You Knew This Was Coming [With Comments by John]

Oh what the heck, we might as well hit for the cycle today.

Headline in the Puffington Host this afternoon:

Is Climate Change To Blame for the Northeast Snow Storm?

You can guess the answer: Of course it is, you ninny, because climate change does everything, remember.  I’m sure the connection between climate change and the New England Patriots’ under-inflated footballs is mere moments away.

JOHN adds: The key point here, of course, is that the warmists’ models didn’t predict that global warming would cause more snow. Rather, the models told us that snow would soon be a thing of the past. Thus, we had this wonderful article in the New York Times, “The End of Snow?” And that wasn’t ancient history: the article appeared just one year ago.

The IPCC, the United Nations’ pro-global warming lobbying group, declared unequivocally in 2001 that warming would mean fewer heavy snowfalls. This is a screen shot from the IPCC’s 2001 report, courtesy of Climate Depot:

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 7.25.05 PM

Only it turned out that–heh–the current decade is the worst ever recorded for major impact snowstorms on the East Coast, with 14, even though it is only half over. So now the alarmists are changing their tune, and blaming snowstorms on global warming. (The same thing is going on in Germany.) This is a perfect illustration of why global warming alarmism is not science. If you are doing science, you come up with a theory and you identify implications of that theory–if the theory is correct, then what facts will be observable? If those facts are not observed, the theory has been proved wrong. When no state of affairs can ever be deemed inconsistent with a theory, then the theory is not a scientific theory at all, but rather a religious or spiritual belief. Or possibly just a hoax.

Hottest Year Claim Becomes Hot Potato

Oh, well, since I’m on a climate jag today, might as well pass along the following clarification offered by environmental reporter stenographer Seth Borenstein of the AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a story Jan. 16, The Associated Press reported that the odds that nine of the 10 hottest years have occurred since 2000 are about 650 million to one. These calculations, as the story noted, treated as equal the possibility of any given year in the records being one of the hottest. The story should have included the fact that substantial warming in the years just prior to this century could make it more likely that the years since were warmer, because high temperatures tend to persist.

The story also reported that 2014 was the hottest year on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA, but did not include the caveat that other recent years had average temperatures that were almost as high — and they all fall within a margin of error that lessens the certainty that any one of the years was the hottest.

An earlier version of the story quoted Rutgers University climate scientist Jennifer Francis as noting that the margin of error makes it uncertain whether 2014 was warmest, or the second, third or sixth warmest year. She said that regardless, the trend shows a “clear, consistent and incontrovertible” warming of Earth. That reference to the margin of error was dropped in later versions.

This pretty much a complete rout for the talking point.  The climatistas are clearly having a bad week.  Kudos to Marc Morano for keeping the heat (heh) on about this.

Russian Roulette, anyone?

Some Republican Senators are contemplating an attempt to change the rules for confirming Supreme Court Justices. Under their proposal, confirmation could occur with only a bare majority, as it now can for lower court judges and cabinet members. Lamar Alexander and Roy Blunt are behind the push for this change.

I find no merit in it. Sure, the change would make it easier for a Republican president to have Supreme Court nominees confirmed. But when will we have a Republican president? No one knows.

It’s clear, on the other hand, that we will have a Democratic president until 2017. Why make it easier for Obama high court nominees to be confirmed? It seems insane to do so.

Republicans, to be sure, have enough votes to block an Obama nominee, but only if nearly every Republican is on board. It’s far from clear that Senate Republicans would rally to defeat an Obama nominee unless he or she has an egregious record. Lisa Murkowski, Lindsey Graham, and John McCain (to name three Senators) tend to defer to the president in these matters. Mark Kirk faces a very tough re-election campaign in a dark blue state.

In 2017, Republican representation in the Senate is likely to decrease, and it’s possible that Democrats will have a majority. Thus, any hope of blocking the nominees of Hillary Clinton (or any Democratic president) would very likely depend on retaining the filibuster.

If Republicans win the White House and keep control of the Senate, they can consider abolishing the filibuster. At that point, there will be an obvious upside to doing so. Right now, an upside is lacking.

It’s possible that in 2017 Republicans will control the White House but not the Senate. In this scenario, the GOP will be better off if there is no filibuster because Supreme Court nominees could be confirmed with only minimal support from Democratic Senators. However, if Republicans abolish the filibuster now, what is to prevent Democrats from reinstating it in 2017, assuming (as we do in this scenario) they control the Senate at that point?

So far, I haven’t discussed the merits, partisan politics aside, of allowing Supreme Court nominees to be filibustered. Alexander and Blunt point out that for nearly all of our history, Justices could be confirmed with only a majority of the Senate vote.

But Supreme Court Justices weren’t always as important as they are today. These days, with presidents so assertive in expanding executive power and Justices so immodest about asserting theirs, Anthony Kennedy is probably the second most powerful man in America. As such, there’s a good case, partisanship aside, for requiring confirmation by a super majority.

The effect of a super-majority requirement is to deter presidents from nominating “extremist” would-be Justices (or at least would-be Justices who have shown themselves to be extreme). That’s a mixed blessing. One man’s extremist is another’s brilliant jurist. Conservatives don’t want a Court of nine Ruth Ginsburg’s and liberals don’t want a Court of nine Antonin Scalia’s. But who wants a Court of nine Sandra Day O’Connor’s?

The Alexander-Blunt proposal doesn’t require us to adjudicate this or other questions of jurisprudence. Common sense is a sufficient guide. The modern Supreme Court is too important for a game of Russian roulette.

Advice to Climatistas: Stop Sniffing Model Glue

Science Daily summarizes a new study in Geophysical Research Letters, one of the leading climate science journals, about how climate models are struggling (to put it mildly) to explain decade-by-decade climate variability.  On the one hand, the study seems to attempt to downplay the significance of the recent temperature “pause,” but at the price of inadvertently undermining the climate models themselves.  At least that’s how I read this summary:

A new Duke University-led study finds that most climate models likely underestimate the degree of decade-to-decade variability occurring in mean surface temperatures as Earth’s atmosphere warms. The models also provide inconsistent explanations of why this variability occurs in the first place.

These discrepancies may undermine the models’ reliability for projecting the short-term pace as well as the extent of future warming, the study’s authors warn. As such, we shouldn’t over-interpret recent temperature trends.

“The inconsistencies we found among the models are a reality check showing we may not know as much as we thought we did,” said lead author Patrick T. Brown, a Ph.D. student in climatology at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

Don’t know as much as we thought we did?  But settled science!  And 97 percent!

There’s more:

“When you look at the 34 models used in the IPCC report, many give different answers about what is causing this decade-to-decade variability,” he said. “Some models point to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation as the cause. Other models point to other causes. It’s hard to know which is right and which is wrong.”

Hopefully, as the models become more sophisticated, they will coalesce around one answer, Brown said.  (Emphasis added.)

In other words: “C’mon people—we need to get our story straight!”

P.S. There’s this curious bit in the middle of this summary:

To conduct their study, they analyzed 34 climate models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its fifth and most recent assessment report, finalized last November.

The analysis found good consistency among the 34 models explaining the causes of year-to-year temperature wiggles, Brown noted. The inconsistencies existed only in terms of the model’s ability to explain decade-to-decade variability, such as why global mean surface temperatures warmed quickly during the 1980s and 1990s, but have remained relatively stable since then.

So let’s see if we have this straight: we can explain annual changes fairly well, but can’t get longer-term changes right?  Isn’t this exactly the opposite of what you’d expect—unless it means the annual model runs are being tweaked to match up with the temperature record of the individual year in question?  This sounds like doing the TV weather forecast a day later.

Climate Cliche Watch, Chapter 1

It’s about time someone—why not Power Line?—developed a Climate Change Cliché Counter: a checklist and score sheet for the number of mindless clichés that appear in articles or statements about climate change. The idea occurred to me when I noted “A Clear and Present Danger to Planet Earth: Climate Change” in the pages of the National Interest, a normally sober-minded foreign policy journal nowadays published by the Nixon Center. It was co-founded by Irving Kristol back in the 1980s but is now edited by someone (Jacob Heilbrunn) who wrote a whole book a few years ago devoted chiefly to attacking Irving Kristol. (Another cautionary tale of how institutions go wrong over time.)

Anyway, this short thumb-sucker of an article (just under 650 words long) offers neither new facts nor any fresh suggestions for how to deal with climate change. It’s just a regurgitation of the usual clichés attached to a panicky conclusion that we have to hand over massive new power to governments to control people and resources.

Our Climate Cliché Counter will need an extensive period of Beta testing, and refinements of the weights assigned to various clichés (mentions of 97 percent! will get extra credit always) so as to yield a score and ranking, which will be used to award the coveted Power Line Green Weenie. So here’s our first shakedown:

  • Extreme weather—check: “While the deadly 2003 heat wave may have been the most severe in the last 500 years, the world can expect similar ones more frequently.”
  • Hottest year on record—check: “With 2014 weighing in as the hottest year ever on record. . .”
  • Wars! Pandemics! Dogs and cats living together!—check: “Global instability will be the new norm, as our warming planet will worsen already highly impoverished and hungry populations, exacerbate food and water shortages, generate violent disputes over resources, make fertile the planet for pandemics and usher in a new era of climate conflict and resource wars.”
  • Dought/water shortages—check: “As the planet warms, this rate of water depletion will increase. . .”
  • Wartime mobilization required—check: “This is why Western allies must lead like never before, rallying the same kinds of war-ready resources—financial, physical and human—that nations fast-track during wartime, except this time it’s for a global fight, a global war against our warming climate.”
  • Running out of time!—check: “Time is of the essence . . . There is no more clear and present danger capable of destabilizing the world around us. The time to act is now.”

If we go by a ten-point scale, this article gets six out of ten; a respectable showing from a pair of authors (Des Brown and Michael Shank) I’ve never heard of before. With practice (they forgot to include 97 percent!) I’m sure they can get their score up to 8 or 9 (though we may move to a 100-point scale to allow for more fine grading), and bag their first Green Weenie.

But then we need to figure out a way to allow for bonus points for truly original failed analogies, like this one from the article:

If the West ever faced an armed insurgent group capable of killing tens of thousands of its citizens in a single summer, it would rally quickly and arm the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in its defense. And yet, climate change, which is also human-made and armed with a different but equally deadly weapon gets a response that pales in comparison.

Yeah, we’ve really rallied Europe and other allies to fight vigorously against terrorism, haven’t we. Je suis Al Gore!

Your suggestions for score-able Climate Clichés welcome in the comment thread below. We’ll formalize this over time, and start scoring a lot more articles.

Amb. Dermer speaks

The Obama administration is throwing a hissy fit over the invitation extended by Speaker Boehner to Prime Minister Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress over the threat posed by Iran. Given the existential nature of the threat posed by Iran to Israel, one might have entertained hopes that the Obama administration would behave otherwise, but those hopes would have been foolish.

Last night Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer addressed the gala dinner convened on behalf of Israel bonds in Boca Raton, Florida. Ambassador Dermer spoke to the current controversy as follows:

[Dermer] argued [that] it is Netanyahu’s “sacred duty” to speak up in Congress against a possible agreement with Iran which “could endanger the very existence of the State of Israel.”

“The Prime Minister’s visit here is not intended to show any disrespect for President Obama,” he continued. “Israel deeply appreciates the strong support we have received from President Obama in many areas – the enhanced security cooperation, heightened intelligence sharing, generous military assistance and iron dome funding, and opposition to anti-Israel initiatives at the United Nations.”

“The Prime Minister’s visit is also not intended to wade into your political debate. Israel deeply appreciates the strong bipartisan support we enjoy in the American Congress — where Democrats and Republicans come together to support Israel – just as Israel appreciates the wide and deep support that it enjoys among the American people,” added Dermer.

Rather, Dermer said, “the Prime Minister’s visit to Washington is intended for one purpose — and one purpose only. To speak up while there is still time to speak up. To speak up when there is still time to make a difference.”

“There may be some people who believe that the Prime Minister of Israel should have declined an invitation to speak before the most powerful parliament in the world on an issue that concerns the future and survival of Israel. But we have learned from our history that the world becomes a more dangerous place for the Jewish people when the Jewish people are silent,” he asserted. “And if was important for the Prime Minister to speak out in Paris about anti-Semitism and the threat from militant Islam, it is even more important for him to speak out in Washington DC about the dangers of a nuclear Iran. The agreement that is being discussed today is not an agreement that would dismantle Iran’s nuclear weapons capability, but rather one that could leave Iran as a nuclear threshold state. That is an agreement that could endanger the very existence of the State of Israel.”

“That is why the Prime Minister feels the deepest moral obligation to appear before the Congress to speak about an existential issue facing the one and only Jewish state, ” the Israeli ambassador continued.

“Th[at] is not just the right of the Prime Minister of Israel. It is his most sacred duty — to do whatever he can to prevent Iran from ever developing nuclear weapons that can be aimed at Israel.”

Dermer concluded his remarks by stating, “The Jewish people are a people who have survived all the evil that history has thrown at us. And we will survive the evil that we face today. But we will not do it by bowing our heads and by hoping that the storm will pass. We will do it by standing tall and by confronting the storm with faith and courage.”

Ambassador Dermer has posted the full text of his remarks on Facebook here. The video below excerpts Ambassador Dermer’s remarks speaking to the threat posed by Iran in the context of the current controversy.

Why he fled Argentina

The death of Alberto Nisman under suspicious circumstances has rocked Argentina and raised serious doubts about the government. The AP roundup from Buenos Aires reports that “Death of prosecutor shakes faith in president, government institutions in Argentina.”

Journalist Damian Pachter broke the story of Nisman’s death last week. In the most recent chapter of the story, Pachter has fled Argentina for Israel out of concerns for his safety. Haaretz has published Pachter’s column “Why I fled Argentina after breaking the story of Alberto Nisman’s death.” (Access to the column may require registration, but it also accessible via Google here.)

Pachter contributes an important thread to the story. Those who have followed the story so far will want to attend to this:

So here they are, the craziest 48 hours of my life.

When my source gave me the scoop on Alberto Nisman’s death, I was writing a piece on the special prosecutor’s accusations against President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, her (Jewish) Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman, two pro-Iran “social activists” and parliamentarian Andrés Larroque. I learned that Nisman had been shot dead in his home.

The vetting process wasn’t too tough because of my source’s incredible attention to detail. His name will never be revealed.

Two things stood in my mind: my source’s safety and people’s right to know what happened that day, though not necessarily in that order.

Of course, for both speed and the contagion effect, Twitter was the way to go. The information was so solid I never doubted my source, despite my one or two colleagues who doubted me because I only had 420 Twitter followers — a number now eclipsing 10,000.

As the night went on, journalists contacted me in order to get the news from me even more directly. The first to do so was Gabriel Bracesco.

Once I tweeted that Nisman had died, hundreds of people quickly retweeted the news and started following me. That was my first of many sleepless days.

“You just broke the best story in decades,” lots of people said. “You’re crazy,” was another take. Either way, nobody questioned that the situation was very grave.

The following days were marked by a government trying to create an official story. First, the head of state suggested a “suicide hypothesis,” then a mysterious murder. They of course were not to blame. In anything.

That week I received several messages from one of my oldest and best sources. He urged me to visit him, but in those crazy days I underestimated his proposal.

On Friday I was working at the Buenos Aires Herald.com newsroom when a colleague from the BBC urged me to look at the state news agency’s story on Nisman’s death. The piece had some serious typos but the message was even stranger: The agency quoted a supposed tweet of mine that I never wrote.

Pachter then takes a bus to meet up with his source in a town several hours outside Buenos Aires. Upon his arrival he finds that he is being followed by a man he believes to be an intelligence agent. His source arrives and snaps a photo of the agent. “I then had to consider the best thing to do,” Pachter writes, “because when an Argentine intelligence agent is on your tail, it’s never good news. He didn’t just want to have a coffee with me, that’s for sure.”

Pachter decided to leave Argentina, buying a ticket from Buenos Aires with the destination of Israel via Montevideo and Madrid. He says he kept a low profile to evade security forces, adding this:

After I left Argentina I found out that the government was still publishing wrong information about me on social media. The Twitter feed of Casa Rosada, the Argentine presidential palace, posted the details of the airline ticket I had bought, and claimed that I intended to return to Argentina by February 2 — in other words, I hadn’t really fled the country. In fact, my return date is in December.

Haaretz caption: A tweet from the Presidential Palace showing Pachter’s flight itinerary.

Whole thing here.

As I wrote yesterday, borrowing from Lewis Carroll: curiouser and curiouser.