawnna Dukes’ campaign is more than $700,000 in debt due to legal fees from the (now dropped) felony charges against her. And she’s running for reelection.
  • Bill Crider, RIP.
  • Setting ablaze a giant matchsphere.
  • Every book I bought in the last half of last year.
  • Israel Hits Multiple Targets in Syria

    Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

    Here’s a story you may have missed (I certainly did) over the weekend.

    In summary:

  • Iran sends drone from base in Syria through Jordan and into Israeli airspace.
  • Israeli Apache helicopter shoots down drone.
  • Israel launches surgical strike against drone base of origin near Homs, Syria.
  • Syrians manage to shoot down Israeli F-16 (pilots successfully eject and land in Israel), evidently the first successful enemy downing of an Israeli aircraft since 2006.
  • “Israel carried out a large-scale attack against 12 targets in Syria, including three Syrian SA-5 and SA-17 air defense batteries and four other Iranian military targets.”
  • The New York Times has a piece up discussing the situation that runs the gamut from “commonplace” to “tendentious” to “wrong.” In particular, the assertion that Israel can’t prevent Iran from establishing a conventional force presence in Syria is probably wrong; I suspect Israel can more easily pay for and replace expended material than Iran can, especially with the latter beset by extended domestic unrest. Even more unsupported is the assertion that Russia must “pick a side” in the conflict. I’m pretty sure the Russians have no desire to tangle militarily with another highly-trained nuclear power in a peripheral theater of conflict in a move that would doubtlessly provoke an American response, and Assad has no leverage by which to compel Russia to do any more for him than they’re already doing against the remnants of the Free Syrian Army and the Islamic State. “Shoot down some Israeli planes, or I won’t let you fight for me anymore!”

    Iran is establishing bases in Syria for essentially irrational dick-measuring reasons, i.e. to be able to say it’s doing more to oppose “the Zionist Entity” than any other country in the Muslim ummah, as well as support Hezbollah and Assad’s Syria, two of it’s most important clients/allies in the Shia/Sunni civil war.

    Iran would not be so bold had it’s sugar daddy Obama not lifted sanctions and showered it with cash for a meaningless agreement. The world will be living with the baleful consequences of the Obama administration’s feckless policies for a long time to come.

    Abandoning the Palestinian Delusion

    Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

    Scott Adams said that Donald Trump’s election was going to change a lot of things about the way we view the world. One of the things it seems to be killing is the delusion that the current Palestinian ruling class is any way, shape or form a “partner for peace.”

    President Trump has threatened to withhold all aid to the Palestinians until they engage in peace talks with Israel.

    “That money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace, because I can tell you that Israel does want to make peace, and they’re going to have to want to make peace too or we’re going to have nothing to do with it any longer.”

    Despite all the gnashing of teeth and wailing in outrage from American leftists that President Trump’s decision to finally follow the law and move America’s embassy to Jerusalem would derail any peace talks and spark widespread Palestinian violence. That didn’t happen. Instead, just as President Trump and many conservative observers predicted, the Arab world started to move toward more realistic goals:

    Last week in Istanbul, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) recognized East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. They made the announcement with a barrage of angry rhetoric, of course. Israel is a “racist” state, and the Trump administration’s recognition earlier this month of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is “an attack on the historical, legal, natural and national rights of the Palestinian people, a deliberate undermining of all peace efforts, an impetus to extremism and terrorism, and a threat to international peace and security.”

    Look past the bombast at the main point. By recognizing East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, the OIC is effectively ceding West Jerusalem to the Israelis and implicitly recognizing it as Israel’s capital.

    Snip.

    Plenty of Palestinians want the conflict to end and will grudgingly live alongside Israel even if it means giving up the dream of sovereignty over the entire land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. According to a survey published in August, 53 percent of Israelis and 52 percent of Palestinians support a two-state solution.

    At least some in the Palestinian National Authority leadership are among that 52 percent. If President Mahmoud Abbas—who is currently finishing up his twelfth year of a four-year term—could push a button that magically created a Palestinian state that roughly corresponds to the 1967 armistice lines and leads to an enduring and stable era of peace with the Israelis, he would probably push it.

    He has never agreed to peace terms with Israel, though, nor is he even open to serious peace talks, because a huge number of Palestinians—especially the armed total rejectionists in Hamas—would brand him a traitor. The dream, the fantasy, of destroying Israel hasn’t died yet. The notion that the so-called Zionist Entity is an ultimately temporary imposition remains all-too powerful in the Palestinian national narrative. Peace is not yet nigh, and Mahmoud Abbas knows it.

    Even the two-staters would blow a gasket if Abbas were to sign a peace treaty and concede what the Israelis would force him to concede—no “right of return” for Palestinian “refugees” who have never even set foot in Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza; and Jewish sovereignty over the Western Wall. Odds are high that Abbas would be killed or driven into exile and that yet another war between the Israelis and Palestinians would break out soon after.

    Israel’s permanence needs to be part of the story Palestinians tell themselves about their place in the world and in history, and right now, it’s not, at least not among enough of them. The Palestinians, as a whole, aren’t likely to be honest with themselves about this before the wider Islamic world is honest about it first and pressures them to say yes and build the sovereign state that is actually possible rather than continue to pine and sometimes fight for a castle in the air.

    Most of the Arab states have quietly set the conflict aside, but they’re afraid to speak truth to the Palestinians, afraid to be branded betrayers, afraid to risk popular wrath and go the way of Egypt’s assassinated Anwar Sadat, afraid to apply the kind of pressure on Palestinian negotiators that ultimately will be necessary. In an alternate universe, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a post-Soviet-style frozen conflict, but in this one, the Syrian and Iranian regimes keep poking it with a stick by funneling guns, money and even missiles to terrorist armies like Hamas and Hezbollah.

    That’s why it matters that the OIC just implicitly recognized West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. They didn’t say it in a way that will get them in trouble back home, but the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah absolutely took note that the OIC thinks only East Jerusalem, and not the whole thing, belongs to the Palestinians. They would not have done this had the United States not done it first. It’s a small step, sure, so don’t go popping any champagne corks just yet, but it’s still a step.

    Combined with other positive developments, the Middle East has improved more in one year with President Donald Trump in office than eight with Barack Obama.

    Whether America’s increasingly Palestinian-phillic Democratic Party will give up their delusional view of them as saintly victims is another question. Signs point to no. Social Justice Warrior-style victimhood identity politics increasingly makes up the ideological core of the Democratic Party, and Palestinians are the victimest. This is the real reason why Democratic support for Israel is at an all-time low. Hatred for Israel is a core-value of the SJW campus left, and from there it has seeped into the heart of the Democratic Party.

    That victimhood identity politics is why Democrats have to pretend the likes of Hamas and the PLO are suitable “partners for peace” and why they’re so congenitally soft on jihad. Conservatives want to destroy jihadists, jihadist sanctuaries, and any government supporting jihadists. Liberals want to address “root causes,” which amounts to dumping still more money on corrupt Arab kleptocrats and pretending that if Israel were suddenly wiped off the map, conflict in the Middle East would magically cease to exist.

    The Iran Deal is precisely the sort of delusional bullshit liberals try when you leave them running a foreign policy without adult supervision.

    Finally, a bit off topic from this essay, but tying in this and yesterday’s post, here’s Ed Driscoll Roger Simon pointing out that Democrats are acting like Palestinians when it comes to immigration reform:

    Just as the Palestinians twenty-five years and four significant offers after Oslo have demonstrated they really don’t want a two-state solution with the Israelis, Democrats have now revealed they don’t want to solve the U.S.e immigration problem.

    As with the Palestinians, it’s all a shell game.

    Donald Trump just offered the Dems an agreement on DACA that gives two million “Dreamers” a pathway to full citizenship after 10-12 years — something not even done by Barack Obama! — and the Dems didn’t even want to discuss the proposal. All that happened was their increasingly unhinged minority leader screamed Trump was “making America safe for white people!”

    Paragraph on Pelosi’s mental state omitted.

    Pelosi revealed herself to be a repellent racist… or racialist (someone who plays the race card no matter what). More importantly, the Democratic Party unmasked themselves as not all that interested in the “Dreamers” as people. They just want to make the Republicans look, well, racist and lose elections. Otherwise they would be jumping up and down for this proposal.

    Call this “projection politics.” Play it long enough and you turn into the very thing you claim the other is. Of course, the Democrats have been playing this so long they really could have been called the Race Party years ago. Other than racial and sexual name calling, they appear to have no policies whatsoever, except opposition to the current administration, no matter what that administration proposes.

    Iran Roundup for January 2, 2018

    Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

    Widespread protests against the corrupt theocratic regime continue across Iran, so here’s a roundup of news. Here’s a liveblog on the protests, courtesy of Austin Bay at Instapundit.

  • This piece makes the case that Iran’s corrupt theocratic government has used up all its remaining legitimacy:

    As with the Soviet Union in its last days, the Islamic Republic can no longer appeal to its ideals; it relies only on its security services for survival. That is deadly for a theocracy, by definition an ideological construct. Ideological authoritarian states need a vision of the future by which their enforcers can condone their own violence. The theocracy’s vast patronage system will not cure this crisis of legitimacy. In many ways, Mr. Rouhani was the ruling clergy’s last gasp, a beguiling mullah who could enchant Westerners while offering Iranians some hope. That hope has vanished.

  • “US gives Israel go-ahead to kill powerful Iranian general.” The would be the same Quds force commander Qassem Soleimani Obama saved three years ago in pursuit of his precious, asinine Iran deal. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • How President Donald Trump saw the Iranian protests coming. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Some pessimism about protestor’s chances:

    In Iran, the obstacles to success are daunting. Whereas most Middle Eastern countries are ruled by secular autocrats focused on repressing primarily Islamist opposition, Iran is an Islamist autocracy focused on repressing secular opposition. This dynamic—unarmed, unorganized, leaderless citizens seeking economic dignity and pluralism, versus a heavily armed, organized, rapacious ruling theocracy that espouses martyrdom—is not a recipe for success.

    And yet, against this inauspicious backdrop, Iran’s mushrooming anti-government protests—although so far much smaller in scale than the country’s 2009 uprising—have been unprecedented in their geographic scope and intensity. They began December 28 in Mashhad, a Shiite pilgrimage city often considered a regime stronghold, with protesters chanting slogans like “leave Syria alone, think about us.” They soon spread to Qom, Iran’s holiest city, where protesters expressed nostalgia for Reza Shah, the 20th-century modernizing autocrat who ruthlessly repressed the clergy. They continued in provincial towns, with thousands chanting, “we don’t want an Islamic Republic” in Najafabad, “death to the revolutionary guards” in Rasht, and “death to the dictator” in Khoramabad. They’ve since spread to Tehran, and hundreds have been arrested, the BBC reported, citing Iranian officials.

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • Iran Charges Russia With Selling Out its Air Defense Secrets to Israel. The Islamic Republic says Russia sold codes to Israel that neutralize its air defenses.” Attacking your primary arms supplier, and your ally Syria’s effective air force, is a pretty desperate look. If true, it also means that America (and probably Saudi Arabia) have those codes as well… (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Obama toadies vs the Iranian people:

    In the US, former members of the Obama administration and the liberal media have determinedly downplayed the importance of the protests. They have insisted that President Donald Trump should stop openly supporting the protesters and so adopt former president Barack Obama’s policy of effectively siding with the Iranian regime against the Iranian people who seek its overthrow.

    These talking points have been pushed out into the media echo chamber by Obama’s former deputy national security adviser and strategic communications chief Ben Rhodes, his former national security adviser Susan Rice and former secretary of state John Kerry.

    Obama’s Middle East coordinator Philip Gordon stated them outright in an op-ed in The New York Times on Saturday. Gordon called on Trump “to keep quiet and do nothing” in response to the protests.

    In Gordon’s view, no matter how big their beef with the regime, the protesters hate the US more. And they really hate Trump.

    Gordon wrote, “Whatever Iranians think of their own government, they are unlikely to want as a voice for their grievances an American president who has relentlessly opposed economic relief for their country and banned them from traveling to the United States.”

    Just as Obama’s surrogates have repeated Gordon’s claims, so the Obama-supporting liberal media have gone out of their way to diminish the importance of the protests in their coverage of them and use Obama’s surrogates as their “expert” analysts to explain what is happening (or rather, distort what is happening) to their audiences.

    Obama administration officials have been so outspoken in their defense of the Iranian regime because they rightly view the prospect that the protesters will succeed in overthrowing the regime as a mortal threat to their legacy.

    Obama’s foreign policy rested on the assumption that the US was a colonialist, aggressive and immoral superpower. By their telling, the Iranians – like the Cubans and the Russians – were right to oppose the US due to its legacy of meddling in the internal affairs of other countries. This anti-American worldview informed the Obama administration’s conviction that it was incumbent on the US to make amends for its previous decades of foreign policy.

    Hence, Obama traveled the globe in 2009 and 2010 apologizing for the policies of his predecessors. Hence, Obama believed that the US had no moral right to stand with the Iranian people against the regime in the 2009 Green Revolution. As he saw it, anyone who stood with the US was no better than an Uncle Tom. Truly authentic foreign regimes were be definition anti-American. Since the Green Revolutionaries were begging for his support, by definition, they didn’t deserve it.

    Since the current wave on anti-regime protests began last Thursday, the liberal media have parroted the Obama alumni’s talking points because they feel that their war against Trump requires them to embrace Obama’s legacy just as they embraced his talking points and policies for eight years.

    After all, if Obama is not entirely infallible, then Trump cannot be entirely fallible. And if Trump may be partially right and Obama partially wrong, then their dispute may be a substantive rather than existential one. And so, the New York Times’ coverage of the most significant story in the world has deliberately distorted and downplayed events on the ground in Iran.

  • A relevant Twitter thread:

  • The Deafening Feminist Silence on Iran Protests

    Monday, January 1st, 2018

    Having implemented Sharia law, Theocratic Iran is one of the most repressive regimes in the world when it comes to women’s rights, and a wide variety of activities are prohibited to women simply because they are women.

    Now that widespread protests have broken out In Iran over the rejection of the Islamic Republic and greater rights for women, you might think that feminists organizations would be in the forefront of those clamoring for greater women’s rights.

    You would be wrong. They are, as usual, nattering on about the standard array of far-left causes having nothing to do with women’s rights.

    To drill down even further, I thought I would check the Twitter feeds of several prominent feminists. They too are silent on Iran:

    Once again, the unwillingness to speak out on Islam’s demonstrable treatment of women as second-class citizens has left American feminists with nothing to say about the most important woman’s rights struggle of the day. (That, and the Democratic Party’s insistence on defending Obama’s disasterous (and unconstitutional) Iran deal.)

    Feminism is only about “women’s rights” when they align with a far-left agenda.

    Anti-Government Protests Across Iran

    Saturday, December 30th, 2017

    Widespread protests against the corrupt theocratic regime have spread across Iran. Women are removing their oppressive hijabs. Protests have even spread to the religious city of Qom, where “demonstrators shouted ‘Death to Hezbollah’ and ‘Aren’t you ashamed Khamenei? Leave the country.'”

    The people of Iran are obviously chafing under the repressive Islamist regime, and are tired of money being spent on foreign adventurism and a proxy war in Saudi Arabia rather than on domestic needs.

    Similar protests occurred during the “Green Revolution” of 2009, which Obama generally ignored and which was crushed in short order. Instead of regime change, the Iranian people saw the Obama Administration prop up Ayatollah Khamenei’s theocratic regime via the asinine Iran Deal.

    Could real change be coming with President Donald Trump in the White House?

    Stay tuned…

    Edited to add:

    Edited to add 2: Protestors chant “We don’t want an Islamic Republic!”

    Updated to add 3:

    Obama Let Hezbollah Sell Cocaine in U.S.

    Monday, December 18th, 2017

    This should take still more of the shine off Obama’s plastic halo:

    In its determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it was funneling cocaine into the United States, according to a POLITICO investigation.

    The campaign, dubbed Project Cassandra, was launched in 2008 after the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed evidence that Hezbollah had transformed itself from a Middle East-focused military and political organization into an international crime syndicate that some investigators believed was collecting $1 billion a year from drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities.

    Over the next eight years, agents working out of a top-secret DEA facility in Chantilly, Virginia, used wiretaps, undercover operations and informants to map Hezbollah’s illicit networks, with the help of 30 U.S. and foreign security agencies.

    They followed cocaine shipments, some from Latin America to West Africa and on to Europe and the Middle East, and others through Venezuela and Mexico to the United States. They tracked the river of dirty cash as it was laundered by, among other tactics, buying American used cars and shipping them to Africa. And with the help of some key cooperating witnesses, the agents traced the conspiracy, they believed, to the innermost circle of Hezbollah and its state sponsors in Iran.

    But as Project Cassandra reached higher into the hierarchy of the conspiracy, Obama administration officials threw an increasingly insurmountable series of roadblocks in its way, according to interviews with dozens of participants who in many cases spoke for the first time about events shrouded in secrecy, and a review of government documents and court records. When Project Cassandra leaders sought approval for some significant investigations, prosecutions, arrests and financial sanctions, officials at the Justice and Treasury departments delayed, hindered or rejected their requests.

    The Justice Department declined requests by Project Cassandra and other authorities to file criminal charges against major players such as Hezbollah’s high-profile envoy to Iran, a Lebanese bank that allegedly laundered billions in alleged drug profits, and a central player in a U.S.-based cell of the Iranian paramilitary Quds force. And the State Department rejected requests to lure high-value targets to countries where they could be arrested.

    How high did drug trafficking evidence go?

    As a result, the U.S. government lost insight into not only drug trafficking and other criminal activity worldwide, but also into Hezbollah’s illicit conspiracies with top officials in the Iranian, Syrian, Venezuelan and Russian governments — all the way up to presidents Nicolas Maduro, Assad and Putin, according to former task force members and other current and former U.S. officials.

    The network was extensive:

    For decades, Hezbollah — in close cooperation with Iranian intelligence and Revolutionary Guard — had worked with supporters in Lebanese communities around the world to create a web of businesses that were long suspected of being fronts for black-market trading. Along the same routes that carried frozen chicken and consumer electronics, these businesses moved weapons, laundered money and even procured parts for Iran’s illicit nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

    As they pursued their investigations, the DEA agents found that Hezbollah was redoubling all of these efforts, working urgently to raise cash, and lots of it, to rebuild its south Lebanon stronghold after a 2006 war with Israel had reduced it to rubble.

    Dating back to its inception in the early 1980s, Hezbollah, which translates to “Party of God,” had also engaged in “narcoterrorism,” collecting a tariff from drug dealers and other black-market suppliers who operated in territory it controlled in Lebanon and elsewhere. Now, based on the DEA’s extensive network of informants, undercover operatives and wiretaps, it looked like Hezbollah had shifted tactics, and gotten directly involved in the global cocaine trade, according to interviews and documents, including a confidential DEA assessment.

    “It was like they flipped a switch,” Kelly told POLITICO. “All of a sudden, they reversed the flow of all of the black-market activity they had been taxing for years, and took control of the operation.”

    Operating like an organized crime family, Hezbollah operatives would identify businesses that might be profitable and useful as covers for cocaine trafficking and buy financial stakes in them, Kelly and others said. “And if the business was successful and suited their current needs,” Kelly said, “they went from partial owners to majority owners to full partnership or takeover.”

    Hezbollah even created a special financial unit that, translated into English, means “Business Affairs Component,” to oversee the sprawling criminal operation, and it was run by the world’s most wanted terrorist after Osama bin Laden, a notoriously vicious Hezbollah military commander named Imad Mughniyeh
    Imad MughniyehA Hezbollah mastermind who oversaw its international operations and, the DEA says, its drug trafficking, as head of its military wing, the Islamic Jihad Organization.
    , according to DEA interviews and documents.

    Mughniyeh had for decades been the public face of terrorism for Americans, orchestrating the infamous attack that killed 241 U.S. Marines in 1983 in their barracks in Lebanon, and dozens more Americans in attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Beirut that year and an annex the year after. When President Ronald Reagan responded to the attacks by withdrawing peacekeeping troops from Lebanon, Hezbollah claimed a major victory and vaulted to the forefront of the Islamist resistance movement against the West.

    Over the next 25 years, Iran’s financial and military support for Hezbollah enabled it to amass an army with tens of thousands of foot soldiers, more heavy armaments than most nation-states and approximately 120,000 rockets and ballistic missiles that could strike Israel and U.S. interests in the region with devastating precision.

    Socialist “hero” Hugo Chavez was also involved in the operation up to his ears:

    In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez was personally working with then-Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Hezbollah on drug trafficking and other activities aimed at undermining U.S. influence in the region, according to interviews and documents.

    Within a few years, Venezuelan cocaine exports skyrocketed from 50 tons a year to 250, much of it bound for American cities, United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime statistics show.

    And beginning in 2007, DEA agents watched as a commercial jetliner from Venezuela’s state-run Conviasa airline flew from Caracas to Tehran via Damascus, Syria, every week with a cargo-hold full of drugs and cash. They nicknamed it “Aeroterror,” they said, because the return flight often carried weapons and was packed with Hezbollah and Iranian operatives whom the Venezuelan government would provide with fake identities and travel documents on their arrival.

    From there, the operatives spread throughout the subcontinent and set up shop in the many recently opened Iranian consulates, businesses and mosques, former Project Cassandra agents said.

    So what was the result of all this painstaking case-building?

    Senior Obama administration officials appeared to be alarmed by how far Project Cassandra’s investigations had reached into the leadership of Hezbollah and Iran, and wary of the possible political repercussions.

    As a result, task force members claim, Project Cassandra was increasingly viewed as a threat to the administration’s efforts to secure a nuclear deal, and the top-secret prisoner swap that was about to be negotiated.

    Snip.

    In addition, the briefings for top White House and Justice Department officials that had been requested by Holder never materialized, task force agents said. (Holder did not respond to requests for comment.) Also, a top intelligence official blocked the inclusion of Project Cassandra’s memo on the Hezbollah drug threat from being included in Obama’s daily threat briefing, they said. And Kelly, Asher and other agents said they stopped getting invitations to interagency meetings, including those of a top Obama transnational crime working group.

    That may have been because Obama officials dropped Hezbollah from the formal list of groups targeted by a special White House initiative into transnational organized crime, which in turn effectively eliminated DEA’s broad authority to investigate it overseas, task force members said.

    Snip.

    “When it looked like the [nuclear] agreement might actually happen, it became clear that there was no interest in dealing with anything about Iran or Hezbollah on the ground that it may be negative, that it might scare off the Iranians.”

    Hey, what are the lives of some black kids hooked on crack compared to the glory of Obama’s Iran deal?

    Remember the fantasy floated by liberals in the 1980s that the CIA was secretly behind the Central American cocaine trade? Obama actually did that, letting Hezbollah off the hook despite an iron-clad case of narcoterrorism, in order to do the Iran deal.

    This is a long, detailed piece in a mainstream media outlet. Read the whole thing.

    (Hat tip: Legal Insurrection.)

    LinkSwarm for December 8, 2017

    Friday, December 8th, 2017

    Last night mother nature dumped a bunch of snow on Austin…very little of which stayed on the ground through this morning. Which is just fine for those of us who have jobs.

    I’ll still sorting out the latest DOJ/FBI revelations to have them all filed in the next Clinton Corruption update, which should be ginormous.

  • California is on fire.
  • “Traffic through central Mordor is slow but steady.”

  • The Wisconsin Witch Hunt was even worse than even conservatives feared:

    Wisconsin’s infamous John Doe investigation was more sinister and politically driven than originally reported.

    A Wisconsin Attorney General report on the year-long investigation into leaks of sealed John Doe court documents to a liberal British publication in September 2016 finds a rogue agency of partisan bureaucrats bent on a mission “to bring down the (Gov. Scott) Walker campaign and the Governor himself.”

    The AG report, released Wednesday, details an expanded John Doe probe into a “broad range of Wisconsin Republicans,” a “John Doe III,” according to Attorney General Brad Schimel, that widened the scope of the so-called John Doe II investigation into dozens of right-of-center groups and scores of conservatives. Republican lawmakers, conservative talk show hosts, a former employee from the MacIver Institute, average citizens, even churches, were secretly monitored by the dark John Doe.

    State Department of Justice investigators found hundreds of thousands of John Doe documents in the possession of the GAB long after they were ordered to be turned over to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

    The Government Accountability Board, the state’s former “nonpartisan” speech cop, proved to be more partisan than originally suspected, the state Department of Justice report found. For reasons that “perhaps may never be fully explained,” GAB held onto thousands of private emails from Wisconsin conservatives in several folders on their servers marked “Opposition Research.” The report’s findings validate what conservatives have long contended was nothing more than a witch-hunt into limited government groups and the governor who was turning conservative ideas into public policy.

    “Moreover, DOJ is deeply concerned by what appears to have been the weaponization of GAB by partisans in furtherance of political goals, which permitted the vast collection of highly personal information from dozens of Wisconsin Republicans without even taking modest steps to secure this information,” the report states.

    Snip.

    The Department of Justice, however, recommends the John Doe judge initiate contempt proceedings against former GAB officials and the John Doe probe’s special prosecutor for “grossly” mishandling secret evidence. Schimel also recommends that Shane Falk, who served as lead staff attorney in the John Doe probes, be referred for discipline to the Wisconsin Court System’s Office of Lawyer Regulation. Falk took a job with a private law firm in August 2014, just as allegations of investigative abuse began to surround the political investigation.

    (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

  • Perspective: Nancy Pelosi seems to think the GOP tax bill is worse than the Fugitive Slave Act
  • Another sexual harassment followup on Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen: “Hey, Nancy Pelosi knew all about my sexual harassment charges last year, and threw money at me anyway. So why’s she getting her knickers in a knot now?”
  • “Eye Doctor Tied to Bob Menendez Case Convicted in $100 Million Fraud Scheme.” And Democrat Menendez is still, as of this writing, a Senator.
  • Months after the Las Vegas shooting, and there are still dozens of unanswered questions about what actually happened.
  • 92 percent of illegal aliens arrested this year had ‘criminal convictions, pending criminal charges, were an immigration fugitive, or were an illegal reentrant.'” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Man Deported 20 Times Sentenced to 35 Years for Sexual Assault.” So when is San Francisco throwing him his parade?
  • “Swedish Government to Ban Websites that List Ethnic Origin of Criminal Suspects.”
  • Related: “Swedish lawyer Elisabeth Fritz claims that in the majority of rape cases she has had to work on the suspects have been individuals from migrant backgrounds.”
  • “Swedish Chief Prosecutor: No-Go Zone Rinkeby Is Like a ‘War Zone.'”
  • “You know who doesn’t have a refugee problem? Japan.” This year Japan has taken in three refugees. Last year it was 28.
  • Hmmmm: “A federal judge in Argentina indicted former President Cristina Fernandez for treason and asked for her arrest for allegedly covering up Iran’s possible role in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center that killed 85 people, a court ruling said.”
  • Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks to resign over asking staffers to consider being a surrogate mother for him and his wife? Franks, unlike Al Franken, has actually resigned, not merely promised to resign at some unspecified date in the future.
  • More on how Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman plans to revitalize the kingdom:

    Last Sunday premiered the newly formed Islamic anti-terrorism coalition, putting together leaders from Sunni Arab nations to denounce and combat fundamentalist terrorism throughout the Middle East and the world. It was another bold initiative towards the West of the young and energetic Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, coming on the heels of other bold moves that have looked to consolidate political and religious power in the Kingdom.

    Together, all of these initiatives couldn’t be more transparent. They represent a movement of the most economically powerful nation in OPEC towards social, cultural and economic change, the realization of the Saudi “Vision 2030”. It is a top-down Arab Spring movement that likely has a better chance of success than the populist movements that resulted in more chaos than change in 2010.

    However, the ultimate success for Vision 2030 will rely upon achieving the main economic goal of this revolution – the divestiture of Saudi Arabia from the singularity of oil revenues. Because we know that ultimately money – and lots of it – will be needed to drive the engines for change, we get a far better picture of just how important these latest production extensions agreed to in Vienna were for the young Prince.

    And here we’re brought back to the upcoming IPO of Saudi Aramco, still on tap for 2018.

    Even the planned 5 percent offering of the Saudi state oil assets could yield an instantaneous $100 billion dollars, if the $2 trillion-dollar valuation of Saudi Aramco is accurate. That’s a lot of capital to start the process of rebuilding a Saudi economy from one that is now virtually completely reliant upon the State. 75 percent of the Saudi public is under 35 years old, and they are starving for a new economic infrastructure that will bring job opportunities, cultural diversity, music, education – global access of all kinds – the kind of freedoms that the 2010 Arab Spring uprisings were supposed to deliver. Only this time, the push for change is coming from the top down, not as a populist movement from the people upwards.

  • “Tesla – which lost $619 million in Q3 – delivered only 3,590 vehicles in November in the US, down 18% from a year ago.”
  • In a rare moment of sanity for Sports Illustrated, they named J. J. Watt and the Houston Astro’s Jose Altuve as co-sportsmen of the year. Next week I’m sure they’ll get back to their usual Social Justicing…
  • Texas writer Bill Crider enters hospice care. Bill’s not particularly political, but he is a friend of mine, and I have frequently stolen some of the lighter LinkSwarm items from his blog. He’s a prince among men and he will be missed…
  • You’ve got to admire the designers of http://www.theworldsworstwebsiteever.com for having the courage of their convictions.
  • “Opossum breaks into liquor store and gets drunk as a skunk.”
  • Hell to the no
  • A tweet that tells you all you need to know to evaluate forthcoming legislation:

  • A shot of yuletide Archer cheer:

  • Israel Hits Iranian Base in Syria, World Shrugs

    Monday, December 4th, 2017

    Remember how every time Israel committed an act of self-defense, a chattering array of The Usual Suspects would freakout and accuse Israel of “risking war,” “escalating tensions,” “derailing the peace process,” or whatever standard platitudes the global political establishment use to make anytime Israel did something other than pretend to make nice with those Arabs trying to kill them?

    Those days appear to be over.

    In a follow-up to last week’s story about Israel threatening to hit Iranian bases in Syria, guess what happened? Israel hit an Iranian base in Syria.

    Israeli warplanes attacked an Iranian military base near the Syrian city of ​​Al-Kiswah early Saturday morning, according to Sky News Arabia and other Arab media outlets. The construction of the base, which was the target of the airstrike, began last year and had accelerated in recent months.

    According to the reports, the Israeli fighter jets fired from Lebanese airspace and the Syrian defense systems responded by firing anti-aircraft missiles. It was also reported that the Syrian missiles were fired from Damascus’ Mezzeh base and that the Israeli aircraft were flying at a low altitude above the Lebanese city of Baalbek. Media outlets affiliated with the Syrian regime confirmed that several missiles were fired at the Iranian base, which was apparently used for storing ammunition.

    Israel has an extraordinarily good air force, and they usually hit what they aim at. And like most Middle East operations since the U.S. withdraw from Iraq in 2011, reporting is so sparse that it’s hard to judge how successful the operation was.

    But Israel’s latest strike is most notable for all the dogs that didn’t bark after it occurred. This is the sort of story that used to dominate media cycles for a day or two, but this time around, if you blinked, or weren’t scanning Twitter shortly after it happened, you very likely missed it.

    So what’s changed? I can think of two possibilities:

    1. America’s liberal media is so consumed with Trump Derangement Syndrome that they can’t expend the usual time, space and energy on reflective anti-Israel/pro-Arab pieces anymore. Call it Freakout Fatigue.
    2. Maybe all Mohammed bin Salman’s actions in Saudi Arabia has sidelined various royal family factions that were actively bankrolling anti-Israeli agitation among the chattering classes.

    Mark this down as yet another thing that the Trump Administration has changed, though most likely indirectly. Less indirect is the fact that relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel are probably the warmest they’ve been since Israel’s founding (having common enemies will do that for you).

    There appears to be more real reform afoot in the Middle East right now than the “Arab Spring” ever unleashed…

    Israel Threatens to Destroy Iranian Positions Near Its Border

    Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

    If you’re tired of all this Arab-on-Arab fighting, Israel is indicating it may have to do some direct clobbering itself:

    Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jarida revealed on Sunday that an Israeli source disclosed a promise from Jerusalem to destroy all Iranian facilities within 40 kilometers (25 miles) of Israel’s Golan Heights.

    The source, who remains unnamed, said that during Syrian President Bashar Assad’s surprise visit to Russia last week, Assad gave Russian Premier Vladimir Putin a message for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Damascus will agree to a demilitarized zone of up to 40 kilometers from the border in the Golan Heights as part of a comprehensive agreement between the two countries, but only if Israel does not work to remove Assad’s regime from power.

    The report also claims that Putin then called Netanyahu to relay the message, and that the Israeli prime minister said he would be willing to accept the deal, but that Israel’s goal of eradicating Iran and Hezbollah from the country would remain.

    According to the source, Jerusalem sees Assad as the last president of the Alawite community, indicating that a change of regime in Syria – at least towards a government less-linked to Iran – would be favorable for Israel. The Alawites are a minority Shi’ite community in Syria, and have long been supported by Iran, which seeks to extend its influence from the Gulf across the region to the Mediterranean.

    Here’s your regular reminder that Alawites are Shiite in the same sense that Mormons are Jews.

    The source also commented that after the defeat of the Islamic State, the conflict in Syria would become ”more difficult,” likely pointing towards a vacuum that would be left without the group. Russian, Syrian and Iranian-backed forces have been fighting against ISIS, while also seeking to knock out rebel groups that oppose the current regime. Russia’s stated interests have been in line with Iran’s in wanting to keep Assad in power.

    Israel has participated mostly on the periphery of the war in Syria, responding to fire on the northern border and occasionally bombing positions, including a weapons depot and scientific research center that allegedly produces chemical weapons. Damascus and Jerusalem have exchanged heated remarks as well, with Netanyahu threatening to bomb Assad’s palace, and Syrian officials warning of ”dangerous repercussions” to Israeli strikes on Syrian targets.

    Naturally Hezbollah says it’s perfectly willing to fight if its Iranian masters snap their fingers:

    The head of a large Iranian-backed Iraqi militia that has been fighting in Syria said his group was “fully prepared” to fight Israel if Damascus asked it to.

    Sheikh Akram al-Ka’abi, the leader of Iraq’s Hezbollah al-Nujaba, told the Lebanese news network Al Mayadeen Friday night his group would participate in a Damascus-led attack on Israel’s Golan Heights.

    “We are fully prepared to participate in any war with the Syrian Arab Army to liberate the Golan if the Syrian state agrees or requests so,” Ka’abi said.

    He said this would be done through the militia’s newest branch, the Golan Liberation Brigade, which was formed in March of this year.

    Hezbollah al-Nujaba is reportedly controlled by Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) elite foreign operations unit, the Qods Force.

    Ka’abi, who controls a reported 10,000 men in Syria, also said his group was prepared to defend the Lebanese terror group and fellow Iranian proxy Hezbollah from any Israeli attack.

    I doubt either Assad or Russia wants to tangle with Israel right now, especially with the Saudi’s making threats and President Donald Trump being both far more pro-Israel (and unpredictable) than the previous occupant of the White House.

    Meanwhile, Israel’s leadership is openly talking of war with Hezbollah and bumping off its leader, Hassan Nasrallah.

    Interesting times…