Saturday, May 31, 2014

GOP: Don’t Blow It On Immigration!

GOP: Don’t Blow It On Immigration!
by John Hinderaker in Immigration

All signs point to an excellent year for Republicans in 2014, but still we hear disquieting rumblings about immigration. Some Republicans, for reasons it is hard to understand, are convinced that it will somehow benefit the party to create millions of new voters, most of whom vote for Democrats. Not only that, caving on immigration would be the surest way to dispirit the party’s base. Michael Ramirez, as usual, sums it up beautifully. Click to enlarge:
Due mostly to Jeff Sessions’ heroic efforts, most people now admit that importing tens of millions of low-skilled workers will not be good for America’s working class citizens. I’m glad we finally got that established! But the Chamber of Commerce and plutocrats like Mark Zuckerberg continue to insist that we need to import more high-tech workers, and some Republicans seem to be going along.
The facts, however, are to the contrary. On Friday, several leading academics participated in a conference call on this issue. I was not able to take part, but Breitbart News has a report:
Four prominent scholars on Friday questioned why the high-tech industry gets a free pass to perpetuate the myth that there is a shortage of American workers in jobs related to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). …
Hal Salzman, a Rutgers University public policy professor, said current wages in the high-tech and information technology (IT) industries do not reflect a labor shortage. “Average wages in IT today are the same as they were when Bill Clinton was president well over a decade ago,” Salzman said. “So one has to wonder if there is in fact a shortage, why doesn’t that reflect in the market? Why don’t wages go up?” …
Michael Teitelbaum, a senior research associate at Harvard Law School whose new book, Falling Behind? Boom, Bust, and the Global Race for Scientific Talent, explores these issues, said as far as he knew, “nobody who is not associated with the industry that is engaged in a rather effective and expensive generalized” campaign to clamor about the “widespread shortages of scientists and engineers” has been able to provide the evidence of such shortages.
The Senate’s amnesty bill that passed last year would double and possibly triple the number of high-tech visas and, as Breitbart News has reported, House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s (R-VA) “SKILLS” Act that that passed out of his committee would double the number of H-1B visas.
Ron Hira, a public policy professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology who has worked on these issues for more than a decade, said on the conference call that the H-1B visas that are filling the supposed “gaps” are “doing more harm than good” to the U.S. science and engineering workforce.
He noted that the majority of the H-1B visas are being used for “cheaper workers” from abroad and mentioned that offshoring firms used 50% of the cap last year to further their business model of bringing in “lower-cost H-1B workers to replace American workers.” Salzman said that even after American software engineers train their replacements, they cannot speak out about their experiences for fear of being blackballed or having to forfeit their severance payments.
Hira said that the H-1B program has run amok because “Congress sets the wage floors way too low” and “far below the market wages for American workers” while not placing any “requirement to look for or recruit American workers first, so there is no displacement of American workers.”
“As a result, you are basically inducing companies to game the system to bring foreign workers to undercut American workers,” Hira noted. “Instead of complementing the U.S. workers as it should, it’s substituting for the U.S. workforce and taking away future opportunities by shifting the work overseas.”
Salzman said that in this arrangement, the employer has nearly total control of the “indentured” H1-B workers because they hold their work permits. Matloff agreed, saying that figuratively “handcuffing” foreign workers is even “more important than saving on wages” because employers can “prevent foreign workers from leaving” in the middle of projects, unlike with American workers.
There is much more at the link, but this statistic pretty much says it all:
He also mentioned that IT guest workers are on pace to make up 30-40% of the entire IT workforce even when there are 50% more graduates than job openings in the STEM fields.
So if a third or more of Americans with STEM degrees can’t get jobs in their fields, we need to import millions of foreign workers to make the glut even worse? The Hippocratic principle, “First, do no harm,” applies in spades to Congress. Young Americans are facing an uphill struggle to find rewarding careers, due in large part to the counterproductive policies of the Obama administration. Republicans should not acquiesce in immigration policies that make matters even worse.

Obamacare: Who Could Have Seen This Coming?

Obamacare: Who Could Have Seen This Coming?

by Steven Hayward in Annals of Government Medicine, Obamacare

Really, who could have seen this coming?  From today’s Wall Street Journal:
ER Visits Rise Despite Health Law
Health Act Isn’t Cutting Emergency Volume So Far; Government Says It’s Too Early to Draw Conclusions
The only thing wrong with the main headline is its accuracy; it should of course read “ER Visits Rise Because of Health Law.”  Anyway:
Early evidence suggests that emergency rooms have become busier since the Affordable Care Act expanded insurance coverage this year, despite the law’s goal of reducing unnecessary care in ERs.
Almost half of ER doctors say they are seeing more patients since key provisions of the health law took effect Jan. 1, while more than a quarter say their patient volume has remained the same, according to a survey to be released Wednesday by the American College of Emergency Physicians.
Eighty-six percent of emergency doctors expect visits to rise over the next three years, though the email survey didn’t ask the doctors why.
Democrats who designed the 2010 health law hoped it would do the opposite.
Important safety tip for legislators: Any sentence that begins “Democrats design law to [fill in the blank]” can be assured that it will do the opposite nine times out of 10.

Dinesh D'Souza's 'America' warns Hillary Clinton will 'finish off' the country

Dinesh D'Souza's 'America' warns Hillary Clinton will 'finish off' the country


Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Barack Obama,Hillary Clinton,Bill Clinton,2016 Elections,Dinesh DSouza,Saul Alinsky
In his highly anticipated new book and movie "America," conservative author Dinesh D'Souza is warning that Hillary Clinton won't be a clone of her moderate husband, but will instead take the baton from President Obama to continue radicalizing the country and “undo the nation's founding ideals.”
"America -- Imagine a World Without Her," published by Regnery and set for release Monday, charges that as students of radical organizer Saul Alinsky, Obama and Clinton could have enough time to “unmake and then remake America” into a nation the founding fathers wouldn't recognize.

“They may not be responsible for the suicide of America, but they certainly will have helped to finish off a certain way of life in America, and they will leave us with a country unrecognizable not only to Washington and Jefferson but also to those of us who grew up in the 20th century,” wrote D’Souza.
“If they succeed, there may be no going back. Then it will be their America, not ours, and we will be a people bereft of a country, with no place to go,” he adds on page 87.
“America” is D’Souza’s latest book and movie on how he sees progressive politics hurting the nation. He also created the movie “2016: Obama’s America,” which was the second highest-grossing political documentary.
An advance copy of the book provided to Secrets suggests that progressives aim to remake the nation into one that is less powerful, less wealthy and less influential. If that happens, he warns, “We have committed national suicide.”
He focuses on Obama’s and Clinton’s links to Alinsky in a chapter titled “The Plan.” He claims the two followed the radical’s master plan that they hide their views and ideas until they get into power.
“If you see early pictures and video of Hillary, she looks and sounds like a former hippie. Overtime, however, Hillary started dressing like a respectable middle-class mother and speaking in a clipped, moderate sounding voice. Young Barack Obama, too, looked like a bit of a street thug -- in his own words, he could have been Trayvon Martin. Over time, however, Obama started dressing impeccably and even practiced modulating his voice,” the popular author writes.
“Hillary and Obama have both learned the Alinsky lesson that your should aggressively pursue power while pretending to be motivated by altruism,” he added.
“More importantly, Hillary and Obama both adopted Alinsky’s strategic counsel to sound mainstream, even when you aren’t,” wrote D’Souza. “These are the ways in which our two Alinskyites make themselves palatable to the American middle class, which to this day has no idea how hostile Hillary and Obama are to middle-class values.
“If Hillary Clinton is elected in 2016, the baton will have passed from one Alinskyite to another. In this case, Alinsky’s influence will have taken on a massive, almost unimaginable, importance. Obama will have had eight years to remake America, and Hillary will have another four or perhaps eight to complete the job,” he wrote.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at

Friday, May 30, 2014

More mush from the wimp

More mush from the wimp

by Scott Johnson in Obama Foreign Policy
President Obama gave the commencement speech at West Point this morning. The subject of the speech was foreign policy. The White House has posted the text here. The White House has also posted the video here and uploaded it to YouTube; I have posted it below. Please check it out.

I find it difficult to imagine the mental nullity required to draft and revise this speech. You almost have to feel sorry for Obama’s speechwriters at this point. In year six of the Age of Obama, he’s still yammering about closing Gitmo. (Applause.)
The New York Times summary of the speech is here, the Washington Post’s is here. Watching the speech live this morning, I thought I had a vision of the Obama doctrine. These are its leading elements as I observed them.
You listen to the Supreme Leader while he flaps his lips at great length. The Supreme Leader stares soulfully into the teleprompters to his left and to his right. He pauses after each sentence, either to overcome the boredom that has set in or to imply that you need time to absorb the deep thought he has just uttered.
The quantity of words spoken dwarfs the meaning of what is said. The express meaning of what is said is pitifully small. Acres of grain have been harvested to produce the straw men consumed.
We can infer the importance of laying down rules that hamstring the assertion of American power abroad. Libya, Russia, Syria and Iran represent triumphs of Obama foreign policy. And that is good because there are more coming where those came from.
Quotable quote: “We can’t call on others to make commitments to combat climate change if a whole lot of our political leaders deny that it’s taking place. We can’t try to resolve problems in the South China Sea when we have refused to make sure that the Law of the Sea Convention is ratified by our United States Senate, despite the fact that our top military leaders say the treaty advances our national security. That’s not leadership; that’s retreat. That’s not strength; that’s weakness. It would be utterly foreign to leaders like Roosevelt and Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy.” Insert groans here.
One more: “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being. But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law; it is our willingness to affirm them through our actions.” Translation required, but I’m leaving that to you.
UPDATE: Elliott Abrams has more here, Bing West has more here, Mac Owens more here. I’m not the only observer to notice the straw men Obama has slain in the course of this mind-numbing speech.

Why Global Warming Alarmism Isn’t Science

Why Global Warming Alarmism Isn’t Science

by John Hinderaker in Climate

Science is not a set of dogmas, and it is not a pronouncement by a committee. It is a method. Richard Feynman, perhaps the world’s most eminent physicist, put it this way:
In general, we look for a new law by the following process: First we guess it; then we compute the consequences of the guess to see what would be implied if this law that we guessed is right; then we compare the result of the computation to nature, with experiment or experience, compare it directly with observation, to see if it works. If it disagrees with the experiment, it is wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It does not make any difference how beautiful your guess is, it does not make any difference how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is—if it disagrees with experiment, it is wrong.
The catastrophic anthropogenic global warming theory is based entirely on models, which are programmed by their creators to predict disaster. But we know for a fact that the models are wrong, because they disagree with reality. When the facts collide with a theory, the facts win.
At Watts Up With That?, Don Easterbrook applies the scientific method to the recently-produced National Climate Assessment (NCA). The NCA predicts all kinds of awful consequences from a hypothetical rise in temperature that is based exclusively on models, not on observation. Easterbrook finds that the NCA fails the test of reality. Here are a few examples.
NCA assertion: “Temperatures are projected to rise another 2°F to 4°F in most areas of the United States over the next few decades.” “By the end of this century, a roughly 3°F to 5°F rise is projected under a lower emissions scenario, and a 5°F to 10°F rise for a higher emissions.”
Facts: How do we check the validity of this prediction? Well, we can look at comparisons of previous computer model results to recorded satellite temperatures. Figure 2 shows Roy Spencer’s plot of 44 of the latest climate models versus satellite measurements. As his graph shows, the models were not even close to the real measured temperatures. The obvious conclusion here is that the models failed miserably, a fact admitted to by the IPCC in their latest report.
2. NCA assertion: “It has been known for almost two centuries that carbon dioxide traps heat.”
Facts: That’s not the question—it’s not if CO2 is a greenhouse gas, it’s how much is there in the atmosphere (Fig. 3) and how much can it affect climate? CO2 makes up only 3.6% of the greenhouse gases (Fig. 4) and coupled with the fact that the atmospheric concentration has changed only 0.0065% since recent warming began in 1978 (Fig. 3), there is no way that this miniscule amount can have any significant effect on climate. Water vapor accounts for ~95% of the greenhouse effect and computer modelers put a large arbitrary water vapor factor in their computer programs, claiming that if CO2 increases, so will water vapor. But that isn’t true—atmospheric water vapor has been declining since 1948 (Fig. 5), not increasing, so modelers who put a water vapor driver in their programs will not have a valid output.
This is a critically important point. Everyone agrees that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. (That’s a good thing; the Greenhouse Effect makes life on Earth possible.) The problem from the hysterics’ point of view is that doubling the tiny concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere would, without more, have only an insignificant–and in fact, beneficial–effect on the Earth’s climate. The Earth would become a greener and slightly warmer place. (It is ironic that “greens” are obsessively hostile to the very substance–carbon dioxide–that makes the Earth green.) The hysterics admit this, so their models are programmed to amplify the effect of increased CO2. They hypothesize positive feedbacks, most notably by assuming that increasing CO2 will lead to a higher concentration of water vapor. The supposedly baleful consequences of burning fossil fuels are mostly indirect; they derive primarily from the feedbacks, not from the CO2.
But, as Easterbrook says, we know that this assumption is false. Carbon dioxide levels have been increasing for some decades now, and that has not led to an increase in water vapor in the atmosphere. On the contrary, as Easterbrook notes, atmospheric water vapor has declined since 1948. So, once again, the alarmists’ models are simply wrong.
Let’s conclude with the NCA’s predictions about sea level rise. For some reason, more liberals seem to make fools of themselves over the idea of a rising sea level than anything else. You see pictures of the Statue of Liberty, up to her waist in water. California’s Governor Jerry Brown recently had to retract a dumb comment about needing to move LAX because the present location will soon be under water. The whole thing is a fantasy:
NCA assertion: Global sea level has risen by about 8 inches since reliable record keeping began in 1880. The future scenarios range from 0.66 feet to 6.6 feet in 2100. This recent rise is much greater than at any time in at least the past 2000 years.
Facts: During the last Ice Age (~10-20,000 years ago), vast areas of continents were covered with ice sheets up to 10,000 feet thick. [Ed: That's almost two miles.] There was so much water tied up in these ice sheets that it caused sea level to drop about 120 meters (400 feet). 11,500 years ago, the climate changed abruptly, warming at rates up to 20 °F in a century, bringing the Ice Age to a very sudden end. The ice sheets melted at an astonishing rate, causing sea level to rise sharply. We know the chronology of this sea level rise (Fig. 21), so we can calculate the rate of sea level rise as the ice sheets melted. Sea level rose 50 meters (160 ft) between 12,000 and 8,000 years ago. That’s a rate of sea level rise of 4 feet per century, during a time when gigantic ice sheets were melting from warming of tens of degrees per century.
Figure 21. Sea level over the past 12,000 years.
The authors of the NCA report (and NOAA) want us to believe that sea level may rise as much as 6.6 feet by 2100 (86 years from now), a rate of sea level rise of 7.7 feet per century! That’s about twice the rate at which sea level rose while the huge Ice Age ice sheets melted under warming of tens of degrees per century. So where do the so-called scientists of this report think all this water will come from? Those huge Ice Age ice sheets no longer exist, so the only possible source is melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets? How likely is it that a 0.006% rise in CO2 is going to melt a significant portion of the Antarctic ice sheet? Probably zero to none. Why couldn’t the so-called scientists who authored the NCA report do the simple math? If they had even read the literature, this analysis has already been published (Morner, 2010).
The East Antarctic ice sheet (the major Antarctic ice sheet with ice up to 15,000 feet thick) first appeared in the Miocene, 15 million years ago. Throughout most of the Antarctic ice sheet history, global CO2 levels were 1000-2000 ppm (compared to present 400 ppm), so the recent miniscule rise of CO2 is peanuts compared to what it has been. So even doubling, tripling, quadrupling, or quintupling of CO2 would still be well below the levels of most of the ice sheet’s history and the ice sheet survived those quite nicely.
I am sure most people don’t realize how low contemporary CO2 levels are. We are living in a carbon-deprived era. CO2 levels have been 15 times higher than they are at present without any runaway warming, or any other adverse consequence.
The Antarctic ice sheet is continuing to grow, not melt, and sea ice is presently at an all-time high (Fig. 22). The average daily temperature in Antarctica is –58° F, so to get significant ice to melt would require raising the average daily temperature from -58 to +32 ° F (melting point of ice), plus another ~10 ° F, a total warming of +100° F. Not likely!
Figure 22. Antarctic sea ice is presently at an all-time high, about a million square kilometers above average.
Another way to look at the ridiculousness of the NCA predicted sea level rise is to compare their predictions with history sea level rates. The rate of sea level rise from 1900 to 2000 was 1.7 mm/yr (~7 inches per century) (Fig. 23). Figure 24 shows a comparison of the sea level rise over the past century with the NCA predicted sea level rise. The huge difference is impossible because there is no source of water for the NCA predicted rise.
Figure 23. Sea level since 1700 AD
Figure 24. NCA sea level rise prediction compared to projecton of sea level rise over the past century.
Global warming alarmism fails the test of science. The alarmists’ models generate one false prediction after another. When a model is falsified by experience, we know that the model is no good. A bad model cannot be a basis for predicting the future, or for making decisions about public policy. Global warming alarmism is not science. It is, rather, an industry fueled by billions of dollars that the world’s political class showers on climate “scientists” to compensate them for producing silly projections of doom. The political class needs the predictions of doom to justify its own grab for more power and money, and certain compliant “scientists” are happy to oblige. Money talks, but it doesn’t necessarily produce good science.

Crying Rape--Is there really a rape epidemic? Probably not.

Benghazi Constructs

Much is still murky, but the Obama team was at the least guilty of negligence and deception.

By Victor Davis Hanson
Almost everything the administration has alleged about Benghazi has proven false. Yet also, in Machiavellian fashion, the Obama group successfully peddled useful fictions, effectively deluded the country, adroitly ensured President Obama’s reelection, and cast aspersions on those who sought the truth.

In that sense, so far, the lies about Benghazi have won, the truth has failed.
So what really happened?
The Obama administration felt that it was behind the curve concerning the 2011 unrest in Libya. The so-called Arab Spring revolutions had toppled other governments in North Africa, and it seemed that protesters would do the same in Syria and Libya.
Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power, and Susan Rice did not want to be “on the wrong side of history,” especially given that it looked as if Moammar Qaddafi was likely to fall soon and needed only a little nudge. Given that the British and French were out in front, “lead from behind” seemed a safe, cheap way for the U.S. to intervene and yet not quite intervene — a sort of larger version of a drone strike.
But after Qaddafi’s fall, almost everything that followed proved the U.S. intervention to be a failure. The Americans had ceded leadership to France and Britain and seemed to boast about that fact. They had distorted the U.N. resolutions by going way beyond establishing no-fly zones and sending humanitarian aid. Obama had shown no interest in sending in postbellum peacekeeping troops or in organizing a U.N. force to prevent a Mogadishu on the Mediterranean. The result was a mess for most of 2011–12, as post-Qaddafi Libya settled into something like Somalia or the Sudan.
Al-Qaeda franchises emerged just as the parent organization had been declared to be on the run. Rumors spread that jihadists were arming themselves from the unprotected Qaddafi arsenal in the fashion of an unsettled Iraq around May 2003. Syria’s Assad had no intention of stepping down as ordered by President Obama. And so a full-scale civil war began in Syria, and the Arab Spring descended into tribal violence.
The U.S. decided to round up the most dangerous weapons of Qaddafi’s arsenal and to stealthily monitor the growing though supposedly nonexistent al-Qaeda presence in the detritus of Libya. A large CIA contingent was dispatched to Benghazi; nearby, a “consulate” opened. Ambassador Chris Stevens did his best to coordinate U.S. stealth efforts with what passed for a Libyan government. Rumors, never confirmed, spread that the CIA was shipping some of the Qaddafi arsenal to anti-Assad forces in Syria, hopefully the more secular insurgents. Other talk mentioned al-Qaeda prisoners held for interrogation by the CIA — another no-go topic in the 2012 campaign narrative of a defunct al-Qaeda, a secular Muslim Brotherhood, and an Obama who sees and hears no interrogations.
Stevens and others privately warned that the U.S. presence lacked sufficient security; they feared that the U.S. was doing enough to incite a terrorist response, but not enough to ensure the protection of its own forces if one was launched. But it was a reelection year. A Black Hawk Down firefight might in untimely fashion remind the public of the entire Libyan debacle. Security was not beefed up, and for a time the violence seemed to taper off.
As the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approached, there were warnings of planned terrorist attacks on overseas U.S. facilities, especially in Libya, perhaps because the CIA presence was large and visible but not invincible. In an era of lead-from-behind diplomacy, terrorists were not convinced of any dangers from another U.S. armed intervention.
Some rumors later floated around that the consulate hit was in response to the drone assassination of Yahya al-Libi, others that it was prompted by stories of CIA arms transfers, yet others that it was linked to efforts to free captured terrorists. Who knows? But few seemed to care. In any case, the State Department had two general goals: to keep Libya from unraveling and to do so without another U.S. intervention. That translated into a de facto refusal to beef up security just two months before the election, and at a time when most other nations with a presence in Libya were packing up and getting out.
When a coordinated jihadist attack did target the consulate and CIA facility in Benghazi, Washington was entirely taken by surprise. It is not clear to what degree military authorities believed that they could have sent military help to those under attack in Benghazi with good chances of success, or whether they wished to do so but were refused permission.
Clearly, the president did not consider the attack on U.S. facilities a developing national turning point on a level with his decision to take out bin Laden. There were to be no photo-ops of the Benghazi situation room.
On the evening of September 11, by the time Obama was apprised of the strike, there was no chance the U.S. was poised to achieve a great victory, as it had in the bin Laden mission. The president had a busy campaign-fundraising schedule the next day, and so he retired early in the expectation that the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff could manage the lose/lose crisis.
Disaster followed, as the jihadists overwhelmed meager U.S. security and killed, over a period of several hours, U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens; Sean Smith, the U.S. Foreign Service information-management officer; and two CIA contractors, Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty. Outrage spread immediately as Americans learned that a U.S. ambassador was easily reached by terrorists and just as easily killed.
There were local claims in various places in the Middle East, many of them dubious, that an obnoxious video by a Coptic Egyptian resident in the U.S. had helped intensify the 9/11-anniversary violence elsewhere. Almost immediately the administration latched onto this narrative and massaged it to meet its own political needs.
That the unexpected and unforeseen disaster was due entirely to a reactionary Coptic, anti-Muslim provocateur, ensconced on U.S. soil, who had sown bigotry and religious hatred in a video released months earlier, proved a T-ball home run for Barack Obama.
Mr. Nakoula was in a sense the perfect fall guy. The video was amateurish, the producer a small-time con artist and cheat. Obama went into action in his accustomed teleprompted cadences, denouncing the forces of intolerance and chest-beating his own anguish at such illiberality on U.S. soil.
More importantly, the video as a casus violentiae  was particularly resonant with an administration that had labored to remove the idea of Islamic extremism as a font of terrorism and instead had set up various smokescreens (e.g., jihad as a personal journey, terrorism as workplace violence, the Muslim Brotherhood as largely secular — not to mention overseas contingency operations, man-caused disasters, NASA’s Muslim-outreach mission, etc.). The more Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama hammered the theme of Mr. Nakoula as the guilty party, the more they could showcase their own multicultural bona fides and perhaps thereby explain away the violence (e.g., Obama’s iconic status still resonated in the Middle East; Libya was not a den of jihadists; al-Qaeda was still on the run; extremist right-wing Western provocateurs were still part of the problem).
Someone in the administration quickly discovered that Nakoula had technically violated the terms of his parole, and he was summarily jailed. Nakoula’s incarceration spoke volumes: The Middle East could appreciate that the real culprit was now behind bars. The U.S. had hunted down its own right-wing extremists, and Muslims now had no more reason to explode in spontaneous anger at such bigotry. Finding the real culprits, as the president had once promised, had now been accomplished.
The Nakoula construct, however, posed immediate problems. There were initial intelligence reports (confirmed by the Libyan president himself) that the deaths were caused by al-Qaeda terrorists. There was evidence that U.S. officials had had warnings about the premeditated attacks beforehand but largely discounted them. There was some evidence that the U.S. military might have been able to disrupt the terrorist forces, given that they were not spontaneous crowds who came out of nowhere and could melt away just as easily.
By and large the administration quite brilliantly finessed Benghazi. It turned the tables on the skeptics in the Romney campaign by suggesting that they were using the deaths of brave Americans to score political points. The president and his team cited the fog of war for the initial confusion. They promised in the light of day to go after the perpetrators — a pledge of action that they most surely did not pursue wholeheartedly as the election neared. Western hatred and intolerance, not radical Islam, had caused the deaths, with all the obvious red–blue domestic political implications.
In some senses, the administration photo-ops and spiking the ball on the bin Laden raid (“GM is alive, bin Laden is dead”) paled in comparison with the talking points and party line that immediately created the spontaneous-riot/evil-videomaker theme. Skeptics were deemed to be the politicizers, though the real politicizers were the ones who had distorted the truth.
Finally, time would cure all. The only real worry in the fall of 2012 was reelection. Once Benghazi fizzled in the second debate, with moderator Candy Crowley’s insistence that a presidential reference to generic terror was synonymous with an admission of a deliberate act of political and religious terrorism (as if the road-rage driver who leaves in his wake terror on the highway were a political terrorist), the deaths of Benghazi had entered the black hole of House investigations. The concerned administration officials rightly assumed that, with time, a sort of “What difference —  at this point, what difference does it make?” or “Dude, this was like two years ago” attitude would eventually make Benghazi a sort of bad memory. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes and his associates in this regard were largely right, as the media snapped to attention and reduced inquirers to the status of conspiracy theorists.
What then are we left with?
Were there political reasons why requests for additional security were ignored, suggesting that American lives were not as critical as President Obama’s reelection? At what time on the night of the attack did the president go to bed, and who made decisions not to order military assistance? What was the CIA doing in Benghazi, and what effect did its activities have on our security status? Were reports that the hit was retaliation for a U.S. drone attack accurate? What exactly did top-ranking officials of the CIA initially testify about the attacks, and were their original statements contradicted by later assertions? Who in the administration massaged intelligence synopses and sent out memos to head off accusations of failed leadership? Did the administration pressure (as if pressure were needed) media outlets to downplay the story? Why did our U.N. ambassador assert falsehoods, and why was she selected to be such a spokesman? Who ordered Mr. Nakoula jailed and kept him behind bars? Why were the real perpetrators never seriously pursued as promised? Did the personal problems of CIA director David Petraeus, the administration’s initial reaction to them, his various testimonies, and his sudden post-election resignation have any interconnections? Have all those who participated in the defense of the Benghazi facilities been fully heard from? And have those who were in the chain of command responsible for holding back succor on the night of the attack? What information was redacted in documents requested by Congress or under the Freedom of Information Act, and by whom?
Until these questions are answered, we are left with the strong possibility that the lethal attacks might have been deterred with adequate security, or even neutralized in mediis rebus : that high administration officials subsequently and deliberately misled the public, the U.N., our allies, and the relatives of the dead; that the president of the United States did not consider the attacks a crisis, or at least a crisis that could offer political opportunities, and subsequently and knowingly lied about the causes of the attack; that the U.S. government deliberately jailed a U.S. legal resident for reasons other than those alleged; that a U.S. election was influenced by administration deception; that the U.S. government was engaged in covert actions that might have been connected to the violence or were themselves ill conceived; that top intelligence officials did not tell the truth; and that almost immediately top administration handlers chose to construct a fantasy in lieu of reporting the facts about the death of four Americans.
 NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Savior Generals.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Democratic Party Makes War On Free Speech

The Democratic Party Makes War On Free Speech

by John Hinderaker in First Amendment, The War on the Koch Brothers

Scott wrote earlier this morning about Harry Reid’s support for a constitutional amendment that would give Congress the power to regulate spending on political campaigns, down to the last dollar. The amendment was proposed by Tom Udall last year; you can read the full text here. This is the key language:
Congress shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in-kind equivalents with respect to Federal elections, including through setting limits on—
(1) the amount of contributions to candidates for nomination for election to, or for election to, Federal office; and
(2) the amount of funds that may be spent by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates.
The proposed amendment is astonishingly radical. It would allow Congress to ban any spending on federal elections, which means that a challenger could beat an incumbent in only the most extraordinary circumstances. (Campaign finance regulation has always been mostly about incumbent protection.) Or Congress could ban all contributions or independent spending by individuals or corporations in excess of, say, $10, while allowing unlimited expenditures by unions. This would guarantee that if the Congress is once controlled by Democrats, the Republicans could never win it back.
If candidates and their supporters can’t spend money to get their messages out, that means that voters will learn about candidates only through the prism of the press. Since the press is almost 100% controlled by the Democratic Party, Harry Reid and his fellow donkeys would like that just fine. The Udall/Reid amendment takes no chances on this score:
Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress the power to abridge the freedom of the press.
No, of course not. In the Udall/Reid world, you have a right to free speech only if you own or write for a newspaper, or own or appear on a television or radio network (the Democrats are still working on the radio part). Otherwise, your participation in the political process is at the mercy of Congress’s regulation.
But consider this idea: suppose we enacted the opposite of the Udall/Reid amendment. Suppose we allowed individuals and organizations to contribute to campaigns and spend money on independent expenditures as they do at present, but barred newspapers, magazines and television and radio stations from any reporting or comment on political candidates or campaigns? Let’s get those malefactors of great wealth who own newspapers out of politics so the rest of us can have a fair shake! That, too, would require a constitutional amendment, but it would do less damage than the Udall/Reid amendment and would be more in keeping with the nature of the United States as a constitutional republic.
Lest anyone imagine that Reid’s attack on free speech was just another instance of the Majority Leader’s looniness, the Democratic Party jumped in, just hours after Reid’s announcement, to urge loyal Democrats to make war on the First Amendment. The party sent out this email yesterday afternoon. Note that the Koch brothers are not just a Harry Reid obsession. In the narrative of the Democratic Party itself, the destruction of all Americans’ right to free speech is 100% about Charles and David Koch. Click to enlarge file size:
Why are the Democrats doing it? They obviously have no chance of enacting a constitutional amendment, which requires a 2/3 vote in both houses of Congress and approval by 3/4 of the states. So what’s the point? In part, of course, they are trying to keep their base riled up in hopes of increasing turnout in what looks like a blowout election year. But I think there is more to it than that.

The Democrats want you to shut up.
The Democrats want you to shut up.
I think the Democrats really do believe that the American people have gotten too unruly. Across a broad front, they want to disabuse Americans of the idea that they have a right to say what they believe, and to think for themselves about political issues. This campaign takes many forms. The IRS scandal is part of it, as is the use of other federal agencies like the EPA, OSHA and various U.S. Attorneys’ offices to go after the administration’s political opponents. The liberals’ mostly-successful efforts to prohibit conservative (or even not-so-conservative Republican) speakers from appearing on college campuses is part of the Democrats’ long-term campaign to suppress free speech, as is the unending culture war against the expression of “incorrect” opinions and beliefs.
The Democrats are playing a long game here. No, they can’t achieve, at present, a constitutional amendment that will give Congress the power to ban all Americans not employed in the media from supporting or opposing candidates. But as they slowly undermine Americans’ longstanding belief in free speech, the day may indeed come when Congress is given the power to decide whether anyone will be allowed to challenge Congress. That will be the day when all of the Left’s fantasies will be within reach.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

The Next Climate Scandal?

 The Next Climate Scandal?
by Steven Hayward in Climate

Times Cover copyThe lead story in The Times of London today declares “Scientists in Cover Up of ‘Damaging’ Climate View.”  The Times thinks the story, concerning peer reviewers suppressing a scientific paper purely for political reasons, may amount to the next “Climategate,” on par with the scandal of the leaked emails back in 2009.  This may be media hype, but at the very least it is another clear signal of the kind of enforced climate conformism we noted here on Wednesday, especially since it involves Lennart Bengtsson. The complete story is behind a paywall, but we’ve managed to get more of the copy of Ben Webster’s story from Benny Peiser:
Research which heaped doubt on the rate of global warming was deliberately suppressed by scientists because it was “less than helpful” to their cause, it was claimed last night.
In an echo of the infamous “Climategate” scandal at the University of East Anglia, one of the world’s top academic journals rejected the work of five experts after a reviewer privately denounced it as “harmful”.
Lennart Bengtsson, a research fellow at the University of Reading and one of the authors of the study, said he suspected that intolerance of dissenting views on climate science was preventing his paper from being published. “The problem we now have in the climate community is that some scientists are mixing up their scientific role with that of a climate activist,” he added.
Professor Bengtsson’s paper challenged the finding of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that the global average temperature would rise by up to 4.5C if greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were allowed to double. It suggested that the climate might be much less sensitive to greenhouse gases than had been claimed by the IPCC in its report last September, and recommended that more work be carried out “to reduce the underlying uncertainty”.
The five contributing scientists, from America and Sweden, submitted the paper to Environmental Research Letters, one of the most highly regarded journals, at the end of last year but were told in February that it had been rejected.
A scientist asked by the journal to assess the paper under the peer review process wrote that he strongly advised against publishing it because it was “less than helpful”. The unnamed scientist concluded: “Actually it is harmful as it opens the door for oversimplified claims of ‘errors’ and worse from the climate sceptics media side.”
Professor Bengtsson resigned from the advisory board of Lord Lawson of Blaby’s climate sceptic think-tank this week after being subjected to what he described as McCarthy-style pressure from fellow academics. . .
Professor Bengtsson, the former director of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, said he accepted that emissions would increase the global average temperature but the key question was how quickly.
He added that it was “utterly unacceptable” to advise against publishing a paper on the ground that the findings might be used by climate sceptics to advance their arguments. “It is an indication of how science is gradually being influenced by political views. The reality hasn’t been keeping up with the [computer] models. Therefore, if people are proposing to do major changes to the world’s economic system we must have much more solid information.”
The issue of climate sensitivity is one of the keys to this entire matter, and the Climatistas are very sensitive about the subject.  The paper in question here, which will surely see the light of day somewhere, would be only the latest of several recent papers, some of them published in the peer-reviewed literature, that call into serious question the more extreme forecasts of climate response to greenhouse gases.  We reported on some of these papers here and here.
UPDATE: Roy Spencer has more on what he calls the “climate hypocalypse.”