Earth’s Climate Shows 2,000-Year Cooling Trend

People who swallow global warming alarmism almost never know anything about the Earth’s climatic history. Next time one of your friends or relatives starts giving you the global warming routine, ask him or her to graph the temperature history of the last 500,000 years. Or 20,000 years. Or 2,000. Trust me: the supposed climate expert won’t be able to do it. Yet putting the modest temperature increase of the latter half of the 20th century into historical context is the first prerequisite of any intelligent evaluation.

From Watts Up With That? comes a report on a new tree-ring study that covers the last 2,000 years. Are tree-ring analyses valid? I don’t know, but the alarmists use them all the time, and they are certainly more reliable over a relatively reasonable time frame like 2,000 years. The study finds that global temperatures have been gradually declining over that time:

In a paper published in the Journal of Quaternary Science, Esper et al. (2014) write that tree-ring chronologies of maximum latewood density (MXD) “are most suitable to reconstruct annually resolved summer temperature variations of the late Holocene.”

The late Holocene is the geologic era in which we are living.

As the international team of researchers from the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Greece, Sweden and Switzerland describes it, this history depicts “a long-term cooling trend of -0.30°C per 1,000 years over the Common Era in northern Europe” (see figure below). Most important of all, however, they note that their temperature reconstruction “has centennial-scale variations superimposed on this trend,” which indicate that “conditions during Medieval and Roman times were probably warmer than in the late 20th century,” when the previously-rising post-Little Ice Age mean global air temperature hit a ceiling of sorts above which it has yet to penetrate.

This graph shows the long-term cooling trend as well as the relatively wide variations on smaller time scales. Click to enlarge:

esperetal2014b

This finding is consistent with other studies indicating that the Earth is currently cooler than it has been about 90% of the time since the end of the last Ice Age. So, could it get warmer? Yes, and with any luck, it will.

Media Alert

I will be guest hosting Laura Ingraham’s radio show tomorrow and Tuesday. Please tune in if you can; the show runs from 9 to 12 Eastern time, 8 to 11 Central. If Laura isn’t on the air where you live, or you don’t know where to find her show on the dial, you can listen online. Or you can use Laura’s radio station finder, or wait until later and listen to the podcast. We have a great lineup of guests, and it should be a lot of fun.

The Collapse of the Democratic Party In South Dakota: What Happened?

2014 was a terrible year for the Democrats nationally, but in South Dakota it was a catastrophe: Democrats hold only 20 out of 105 seats in the state’s legislature, all 13 officers and representatives elected statewide are Republicans, and in the race for Governor, the Democrats suffered the worst margin of defeat in the state’s history. This marked the nadir for a party that as recently as 1978 was riding high, with more registered voters than the GOP.

Last month, the University of South Dakota sponsored a panel discussion on the Democrats’ decline as part of the launch of the second volume of The Plains Political Tradition: Essays on South Dakota Political Culture, co-edited by my friend Jon Lauck. The Rapid City Journal reports:

In the book and at the conference, three people offered theories to explain why South Dakota Democrats have fallen so far since their heyday in the late 1970s.

In the panel discussion, [Democrat Ted] Muenster said the Roe v. Wade abortion decision and the failure of the Oahe Irrigation Project, both in the 1970s, divided Democrats.

The Oahu project was supported by Democratic leaders like George McGovern, but was blocked by environmentalists.

Tony Venhuisen, now chief of staff to the state’s governor, pointed out that the number of farmers has fallen dramatically:

One of the themes he noticed during his research was the tendency of Democrats to make gains in gubernatorial politics during periods of “agrarian discontent.” That’s no longer the case, Venhuizen said, because farm numbers have declined so far that even a massive shift of farmers to the Democratic Party could no longer swing an election.

Venhuisen cited the 1986 election, won narrowly by Republican George Mickelson during a farm crisis, as a turning point that demonstrated that “the state’s urban centers were becoming larger and more immune to the agricultural economy.” It occurs to me that an analogous point could be made about the declining number of factory workers, even as factory production grows.

A third panelist emphasized the close connection between George McGovern, the dominant figure in South Dakota’s Democratic Party in the 1960s and 1970s, and liberal Protestantism:

Lempke asserts that McGovern built much of his political career on support from liberal, mainline Protestants. … McGovern identified strongly with the Social Gospel movement and its leaders among the Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian and United Church of Christ traditions. …

Because of that worldview, McGovern spent much of his career trying to end the Vietnam War and feed hungry people, in concert with liberal Protestant church leaders. Those efforts eventually sparked a backlash among conservative churchgoers who recoiled from the increasingly liberal social movements of the 1970s. …

The results for Democrats like McGovern and for mainline Protestant churches were catastrophic.

McGovern was voted out of office in the Republican sweep of 1980, and mainline Protestant church membership declined dramatically.

It is interesting to contemplate the ways in which the recent political history of a small state like South Dakota parallels that of the United States as a whole. In particular, the centrality of the social issues, as identified by the U.S.D. panelists, is striking. But I would add this: while social issues may have helped Republicans to take control of the state’s government after the 1970s, what has cemented GOP control, and led to sweeps like the one this year, is South Dakota’s booming economy. Sioux Falls is one of the nation’s true boom towns, and my own home town, also in Eastern South Dakota, is 50% larger now than when I lived there. Having experienced the tangible benefits of a business-friendly, low-tax state government, it is hard to see why voters would take a chance on the Democrats.

This is one fundamental difference between the experience of South Dakota, or any other individual state, and the country as a whole. At the state level, voters are swinging decisively toward the Republican Party, as red states generally prosper and blue states, for the most part, fail. But at the national level, divided government has been the norm, and neither party has held sway for long enough to give its policies a sustained and definitive trial (although Republicans of my vintage generally consider the Carter/Reagan era to have been virtually a laboratory experiment). Still, one would think that the rest of the country would be perceptive enough to draw lessons from successful states like South Dakota.

Dr. Evil Versus the Norks

I suppose it shouldn’t surprise us that Saturday Night Live had a better response to North Korea than President Obama did, starring Mike Myers as “Dr. Evil.”  I especially like the predictable “There’s already a GOP,” because—what took so long? (more…)

Oil, Oil, Toil and Trouble (Update 4)

There’s a mountain of economic research that suggests predatory pricing, the alleged sin of Standard Oil way back in the Rockefeller “robber baron” days more than a century ago, really doesn’t work, as the predator won’t recoup monopoly gains to make up the loss of profit during the period of predation—the more so the longer the period of price cutting takes. The Saudis likely know this, which suggests their decision to maintain production and let oil prices fall is being done for different motives (though if it squeezes and retards the American oil boom, that would be a bonus).

The very shrewd Conrad Black thinks the Saudis are collaborating in the crash of oil because this is their most effective way of fighting the weakness of the West in confronting Iran’s nuclear ambitions:

Saudi Arabia has resigned itself to the fact that neither its oft-demonstrated ability to play the periodic U.S. resolve to reduce its dependence on foreign oil like a yo-yo by price-cutting until the impulse of self-discipline passes, nor the agitation of the environmentalists for restrained oil production, will work again. . . a Saudi move on this scale, with the resulting self-inflicted reduction in their income, makes no sense for the marginal impact it will have on American future production and imports; it is a geopolitical move targeted much closer to home. . .

Saudi Arabia is trying to discourage the use of Iranian and Russian oil revenues to prop up the blood-stained and beleaguered Assad regime in Damascus, to finance Iran’s nuclear military program, and to incite the continuing outrages of Hezbollah and Hamas in Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories against Israel. The exotic community of interest that has suddenly arisen between the historically Jew-baiting Saudis and the Jewish state is because the countries in the area fear, with good reason as far as can be discerned, that the UN Security Council members, plus Germany, may be on the verge of acquiescing in Iran’s arrival as a threshold nuclear military power. The oil-price weapon, in the face of the terminal enfeeblement of the Obama administration, is the last recourse before the Saudis and Turks, whatever their autocues of racist rhetoric, invite Israel to smash the Iranian nuclear program from the air.

It is perfectly indicative of the scramble that ensues when a mighty power like the United States withdraws, fatigued but undefeated, from much of the world, that Saudi Arabia, a joint venture between the nomadic and medieval House of Saud and the Wahhabi establishment that propagates jihadism with Saudi oil revenues, makes common cause with Israel in a way that inadvertently relieves much of the Russian pressure on Ukraine, which was not an objective in Saudi calculations at all. From the Western standpoint, this is a lucky bounce of the political football.

This is going to get more interesting before it’s over.

The Ellison example

In “For Rep. Keith Ellison, recent protests speak to a lifelong struggle,” the Star Tribune’s Allison Sherry provides an incoherent update on Ellison’s fraught relationship with law enforcement. There are two problems with the article. Sherry doesn’t know what she’s talking about and she simply provides a platform for Ellison to vent.

Sherry works to suggest that there is something complicated about Ellison’s views of law enforcement. She writes, for example: “As a young lawyer, Ellison often worked on cases that alleged excessive force by police officers. Yet he also has fought ardently to get police officers higher pay and better equipment. (He recently sought federal funding for transgender-awareness training for Minneapolis Police and Hennepin County Sheriff’s deputies.)” Cue the laugh track.

Ellison takes advantage of recent events to ride his usual leftists hobby horse:

Ellison says he isn’t sure whether relationships between low-income communities and local police departments have deteriorated in recent years, but he believes that “economic stagnation” has played a big role.

“You’re not going to sell loosies on the street if you have a good job. You’re not going to do it,” Ellison said, referring to the recent case of Garner, a New York man selling single cigarettes on the street. Garner resisted arrest, was put in a chokehold and died.

This is deep stuff. Star Tribune readers will be duly impressed.

It might have helped if only Sherry had checked local media archives including those of the Star Tribune itself. She would have found that Ellison’s past relationship with law enforcement is not quite so complicated and that it illuminates his current views as well as those of his friends on the left. Before he was elected to office as a state legislator in 2002, Ellison was an incredibly vocal supporter of cop killers near and far.

In the beginning his focus was on the Minneapolis scene. Perhaps the lowest moment in Minneapolis’s history was the September 1992 execution-style murder of police officer Jerry Haaf. Haaf’s murder was like that of the NYPD officers murdered yesterday in Brooklyn; Haaf was shot in the back as he took a coffee break at a restaurant in south Minneapolis.

The murder was a gang hit performed by four members of the city’s Vice Lords gang. The leader of the Vice Lords was Sharif Willis, a convicted murderer who had been released from prison and who sought respectability as a responsible gang leader from gullible municipal authorities while operating a gang front called United for Peace.

The four Vice Lords members who murdered Haaf met and planned the murder at Willis’s house. Two witnesses at the trial of one of the men convicted of Haaf’s murder implicated Willis in the planning. Willis was never charged; law enforcement authorities said they lacked sufficient evidence to convict him.

Within a month of Haaf’s murder, Ellison appeared with Willis supporting the United for Peace gang front. In October 1992, Ellison helped organize a demonstration against Minneapolis police that included United for Peace. “The main point of our rally is to support United for Peace [in its fight against] the campaign of slander the police federation has been waging,” said Ellison.

Willis was the last speaker at the demonstration. According to a contemporaneous report in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Willis told the crowd that Minneapolis police were experiencing the same fear from young black men that blacks had felt from police for many years. “If the police have some fear, I understand that fear,” Willis said. “We seem to have an overabundance of bad police. . . . [W]e’re going to get rid of them,” Willis said. “They’ve got to go.” The Pioneer Press account concludes with Ellison’s contribution to the demonstration: “Ellison told the crowd that the police union is systematically frightening whites in order to get more police officers hired. That way, Ellison said, the union can increase its power base.”

Ellison publicly supported the Haaf murder defendants. In February 1993, he spoke at a demonstration for one of them during his trial. Ellison led the crowd assembled at the courthouse in a chant that was ominous in the context of Haaf’s cold-blooded murder: “We don’t get no justice, you don’t get no peace.” Ellison’s working relationship with Sharif Willis came to an end in February 1995, when Willis was convicted in federal court on several counts of drug and gun-related crimes and sent back to prison for 20 years.

The various themes of Ellison’s public commitments and associations all came together in a February 2000 speech he gave at a fundraising event sponsored by the Minnesota chapter of the far-left National Lawyers Guild, on whose steering committee he had served. The event was a fundraiser for former Symbionese Liberation Army member Kathleen Soliah after her apprehension in St. Paul (under the name “Sara Jane Olson”) for the attempted murder of Los Angeles police officers in 1975.

Ellison saluted Soliah/Olson as a “black gang member” (i.e, the member of the SLA gang led by Donald DeFreeze or “Cinque Mtume”) and thus a victim of government persecution. He described her as one of those who had been “fighting for freedom in the ’60s and ’70s” and called for her release. (She subsequently pleaded guilty to charges in Los Angeles and to an additional murder charge in Sacramento; she served time in California before returning to Minnesota.)

Ellison also spoke favorably of cop killers Mumia Abu-Jamal and Assata Shakur (neé JoAnne Chesimard). Shakur has been on the lam in Cuba since 1984; in 2005 she was placed on the FBI’s domestic terrorists list with a $1,000,000 reward for her capture. Most recently, the FBI placed her on its Most Wanted Terrorists list.

Sherry might usefully have asked Ellison if the thawing of our relations with Cuba would open the door to the return of Shakur to serve out the rest of her time in prison and if he would support her return to prison, but, as I say, Sherry doesn’t have a clue.

The example of Keith Ellison provides a timely reminder of the sick left’s war on law enforcement, or of the left’s sick war on law enforcement.

NOTE: This post draws on my 2006 Weekly Standard article “Louis Farrakhan’s first congressman.”

Rand Paul proves Marco Rubio’s point

During an impassioned appearance on Fox News to denounce President Obama’s new Cuba policy, Marco Rubio stated, in response to a question that cited Rand Paul’s pro-Obama view on the subject, that Paul “has no idea what he’s talking about when it comes to Cuba.” Having been called out, Paul had little alternative but to respond, and it would have been easy for him to so intelligently. There are, after all, respectable arguments that can be made in support of Obama’s position.

Predictably, however, Paul ended up proving that he doesn’t know what he’s talking on a scale that transcends Cuba policy.

Paul responded by accusing the Florida Senator of being an “isolationist.” Rubio wants to “retreat to our borders and perhaps build a moat,” Paul taunted.

How stupid can Paul get? Rubio was merely advocating the continuation of a policy followed by American presidents for 50 years. Was Richard Nixon an isolationist. Was Ronald Reagan? Did George W. Bush want to build a moat to protect America from the world?

America’s Cuba policy hasn’t isolated America; it has isolated Cuba. To claim that not trading with Cuba renders us isolationist is like claiming that a person who socializes with everyone on the block except his most obnoxious neighbor is a anti-social.

Paul thought it would be clever to couch his policy disagreement with Rubio in terms of isolationism vs. engagement because Paul has been accused, rightly, of being an isolationist. His response has always been the same as his isolationist father’s, namely that he’s not an isolationist because he wants to trade with everyone.

By this definition, Rubio is an isolationist being there is one country he doesn’t want the U.S. to trade with. But then, by this logic a person who never leaves his house but purchases items through the internet is not a shut-in.

In American politics, isolationism has always been defined in terms of an unwillingness to engage (or meddle) in the affairs — military and even political — of other nations except when we are under direct attack or under (perhaps) imminent threat of attack. Rubio has consistently rejected this stance; Paul has flirted with and at times seemed to embrace it.

Viewed in this light, Rubio’s position on Cuba is anything but isolationist. Rubio favors boycotting Cuba as a means of limiting its influence in Latin America and possibly speeding up regime change.

Paul, for his part, doesn’t fully mimic the old “hands off Cuba” slogan of American Communists in the days of Lee Harvey Oswald. He can argue that, notwithstanding our contrary experience with China and Vietnam and Europe’s contrary experience with Cuba, by trading with the dictatorship we will undermine it.

Readers can make their own judgments about whether Paul really cares about what happens in Cuba. There is no dispute that Rubio cares.

You can argue that the approach through which Rubio manifests his concern is unwise, ineffective, or both. But if you know what you’re talking about, you can’t call it isolationist.