Posts Tagged ‘Jihad’

LinkSwarm for May 24, 2019

Friday, May 24th, 2019

Welcome to another Friday LinkSwarm! This week: Texas legislative news, foreign elections, and a surprising amount on analog synthesizers…

  • Theresa May is out as British Prime Minister effective June 7. The only reason she’s not the worst prime minister of the last century is that she didn’t give Czechoslovakia to Hitler…
  • May’s refusal to offer the UK a real Brexit may result in the Tories being crushed by Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party:

    Even before [EU Parliamentary] election results are known on Sunday, therefore, there’s a growing sense that the Brexit party may be a permanent factor in British politics. Opinion polls on how people would vote in a general election show that the party would do less well than in European elections but still run about level with the Tories and Labour. There are deep divisions on policy apart from Brexit that have allowed critics to argue that the party would fall apart once its main goal had been achieved. But the divisions don’t seem deeper than those of other parties, and power or its prospect is itself a unifying social glue. Farage’s rallies around the country are hugely successful — packed, good-humored, more diverse socially and politically than those of the other parties, full of confidence and optimism, and notably without rancor. As with Trump’s election rallies, people seem to find them enjoyable as well as genuinely serious. A kind of Brexit party spirit already exists with many different types of people happy to be together on the bandwagon. It seems less class-bound than any of the existing parties.

    And if the Brexit party wins one-third or more of Britain’s votes this week from a standing start, it will change British politics. Such a result would have the effect of a second referendum victory for Leave. It simply would not be possible for Parliament and the mainstream parties to push through a Brexit that doesn’t get the effective consent of Farage and his party. If such a thing is attempted, it will be seen to be anti-democratic and will have to be abandoned quite quickly. It would force the EU to confront the fact that there is little chance of getting a deal like May’s withdrawal deal accepted, and that even if one were to make it into the statute book, it could never be effectively implemented. In those circumstances the EU might simply throw up its collective hands and declare that the U.K. has left without a deal.

    The third effect of a Farage success in the European elections would be to realign political parties and, in particular, to place the Conservative party in mortal peril. Voting for a political party is a matter of both loyalty and habit. For lifelong Tories, the idea of voting for another party is anathema. Most people who think about it never actually get around to doing it. But the Tories have certainly given their traditional supporters and those new supporters who voted for them in order to achieve Brexit good reason to leave them on this occasion. Many will do so this week. And as with adultery, betraying your party for another is much easier the second time around.

  • Well:

  • You know who doesn’t want to impeach President Donald Trump? House Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi. (Hat tip: Jim Geraghty.)
  • But she may not be able to hold off her lunatic party much longer.
  • And all that despite ample evidence that voters are opposed to the whole charade. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Democrats lying about preexisting conditions again:

  • “A charity run by the wife of Rep. Elijah Cummings received millions from special interest groups and corporations that had business before her husband’s committee and could have been used illegally.”
  • Democratic Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards is a rarity: an actual pro-life Democrat. When Edwards’ wife was “20 weeks pregnant with their first child, a doctor discovered their daughter had spina bifida and encouraged an abortion. The Edwardses refused. Now, daughter Samantha is married and working as a school counselor, and Edwards finds himself an outlier in polarized abortion politics.”
  • A succinct summary from across the pond:

  • If you look at what China is targeting in retaliatory tariffs, it’s obvious their hand is incredibly weak:

    But based on what we know, what’s even more revealing about China’s choices are the U.S.-made products that haven’t made any tariff list. They include civilian aircraft and their engines and parts, which had a 2018 export total of $17.73 billion. They include semiconductors and their components, which last year had China shipments that totaled several billion additional dollars. They include the equipment needed to manufacture and inspect semiconductors and their parts, which racked up at least $850 million in 2018 exports to China; devices for conducting chemical and physical analyses (with $912 million in China exports last year); laser equipment ($304 million), motor vehicles, auto parts, and plastics resins and polymers (which each produced billions in exports to China); and billions of dollars’ worth of other products that the Chinese either can’t (yet) make or can’t make in the amounts that they need—or that consist of goods preferred by Chinese consumers over their Made in China counterparts.

    As I’ve said before, semiconductor equipment is an area where it’s all but impossible for the Chinese to do without American technology.

  • Narendra Modi wins reelection in India. Forcing Pakistan to stand down over Kashmir probably clinched the victory for him. Modi’s Hindu ethononationalism is not good for India in the long-run, but he’s probably someone President Trump can trust to be a staunch ally against Islamic terrorism. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • The election was an outright disaster for Rahul Gandhi, “the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty and leader of India’s Congress party,” which is down to 52 seats as opposed to 303 for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party. (Remember that Indira Gandhi was the daughter on India’s first prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and is not related to Mahatma Gandhi.)
  • The Morganza Spillway on the Mississippi to be opened for only the third time in history. The Morganza Spillway is located downstream of the Old River Control Structure.
  • “60% of male managers are ‘uncomfortable‘ working around women,” a 32% increase over last year. You mean they don’t want false accusations of sexual harassment to derail their careers? Way to go feminists! Once again you’ve made things worse for women living in the real world!
  • People have known that Chinese manufacturer Huawei has been stealing American intellectual property for at least seven years. Former congressman Mike Rogers: “If I were an American company today, and I’ll tell you this as the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and you are looking at Huawei, I would find another vendor if you care about your intellectual property, if you care about your consumers’ privacy, and you care about the national security of the United States of America.”
  • Social Justice Warriors are ruining Young Adult publishing.
  • How computer security is actually handled in the wild:

  • UK foreign minister to Iran: “Bitch, you try to throw down on T-Dog, he gonna go HAM upside yo dome!” Of course I’m paraphrasing a bit…
  • Good news! It looks like Texas taxpayers will finally be getting some meaningful property tax relief, to the tune of $5 billion, or half the projected surplus. (Kids, if you have any friends in California or Illinois, try to explain to them what a “budget surplus” is.) This follows months of waffling.
  • Good news! Texas passes constitutional amendment banning a state income tax, which will go before voters in November.
  • Bad news! Texas House kills election integrity bill.
  • Bad news! Texas House refuses to pass a taxpayer-funded lobbying ban.
  • Laredo passes Los Angeles as America’s largest port. (Hat tip: Matt Mackowiak.)
  • Coordinated Instagram troll farm attack on Trump. So the next time you see a Trump-Putin meme, be sure to post that link and ask “How the trolling, Trolly McTrollFace?”
  • Speaking of trolls: Twitter Permanently Bans Anti-Trump Krassenstein Brothers” for “operating multiple fake accounts and purchasing account interactions.” The overwhelming majority of conservatives I follow think Twitter should lift the ban so these idiots can keep talking, but it will be nice to no longer see these morons as the top reply on every Trump tweet.
  • Antifa activist ordered to pay Judicial Watch’s legal fees.
  • Speaking of legal fees, Harvey Weinstein will reportedly pay $44 million to settle various sexual harassment/etc. lawsuits, the money evidently coming from insurance, but will still face criminal prosecution over at least two sexual assault allegations.
  • “Florida man hid legless fugitive girlfriend in plastic tote.” She sounds like a real winner: “Anderson was wanted for failing to appear in court on charges including false imprisonment related to a 2015 incident when she allegedly held people hostage at a Burger King with a BB gun. It ended in a shooting with police and she lost both legs.”
  • Speaking of lunatics: “Trump is the devil!” Genuine loon, or suicide by cop? You make the call. (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)
  • All teaching “white privilege” does is make leftists more contemptuous of poor white people. Which pretty much explains the Democratic Party’s decline in a nutshell…
  • Austin Mayor Steve Adler rolls out the welcome mat for antisemetic Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar.
  • Followup: “Medieval Sex Cult at Center of German Crossbow Murder Mystery. Police now say a German sex guru specializing in medieval bondage directed lesbian sex slaves in bizarre murder-suicide.”
  • Alexandria Ocasio Cortez frets over colonial cauliflower in her own garden. She really is an idiot. (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)
  • Moogseum.
  • And speaking of analog synthesizers, they had features you don’t find on modern digital versions, like secret caches of LSD. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • “Facebook Claims Party Celebrating Candace Owens’s Suspension Was ‘An Honest Mistake.'”
  • A Song of Vanilla Ice and Fire.
  • LinkSwarm for May 17, 2019

    Friday, May 17th, 2019

    Just been one of those weeks…

  • Are Brennan, Clapper and Comey ratting on each other? (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • This is more than infuriating: “Kentucky Judges Pre-Signed Blank Legal Documents So That Child Services Could Take Custody of Kids on Nights and Weekends.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • No sooner did I put up my own piece on jihad in the Sahel than the BBC published this extensive piece about the same subject, including how jihadists came to Mali in the wake of Obama’s supergenius intervention in Libya.

    The religious extremists imposed strict sharia law. In Timbuktu and beyond, they smashed shrines built for Sufi mystics, burned manuscripts and destroyed ancient artefacts.

    The priceless texts would have all been lost had it not been for the old guardian families who protected what they could.

    Tuaregs and Islamists disagreed over the way their new state of Azawad should be run and began to fight each other.

    The government asked for foreign military help and the former colonial power France answered the call.

    French troops arrived in January 2013 and were joined by African forces. Within a month, they had driven the violent extremists out into the desert and retaken the River Niger towns.

    Plus the usual UN fecklessness. Read the whole thing.

  • “CONFIRMED: Google Gives Left-Wing Websites Preference Over Conservative Ones, Audit Finds.”
  • Denmark’s main leftwing party realizes that uncontrolled, unassimilated immigration hurts the poor. “For me, it is becoming increasingly clear that the price of unregulated globalisation, mass immigration and the free movement of labour is paid for by the lower classes.”
  • The New York media can’t talk about skyrocketing antisemetic attacks against Jews in New York City. Why? Because the attackers are black and Hispanic.
  • Idaho is ending some regulations. Which ones? All of them. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • So that botched Houston drug raid is looking even more botched, as forensic evidence shows the people in the house they wrongly targeted didn’t even fire their weapons at police, and all police gunshot wounds were inflicted by other officers. It seems like just about every aspect of the raid was a lie. At this point, it seems like some rogue HPD cops straight-up murdered Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas for reasons nobody has yet been able to identify.
  • Speaking of infuriating abuses of power: “San Francisco Police Go After Journalist Who Revealed Public Defender’s Affair, Overdose.”
  • State district judge rules Houston Proposition B unconstitutional. That was the one to give firefighters pay parity with police officers, and one Houston mayor Sylvester Turner was fighting tooth and nail.
  • Why people die in Houston car accidents. A whole lot of “Pedestrian failed to yield to vehicle,” failure to drive in one lane” and “failure to control speed,” plus the usual smattering of alcohol. (Hat tip: Kemberlee Kaye.)
  • No federal high speed rail money for California. Good.
  • Is Democratic congresswoman Rashida Tlaib a terrorist sympathizer? Well, here’s evidence from five of her closest friends, so you can judge for yourself:

  • The Air Force brings a B-52H back from the bone yard for active service duty. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Atheist visits places in America his fellow liberals forgot about, and finds not only a sense of place, but an abundance of faith:

    When I first went to the Bronx, I expected that the people there, those most affected by the coldness and ruthlessness of the world, would share my atheism. Instead, I found a strong belief in the supernatural, and a faith that manifested in many ways, mostly as a belief in the Bible.

    Everyone I met there who was living homeless or battling an addiction held a deep faith. Street walking is stunningly dangerous work, and everyone has stories of being cut, attacked, and threatened, or stories of others who were killed. Everyone has to deal with the danger. Few work without a mix of heroin, Xanax, or crack. None without faith. “You know what kept me through all that? God. Whenever I got into the car, God got into the car with me.”

    There are dirty Bibles in crack houses, Qur’ans in abandoned buildings. There is a picture of the Last Supper that moves with a couple living on the streets. Rosaries, crucifixes, and religious icons are worn for protection and good luck. Pages of the Bible are torn out, folded up, and kept in pockets, to be pulled out and fingered nervously, or read over in times of stress, or held during prayers.

  • Latest Remainer complaint “Brexit Party logo ‘subconsciously manipulates voters into backing Farage.'”

  • Hot take: “Ha ha! Gene Simmons of KISS at the Pentagon! Stupid Trump!” Deeper take: As part of a military outreach program, to talk about how his mother, a concentration camp survivor who recently died at age 93, loved America and teared up watching the TV sign-off flag. “America is the promised land. For everybody.”
  • When I removed Creeping Sharia from the blogroll because it was no longer up, I didn’t realize that it had just been deplatformed by WordPress. (Hat tip: A comment from regular blog reader Howard.)
  • Supermodel appears nude in protest of not enough black babies being aborted in Alabama.
  • You know what Germany needs? Stricter crossbow regulation. (Hat tip: Amy Alkon.)
  • Haven’t seen this yet, but I want to: “The Guns and Gunplay of The Highwaymen Were Actually Accurate.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Not buying this, not even sure it will work, but buying buying your own biohacking lab is a pretty cyberpunk thing to do…
  • Voynich manuscript decoded?
  • Grumpy Cat, RIP. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • The War Against Jihad in Africa in 2019

    Saturday, May 11th, 2019

    Here’s an interesting look at Jihad in the Sahel, the transition zone between Saharan and Sub-Saharan Africa, originally from The Economist:

    Nigerian troops huddle around their captain for a briefing. Several rest their rifle muzzles in the sandy ground, which could block and damage them. During the assault on a terrorist training camp, many forget their training, firing wildly and running off their line of advance. After capturing it, they mill about and ignore the booms of incoming artillery. Finally they are brought up short by an angry Scotsman, who shouts: “Ibrahim, you’re dead!”

    This less-than-successful mock attack took place near the town of Bobo-Dioulasso, in the west of Burkina Faso. It was part of an American-led training exercise earlier this year involving some 2,000 elite troops from more than 30 countries. These two-week war games are the most visible part of a big Western push to turn the tide in a bloody, forgotten war. Jihadists are sweeping across the Sahel, an arid swathe of scrubland on the southern edge of the Sahara that stretches most of the way across Africa. They are also causing mayhem in Somalia. America, Britain, France and other Western powers are trying to help local forces in at least 16 countries beat them back. It is not going well.

    Since the collapse of the “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq, Islamic State (is) has been looking for other places to raise its black flag. Africa, and especially the Sahel, is vulnerable. Governments are weak, unpopular and often have only a tenuous grip over remote parts of their territory. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of is, sees an opportunity. In a video released on April 29th, to prove that he is not dead (his first such appearance in five years), the bearded zealot waxed enthusiastic about Africa. “Your brothers in Burkina Faso and Mali…we congratulate them for their joining the convoy of the caliphate,” he said, according to the site Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist communications.

    Major General Mark Hicks, who commands America’s special forces in Africa (and was in Burkina Faso for the war games) fears that is is not the only terrorist group extending its franchise into his patch. “Al-Qaeda has taken a very serious long-term view of expanding here in the Sahel, and they’re seeing real success,” he says. His intelligence officers reckon that the groups they track contain about 10,500 jihadist fighters.

    Most jihadists in Africa are fighting their own governments. But some attack Western targets. “If we don’t fight them here we will have to fight them on the streets of Madrid or Paris,” says a European intelligence officer.

    One cannot generalise easily about African jihadist groups. Some are strictly local, having taken up arms to fight over farmland or against corrupt local government. Some adopt the “jihadist” label only because they happen to be Muslim. Many young men who join such groups do so because they have been robbed by officials or beaten up by police, or seen their friends humiliated in this way.

    Other groups, such as al-Shabab in Somalia, are steeped in the teachings of al-Qaeda, the group behind the attacks on America on September 11th 2001. They tend to focus on spectacular atrocities, such as a truck bomb in 2017 in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, that killed almost 600 people. The most worrying groups are adherents of is that seek to hold territory. An offshoot of Boko Haram, for example, is building a proto-caliphate in northern Nigeria.

    Don’t forget that Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in 2015, but has since splintered at least once.

    Jihadist groups of all varieties are expanding their reach in the Sahel and around Lake Chad. Last year conflicts with jihadists in Africa claimed more than 9,300 lives, mostly civilian. This is almost as many as were killed in conflict with jihadists in Syria and Iraq combined. About two-fifths of those deaths were in Somalia, where al-Shabab frequently detonates car bombs in crowded streets. Many of the rest were in Nigeria, where the schoolgirl-kidnappers of Boko Haram and its odious offshoot, Islamic State West Africa Province, shoot villagers and behead nurses.

    However, the area that aid workers and Western spooks worry about most is the Sahel. In Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso the number of people killed in jihad-related violence has doubled for each of the past two years, to more than 1,100 in 2018. And the violence is spreading, spilling across borders and threatening to tear apart poor, fragile states with bad rulers and swelling populations.

    Snip.

    Fear of refugees is one of the main reasons why European military powers are trying to stabilise the region. France has 4,500 troops fighting jihadists there. Germany and Italy each have about 1,000 soldiers in Africa. Britain has set up two specialised infantry units dedicated to training African soldiers in Nigeria and Somalia. America, which is more concerned about terrorism than refugee flows in this part of the world, has more than 7,000 military personnel in Africa.

    The majority of Western troops do not fight jihadists directly—except in Somalia, where drone-fired missiles have killed many of al-Shabab’s fighters. Most are training local forces. They often have to start with the basics. In Nigeria, for instance, jihadists often sneak up and overrun army bases because the bush around them has not been cleared. Or they start shooting at them with a small force to goad the defenders into using up their ammunition firing back, leaving them helpless when the main attack begins.

    Efforts to contain the spread of jihadism by training local armies or killing insurgent leaders are not obviously working. Take Mali, where in 2012 Tuareg separatists and jihadists allied to al-Qaeda swept out of the desert and conquered the north of the country using weapons looted from the arsenals of Libya’s dead dictator, Muammar Qaddafi. The rebels seemed ready to march on the capital, Bamako, and the south, which contains 90% of the population and sustains most of the economy.

    French troops pushed them back from the main cities. But not even their expertise and firepower could defeat the rebels, who simply melted back into the desert. There they have survived a seven-year-long counterinsurgency campaign. Pundits in Paris are calling Mali “France’s Afghanistan”. And with good reason. The un now has more than 16,000 peacekeepers in Mali, of whom 195 have been killed, making it the blue helmets’ most dangerous mission since its start in 2013. Nonetheless, the jihadists have continued to spread south into Niger and Burkina Faso.

    The French are doing a lot of heavy lifting in Africa as part of Operation Barkhane, operating out of Chad and focused on five Ex-French colonies in Africa: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. (As colonial rulers, the French were worse than the British, but much better than the Belgians.) Four hostages were rescued from Jihadists in Burkina Faso in a raid that resulted in two dead French Special Forces troops, Cédric de Pierrepont and Alain Bertoncello. The hostages were originally seized in Benin, which is in political turmoil following a rigged election. (Hat tip: Charlie Martin.)

    But U.S. forces are actively engaged across Africa, mostly in the Sahel and mostly in support missions, with at least 36 different code-named U.S. operations in Africa:

    Between 2013 and 2017, U.S. special operations forces saw combat in at least 13 African countries, according to retired Army Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc, who served at U.S. Africa Command from 2013 to 2015 and then headed Special Operations Command Africa until 2017. Those countries, according to Bolduc, are Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Somalia, South Sudan and Tunisia. He added that U.S. troops have been killed or wounded in action in at least six of them: Kenya, Libya, Niger, Somalia, South Sudan and Tunisia….

    The code-named operations cover a variety of different military missions, ranging from psychological operations to counterterrorism. Eight of the named activities, including Obsidian Nomad, are so-called 127e programs, named for the budgetary authority that allows U.S. special operations forces to use certain host-nation military units as surrogates in counterterrorism missions.

    Used extensively across Africa, 127e programs can be run either by Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), the secretive organization that controls the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, the Army’s Delta Force and other special mission units, or by “theater special operations forces.” These programs are “specifically designed for us to work with our host nation partners to develop small — anywhere between 80 and 120 personnel— counterterrorism forces that we’re partnered with,” said Bolduc. “They are specially selected partner-nation forces that go through extensive training, with the same equipment we have, to specifically go after counterterrorism targets, especially high-value targets.”

    Some of the more important include Juniper Micron (logistics support of French forces), Juniper Nimbus (supporting the Nigerian military against Boko Haram), and Juniper Shield, the umbrella operation for counterterrorism efforts in northwest Africa, aimed at Boko Haram, the Islamic State in West Africa, and al Qaeda.

    See also: Islamic State Affiliated Groups And Their Current Status.

    LinkSwarm for April 26, 2019

    Friday, April 26th, 2019

    Democratic mayors behaving badly, violence, mayhem, and an Easter Bunny smackdown. Welcome to your Friday LinkSwarm!

  • Long, detailed post on FISA abuse under the Obama Administration. Fully 85% of all Obama Administration requests were not compliant with federal law.
  • AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka slams Obama and praises President Trump. Unions are also not wild about the “Green New Deal.”
  • Kurt Schlichter revels in the misery of #NeverTrumpers after the Mueller Report:

    Now, it’s not really fair to imply that the Never Trumpers hate Trump solely because he’s vulgar and crude – or, as normal people see it, unwilling to meekly take the guff the Never Trumpers’ country club class pals dish out like a proper gentleman should. They do find him aesthetically displeasing, but it also gnaws at them because every time he stands up to the garbage Democrats, the garbage press, or the garbage jerks and pervs of Hollywood, his refusal to knuckle-under reminds Team Fail that they don’t have the stones to do the same. He shames their cowardly weakness.

    It’s clear, in retrospect, that George W. Bush’s supine acceptance of the abuse the elite heaped upon him was not because he was too classy and too decent to respond in kind. Since Obama left office and he rediscovered his vocal cords, Bush has had zero problem trashing Trump and Trump supporters who, like many of us, stood by Bush in the ’00s while Bush was treading water in a sea of mediocrity. No, it’s clear that W was afraid to fight back against fellow members of the ruling class. He cared about being part of the club. Not The Donald. Trump, by fighting, demonstrates that the establishment GOPers are weak. And it eats at them.

    But besides providing a manly contrast to their own gimp-like submission to the leftist establishment, Trump infuriates the Never Trumpers for another reason. He’s kicked them out of their comfy sinecures. One of Trump’s magical powers is to make his enemies reveal their own grift complicity, and boy, have they ever. As a result, while once the mandarins of Conservative, Inc., traded on their insider influence and privilege, under Trump they are outsiders. Copies of the Weekly Standard used to be all over the Bush White House. Now, if its inept crew had not slammed it into an iceberg, you would be lucky to find a few pages at the bottom of Barron’s pet iguana’s cage.

    Bill Kristol, Max Boot, and all the rest are nobodies, relegated to occasionally joining CNN panels and fighting with Ana Navarro over the doughnuts in the green room. Where’s Bob Corker now? Jeff Flake hasn’t even got an MSNBC gig; I think last week he was the dude who offered to supersize my order.

  • The Twilight of Liberalism:

    it is not the abstract logic of liberalism that is flawed, but rather the attempt to apply it to fallible humans. Like communism, liberalism conflicts with immutable human characteristics. However, unlike communism, certain kinds of liberalism (the industrial liberalism of the 1900s, for example) work because they are moderated by the material conditions of society. But as those moderating conditions are obliterated by technology, the problems of post-industrial liberalism have become clearer. The ultimate problem is this: Humans desire unfettered freedom, but need the discipline that constraint provides. Without such discipline, they risk slumping into an empty and unsatisfying hedonism that is ruinous to communities and to society more broadly.

    Those who are intelligent and self-controlled often create their own constraints and can therefore thrive in post-industrial societies that are radically unlike the societies in which humans evolved. Those who are less intelligent or self-controlled, however, often fail to create successful constraints and therefore suffer when once powerful cultural guardrails (such as religion, strict norms, civic groups, and so on) are destroyed by accelerating innovation and secularism. The result is a growing cultural and economic gap between segments of the population which, when coupled with the declining outcomes for a once thriving middle class, fuels growing bitterness and discontent. Combine this with a trend toward cosmopolitanism that increases ethnic and religious diversity and therefore potential sources of faction and conflict, and liberalism’s immediate prospects look bleak.

    The authors also posit technological change as one of the biggest drivers of challenge to the old liberal order.

  • Followup: Remember how Baltimore’s Democratic Mayor Catherine Pugh took over $100,000 in bribes disguised as book sales? Well, now the feds have raided her house and office:

    Hauling out boxes of “Healthy Holly” books and documents, dozens of federal law enforcement agents Thursday struck homes, businesses and government buildings across Baltimore as an investigation into Mayor Catherine Pugh’s business dealings widened.

    FBI agents and IRS officials executed search warrants at her City Hall office, Pugh’s two houses, and offices of the mayor’s allies, as the growing scandal consumed the city’s attention, generated national headlines and provoked fresh calls for the embattled Democratic mayor’s resignation.

    Snip.

    Dave Fitz, an FBI spokesman, confirmed that agents from the Baltimore FBI office and the Washington IRS office searched at least six addresses. The U.S. attorney’s office confirmed the location of a seventh search. The actions were the first confirmation that federal authorities, as well as state officials, were investigating the mayor’s activities.

    Snip.

    Shortly after the raids began, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan called on Pugh, who has taken a paid leave of absence as mayor, to resign. The Republican governor had asked the Maryland Office of the State Prosecutor on April 1 to investigate Pugh’s sales of her self-published “Healthy Holly” children’s book series to the University of Maryland Medical System while she was on its unpaid board of directors.

    “Today, agents for the FBI and the IRS executed search warrants at the mayor’s homes and offices,” Hogan said. “Now, more than ever, Baltimore city needs strong and responsible leadership. Mayor Pugh has lost the public trust. She is clearly not fit to lead. For the good of the city, Mayor Pugh must resign.”

    When a raid involves both the FBI and the IRS, usually that’s a bad sign.

  • And speaking of Democratic mayors committing fraud, Edinburg, Texas Mayor Richard Molina was arrested on voting fraud charges:

    At times appearing unfazed by the severity of his circumstances, Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina was guided into a Pharr courtroom Thursday morning after he and his wife surrendered themselves to law enforcement to face multiple election fraud charges. The scene was notably different from when Molina entered a state of the city address just one year ago, shadowboxing and wielding a championship belt.

    Now, allegations from a Texas Attorney General’s office investigation into the city’s 2017 municipal election have cast Molina as allegedly cheating his way into the mayoral seat by having people who live outside of the city vote for him.

    An hour after he turned himself in at the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Edinburg office, Molina stood before Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Jaime “Jerry” Muñoz, who presides out of Pharr, and was charged with two counts of illegal voting and one count of engaging in organized election fraud — second- and first-degree felonies, respectively.

    Molina, 40, was then escorted to Hidalgo County jail where he was quickly booked in and out on a combined $20,000 cash surety bond, and promptly headed to a city workshop to discuss the future of a city golf course.

    It was business as usual for a mayor who has faced scrutiny since he unseated Edinburg’s longtime mayor, Richard Garcia, in November 2017 by 1,240 votes. Such scrutiny has only increased over the past year as the AG’s office arrested more than a dozen people on illegal voting charges tied to the election.

    And the voting fraud, sadly, seems business as usual in both the Rio Grande Valley in general and Hidalgo County specifically… (Hat tip: Dwight.)

  • The Press Will Learn Nothing From the Russiagate Fiasco.”

    You know what was fake news? Most of the Russiagate story. There was no Trump-Russia conspiracy, that thing we just spent three years chasing. The Mueller Report is crystal clear on this.

    He didn’t just “fail to establish” evidence of crime. His report is full of incredibly damning passages, like one about Russian officialdom’s efforts to reach the Trump campaign after the election: “They appeared not to have preexisting contacts and struggled to connect with senior officials around the President-Elect.”

    Not only was there no “collusion,” the two camps didn’t even have each others’ phone numbers!

    In March of 2017, in one of the first of what would become a mountain of mafia-hierarchy-style “Trump-Russia contacts” graphics in major newspapers, the Washington Post described an email Trump lawyer Michael Cohen sent to Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov. They called it “the most direct interaction yet of a top Trump aide and a senior member of Putin’s government.”

    The report shows the whole episode was a joke. In order to further the Trump Tower project-that-never-was, Cohen literally cold-emailed the Kremlin. More than that, he entered the email incorrectly, so the letter initially didn’t even arrive. When he finally fixed the mistake, Peskov didn’t answer back.

    That was “the most direct interaction yet of a top Trump aide and a senior member of Putin’s government”!

    As outlined in his initial mandate, Mueller explored “any links” between the Russian government and the campaign of Donald Trump. His conclusion spoke directly to the question of whether there was any kind of quid pro quo between the two sides:

    “The investigation examined whether these contacts involved or resulted in coordination or a conspiracy with the Trump Campaign and Russia, including with respect to Russia providing assistance to the Campaign in exchange for any sort of favorable treatment in the future.”

    In other words, all those fancy org charts were meaningless. Because there was no conspiracy, all those “walls are closing in” reports — and there were a ton of them — were wrong. We were told we’d hit “turning point” after “turning point” leading to the “the beginning of the end,” with Trump certain, soon, to either resign in shame, Nixon-style, or be impeached.

    The “RNC platform” change story was a canard, according to Mueller. The exchanges Trump figures had with ambassador Sergei Kislyak were “brief, public, and non-substantive.” The conversations Jeff Sessions had with Kislyak at the convention didn’t “include any more than a passing mention of the presidential campaign.” Mueller added “investigators did not establish that [Carter] Page conspired with the Russian government.”

    There was no blackmail, no secret bribe from Rosneft, no five-year cultivation plan, no evidence of any kind of any relationship that ever existed between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. Michael Cohen “never traveled to Prague.”

    The whole Steele dossier appears to have been bunk, with even Bob Woodward now saying the “highly questionable” document “needs to be investigated.” The Times similarly is reporting, two-plus years late, that “people familiar” with Steele’s work began to have “misgivings about [the report’s] reliability arose not long after the document became public.”

    Reporters are going to insist all they did was accurately report the developments of a real investigation. They didn’t imply vast criminality that wasn’t there, or hoodwink audiences into thinking a Watergate-style ending was just around the corner, or routinely blow meaningless episodes like the Sessions-Kislyak meeting out of proportion, or regularly smear people who not only weren’t part of a conspiracy but had no connection to anything (see here for an example).

    They’ll also claim they didn’t spend years openly rooting for indictment and impeachment via wish-casted predictions disguised as reporting and commentary, or denouncing people who doubted the conspiracy as spies and Putin apologists, or clearing their broadcast panels and op-ed pages of skeptics while giving big stages to craven conspiracy-spinners like Malcolm Nance and Luke Harding.

    (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)

  • Mark Steyn notes that between the Notre Dame fire and the bombing of Christian churches in Sri Lanka, our journalists have reached new levels in truth avoidance:

    It used to be said that ninety per cent of news is announcing Lord Jones is dead to people who were entirely unaware that Lord Jones was ever alive. Now the trick is to announce Lord Jones is dead and ensure that people remain entirely unaware of why he is no longer alive. One senses that a line was crossed in yesterday’s coverage. As one of our Oz Steyn Club members, Kate Smyth, put it, the media have advanced from dhimmitude to full-blown taqiyya.

    The lights are going out on the most basic of journalistic instincts: Who, what, when, where, why. All are subordinate to the Narrative – or Official Lie. All day yesterday and into today, if you had glanced at the telly, switched on the radio or surfed the big news sites of the Internet, you would have thought the Tamil Tigers were back “with a vengeance”, as The Economist put it – even though with one exception (the 1990 police massacre) the death toll was higher than any individual attack the Tigers had ever pulled off.

  • This seems like big news: “The National Security Agency has recommended that the White House abandon a U.S. surveillance program that collects information about Americans’ phone calls and text messages.”
  • Interesting thread on Gregory Craig, Obama’s White House Counsel who was recently indicted for crimes in his Ukraine work with Paul Manafort, and also Ted kennedy’s top foreign policy guy back when he was secretly asking for the Soviets to help him against Reagan.
  • “The partisan warfare over the Mueller report will rage, but one thing cannot be denied: Former President Barack Obama looks just plain bad. On his watch, the Russians meddled in our democracy while his administration did nothing about it.”
  • Russia launches world’s largest submarine. “The six hundred foot long submarine displaces more water than a World War I battleship and can dive to a depth of 1,700 feet.” More: “The nuclear-powered Belgorod is neither an attack submarine nor a ballistic missile sub. A special mission submarine, Belgorod will be a mothership to other undersea vessels. The sub can carry a payload on its back, behind the sail, or a Losharik class mini-submarine that attaches and detaches to the bottom of the hull.”
  • The Philippines threaten war over the canuck garbage menace.
  • M. J. Hegar, the Democrat who unsuccessfully challenged Rep. John Carter for the Texas 31st congressional district last year, announced that she’s running against John Cornyn. If she couldn’t take Carter in the Betomania midterm of 2018, she stands approximately no chance against Cornyn in the Presidential year of 2020.
  • “Sarah Wickline Hull was 20 weeks pregnant when she was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer.”
  • Former State Department employee Candace Marie Claiborne pleads guilty to concealing contacts from communist China. From the 2017 indictment:

    According to the affidavit in support of the complaint and arrest warrant, which was unsealed today, Claiborne began working as an Office Management Specialist for the Department of State in 1999. She has served overseas at a number of posts, including embassies and consulates in Baghdad, Iraq, Khartoum, Sudan, and Beijing and Shanghai, China. As a condition of her employment, Claiborne maintains a Top Secret security clearance. Claiborne also is required to report any contacts with persons suspected of affiliation with a foreign intelligence agency.

    Despite such a requirement, the affidavit alleges, Claiborne failed to report repeated contacts with two intelligence agents of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), even though these agents provided tens of thousands of dollars in gifts and benefits to Claiborne and her family over five years. According to the affidavit, the gifts and benefits included cash wired to Claiborne’s USAA account, an Apple iPhone and laptop computer, Chinese New Year’s gifts, meals, international travel and vacations, tuition at a Chinese fashion school, a fully furnished apartment, and a monthly stipend. Some of these gifts and benefits were provided directly to Claiborne, the affidavit alleges, while others were provided through a co-conspirator.

    Notable is how cheaply her allegiance was bought: “Claiborne noted in her journal that she could “Generate 20k in 1 year” working with one of the PRC agents, who, shortly after wiring $2,480 to Claiborne.”

  • Senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander reportedly defects. “Brigadier General Ali Nasiri, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Protection Bureau, is said to have fled to the West after a fallout with the representative of the Supreme Leader in the IRGC….General Nasiri was said to have fled with hundreds of classified documents, which could be of great value to the United States.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Katy human trafficking sting results in 44 arrests. (Hat tip: Governor Greg Abbott on Twitter.)
  • “The Bail Project is an unprecedented effort to combat mass incarceration at the front end of the system…We pay bail for people in need, reuniting families and restoring the presumption of innocence.” Like Samuel Scott. “Just hours after a nonprofit group posted bail for a man accused of assaulting his wife, the suspect went to the woman’s home and brutally murdered her.”
  • Kansas schools rebel against Mark Zuckerberg.
  • Ouch! 28-vehicle, multiple-fatality crash in Colorado.
  • Man who shot four people in self-defense, killing one, turns down plea deal, gets acquitted by jury in Philadelphia. (Hat tip: Karl Rehn.)
  • No matter how badly you’ve ever failed a class, you’ve never failed one “police cadet accidentally shoots two fellow cadets” bad. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • More on the Boeing 737 Max stall issue. (Hat tip: Borepatch.)
  • Australian feminist coffee shop that charged men a surcharge goes out of business. That will teach the patriarchy!
  • Shocking truth from the Washington Post: “If you’re in debt, you don’t deserve a vacation.” (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)
  • Savage:

  • Florida Man gets ass kicked by the Easter bunny.
  • Speaking of oversized ears, here’s a chart of everything Disney owns. Including Vice.
  • “New Poll Reveals Americans Strongly In Favor Of Legalizing Comedy.”
  • This just seems like a really bad idea. (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)
  • Heh:

  • “Epic Troll: Jesus To Return Moments Before Avengers: Endgame Premieres.”
  • Happy Friday!

  • Ilhan Omar, 9/11, and the Great Coordinated Democratic Freakout

    Sunday, April 14th, 2019

    Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota said something very stupid, and President Donald Trump made a video that called her on it:

    What followed was not just the usual Democratic Party freakout, but a coordinated Democratic Party with the same absurd talking points:

    It’s fascinating to watch Democrats step up to the plate and tell the exact same lie, one after another, in order to construct a false reality right before our very eyes. Omar said something stupid and President Trump merely called her out for it. There was absolutely no call to violence in the video, much less anything remotely resembling “white supremacy.” So why the uniform Democratic attempt to pretend otherwise, beyond their usual “Our violence is speech, your speech is violence” lie?

    For one thing, social justice warrior “intersectionality” forbids white men from criticizing a black Muslim female Democratic representative. Why, that’s like an untouchable criticizing a Brahmin! Doesn’t Trump know his place?

    But there’s a second, bigger reason at work: Because Omar’s stupid statement was about 9/11, President Trump’s response video included footage of the original attack, thus violating the Democratic media complex’s taboo on showing videos of 9/11. They know just how damaging those videos are to their vapid “Islam is a religion of peace” talking points, necessitated by both immigration (more Muslims equal more Democratic voters) and foreign policy (“Palestinians, good! Israel, bad!”). They know how powerful and damaging those images are to the Democratic brand, which is why they call footage of a hugely important historical event that happened 18 years ago “triggering.”

    And in one very important sense they’re right. Those images are triggering: They trigger Americans to vote against Democrats.

    That’s why they’re pushing back against President Trump so hard and calling such video “an incitement to violence,” because they’re desperate to reimpose that taboo.

    This time I don’t think it’s going to work.

    LinkSwarm for April 12, 2019

    Friday, April 12th, 2019

    At long last, the FISA abuse/FBI spying on the Trump campaign scandal is finally being dragged into the light again. At the same time, Wikileaks head honcho Julian Assange has been extracted from the Ecuadorian embassy arrested, pending extradition to the U.S. Coincidence? I report, you decide. “The US department of justice confirmed he has been charged with computer crimes, and added in a statement that if convicted he will face up to five years in prison.” Dang dude, if he had turned himself in when indicted, he’d already be out by now and working the talk show circuit.

    Enjoy a Friday LinkSwarm, and remember that you have to finish doing your taxes this weekend.

  • Stating the obvious: “Barr is right, spying on Trump campaign did occur.”

    The baffling thing was why they were baffled. Barr’s statement was accurate and supported by publicly known facts.

    First, what Barr said. “I think spying did occur,” he told the Senate Appropriations Committee. “But the question is whether it was adequately predicated. And I’m not suggesting it was not adequately predicated. But I need to explore that.”

    That is entirely accurate. It is a fact that in October 2016 the FBI wiretapped Carter Page, who had earlier been a short-term foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign. The bureau’s application to a secret court for that wiretapping is public. It is heavily redacted but is clearly focused on Page and “the Russian government’s attempt to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” Page was wiretapped because of his connection with the Trump campaign.

    Some critics have noted that the wiretap authorization came after Page left the campaign. But the surveillance order allowed authorities to intercept Page’s electronic communications both going forward from the day of the order and backward, as well. Investigators could see Page’s emails and texts going back to his time in the campaign.

    So there is simply no doubt that the FBI wiretapped a Trump campaign figure. Is a wiretap “spying”? It is hard to imagine a practice, whether approved by a court or not, more associated with spying.

    Anyone reading this blog (or any non-MSM news source) knew that Obama’s Justice Department was spying on Trump over two years ago. At this point it’s about as surprising as hearing that James Harden is good at basketball…

  • Barr Confirms Multiple Intel Agencies Implicated In Anti-Trump Spy Operation.” (Hat tip: J.J. Sefton at Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • In the same vein:

    Democrats seem both angry and frightened, and their kneejerk and perhaps even somewhat panicked response right now is to try to destroy Barr.

    You can feel the frisson of fear they emanate. They waited two years for the blow of the Mueller report to fall on Trump, and now other investigative blows may fall on them. The Mueller report combined with Barr’s appointment could end up being a sort of ironic boomerang (whether or not boomerangs can be ironic I leave to you to decide).

    How could this have happened? they must be thinking. How could the worm have turned? But they are spinning in the usual manner, hoping that—as so often has happened in the past—their confederates in the press will work their magic to make all of it go away and boomerang back to Republicans instead.

    But whatever comes of it all, if anything, Democrats cannot believe that at least right now their dreams have turned to dust and they taste, instead of the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat.

    That’s from Neo, formerly NeoNeocon. I can see why she’d want to change the name, given how many neocons became #NeverTrump lunatics. (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)

  • Newly released email from Platte River Networks, the firm that serviced the Emailgate server used by Hillary Clinton: “Its all part of the Hillary coverup operation.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Who’s Worse – Julian Assange or the NY Times and Washington Post?

    Deeply sourced? What a laugh. As we now know post-Mueller Report, these “respected” journalists were simply trafficking in collusion lies whispered to them by biased informants. In other words, they were a bunch of gullible, over-zealous propagandists. For that they received their Pulitzers, as yet unreturned, needless to say (just as the Pulitzer for Walter Duranty still hangs on the NY Times’ wall despite decades of pleas from Ukrainians whose countrymen’s mass murder by Stalin was bowdlerized by Duranty).

    So, in other words, these mainstream media reporters have gotten off with nary a slap on the wrist (indeed received fame and fortune) for lying while Julian Assange may be headed for prison for telling the truth. There’s a bit of irony in that, no?

  • Iraqi special forces launch an operation against islamic State remnants in the Hamrin Mountains. If you looked at the livemap, the Hamrin Mountains were the tiny sliver of ISIS-held territory between Tikrit and Kirkuk. No population centers, just some remote mountainous caves.
  • Avenatti indicted on 36 charges of tax dodging, perjury, theft from clients.”

    Avenatti stole millions of dollars from five clients and used a tangled web of shell companies and bank accounts to cover up the theft, the Santa Ana grand jury alleged in an indictment that prosecutors made public Thursday.

    One of the clients, Geoffrey Ernest Johnson, was a mentally ill paraplegic on disability who won a $4-million settlement of a suit against Los Angeles County. The money was wired to Avenatti in January 2015, but he hid it from Johnson for years, according to the indictment.

    In 2017, Avenatti received $2.75 million in proceeds from another client’s legal settlement, but concealed that too, the indictment says. The next day, he put $2.5 million of that money into the purchase of a private jet for Passport 420, LLC, a company he effectively owned, according to prosecutors.

    You can read the indictment itself here. Hey, remember the MSM treating Creepy Porn Lawyer like a rock star? Pepperidge Farm remembers:

  • When California Democratic Representative Ted Lieu went after Candace Owens, he probably had no idea he’d just make her star shine brighter. “She was a liberal, but during the #GamerGate controversy, she was ‘doxxed’ by the Left, and had a road-to-Damascus awakening: ‘I became a conservative overnight. I realized that liberals were actually the racists. Liberals were actually the trolls.'”
  • Wendy Davis is going to run for congress against Rep. Chip Roy. In one way this makes sense, as Roy narrowly won over Joseph Kopser by 2% in 2018. However, Kopser was (by Democratic standards) a well-heeled businessman moderate. I don’t actually see Abortion Barbie being nearly as competitive after the walloping she took in 2014. Also of interest is her running for an Austin-to-San Antonio district rather than somewhere near her previous base of Fort Worth. (I emailed the Kopser for Congress address to ask if he’s running again, but the contact address is no longer valid.)
  • Fritz Hollings, RIP. Hollings was one of the last conservative southern Democrats, and co-sponsor of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Deficit Reduction Act, which temporarily limited spending growth until congress gutted it in 1990.
  • West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin supports the reelection of Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins.
  • Georgia Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath lives in Tennessee.
  • “Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has warned China that his soldiers [are] occupying the island of Thitu in the South China Sea, which is currently surrounded by some 275 Chinese fishing militia and Coast Guard vessels.”
  • Why we need the electoral college:

    he core function of the Electoral College is to require presidential candidates to appeal to the voters of a sufficient number of large and smaller states, rather than just try to run up big margins in a handful of the biggest states, cities, or regions. Critics ignore the important value served by having a president whose base of support is spread over a broad, diverse array of regions of the country (even a president as polarizing as Donald Trump won seven of the ten largest states and places as diverse as Florida, Pennsylvania, Arizona, West Virginia, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Texas).

    In a nation as wide and varied as ours, it would be destabilizing to have a president elected over the objections of most of the states. Our American system as a whole — both by design and by experience — demands the patient building of broad, diverse political coalitions over time to effect significant change. The presidency works together with the Senate and House to make that a necessity. The Senate, of course, is also a target of the Electoral College’s critics, but eliminating the equal suffrage of states requires the support of every single state. A president elected without regard to state support is more likely to face a dysfunctional level of opposition in the Senate.

    Consider an illustrative example. Most of us, I think, would agree that 54 percent of the vote is a pretty good benchmark for a decisive election victory — not a landslide, but a no-questions-asked comfortable majority. That’s bigger than Donald Trump’s victory in Texas in 2016; Trump won 18 states with 54 percent or more of the vote in 2016, Hillary Clinton won 10 plus D.C., and the other 22 states were closer than that. Nationally, just 16 elections since 1824 have been won by a candidate who cleared 54 percent of the vote — the last was Ronald Reagan in 1984 — and all of them were regarded as decisive wins at the time.

    Picture a two-candidate election with 2016’s turnout. The Republican wins 54 percent of the vote in 48 states, losing only California, New York, and D.C. That’s a landslide victory, right? But then imagine that the Republican nominee who managed this feat was so unpopular in California, New York, and D.C. that he or she loses all three by a 75 percent–to–25 percent margin. That 451–87 landslide in the Electoral College, built on eight-point wins in 48 states, would also be a popular-vote defeat, with 50.7 percent of the vote for the Democrat to 49.3 percent for the Republican. Out of a total of about 137 million votes, that’s a popular-vote margin of victory of 1.95 million votes for a candidate who was decisively rejected in 48 of the 50 states.

    Who should win that election? This is not just a matter of coloring in a lot of empty red land on a map: each of these 48 states is an independent entity that has its own governor, legislature, laws, and courts, and sends two senators to Washington. The whole idea of a country called the United States is that those individual communities are supposed to matter.

  • Can Jewish Exodus from Democratic Party keep Florida red in 2020?”
  • Five debunked feminist myths. Including that hoary 77¢ canard.
  • “On Thursday, Google canceled its AI ethics board after 2,476 employees signed a petition urging the company to remove Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James for opposing transgender activism. An anonymous Google employee told PJ Media the corporate culture resembles the stifling of debate on college campuses, and warned that Google’s caving to pressure on this issue will only embolden activists.”
  • Eurocrats issue absurd takedown commands under a new “terrorist content” law. Include all of Project Gutenberg.
  • A follow-up to last week’s LinkSwarm piece about Baltimore mayor Catherine Pugh’s bribes-via-bulk-children’s book-orders scam: Critical Carlos reviews Healthy Holly. And don’t miss the video.
  • Via regular blog reader Howard comes this handy map of fake hate crimes.
  • That “far right extremist crimes are on the rise” talking point is absolute bunk.
  • More than 60 groups are considering suing SPLC. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Antifa gonna antifa:

  • “Man In Critical Condition After Hearing Slightly Differing Viewpoint.”
  • Casino Profits Collapse In Atlantic City.”
  • Pollen haboob. (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)
  • The word for the color orange didn’t exist in English until the introduction of the fruit.
  • “Oh no, not the bees! They’re in my eyes!
  • You just missed the 50th anniversary of the Japanese Penis Festival. (Hat tip: Ordy Packard on Twitter.)
  • Sudan Coup Update

    Thursday, April 11th, 2019

    The good news is that Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir, a man implicated in genocide in Darfur, has indeed been deposed after 30 years in power and is under arrest.

    The bad news is his replacement, Defense Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed bin Awaf, was also sanctioned for his role in Darfur. Ibn Auf is also the former head of military intelligence, which is the sort of background that lets someone stick around power for a while, no matter that the military has said they’ll only rule for two years.

    Protest leaders are already saying that military rule is not good enough, they want actual democracy:

    Omar al-Bashir is a scumbag dictator who tried to impose Sharia law on Sudan. I’m cautiously optimistic that his replacements will be an improvement, though how much remains to be seen.

    The BBC has a timeline of al-Bashir reign.

    Coup in Sudan

    Thursday, April 11th, 2019

    I’m about to go off to bed, but here are numerous reports that a coup against the unpopular dictator Omar al-Bashir, who has ruled Sudan for 30 years, has succeeded and forced him to step down after weeks of massive protests against him:

    Al-Bashir is a corrupt scumbag who has played footsie with jihadists and is responsible for the genocide in Darfur. Usually instability like this makes a country ripe for takeover by jihadists, but the nature of al-Bashir’s regime (which discriminated against all Sudanese who weren’t Arab) suggests that whatever follows him probably won’t be Islamists (knock on wood).

    Developing…

    LinkSwarm for March 29, 2019

    Friday, March 29th, 2019

    The aftermath of [rock DJ voice] NO COLLUSION WEEKEND dominates today’s LinkSwarm.

  • It will take years to undo the damage of Russiagate:

    Millions of Americans have been led to believe that President Trump committed treason, and any day he could be led out of the White House in chains. They wake up every day thinking this could be the day that Mueller gets Trump. These poor souls should be facing a tough reality this weekend. But hold the Xanax, at least for now. The media and Democrat Party have dug themselves so deeply in a hole, they must keep on digging. That’s absolutely terrible for this country, as has been this entire endeavor.

    If our country is ever to recover from this mess, we can’t forget how we got here. Russians were attempting to hack both the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee in late 2015. Whether the DNC was ultimately hacked or suffered an internal leak, the truth remains that the DNC documents and emails obtained by WikiLeaks showed the entire country that Hillary Clinton, and those around her, were corrupt and would bend the rules (or worse) for power. There was never a real and fair contest between her and Bernie Sanders.

    As soon as the Clinton campaign realized its misdeeds toward Bernie had been made public, they blamed Russia. They immediately began putting out a narrative that attempted to say Russia had acted to favor Trump, which included paying Fusion GPS—a notorious propaganda outfit with ties to loads of so-called journalists—to create ties between Trump and Russia.

    Snip.

    In short, the Hillary campaign peppered the Obama executive branch with allegations of Trump-Russia collusion. The Obama intelligence apparatus, pushed on by Obama’s Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan, was only too happy to run with it. Jim Comey’s FBI then used those Word documents to get a warrant from a secret court to spy on Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aide, which allowed the FBI to spy on the rival political party’s presidential campaign.

    The FBI’s involvement allowed Fusion GPS and the journalists it was working with to put out all sorts of stories before the election, meant to damage Trump’s candidacy. These stories alleged that the ties between Trump and Russia were so serious, the FBI was investigating them. For example, CNN and others ran stories about the FBI looking into Trump because there was supposedly a computer in Trump Tower that was communicating with a Russian bank.

    Snip.

    Once Trump won, all hell broke loose. There was talk of stopping him with the Electoral College, and protestors wrecked parts of DC. Obama’s deputy attorney general Sally Yates sent FBI agents to entrap Mike Flynn, at the time Trump’s national security advisor, using a 200-year-old law that is never enforced, unconstitutional, and routinely violated by every incoming presidential administration.

    The mainstream media was just as deranged. For the entire year of 2017, anything that could damage Trump, no matter how outlandish, was published. Journalistic standards collapsed.

    To MSNBC and CNN, every spurious and anonymously sourced report, which was always called a “bombshell,” was a sign that the “walls were closing in” on the Trump presidency. CNN famously reported on a Trump Jr. email, which could have shown collusion, until they realized they got the date of the email wrong. ABC News anchor Brian Ross produced a false report that caused the stock market to drop, and was eventually let go by ABC over the issue. These are but a few examples.

    It’s a nice summary of the whole “Russian collusion” madness. Read the whole thing.

  • “50+ Journalists, Politicians, Celebrities, and Grifters Who Peddled the Russia Collusion Hoax.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Matt Tabbi of Rolling Stone is even more damning of the media that hyped the Russian collusion fantasy, and those partisans trying to ignore Mueller’s conclusions:

    The report’s most-quoted line read, “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

    In essence, Mueller punted the question of obstruction back to Barr, who together with Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein has already decided the report didn’t provide enough evidence to support a criminal charge in any of the “number of actions” committed by Trump that raised the specter of obstruction.

    This isn’t surprising, given that Barr is a Trump appointee. The Atlantic is one of many outlets to have already cried foul about this (“Barr’s Startling and Unseemly Haste” is the name of one piece). But Barr’s letter includes a telling detail from Mueller himself on this issue (emphasis mine):

    In making this determination, we noted that the Special Counsel recognized that “the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference,” and that, while not determinative, the absence of such evidence bears upon the President’s intent with respect to obstruction…

    In other words, it was Mueller, not Barr, who concluded there was no underlying crime, so if the next stage of this madness is haggling over an obstruction charge, that would likely entail calling for a prosecution of Trump for obstructing an investigation into what even Mueller deemed non-crime.

    Snip.

    MSNBC HOST Chris Matthews said something very similar. First, he recounted his dismay as he learned over the weekend there wouldn’t be new indictments of Trump family members, his inner circle, etc. From there, Matthews deduced, “There’s not going to be even a hidden charge…. They don’t have him on collusion.”

    Members of the media like Matthews spent two years speaking of Mueller in mythical tones, hyping him as the savior who was pushing those “walls” that were forever said to be “closing in” on Trump. Mueller, it was repeatedly said, was helping bring about “the beginning of the end.”

    Over and over, audiences were told the investigation had hit a “turning point,” after which Trump would either resign or be impeached, because as Brian Williams put it, “Donald Trump is done.”

    This manipulative brand of news programming preyed upon the emotional devastation of liberal audiences, particularly the older people who watch cable. It told them the horror they felt over Trump’s election would be alleviated in short order. The median age of the CNN viewer is 60 and MSNBC’s is 65, and these people were urged for years to place their trust in Santa BOB, who knew all and whose investigation would surely lead to impeachment and “the end.”

    All you had to do was keep turning in, because the good news could come any minute now! The bombshell is coming! Never mind that this is causing our profits to soar. Don’t wonder about our motives, even though outlets like MSNBC saw a 62 percent bump in viewership in the first full year of Russiagate coverage. Just keep tuning in. The walls are closing in!

    That was bad enough, but now that the Mueller dream seems to have died, news organizations are acting like they didn’t hype Mueller as savior.

    “Robert Mueller was never going to end Trump’s Presidency,” says Vox.

    Matthews, in a tone that suggested he was being the sober adult delivering tough love, completed his thought about how “they don’t have him on collusion” by saying, with a shrug of undisguised disappointment:

    “So I think the Democrats have got to win the election.” He added, “There’s no waiting around for uncle Robert to take care of everything.”

    I know no one cares how this sounds to non-Democrats, but this is a member of the media looking sad that Democrats would have to resort to actual democracy to win the White House back.

    Given that “collusion” has turned out to be dry well, to the ordinary viewer it will look a hell of lot like the MSNBCs of the world humped a fake story for two consecutive years in the hopes of overturning election results ahead of time. Trump couldn’t have asked for a juicier campaign issue, and an easier way to argue that “elites” don’t respect the democratic choices of flyover voters. It’s hard to imagine what could look worse.

    (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)

  • Even the New York Times‘s Bret Stephens says Democrats and the media blew it:

    The fiasco was to assume that the result of Mueller’s investigation was a forgone conclusion. And to believe that the existence of dots was enough to prove that they had to connect. And to report on it nonstop, breathlessly, as if the levee would break any second. And to turn Adam Schiff into a celebrity guest. And to belittle or exclude contrarian voices.

    Last July, I wrote of the special counsel’s inquiry: “The smart play is to defend the integrity of Mueller’s investigation and invest as little political capital as possible in predicting the result. If Mueller discovers a crime, that’s a gift to the president’s opponents. If he discovers nothing, it shouldn’t become a humiliating liability.”

    Instead, as Matt Taibbi perceptively observed last week, what we have is a W.M.D.-size self-inflicted media disaster, which ought to require some extensive self-criticism before we breathlessly move on to Trump’s latest alleged idiocy. Assume for a moment that Trump’s odd Russia behavior, including the obsequiousness toward Vladimir Putin and the routine eruptions against Mueller, was merely a way of baiting journalists for years.

    If so, he could hardly have played us better: He’d be the Keyser Söze of media manipulation. To adapt a line, perhaps the greatest trick Trump ever pulled was to convince the world his brain didn’t exist.

    (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)

  • Lee Smith in Tablet was even more critical of the media:

    The media criticism of the media’s performance covering Russiagate is misleadingly anodyne—OK, sure the press did a bad job, but to be fair there really was a lot of suspicious stuff going on and now let’s all get back to doing our important work. But two years of false and misleading Russiagate coverage was not a mistake, or a symptom of lax fact-checking.

    Russiagate was an information operation from the beginning, in which dozens of individual reporters and institutions actively partnered with paid political operatives like Glenn Simpson and corrupt law enforcement and intelligence officials like former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and senior DOJ official Bruce Ohr to smear Trump and his circle, and then to topple him. None of what went on the last two years would have been possible without the press, an indispensable partner in the biggest political scandal in a generation.

    The campaign was waged not in hidden corners of the internet, but rather by the country’s most prestigious news organizations—including, but not only, The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, and MSNBC. The farce that has passed for public discourse the last two years was fueled by a concerted effort of the media and the pundit class to obscure gaping holes in logic as well as law. And yet, they all appeared to be credible because the institutions sustaining them are credible.

    Michael McFaul was U.S. ambassador to Moscow—he knows everything about Russia. He wouldn’t invent stuff about national security matters out of thin air. Jane Mayer is a national treasure, one of America’s greatest living journalists who penned a long profile of Christopher Steele in the pages of the New Yorker. Susan Hennessy is a former intelligence community lawyer, who appears as an expert on TV. And how about her colleague at the Lawfare blog, Benjamin Wittes, a Brookings Institution fellow and a personal friend of James Comey? You think he didn’t have the inside dope, every time he posted a “Boom” GIF on Twitter predicting the final nail just about to be hammered in Trump’s coffin?

    Many more jumped on the dog pile along with them, validating each other’s tweets and breathless insider sourcing. The point was to thicken the echo chamber, with voices from the right as well as the left in order to make it seem real. Hey, if this many experts are saying so, there must be something to it.

    Except, there wasn’t—ever.

    American democracy is premised on a free press that does its best to provide the public with information. Misinforming the public is like dumping toxic waste in the rivers. It poisoned our democracy—and it continues to do so. In fact, the most important thing for the public to understand is that Russiagate is not unique. It’s the way that the expert class opines on everything now, from immigration to foreign policy.

    (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)

  • “The report showed that the so-called Trump Dossier, which was compiled by a former MI6 spook, Christopher Steele, and funded by the Clinton campaign and the DNC, is a total work of fiction. There was no collusion. There was no blackmail or any of that innuendo. If anything, this operation executed on behalf of Democrats shows collusion between Russia, Steele, DNC, and the Clintons.”
  • Scott Adams enjoys the media freakout over the Mueller report’s total vindication of President Trump.
  • It turns out that lying to your viewers constantly for two years is not a great business model.
  • Speaking of the media getting it wrong: “USA Today Blacklists The Federalist For The Crime Of Getting The Trump-Russia Story Right.”

  • “Mueller Orders Trump To Sit On Scale To See If He Weighs The Same As A Duck.”
  • President Trump held what appeared to be a very well-attended rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan:

  • I keep thinking I should do an update on Brexit news, but there isn’t really any. Parliament, having stripped Prime Minister Therese May of the power to negotiate Brexit, will neither shit nor get off the pot.
  • “Transgender “Women” Bully Rape Crisis Center, Get Funding Pulled.” What’s real rape compared to the crime of using the wrong pronoun?
  • “The REAL Collusion, Part 2: What Is the Connection Between James Clapper, Victor Pinchuk, and CTO of Only Company To Work on Hacked DNC Server?”
  • “Green New Deal” defeated in the Senate, with 0 votes for and 57 against, most Democrats voting “present.” Because actually calling your insane, economy-wrecking resolution for a vote is just a dirty trick…
  • Ilhan Omar Has Been Holding Secret Fundraisers For Groups That Support Terrorism.”

    Omar recently spoke in Florida at a private event hosted by Islamic Relief, a charity organization long said to have deep ties to groups that advocate terrorism against Israel. Over the weekend, she will appear at another private event in California that is hosted by CAIR-CA PAC, a political action committee affiliated with the Council on American Islamic Relations, or CAIR a group that was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a massive terror-funding incident.

  • Hmmm: “Gerald Goines, the HPD officer at the center of a botched drug raid, retires.” “Goines’ retirement came a day after Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo confirmed that he expected more than one officer to be criminally charged for their actions in the ill-fated raid.”
  • Hmmm Part II: “Houston police investigator probing failed drug raid relieved of duty.” “Angel August was taken off duty with pay on March 13, according to a Houston Police Department spokesman. Officials have not yet publicly divulged the reason for their decision to bench August, who joined the department in 2011. August was the officer who filed the initial report a day after the Jan. 28 shooting at 7815 Harding Street that left two residents dead and five police officers injured, according to a police report obtained by the Houston Chronicle under the state open records law.” (Hat tip (for both): Dwight.)
  • “Video shows fired Paterson [New Jersey] police officer brutally assaulting hospital patient.” A patient who was flat on his back on a stretcher at the time.
  • Even the Illinois Prosecutor’s Bar Association condemned the Jussie Smollett dismissal as “abnormal and unfamiliar to those who practice law in criminal courthouses across the State.”
  • Two Mexican drug cartels clashed in Miguel Aleman, Tamaulipas, just over the border from Roma, Texas. “Both cartel factions used numerous grenades and incendiary devices in order to disable the other sides armored SUVs. The clashes left several burned-out vehicles throughout the city and the surrounding areas.” A nearby Mexican army base did nothing to stop the violence. (Hat tip: Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton on Twitter.)
  • Criminal pro-tip: When looking for a potential victim, try not to pick an off-duty policewoman:

  • “92 percent of illegal immigrant families ignore deportations.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Homeland Missile Defense System Successfully Intercepts ICBM Target.” (Hat tip: John Bolton’s Twitter feed.)
  • A quicker Navy plan to get to 355 ships. But many questions remain. (Hat tip: CDR Salamander via The Other McCain.)
  • New Zealand bans guns. Result? “Of the 1.2M gun owners registered there, 37 have turned them in.”
  • Liberals are increasingly shocked that Joe Rogan has interesting people on his show and allows them to speak their minds. Link goes to the Althouse comments session rather than the article she’s linking to, since the comments are far more interesting. Today’s SJW-riddled liberals seem terrified and outraged by anyone allowing even the slight shred of heresy from their orthodoxy. I forget what the first Rogan interview I stumbled across was (probably one with Bill Burr), but he’s someone that actually let’s his guests just talk and express their ideas without trying to argue or interrupt.
  • Andrew Sullivan: “Maybe Hollywood should stop depicting working class white Americans as racist bigots if they want to avoid reelecting Trump.” Hollywood liberals: “Silence, blasphemer!” (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)
  • “Microsoft takes control of 99 domains operated by Iranian state hackers.”
  • BOOM! (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • “Sick And Tired Of All This Prosperity, Nation To Try Socialism For A While.”
  • Stephen Jay Gould fell pray to the same bias he thought he was condemning.
  • The scourge of fake wasabi.
  • Unwrapping a Gutenberg Bible.
  • How Qatar Buys Influence (and a bit about Saudi Arabia)

    Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

    I saw this video about Qatar buying influence at a number of American media outlets and think tanks. It’s 23 minutes long, but worth you’re time if you’re interested in the subject.

    A few takeaways:

  • Qatar has poured a lot of money into the Brookings Institute, so much that their scholars are forbidden to criticize it. And no one knows just how much they’re pouring into Brookings’ Doha branch.
  • I knew that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had sidelined many hardline Wahhabist clerics in 2017, but I didn’t know that (as this video asserts) he at least some threatened with a sentence of beheading. But that does appear to be the case.
  • Nick Muzin, Ted Cruz’s deputy chief of staff for strategy in his 2016 Presidential campaign, opened lobbying agency Stonington Strategies and became a registered agent for Qatar, specifically for pitching them to the American Jewish community. According to Tablet, Muzin’s firm was pulling down $300,000 a month from Qatar, though he says he cut ties with them last year (which is not in the video).
  • Qatar has evidently launched hacking attacks against many of its critics.
  • I think their overall take, that Qatar continues to fund the Muslim Brotherhood and other terrorist groups, and that Mohammed bin Salman is largely cleaning up Saudi Arabia’s act when it comes to sponsoring terrorism, is general correct. This does not make the Saudis our friends, but it does make them somewhat less repugnant allies.

    Speaking of the Saudis, this piece in Foreign Policy states that “Mohammed bin Salman Is Here to Stay“:

    for all the talk of the crown prince’s brashness (former State Department officials Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky described the crown prince as a “ruthless, reckless, and impulsive leader”), some of the changes he has brought to his country have benefitted the United States. Not least among them are his efforts to drastically curtail Wahhabi clerical influence at home by detaining dozens of radical clerics and drastically limiting the power of the religious police and to empower Saudi women by better integrating them into the workforce.

    And despite what many in the West see as Saudi Arabia’s missteps during his tenure—including its involvement in the war in Yemen, blockading Qatar, detaining Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the imprisonment and alleged torture of women’s rights activists, the detention of Saudi political and moneyed elites, and the diplomatic spat with Canada—Saudi Arabia has also used its considerable diplomatic and financial leverage to support key U.S. policies throughout the Middle East. These include efforts at Arab-Israeli peace and stabilization and reconstruction initiatives in Iraq and northeastern Syria.

    The United States should remember that Mohammed bin Salman’s successes as well as some of his mistakes are products of the same qualities: his youth and drive. He is 33, which is an asset insofar as it aligns him with the needs, wants, and hopes of a country in which 70 percent of the population is under 35. Youth entails boldness and an increased appetite for risk—essential qualities in a leader who is trying to bring about the type of total social and economic transformation the kingdom requires.

    I think that this analysis is largely correct as well, but a large measure of caution is always in order where the Saudis are concerned.