Not Islamic either

The Obama administration degenerates rapidly into a clown show. It may be a clown show that falls into the killer clown horror genre, but still it’s some kind of a clown show.

In the latest installment of the clown show, White House spokesman Eric Schultz distinguishes the Taliban — not a terrorist group, but rather an “armed insurgency” — from ISIS — not an “armed insurgency,” but rather a terrorist group. Daniel Halper explains: “The verbal jiujitsu from the White House was its way of arguing that the Bowe Bergdahl swap for members of the Taliban was okay since it didn’t involve negotiating with a terrorist group.”

As for the verbal jiujitsu, don’t try this at home. You might hurt yourself. Well, you might hurt yourself watching the video too.

Loretta Lynch Must Not Be Confirmed [Updated]

The President’s duty under the Constitution is to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” The Attorney General is the President’s chief agent in that regard. With respect to immigration, the laws of the United States set forth the manner in which immigrants may lawfully enter and remain within the United States. Numerous persons are here in violation of those laws. The laws of the United States further provide that no employer may hire a person who is present in the United States illegally. The Attorney General’s duty is to execute and enforce those laws.

In today’s confirmation hearing, Senator Jeff Sessions asked nominee Loretta Lynch who has more right to a job, an American citizen or legal immigrant, or a person who is here illegally. Lynch’s answer is stunning:

Lynch’s answer amounts to a repudiation of her prospective duties as Attorney General.

Paul described Lynch’s exchange with Sessions this morning. Following the colloquy in the video, this is how Paul described the testimony:

What if an employer prefers to hire an American citizen over an illegal immigrant granted a work permit under executive amnesty? Would Lynch take action against the employer for discrimination?

It’s a great question, and Lynch totally ducks it. She looks forward to obtaining Sen. Sessions’ views on the subject after she’s studied it more.

So Lynch won’t rule out suing employers who prefer hiring Americans to hiring people who came here illegally. That pretty much rules such suits in.

This of course stands the law on its head. Federal law says that employers can’t hire illegal immigrants, Lynch says she may take the position that employers must hire illegal immigrants. Again, this is simply a repudiation of her duties should she be confirmed.

This is a transcript of a portion of Sessions’ questioning of Lynch:

On April 24th of 2013, Attorney General Holder said this — and I’m raising this fundamentally because I think there’s a lot of confusion about the — how we should think about immigration in America, what are duties and what our responsibilities are.

He said this, quote, “Creating a pathway to earn citizenship for the 11 million unauthorized immigrants in our country is essential. The way we treat our friends and neighbors who are undocumented by creating a mechanism for them to earn citizenship and move out of the shadows transcends the issue of immigration status. This is a matter of civil and human rights.”

So let me ask you, do you believe that a person who enters the country unlawfully, that has perhaps used false documents or otherwise entered here, has a civil right to citizenship?

Well, Senator, I’m not familiar with the context of those comments. I certainly think that you do touch upon the difficult issue of how do we handle the undocumented — undocumented immigrants who come to our country. I believe for the life that we offer, I believe because of the values that we espouse…

I don’t want to interrupt you, but just the question is, do you agree with that statement about it’s a matter of civil rights, and citizenship, and work authority, right to work in America, for someone who enters the country unlawfully? That’s a civil right?

Senator, I haven’t studied the issue enough to come to a legal conclusion on that. I certainly think that people who come to this country in a variety of ways can rehabilitate themselves and apply, but that would have to be something that would be decided on a case-by-case basis.

I’d just like to hear you answer that. Is it a civil right for a person who enters the country unlawfully, who would like to work and like to be a citizen, to demand that, contrary to the laws of the United States? And when Congress doesn’t pass it, is that a right that they’re entitled to demand?

So I don’t think — I think that citizenship is a privilege. Certainly, it’s a right for those of us born here. I think it’s a privilege that has to be earned. And within the panoply of civil rights that are recognized by our jurisprudence now, I don’t see one that you — as such that you are describing.

I certainly agree. I’m a little surprised it took you that long. But the attorney general’s statement was breathtaking to me. ***
Let me ask you this: In the workplace of America today when we have a high number of unemployed, we’ve had declining wages for many years, we have the lowest of Americans working, who has more right to a job in this country? A lawful immigrant who’s here, a green-card holder or a citizen, or a person who entered the country unlawfully?

Well, Senator, I believe that the right and the obligation to work is one that’s shared by everyone in this country regardless of how they came here. And certainly, if someone here, regardless of status, I would prefer that they be participating in the workplace than not participating in the workplace.
Well, just let me wrap up by asking this: Are you — if — if a person comes here and is given a lawful right under the president’s executive amnesty to have Social Security and a work authorization card, what if somebody prefers to hire an American citizen first? Would you take action against them?

Do you understand this to mean that those who are given executive amnesty are entitled as much as anybody else in America to compete for a job in America?

Well, I don’t believe that it would give anyone any greater access to the workforce, and certainly an employer would be looking at the issues of citizenship in making those determinations.

Would you take action against an employer who says, “No, I prefer to hire someone that came to the country lawfully rather than someone given executive amnesty by the president”? Would Department of Justice take action against them?

With respect to the — the provision about temporary deferral, I did not read it as providing a legal amnesty, that is, that permanent status there, but a temporary deferral.

With respect to whether or not those individuals would be able to seek redress for employment discrimination, if — if that is the purpose of your question, again, I haven’t studied that legal issue.

I certainly think you raised an important point and would look forward to discussing it with you and using — and relying upon your thoughts and experience as we consider that point.

Lynch testified that she finds the Holder DoJ’s opinion that Barack Obama’s executive amnesty is legal to be “reasonable.” So, again, she is prepared to rubber stamp executive action that is in direct contradiction to the laws of the United States. If federal law prohibits employers from hiring illegal aliens, the executive branch cannot issue permits that purport to nullify the effect of the statute and make such employment legal. This is not a subtle or difficult point.

There are many reasons to be skeptical of Loretta Lynch and to suspect that as Attorney General, she would be another Eric Holder, turning the Department of Justice into a political arm of the White House. But there is no need to speculate: by her words, she has proclaimed her intention to subvert rather than to uphold the laws of the United States. She must not be confirmed as Attorney General.

UPDATE: Later in today’s hearing, Lynch came out foursquare behind President Obama’s illegal and unconstitutional attempt to rewrite the nation’s immigration laws by giving work permits to people who can’t legally work:

Sessions: I have to have a clear answer to this question: Ms. Lynch, do you believe the executive action announced by President Obama on November 20th is legal and Constitutional? Yes or no?

Lynch: As I’ve read the opinion, I do believe it is, Senator.

That clinches it. We cannot have another Attorney General who will sign off on blatant constitutional violations. Shortly after this exchange, Sessions announced that he will vote against Lynch’s confirmation.

Whatever Happened to Peak Oil?

So we’re not hearing much about “peak oil” these days.  Probably because IT WAS WRONG.  But shouldn’t gloat.  Instead, let me direct your attention to another snappy five-minute video just out from the Pacific Research Institute’s “History’s Hysteria” series that was taped well before the current oil glut got into full swing.  You’ll recognize a familiar face. (more…)

Live-blogging the Lynch hearing — afternoon edition, starring Ted Cruz

Loretta Lynch did a superb job of testifying this morning. She artfully ducked the few tough questions directed to her, while somehow managing to sound like the most accommodating nominee ever. Only Sen. Sessions laid a glove on her, in my opinion.

The afternoon session will begin soon. I think I’ll present my live-blogging of this one in chronological order rather than reverse chronological order, as I did this morning.

1:42 Ted Cruz is up. Attorneys general have a long history of standing up to the president, Cruz says. But Eric Holder hasn’t upheld that tradition.

How would Lynch’s tenure differ from Holder’s, Cruz asks?

She regurgitates Cruz’s statement about the need for the AG to act in a fair way. How will she differ from Holder? She “will be Loretta Lynch.” It’s a perfectly tautological and vacuous answer.

She then reverts to her mantra — she looks forward to talking with Cruz about his concerns. Sure, she does.

1:46 Cruz turns specifically to immigration. Does Lynch agree with the OLC opinion affirming the legality of the executive amnesty? She says she doesn’t see amnesty being upheld in that opinion. She sees prioritization of prosecution resources, and finds it “reasonable.”

Cruz points out that the OLC operates as the official opinion of the DOJ. So does she agree with the analysis and would it have been her analysis?

Lynch won’t say. She filibusters, presumably hoping to run down the clock on Cruz.

Cruz quotes Obama’s 2011 statement that he can’t override Congress on immigration. Does Lynch agree with what Obama said then? Lynch ducks. She doesn’t know the context, she says.

As U.S. attorney, did Lynch ever carve out a class of offenders that she wouldn’t prosecute. Lynch hems and haws, but basically agrees that she never did.

1:52 Al Franken is now taking his turn. In keeping with his status as class clown, his first question is “how was lunch.” Lynch says it was great.

Everything seems to be great from Lynch’s perspective. She is proving to be the Ernie Banks of confirmation witnesses. It’s a beautiful day in the friendly confines of the Capitol. Let’s play two.

1:56 Franken claims that our prisons contain many people who shouldn’t be there, but should be in “mental health court” instead. Lynch doesn’t dispute this claim. She seems on board with, and indeed enthusiastic about, Franken’s quest to blur the lines of criminality through the wonders of therapy.

If this were a movie, I would say “this is where I came in.” Franken’s BS was all the rage when I studied criminal law in the early 1970s. It was only when such nonsense went out of fashion that we began to make headway in reducing crime.

2:02 It’s Jeff Flake’s turn. Can’t say I’m expecting much worthwhile from him.

Lynch assures Flake that her commitment to securing the border is firm. We can all sleep better at night now.

Flake is pressing Lynch about failure to carry through on an effective border control program in Yuma, Arizona (“Operation Streamline”). Is she committed to the program? Lynch says she’s committed to talking with Flake about his concerns.

It’s a beautiful day in the friendly confines…

2:13 Sen. Blumenthal is on the clock. I should get paid double for listening to this segment.

He commends Lynch for her “forthright and erudite” testimony. Lynch is doing a masterful job, but forthright and erudite she has not been.

Blumenthal thanks Lynch for her sympathy for veterans who commit crimes. He does so as the father of a vet who has served in a combat theater, and he lists all the veterans in Lynch’s family.

But wait! Didn’t Blumenthal himself serve in Vietnam? That’s what he once claimed, but it was a lie.

2:23 Sen. Vitter is up. He was an early skeptic of Lynch and criticized her for not answering his questions when they met in the office.

Lynch told Vitter she would get back to him. But yesterday he received a letter from her stiffing him on his questions. Accordingly, we should be very skeptical of her claim that she will discuss substantive issues with Republican Senators.

Lynch seems like Ernie Banks now, but I suspect that, as Attorney General, she’ll turn out more like her namesake, Marshawn.

Vitter insists that the executive amnesty, by granting work permits, goes beyond simple removal and prosecution issues. In other words, as Sen. Lee pointed out, it is more than an exercise of prosecutorial discretion. Lynch filibusters.

Vitter, like Cruz, asks Lynch whether she agrees with the OLC opinion on amnesty. Again, she finds it “reasonable” but won’t answer the question of whether it’s correct.

There is no reason why Lynch shouldn’t answer this question. This isn’t a Supreme Court nominees declining to discuss a case he or she might have to decide. If these hearings are to have any meaning, the penalty for non-responsiveness on a key issue like this one should be a vote not to confirm.

Vitter asks for the statutory basis for having the decisions on deportation made by DHS when the statute says its to be made by DoJ. Lynch won’t answer.

Vitter turns to mandatory minimums. They are in the statute, so why shouldn’t they be enforced whether we agree with them or not? Lynch cites limited resources and the need to prioritize.

But, as Vitter says, this makes the mandatory minimums non-mandatory and allows bureaucrats to override Congress.

This is the defining characteristic of Holder’s lawless reign at DoJ. And in no instance today has Lynch shown any discomfort with it. Indeed, as just occurred in response to Vitter, she has embraced it.

How many Republican Senators will accept this lawlessness by voting to confirm Lynch? The answer, it appears, is more than enough to confirm Lynch.

Vitter won’t be among them. He’s probably been the second toughest questioner so far (behind only Ted Cruz).

2:37 Sen. Coons is now asking questions. Nothing but softballs questions and hackneyed answers so far.

Guess what. Lynch looks forward to talking with Senators about issues related to the Patriot Act.

Coons asserts that the criminal justice system is broken because blacks disproportionately are incarcerated — a non sequitur if ever there was one.

Lynch doesn’t question Coons’ assertion. We can assume that she will follow Eric Holder’s model and take a race-conscious approach to criminal justice. She likely will be a good General in the war on standards.

2:46 Sen. David Perdue is asking questions now. It’s the first time I’ve seen him in action.

He’s asking about a very interesting case, that of a Francois Holloway, a repeat carjacker who was convicted and lawfully sentenced under the mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines. Judge John Gleason, who has been described as a “defense lawyer in a robe,” made it his crusade years later to obtain leniency for Holloway, whom he had sentenced.

He sought Lynch’s help, asking her to permit Gleeson to reopen the matter to review, and presumably reduce, the sentence. To Lynch’s credit, she originally declined, but a year later changed her position. Perdue wants to know why.

Lynch responds that Holloway got a much tougher sentence than the guy who masterminded the crime (but that’s because Holloway rejected a plea deal). She also says she consulted with the victims before agreeing to Gleeson’s request. And she looked at the case under current DoJ standards which, Lynch says, are more favorable to Holloway.

I’m not sure that anything in this answer explains why she changed her mind. It sounds to me like Lynch simply caved to pressure from a judge that, as a prosecutor, she might have to deal with.

Bill Otis has written about the Holloway case. I will probably take a look at this matter in light of Lynch’s answer to Sen. Perdue’s question.

2:55 The Committee is in recess because there are no Senators present who haven’t questioned Lynch in the first round (only Sen. Tillis hasn’t had a turn, but he’s not present). The next round will begin soon, but I’m going to conclude my live-blogging for the day.

Unlike Ernie Banks, I’m not willing to “play two.’

Live-blogging the Lynch hearing

Loretta Lynch’s confirmation hearing is about to start. I’ll live-blog it for a few hours at least. I’ll keep the most recent entries at the top for those who want to keep up with the blow-by-blow. Others should read from the bottom up.

Here goes:

12:39 Sen. Amy Klobuchar is up. A lunch break will follow. I will start mine early, and resume the live-blogging this afternoon. The Republican questioning has been fairly tame and at times rather lame. This should change when Ted Cruz steps up to the plate.

12:28 Now it’s Sen. Mike Lee’s turn. He’s returning to the topic of prosecutorial discretion. You can decline to prosecute people who speed, but you wouldn’t issue permits to speed, Lee observes.

So prosecutors don’t say we’re only to punish you if you speed and someone dies as a result, Lee says. And they don’t say you can speed. That would be improper, wouldn’t it, Lee asks.

Lynch says she doesn’t know. Why is she ducking a question to which the obvious answer is “yes”? Because she recognizes that this, in effect, is what Obama is doing with his executive amnesty.

Lee asks about operation “Choke Point” through which, he says, the DOJ sometimes pressures banks not to do business with those who exercise their Second Amendment rights. Lynch says she doesn’t know enough about the program to talk about it.

As ever, though, she looks forward to talking with Lee about this and all other issues of concern to him. This is her mantra and she’s sticking to it.

12:19 Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse is defending the Holder Justice Department, but offers no analysis. Instead, he attacks the Bush Justice Department.

Whitehouse admits that he shouldn’t waste the Committee’s time with this, and he is right.

12:15 Graham wants Lynch to articulate how polygamy can constitutionally be banned, but same-sex marriage not be. She can’t, nor should she be should expected to off-the-cuff. Graham’s questioning proved to be a waste of time.

It seems clear that he will vote to confirm, as expected. But he still could have put on a better show. No preening today.

12:06 Okay, it’s Lindsey time. Does she support the death penalty, he asks. She says she sought it as a prosecutor in some cases. That’s not really an an answer, but Graham accepts it and moves on.

Graham tosses a few soft balls about terrorism and cyber-security. He’s trying to advertise his pet agenda items. Perhaps he’s already decided to vote to confirm Lynch.

Is the NSA program in effect today constitutional? She says it’s constitutional and effective. Good answer.

Now Graham wants to talk about marijuana. Graham is turning out to be a dud today. I wish I had taken my break now.

11:57 Dirty Dick Durbin is up now. I’ll take a short break, but be back in time for Lindsey Graham’s questioning, which should be fun.

11:55 Cornyn asks whether there is a difference between case-by-case use of discretion and refusal to prosecute an entire category of lawbreakers. She says she read what DoJ is doing as figuring out how to use limited resources.

But, Cornyn points out, the Obama administration never asked for more resources with which to prosecute illegal immigrants. Shouldn’t it have? Lynch doesn’t really answer.

11:51 Cornyn finally asks how we know Lynch will be different from Holder. She says she will be herself and will always be open to talking with Committee members. Worthless promises.

11:46 Sen. Cornyn is up now. He invites Lynch to say she isn’t Eric Holder and won’t be “a political arm of the White House.” She accepts the invitation, of course.

Cornyn then whines about Holder. But where are the questions that truly test whether Lynch differs from Holder on substantive legal issues? I like Cornyn, but I think he’s just wasting time here.

11:41 Lynch and Schumer trade cliches about the need for prosecutors to exercise discretion.

Lynch says she sued Seven-Eleven for hiring illegal immigrants and then mistreating them in violation of the labor laws. Good for her. But this in no way shows a commitment to enforcing immigration laws in cases where there is no labor law violation.

11:25 Here’s Jeff Sessions. In response to his first question, Lynch claims she will say “no” to the president when necessary.

Sessions then asks whether a person who enters the country illegal has a civil right to work here and to citizenship (per a statement by Holder to this effect). Lynch tries to duck the question with cliches, but Sessions presses.

Lynch finally says that illegal immigrants have no right to citizenship that she’s aware of (Sessions observes he’s surprised it took her so long to say so). Had she not said this, I’m pretty sure she would have lost votes.

But she didn’t answer regarding an illegal immigrant’s right to work here, but she disputes the term “amnesty.” So Sessions follows up.

She says “I believe that the right and the obligation to work is one that’s shared by everyone in this country regardless of how they came here,” adding that if a person is here, regardless of status, she would prefer that he or she be working. Sessions asks specifically, should a person here illegally have the right to work here when the law says he or she doesn’t? Lynch doesn’t say.

What if an employer prefers to hire an American citizen over an illegal immigrant granted a work permit under executive amnesty? Would Lynch take action against the employer for discrimination?

It’s a great question, and Lynch totally ducks it. She looks forward to obtaining Sen. Sessions’ views on the subject after she’s studied it more.

So Lynch won’t rule out suing employers who prefer hiring Americans to hiring people who came here illegally. That pretty much rules such suits in.

11:22 Lynch shows herself to be a bipartisan question-ducker. She won’t tell Feinstein whether she’ll agree to provide the Committee with a particular Office of Legal Counsel opinion written years ago by Ted Olson. It’s an appropriate “duck,” though, since Lynch can’t know enough about the opinion and the reasons for withholding it.

11:15 Dianne Feinstein is now doing the questioning. Time for a bathroom break.

11:14 Hatch said he hopes he’ll be able to vote to confirm Lynch. I hope he won’t, but after hearing his questioning, I fear he will.

11:08 Hatch notes that in a speech Lynch favored not applying mandatory minimum sentences to certain crimes. What about that, Hatch wants to know? It’s a matter of prioritizing, she says. In other words, the executive branch can blow off statutory minimums.

11:04 Sen. Hatch is up now. He asks about defending the constitutionality of acts of Congress she disagrees with. Lynch says she will commit to defending them except in “rare” cases where there is no reasonable argument in favor of an act’s constitutionality.

But Hatch notes that Eric Holder gave the same commitment. That’s really the subtext of the entire hearing. Holder, the nominee, appeared no less committed to the rule of law than Lynch appears today. He appeared just as sincere. He too had seemingly stellar paper credentials and endorsements.

Given Holder’s reign of abuse and Lynch’s closeness with Holder, Lynch shouldn’t be confirmed unless she differentiates herself from Holder by disagreeing with him on key substantive positions and denouncing at least some of his abuses.

11:01 Lynch wisely declines Leahy’s invitation to overly tout the criminal justice system as the weapon of choice in the fight against terrorism. It’s just one tool in the arsenal, she intones.

As for waterboarding, she states unequivocally that it is torture. That seems to be the Republican consensus too, so it’s safe for Lynch to say this.

10:57 Now Leahy quotes Bill O’Reilly, who apparently once called Lynch “a hero” for something she did. It didn’t take long for this hearing to descend into farce.

10:55 It’s Leahy’s turn. He says Lynch’s opening statement was so moving he will send copies to his family and close friends. You can’t make this stuff up.

Now he throws her a softball so she can talk some more about police-community relations. It’s a canned, content-free presentation.

10:50 Grassley moves on to IRS targeting. Here, Lynch has an easy out. “There’s no place for bias” by federal agencies, she says, but adds that she doesn’t know the facts of this case.

Grassley wants to know whether it was appropriate for President Obama to say there isn’t a “smidgeon of evidence” of targeting even though an investigation was ongoing. Lynch ducks the question.

10:47 Grassley follows up by asking for the “outer boundaries” of prosecutorial discretion, if an entire vast category can be exempted from prosecution. Lynch doesn’t answer. She just says that this instance of discretion is reasonable.

10:45 Grassley begins the questioning. He starts with Obama’s executive amnesty. Does she believe Obama has the legal authority to defer deportation and grant permits to those who are here illegally?

Lynch gives what is obviously a canned answer. She says she has looked at the DoJ internal opinion that says Obama has this authority. She finds the opinion reasonable. In other words, she backs the legality of the executive amnesty. This should be sufficient reason not to confirm her.

10:37 Now she’s talking about prosecuting sex crimes. Then, she moves on to affirm her great respect for the police. She’s talking about the unshakable bonds between the police and the community, which she wants to strengthen.

Nothing about police racism and abuse. Lynch has put aside the Obama-Holder playbook on the issue for purposes of this hearing.

Is she sincere? I’m skeptical.

10:35 She begins the substantive portion of her statement by focusing on the war on terror. Smart move. Would this be the focus of her stewardship of the DoJ? I’m skeptical.

10:32 Lynch is telling her personal story. It’s a good one, but largely beside the point.

10:30 Lynch is introducing her family and will then deliver her opening statement.

10:26 Sen Gillibrand is introducing Lynch. Realizing what a tough act Schumer is to follow, Gillibrand wraps it up very quickly.

10:23 Schumer gets to the heart of the Democrats’ case. He says that no one can find anything wrong with Lynch, so her opponents are going to change the focus and talk about policies they disagree with. In other words, they will “politicize” the hearing.

Let’s hope so. The Justice Department has been thoroughly politicized, and thus, if Senators are doing their job, they need to make sure Lynch stands opposed to the politicizing.

The Attorney General has enormous power. Lynch should not be confirmed unless Senators are satisfied that she will use the power responsibly and, above all, lawfully. Her ability as an attorney is “table stakes,” not sufficient reason for confirmation.

10:21 Chuck Schumer is now introducing Lynch, in his capacity as her home state Senator. It’s one cliche after another.

This is good. Schumer says that Lynch has a reputation for keeping her head down and avoiding publicity — “just like me.”

10:18 Now, Leahy is bitching about how much DoJ money goes to prisons and how so many people are incarcerated. He could deliver this blather in his sleep, and it’s not entirely clear that he isn’t.

10:16 Sen. Leahy is now giving his opening statement. He says he wants to focus on the nominee not the past. He’s telling Lynch’s “story” now and touting the fact that she would be the first African-American women.

10:14 Grassley says his vote will turn on whether Lynch will be independent. He says he has no reason to believe she won’t. He adds that Lynch had nothing to do with Holder’s policy, but she can fix things.

10:11 Grassley continues his broad-ranging attack on the Holder Justice Department. He’s talking about Fast and Furious and the IRS targeting now.

10:08 Grassley begins his opening statement. He says the new AG will have to restore respect for the rule of law, for the co-equal branches, for transparency, for the faithful execution of the law, etc.

10:06 Grassley urges the audience not to get rowdy. “I know there’s a lot to protest about this administration, but this is not the place to do it,” he says.

10:05 Sen. Grassley, the Chairman of Judiciary Committee, brings down the gravel. It’s on!

India, Defender of the West?

The media are downplaying the fact that Obama left India empty-handed on the chief object of his state visit: he wanted India to reach some kind of climate agreement like the phony one Obama made with China a few months ago. India refused. The Hindustan Times reports:

India’s resistance to accept a peak year for emissions was a prime reason why US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi failed to strike a climate deal along the lines of a US-China agreement on emission cuts.

The US wanted India to make specific commitments including a peak year for a new climate treaty to be signed at Paris later this year. But India refused as it feared it would have resulted in the world putting India in the same bracket as China on carbon emissions.

“Having a peaking year was not acceptable to us,” said an environment ministry official.

India did give Obama a modest rhetorical concession in the form of a “personal commitment to work together” with the U.S. to help reach a global climate agreement in Paris this summer.  But you can bet any agreement reached will exclude India from any real emission caps, or there will be no agreement. India’s new free-market oriented PM, Narendra Modi, rubbed it in on Obama by ordering increased coal production. It’s the environmental equivalent of building more homes on the West Bank while Vice President Biden comes calling.

Separately India has shown it won’t tolerate much environmental nonsense from Greenpeace and other environmental extremist groups. The Los Angeles Times reported recently about India’s “crackdown” on the extremist group:

The Indian government has launched a crackdown on Greenpeace and other U.S.-linked environmental groups after intelligence officials accused climate activists of harming the country’s economic security.

Authorities over the weekend barred a Greenpeace staff member from traveling to London to speak to British lawmakers about alleged legal and human rights violations in India by Essar, a British-registered energy company.

The government last year blocked Greenpeace from accessing foreign funds, and Indian media reported this month that authorities had imposed similar restrictions on four U.S.-based environmental advocacy organizations. . .

“They are acting as foreign propagandists and foreign agents.”

Soon after Modi took office in May, India’s intelligence agency, in a report leaked to the news media, said that advocacy campaigns by Western-funded nongovernmental organizations were “stalling development projects” and had reduced India’s annual economic growth by 2% to 3%. Greenpeace, it said, “is assessed to be posing a potential threat to national economic security.”

You might call the Western environmental groups “eco-imperialists,” but that little bit of truth-in-advertising might get them kicked of college campuses. In any case, I’m growing rather fond of India of late. (Don’t even get the Indians started on what they think of the Islamist threat from Pakistan. . .)

Rubio’s short course on Iran

In the January 21 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on our ongoing negotiations with Iran, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken appeared as the principal witness. Senator Rubio questioned Blinken over twelve minutes toward the end of the hearing. In the course of his questions, Senator Rubio provided a short course on the problematic premises of our negotiations with Iran (video below). “We’re not dealing with Belgium here,” Senator Rubio argues, “we’re not dealing with Luxembourg.”

Senator Rubio’s short course is worth taking in by itself. It is also of interest for the response it elicits from Blinken. “We share your concern,” Blinken asserts. “But sometimes reality has a way of intruding…we also see the reality that’s intruding on the Supreme Leader’s thinking.” Unreal.