2014 Was One of the 3% Coldest Years in the Last 10,000

Climate alarmists play a number of tricks to try to make their catastrophic anthropogenic global warming theory seem plausible. One of the most important is that they focus on a ridiculously short period of time, beginning either in the late 19th century or at the beginning of the 20th. This is, of course, not even the blink of an eye in geologic time. Given that the Earth began emerging from the Little Ice Age in the mid to late 19th Century, it is hardly surprising–and a very good thing–that from then until now, temperatures have tended to rise.

Alarmists shriek that 2014 was the warmest year ever! But that claim is absurd if put in the context of the Earth’s recent history. As Dr. Tim Ball writes:

In fact, 2014 was among the coldest 3 percent of years of the last 10,000, but that doesn’t suit the political agenda.

This chart shows Northern Hemisphere temperature changes over the last 10,000 years, based on ice core data. Dr. Ball explains: “The red line, added to the original diagram, imposes the approximate 20th century temperatures (right side) against those of the last 10,000 years.”

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If the Earth continues to be warm, temperatures will be more nearly aligned with what they have generally been over the last 10,000 years.

There are many other problems with global warming alarmism, of course, and Dr. Ball touches on several of them. For one, the quality of the surface temperature record is terrible, nowhere near good enough to support the alarmists’ claims of precision. For another, the surface temperature record has been corrupted. The records are maintained by alarmist organizations, which have repeatedly “adjusted” historical data to make the past look cooler and the present warmer. This is one of many examples; it relates to New Zealand, where historical temperature records have been “adjusted” by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research:

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Typically these adjustments are carried out surreptitiously, and only come to light when someone comes across contemporaneous temperature records from, say, the 1930s, and finds that the temperatures reported at the time are different from the ones now claimed by the same agencies. If you are willing to spend many billions of dollars, as the world’s governments are, you can buy a lot of rewriting of history.

So next time one of your liberal friends tells you that 2014 was the hottest year on record, and therefore we must turn what is left of our economy over to the Obama administration, you can tell him that actually, 2014 was one of the 3% coldest years of the last 10,000.

Who killed Albert Nisman? part 3

The death of Alberto Nisman in his Buenos Aires apartment continues to give rise to troubling revelations something other than the suicide that appeared to be the cause of his death. Nisman was of course the Argentine prosecutor who charged the Iranian regime with the bombing of the 1994 Jewish community center; 85 Argentinians were killed in the bombing, the worst terror attack in the country’s history.

Nisman was killed on the eve of explosive testimony he was to give on the government’s collusion with Iran to shield Iranian suspects and therefore suppress his investigation into the 1994 bombing. The circumstances of Nisman’s death are, to say the least, highly suspicious.

The Washington Post recaps the story to date in the editorial “An independent probe must investigate a prosecutor’s death in Argentina.” Picking up where I left off in part 2, the Post editors write:

THAT THE mysterious death of an Argentine prosecutor has rattled President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is all too evident from the president’s own postings on her Facebook page. Last Tuesday, Ms. Kirchner claimed in a rambling, 2,000-word post that Alberto Nisman, who was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head the night before he was due to publicly charge Ms. Kirchner with illicit dealings with Iran, had killed himself. On Thursday, she maintained in an even longer Facebook post that Mr. Nisman had been murdered as part of an elaborate plot against her government.

In fact, Mr. Nisman appears to have compiled considerable evidence that Ms. Kirchner and several other top officials attempted to strike a deal between 2011 and 2013 under which Iran would supply Argentina with oil in exchange for food, and Ms. Kirchner’s government would seek the removal from an Interpol arrest list of eight Iranians wanted in connection with the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. Both the charges and the prosecutor’s death call out for an independent, internationally-backed investigation.

The stakes of the case extend well beyond Argentina. Mr. Nisman has alleged that senior Iranian officials were involved in planning or approving the community center bombing. According to Andres Oppenheimer of the Miami Herald, Mr. Nisman said he had testimony that now-president Hassan Rouhani was one of the members of a committee that signed off on the attack. He told Mr. Oppenheimer, as well as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, that he was looking forward to testifying to the Argentine Congress last Monday about a 280-page report he had delivered to a judge outlining the secret dealings between the two governments. No suicide note was found in his apartment following his sudden death last Sunday.

The evidence Mr. Nisman compiled included transcripts of phone conversations between Argentine and Iranian representatives. The sanctions-busting deal they were trying to arrange, the prosecutor charged, broke down when Argentine Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman was unable to persuade Interpol to remove the Iranians from its arrest list.

Ms. Kirchner’s claim that this case was fabricated by rogue intelligence officials is undermined by the fact that her government subsequently announced an accord with Iran under which the 1994 bombing would be investigated by a joint commission — which would have neutered the judicial process. This travesty did not go forward only because the Argentine Supreme Court declared it illegal.

Ms. Kirchner, whose populist, quasi-autocratic rule has badly damaged Argentina’s economy and soured its relations with the United States and other democracies, is a political lame duck who is due to leave office following an election later this year. However, she, Mr. Timerman and other close associates should be held accountable for their dealings with Iran. The cause of Mr. Nisman’s death must also be established. Only a probe with international sponsorship or participation is likely to produce a credible result. If Ms. Kirchner really believes herself to be the innocent target of a conspiracy, she should welcome it.

In the latest news emerging from the investigation of Nisman’s death, it is reported that Nisman “was killed by a bullet fired from point-blank range into his forehead[.]” The AFP report continues:

Prosecutor Viviana Fein who is leading the investigation said staff were waiting for ballistics analysis, including a DNA comparison, and to see whether the bullet taken from the body matched the .22-calibre weapon found at the scene.

Ms Fein told local television the shot was fired “from a distance no greater than a centimetre” while repeating her view that there was no evidence third parties took part in the actual shooting itself.

“We are still awaiting the toxicological and tissue testing, which can take a bit longer,” she said.

And then we have this:

The journalist of the daily Buenos Aires Herald, Damian Pachter, who last Sunday announced on his Twitter account the death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman, left Argentina Saturday in fear after finding that he was being followed, the Argentine Journalism Forum, or Fopea, said.

“Fopea reports that journalist Damian Pacter left the country because he feared for his safety,” the journalism association said on the social network Twitter.

“Pacter told Fopea yesterday, Friday, that he was being followed and thought he had better leave the country,” it said.

* * * * *

“I’m leaving because my life is in danger,” the journalist said on the Infobae Web site, minutes before leaving the country on Saturday.

“Since all this began, someone who has been a close, trustworthy source for years and who knows how to move in the world of intelligence, has been sending me hints,” he said.

“I don’t known when they started following me” Pachter said on Infobae, but from a tweet he received from within the government, “today it was all confirmed. ‘Leave because they’re looking for you.’”

“I never imagined that after that tweet, in five days I’d have to leave the country on the basis of real evidence,” the journalist said.

“I don’t believe this solves Nisman’s death. Power covers its tracks,” he said.

After the news was made public, in a communique posted on the Web site of the daily Ambito, which belongs to the same media group as the Buenos Aires Herald, the company said that the journalist “at no time” expressed his fears to his superiors.

As Alice cried in Wonderland, “Curiouser and curiouser!”

Lessons of the Risen case

We have written several times here about the case of James Risen. Called to testify in the government’s prosecution of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling for violation of the Espionage Act, Risen declined to testify; Sterling had laundered his exposure of a Bush-era operation intended to undermine Iran’s nuclear program (I rashly infer from the circumstances, under a promise of confidentiality) through Risen in one of his recent books. The Times itself had acceded to the imprecations of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice not to let Risen blow the program in its pages.

Risen challenged the subpoena compelling his testimony in Sterling’s prosecution. He asserted a privilege not to testify to Sterling’s role in disclosing the program reported in Risen’s book. Risen pursued his claim of privilege in proceedings up to the Supreme Court. When the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Risen’s claim of privilege, the Supreme Court declined to review the ruling. The New York Times story on the Supreme Court’s order declining review is here.

Risen presented the government with a choice: force Risen to testify or be held in contempt if he refused, or abandon its claim to his testimony. Rather than putting Risen to the test, the government has now abandoned its efforts to secure Risen’s testimony. You (I) could see the surrender coming from a mile away; I predicted it this past June in “James Risen would prefer not to.”

Now come the editors of the New York Times to celebrate and to offer the presumed “Lessons of the James Risen case.” The lessons are about what you would expect in the sodden style of the Times’s narcoleptic effusions: “First, dedicated journalists like Mr. Risen are willing to stand up to protect the identity of their sources. The second is the need for a strong federal shield law broadly protective of reporters who do that under the pressure of a high-profile leak investigation.”

The Times omits to mention in this editorial look back on the Risen case that it passed on Risen’s story. Times editors found the public harm it would do by publication to outweigh any good disclosure might entail. In fact, Risen’s story accomplished no discernible public good and likely did serious damage to the national security of the United States. See, e.g., my recurring footnote below.

Note also that the Times’s point 2 purports to limit the desired federal shield law to “high-profile leak investigation[s].” As formulated by the Times, the shield law is inane. The editors prefer not to say what they meaan; they want a shield law according reporters with a privilege against disclosing confidential sources, period. (Let’s leave the definition of “reporters” for another day.)

Here are a few unstated lessons that a reader can infer from the Times editorial. Reporters are citizens subject to the same rights and obligations as other citizens of the United States. Risen and the Times have no more immunity to disclose confidential matters of national security protected by the Espionage Act than Jeffrey Sterling does. They are subject not only to the same criminal laws as the rest of us, they are subject to the same testimonial obligations.

The Times characterizes the Fourth Circuit ruling rejecting Risen’s claim of privilege as “an atrocious legal precedent[.]” The Times implies that the Fourth Circuit ruling is some kind of outlier, but it comports with precedent. The Supreme Court has never recognized “any reporter’s privilege in the First Amendment or common law[,]” as the Times editorial puts it. That is most likely why the Supreme Court declined to review the Fourth Circuit ruling in Risen’s case.

NOTE: I wrote about the legal issues in the Times’s publication of national security information protected under the Espionage Act in the Weekly Standard column “Exposure,” but Gabriel Schoenfeld owns this story. For a full understanding of what Risen has wrought here I urge interested readers to read Schoenfeld’s Weekly Standard articles “Not every leak is fit to print” (2008), “What gives?” (2010), and “A privileged press?” (2014) as well as Schoenfeld’s Power Line post “A Risen in the sun.”

When Hitler didn’t meet Churchill

Our observation of the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Winston Churchill yesterday put me in mind of Winston Churchill’s failed meeting with Adolf Hitler. It’s a story I’ve mentioned here before and ask your indulgence in mentioning again as the occasion warrants.

Among the many qualities that made Churchill a man out of joint with his times was this one: he frequently wrote and spoke favorably of the Jews and in support of the creation of a Jewish homeland. In his book Eminent Churchillians, the prominent historian Andrew Roberts pauses in his chapter on Churchill’s politically incorrect statements on race to observe:

Not all Churchill’s racial characterizations were negative…He believed the Jews to be “the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has ever appeared in the world.” He felt an instinctive affinity for their genius as well as a historian’s respect for their trials, and he supported Jewish aspirations wherever they did not clash with those of the Empire. He may have inherited his philo-Semitism from his father, but he certainly gave it new lustre in his own life.

(Roberts’s quote derives from Churchill’s famous essay “Zionism versus Bolshevism.”)

One striking example of Churchill’s sympathy for the Jews derives from Churchill’s work on his monumental biography of the Duke of Marlborough during Churchill’s “wilderness years.” In 1932 Churchill’s research on the Marlborough biography took him to the European battlefields on which his ancestor had staked his claim to greatness. Churchill continued to Munich and a possible meeting with Adolf Hitler. Gilbert retells this story in Churchill and the Jews: A Lifelong Friendship, prefaced with this revelation:

Every biographer tries to find the key to his subject’s personality, and above all the flaws and weaknesses which are an indispensable part of any biographical presentation. I remember how pleased, actually thrilled, I was some twenty-five years ago, talking to one of those who had been close to Churchill in the Twenties, Thirties, Forties and Fifties. He said to me: “You have to understand, Gilbert, that Winston did have one serious fault.” As a biographer, my ears pricked up and my pen was poised to record and then to follow this up. This gentleman continued, “He was too fond of Jews.” Whether this was a serious fault for some of his contemporaries, for his biographer it was an extraordinary window into his life.

Then the story:

When in November 1932, shortly before Hitler came to power, and Churchill was in Munich doing some historical research about the First Duke of Marlborough,…an intermediary [Putzi Hanfstaengl] tried to get him to meet Hitler, who was in Munich at the time and had high hopes of coming to power within months. Churchill agreed to meet Hitler, who was going to come to see him in his hotel in Munich, and said to the intermediary: “There are a few questions you might like to put to him, which can be the basis of our discussion when we meet.” Among them was the following question: “What is the sense of being against a man simply because of his birth? How can any man help how he is born?”

Gilbert comments:

This may seem a simple sentiment to us now, but how many people, distinguished people from Britain, the United States and other countries, who met or might have met Hitler, raised that question with him? So surprised, and possibly angered, was Hitler by this question that he declined to come to the hotel and see Churchill.

Churchill relates this story himself as “a personal digression in a lighter vein” over two pages in The Gathering Storm, concluding with this characteristically Churchillian flourish: “Thus Hitler lost his only chance of meet­ing me.”

Has Loretta Lynch violated the rights of crime victims?

Although, we have criticized the nomination of Loretta Lynch as Attorney General on a number of grounds, there’s one substantial criticism that I’m not sure we have raised. Lynch appears to have made plea deals with white collar criminals that violated the rights of crime victims.

A group of conservative leaders and activists have raised this concern in a letter to Senator Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. They state:

We write to you today to express our concerns that Loretta Lynch, the President’s nominee for attorney general of the United States, and prosecutors in her employ in the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, may have violated the rights of crime victims while making plea deals with defendants in so-called “white collar” cases. We believe that this is emblematic of a larger problem – to wit, the failure of the executive branch to enforce laws as written, and indeed the deliberate circumvention of the laws as written.

The issue is of respect for the law. For example, under federal sentencing law, specifically the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act, restitution is “mandatory” as to defendants who are sentenced for certain designated crimes. The statute, 18 U.S.C. 3663A(a)(1) begins, “Notwithstanding any other provision of law….” a defendant who is convicted of certain crimes must have a sentence of restitution imposed.

In Dolan v. United States, 560 U.S. 605, the Supreme Court held in 2010 that sentencing errors or omissions that result in a failure to award restitution may later be corrected, so holding because Congress made its intent clear when it used that language, “Notwithstanding any other provision of law.” But it appears to be the pattern and practice in the Eastern District to allow cooperators to keep the money they’ve pled guilty to stealing, in exchange for “good” cooperation.

The letter provides an example:

In one case, the Felix Sater matter, Ms. Lynch’s office stands accused of having failed to notify the victims in a $40 million stock swindle – as is clearly required by the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act, 18 U.S.C. 3771 – that a guilty plea had been obtained from one of the defendants in the case and that a sentencing agreement had been worked out. While the plea in 1998 preceded Ms. Lynch’s first tenure as the EDNY prosecutor, and the sentencing a decade later preceded her second tenure, after Ms. Lynch took office, she continued the concealment of the case, and failed to notify victims of any further proceedings in the case, notwithstanding her obligations under the CVRA.

Moreover, after Ms. Lynch’s first tenure commenced, she used Mr. Sater as a cooperating witness against many co-conspirators who pled guilty, and repeatedly adjourned Mr. Sater’s sentencing, never revealing to his victims any of the proceedings, and failed to reveal to the co-conspirators, it seems, that he would be permitted to keep the money he stole in exchange for his cooperation, implicating, of course, grave issues of prosecutorial misconduct – to wit, the failure to disclose Brady materials.

According to an investigation conducted by the Washington Times’ Jim McElhatton, Mr. Sater’s plea resulted in a minimal fine, no order of restitution, and no incarceration. If the victims in this case had been given proper notice — indeed any notice, again as required by law under the CVRA — that a settlement was in the offing they would have had the opportunity to find representation, submit restitution claims, seek recompense from the defendant and insure justice was done.

To make matters worse, Lynch’s office apparently tried to cover up its action:

[W]hen news of the deal began to leak, Ms. Lynch’s office (during her tenure) took what appear to be extraordinary steps to keep the whole business under wraps. If her office cut secret, sweetheart deals with cooperative defendants that allowed them to profit from their crimes, while depriving victims of their legal right to pursue the recovery of losses, then she has violated the law in the name of enforcing it.

The failure to order restitution is now a matter of public record, yet Ms. Lynch’s office has still not sought to have Mr. Sater resentenced to make restitution to the victims, as Dolan v. United States permits.

The letter concludes:

We ask that you to take the opportunity to use her confirmation hearing to raise this issue with her. If a satisfactory explanation cannot be found and if, indeed, she admits that her office deliberately and knowing ignored the requirements of federal law to secure a conviction and that they then obstructed efforts to keep that information from coming to light, the committee needs to consider long and hard her fitness to lead the United States Department of Justice.

The Holder Justice Department has consistently and willfully ignored and/or flouted the law. It is imperative that Holder’s successor demonstrate a strong commitment to the rule of law.

If the substantial allegation that Lynch has been unwilling to follow the law regarding restitution for victims of white collar crime turns out to be true, then Lynch can’t make this showing and should not be confirmed for this reason alone.

Remembering Ernie Banks

Ernie Banks, “Mr. Cub,” died on Friday. He was 83.

Banks is probably best remembered for his sunny disposition. “Let’s play two” was his famous saying.

In on-the-field terms, Banks should be remembered for his remarkable play from 1957-1960, especially the middle two years. In 1958, playing shortstop, Banks hit 47 home runs and drove in 129 runs. The next season, he hit 45 homers and knocked in 143.

Banks led the league in RBI both seasons, and in home runs in 1958. (In ’59, Eddie Mathews edged him out by one homer, but Mathews hit that home run during a tie-breaker playoff series against the Dodgers). Banks didn’t have the opportunity to participate in a playoff. His Cubs finished 5th out of 8 teams that year, a successful season by that franchise’s standards.

During this two-year period, in which Banks was named National League MVP both seasons, the most home runs hit by any other National League shortstop was 17 (by Daryl Spencer and Don Zimmer in 1958). The most RBI by another NL shortstop was 74 (by Spencer in 1958).

Banks’ offensive wins above replacement player (WAR) was an astounding 8.6 in 1958 and 7.8 in 1959. To put these numbers into perspective, Cal Ripken had WAR of 9.1 during his MVP season of 1991, but otherwise never exceeded 7.6.

Banks’ production was nearly as good in 1957 and 1960 (WARs of 7.4 and 6.9). His RBI totals (102 and 117) weren’t as impressive, but this is probably due in part to the fact that the Cubs were horrible in both of these years (62 wins in ’57 and 60 in ’60). In any event, his total of 219 for these two years is only 5 fewer than Ripken’s combined best two-yeartotal (in 1985 and 1991).

Banks was also a good defensive shortstop. He won the Gold Glove in 1960 and still an above average fielding shortstop when, at the beginning of the 1962 season, the Cubs moved him to first base. The move, as I understand it, was due to Banks’ knee problems.

Banks was average at best as a defensive first baseman. Moreover, with his offensive production beginning to decline, and now playing a position occupied mostly by sluggers, Banks no longer stood out offensively.

However, he continued to turn out productive seasons, driving in more than 100 runs in three of his first-base years and twice hitting more than 30 home runs.

One of Banks 100+ RBI years was 1969, the first time in his career he was involved in a serious pennant race. Unfortunately, the New York Mets overtook the Cubs that summer.

The 1969 season was basically it for Mr. Cub (now age 38). He hung on for two more years as a part time player and then retired.

Bleacher Report lists Banks among the ten best players never to win a World Series. Half of the players on its list at least played in a Series. Banks never did.

Banks’ rank among all-time shortstops is controversial because he played fewer than half of his games at that position. Personally, I rate him among the top ten because he played more than 1,000 games at shortstop and played them at a top-5 level.

Finally, let’s not minimize what Banks, the man, meant to Chicago. He was the first black to play for the Cubs. He played with the Cubs for 19 years, most of them as the face of the franchise, and never played for anyone else.

Most importantly, Banks never had a bad word to say about the Cubs (no matter how terrible they were) or, for that matter, about anyone. The fans loved him for this, but some players and writers held it against him.

His teammate Jim Brosnan, author and hipster, was convinced that Banks was, at least to some degree, phony. No one, Brosnan was sure, could endure the indignities of being both a Cub and a black man in the late 1950s without being at least a little bit resentful. And Brosnan wasn’t alone in believing that Banks should have said more about civil rights.

Brosnan and sportswriter Jerome Holtzman believed there was a different Ernie Banks behind the “mask.” But their only evidence is their conviction that, in effect, Banks was too good to be true.

As far as I know, the mask, if there was one, never dropped. The real Ernie Banks, therefore, was probably the one who was too good for cynics to deem true.

The World Burns, America Fiddles

It would be hard to overstate how poorly things are going for the United States around the world. Iran moves steadily toward acquiring nuclear weapons, with the apparent approval of the Obama administration. Iraq, once hailed as one of the Obama administration’s greatest successes by Joe Biden, is now largely occupied by ISIS. The carnage in Syria continues. The government of Yemen, a key ally in the war against Islamic terror, has fallen. In Nigeria, Boko Haram slaughters thousands and now controls much of Africa’s richest country.

And Russia continues to chip away at Ukraine. Let’s pause on this one for a moment. Having absorbed Crimea, Russia is now concentrating its fire on the eastern half of Ukraine, perhaps with a plan to secure Crimea via a land bridge to Russia. There is no longer any pretense about the fact that Russian soldiers have invaded Ukraine and are fighting alongside separatist rebels. The New York Times reports that the war in Ukraine is “exploding.” The Kiev Post profiles Ukrainian soldiers struggling to hold onto the strategically important city of Debaltseve. Stratfor issues a “red alert” and speculates about Russia’s strategic intentions.

If any of this is of concern to the Obama administration, it is not evident. Obama, apparently intent on building socialism in one country–haven’t we heard that somewhere before?–views everything that happens elsewhere with seeming indifference, when he is not actively working to undermine American interests, as in Iran. While he almost never submits to questions from actual journalists (even friendly ones, which they pretty much all are), he did take time to give interviews to four YouTube celebrities. This montage depicts the result; you could never make this up:

To be fair, Obama’s fecklessness is matched by many Americans. With crises erupting around the world, what is the number one news story in the U.S.? Deflate-gate, of course. Michael Ramirez comments; click to enlarge:

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It is times like this when a country needs leadership, and, whatever else you might think about him, Barack Obama has never been accused of being a leader.