Are The Oceans Warming?

We’re reported previously (here and here, among others) about one of the leading explanations for the current lull in global warming climate change, namely, that the heat is going into the oceans—particularly deep in the ocean, where, convenviently for the climatistas, we have very little data—instead of the atmosphere.  It is a plausible hypothesis, and while there is some data to support ocean warming, it is very incomplete and over a short time scale.

There’s a new paper just out in the Journal of Physical Oceanography by Carl Wunsch of Harvard and Patrick Heimbach of MIT—both prominent figures in the field, neither known as a climate “skeptic”—that is likely to make waves (pun intended).  You can find the abstract here (you can find a manuscript copy of the complete article on Wunsch’s website.) It is typically dense and difficult to follow, and appears to be written cautiously so as not to give direct aid and comfort to climate skeptics.  But this sentence in particular appears significant:

Interpretation requires close attention to the long memory of the deep ocean, and implying that meteorological forcing of decades to thousands of years ago should still be producing trend-like changes in abyssal heat content.

In other words, it would not be unfair to suggest that ocean trends might have much longer-term causes than the emissions from your SUV alone.

And there’s this possibly inconvenient fact:

Parts of the deeper ocean, below 3600 m, show cooling. 

I’d sure like to hear more about what this might mean, but on the surface it would sound like a problem for the conventional climate narrative.

And on p. 22 of the complete manuscript, the authors say this:

Direct determination of changes in oceanic heat content over the last 20 years are not in conflict with estimates of the radiative forcing, but the uncertainties remain too large to rationalize e.g., the apparent “pause” in warming. (Emphasis added.)

In other words, “we don’t know.”  But that won’t stop a lot of climatistas from saying that they do know.  There’s lots more interesting and carefully worded analysis in the paper, which is extremely dense and difficult for a non-specialist to follow, that suggests the climatistas might want to pause in how they assert they know why the temperature has plateaued.

The Democrats Try To Shut Their Opponents Up (Cont.)

We wrote here about the Democrats’ effort to clamp down on 501(c)(4) organizations–the only entities where Republicans raise more money than Democrats–by requiring such groups to disclose their donors. They have proposed the DISCLOSE Act, which would require such disclosure of 501(c)(4)s, but not of 501(c)(3)s–where the Left is strong–or unions.

In the linked post, I wrote about the fact that a hearing on the DISCLOSE Act was scheduled today before the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration. The scheduled witnesses included Heather Gerken and Dan Tokaji, both of whom are members of 501(c)(3) organizations that do not disclose their donors, and that receive support from the Democracy Alliance, which we wrote about here, and which also does not disclose its donors. I wrote:

The Democrats’ hypocrisy on the subject of “dark money” is important, and one hopes that Republican members of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration will have the wit to point it out.

I think Senator Pat Roberts read my post. This is a transcript of his questioning of Heather Gerken, who testified on behalf of the DISCLOSE Act:

SEN. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, thank you both for coming and giving excellent testimony. Mrs. Gerken, your testimony did not endorse the DISCLOSE Act, or at least that is how I read it. But in terms of your commentary, I think that you support it. Do you endorse it?

HEATHER GERKEN: You know, no one has ever asked me if I endorse anything because I am not a senator, so I do think that 1) we do need more disclosure rules for the 501c4s. I think 2) this act is constitutional, it’s narrowly tailored and sensibly targeted at the right opportunities.

SEN. ROBERTS: Do you support it?

HEATHER GERKEN: I would support it. If I were in your shoes, I would vote for it.

Odd that it took so much effort to get her to endorse the legislation on behalf of which she testified.

SEN. ROBERTS: Okay, well you are not in my shoes. They would be a little different shoes in this chair. You like cowboy boots?

HEATHER GERKEN: I’m a New Englander, we do not wear cowboy boots.

gerken_07

SEN. ROBERTS: Well, that is part of your problem. Your bio indicates that you were a senior legal advisor to the Obama campaign in 2008, 2012. The president has been criticized for attending fundraisers in the midst of a number of international crises. Last week he was in Manhattan attending a fundraiser for the House Majority PAC. That is a super PAC dedicated to electing a Democratic majority in the House. The House Majority PAC is one of a number of groups that get support from the Democracy Alliance. Another group that gets support from the Democracy Alliance is the Scholars Support Network. You are a member of that. Is that correct?

Roberts’ information came from our post, presumably.

HEATHER GERKEN: That’s right.

SEN. ROBERTS: Following its annual meeting at the Ritz Carlton in Chicago this year, POLITICO reported on a memo to the board of the Democracy Alliance that contained the recommendations on how to respond to media inquiries about the conference and its participants. This is what the memo said: “As a matter of policy, we don’t make public the names of our members. Rather,” the memo goes on, “the Alliance abides by the preference of our members. Many of our donors choose not to participate publicly and we respect that. The Democracy Alliance exists to provide a comfortable environment for our members to collectively make a real impact,” end quote. Why would disclosure make some of the members of this Alliance uncomfortable?

HEATHER GERKEN: So, I actually don’t know the reason for that, I am simply a member of the organization. But I will say this, there is a fundamental difference between many of the organizations that we are talking about here and those that are trying to affect politics with large amounts of money. The reason why Justice Kennedy—

SEN. ROBERTS: Would you agree to this—and I’m sorry to interrupt, but you’ve only got four minutes here although the chairman has been very liberal with his time allowance. Do you agree that this desire to remain comfortably anonymous should be respected?

HEATHER GERKEN: I will say that if you are trying to use large amounts of money to influence politics than you should do what the justice says and have the civic courage to have your name publicly listed. So I am in support of this bill, and if the Scholars Strategy Network tried to start to influence politics with large amounts of money, I would be in favor of disclosure.

SEN. ROBERTS: Does the Scholars Support Network publicly disclose its donors?

HEATHER GERKEN: I actually don’t think it does, but I don’t know the answer to that question. As I said before, it is not trying to influence—

SEN. ROBERTS: Shouldn’t that be respected?

HEATHER GERKEN: It isn’t trying to influence federal elections, and if it were, this bill would ensure that it would in fact disclose all of the donors that were trying to do so. That is the key to this bill. This bill allows for the privacy of a variety of groups engaged in public activities to remain anonymous, but when they try to influence elections, that money is –

SEN. ROBERTS: Got it.

HEATHER GERKEN: …that money must be disclosed, and I support that heartily.

SEN. ROBERTS: Got it. As a 501c3, it is not supposed to engage in any political activities. Is that right?

HEATHER GERKEN: A 501c3 has a variety of requirements about 501c3s, about what it means. But as a general matter, they are not supposed to.

Now the trap springs shut.

SEN. ROBERTS: Then how is it that the Scholars Support Network has been supported by the Democracy Alliance, which stipulates that each organization it supports be politically active and progressive?

HEATHER GERKEN: So the Scholars Strategy Network is a very simple thing, it is designed to do something that academics are very bad at, which is to figure out how to convey their ideas to the broader public and to policy makers. You have thousands of universities across the country generating good idea after good idea by people who barely go outside during the day; who have never talked to a reporter, who have certainly never spoken to a senator and have no idea how to convey their ideas in a broader way. That network takes a bunch of people who are basically nerds and convey their ideas to the world.

SEN. ROBERTS: Sort of a nerd network?

Not clear whether Ms. Gerken realizes that she is being gently mocked. Liberals generally don’t see themselves as partisan left-wingers, they are just nerds and wonks.

HEATHER GERKEN: It is a nerd network. But it is a policy oriented network that helps get ideas that are already in the public arena to policy makers.

SEN. ROBERTS: I have every confidence that the chairman of the committee sitting to my right gets calls a lot from nerds and all sorts of other people. I do, even in Kansas, the University of Kansas, Kansas State, Wichita University, we have a lot of nerds, new England has nerds…I can testify there are nerds in Kansas.

Now Roberts gets serious. What follows comes straight from this post:

What abut the American Constitution Society? At the Chicago conference, it took credit for helping to make possible the Senate rule changes imposed by the Majority Leader that led to the confirmation of quote “progressive” judges to the DC Circuit. You have also been involved with the American Constitution Society, is that correct?

HEATHER GERKEN: Yes, I have.

SEN. ROBERTS: Do they publicly disclose their donors?

HEATHER GERKEN: I don’t believe that they do. However, if the DISCLOSE Act were passed, if they were engaged in using large sums of money to influence politics they would be required to disclose their donors and that would be a good thing for democracy.

This is incorrect. The DISCLOSE Act explicitly exempts 501(c)(3)s from its disclosure requirements. It is remarkable that Ms. Gerken is not very familiar with the statute on behalf of which she is testifying.

SEN. ROBERTS: Well, my point is that you would recognize that the changes to the rule and the appointments to the DC Circuit were somewhat politicized, would you agree with that?

HEATHER GERKEN: You know, in this world almost everything is politicized, I suppose.

It is if you’re a liberal.

SEN. ROBERTS: I understand. Would the DISCLOSE Act apply to 501c3s?

Gerken gets the answer to this question wrong:

HEATHER GERKEN: The act is going to apply to any organization that uses big money to influence politics. If 501c3s are engaged in some politicking then they do something very simple which is they segregate their funds. This is a traditional strategy used by many organizations to keep separate these types of donations. And that means that donors, for example, who want to suppot the American Constitution Society’s general activities can give money without giving to politics. But if they want ACS to use that money to influence politics, the election system, then they have to have a segregated fund. It’s a very simple and elegant solution to the type of problem you are describing here.

A staffer now points out that Gerken is wrong, and the DISCLOSE Act will not under any circumstances apply to 501(c)(3) organizations like the ones to which Ms. Gerken belongs.

SEN. ROBERTS: I don’t know…oh, I have been informed here that it doesn’t apply to c3s—so should it?

HEATHER GERKEN: If a 501c3 would like to start to influence…to start to do things outside of the usual ambit, and it starts to take in large quantities of money that are going to be used to influence elections, then it is going to have to disclose those activities. They would become 501c4s presumably.

SEN. ROBERTS: I think you are talking about a regulatory morass, but anyway, thank you so much for answering my questions.

Why are the Democrats carrying on this selective war against “dark money,” which is itself, ironically, funded almost entirely with dark money? Democrats want to be able to identify conservative donors so that the Obama administration can use federal agencies to take revenge on them; so they can try to get them fired (like Brendan Eich); and so union goons can lead busloads of demonstrators onto their lawns. When liberal ideas have to compete with conservative ideas, they consistently lose. So the Democrats want to intimidate conservative donors in order to have the political field to themselves. There is nothing noble about their selective enmity toward “dark money.”

Today’s Silly News

Looks like someone has finally decided to strike back against the obnoxious French knights of Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

British Inventor Builds Giant ‘Fart Machine’ to Fire at France

Colin Furze, a plumber and inventor from Stamford, Lincolnshire, has begun building the biggest fart machine ever, which he plans to place on top of the cliffs of Dover and aim across the Channel towards France. His hope is that the French, 21 miles away, will hear the blast.

The machine, which Furze will house in a pair of specially constructed buttocks, is a giant pulse valveless jet engine – as used in Nazi V-1 bombs during the Second World War – that creates a plume of fire to go along with its deafening roar. Furze hopes to mount the contraption on the cliffs of Dover on July 24, between 6 and 7pm.

And here’s the video if you want to see it being put together:

And while we’re in this territory, check out this roster of the 11 Best Monty Python Moments.  Worth bookmarking, don’t you think?

Finally, Weird Al Yankovic (except he’s not really that weird is he?) is getting a lot of attention for his new collection of videos, but I like this one best, just out yesterday, mocking the eminently mockable jargon of the corporate seminar room:

Was Lois Lerner Transferred to the FAA?

It is quite clear that Lois Lerner was the designated political hit-person for Obama at the IRS, targeting Obama’s political opponents.  Could she have been transferred to the Federal Aviation Administration and no one was told?

The question arises from the peculiar decision of the FAA to prohibit American air carriers from flying to Israel, now extended to a second day, despite there being no new incidents of rockets falling near the Ben Gurion airport.  Shouldn’t the decision about whether to fly to Israel be left to the individual air carriers to make?  Looks more to me as though the Obama Administration is using the understandable concern about air travel in the aftermath of MH17 last week in Ukraine to impose a form of sanctions on Israel without admitting it.  Just the kind of job Lois Lerner is good at.  Wonder if there is any email traffic that needs disposing?

Montana Dem Senator revealed as plagiarist

The New York Times is reporting that Montana Sen. John Walsh plagiarized “at least a quarter” of his 2007 master’s degree thesis for the U.S. Army War College. According to the Times, Walsh copied an entire page nearly word-for-word from a Harvard paper, and each of his six conclusions is copied from a document from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace without attribution.

The Senator’s response? “I didn’t do anything intentional here.” Let’s call it a drafting error.

Walsh was generally thought to have little chance of holding this seat for the Democrats even before the Times’ report. Now, surely, his chance is practically nil.

But maybe Walsh is vice presidential material.

Shocker: GAO sting reveals Obamacare fraud

The National Journal reports on a sting operation conducted by the Government Accounting Office to test the strength of Obamacare’s eligibility-verification system. To no one’s surprise, the verification system failed the test. Fake applicants were able to get subsidized insurance coverage in 11 of 18 attempts. The total amount of the subsidies for the 11 approved applications was about $2,500 per month.

The investigators created fake identities by inventing Social Security numbers, income, and citizenship, and by counterfeiting documents. Eleven of 12 fake online or telephone applications were approved. The only exception occurred when the investigator refused to provide a Social Security number.

Apparently the laxity of the telephone verifiers is limitless as long as one doesn’t defy them.

The investigators had little success when they applied in person. Presumably, word will quickly spread that the best way to cheat is by phone or online.

What is the Obama administration’s response to the GAO study? Spokesman Aaron Albright says “we are examining this report carefully and will work with GAO to identify additional strategies to strengthen our verification processes.”

But how much “strategy” is required to spot an invented Social Security number?

The problem here isn’t strategy. The problem is that the Obama administration isn’t concerned about fraud. Indeed, it would probably like to dole out as much subsidized health care (aka free stuff) as it can get away with. Otherwise, Team Obama would not be doing such a pathetic job of detecting fraud.

Is Amnesty a Civil Right?

Eric Holder says that amnesty for illegal immigrants is “civil and human right.” On the Senate floor, Jeff Sessions brings an appropriate level of indignation to that illogical claim. Sessions said, in part:

Obama administration officials have gone so far as to describe amnesty as a civil right. That is an argument against the very idea of a nation-state….How could this possibly be, that the Attorney General of the United States of America would assert that people have a constitutional right to enter unlawfully and be given amnesty? … The actual legal rights that are being violated here today I suggest are the rights of the American citizens.

Here is the whole thing:

If you don’t believe in national sovereignty, if you don’t believe that a country is entitled to have a border, then it makes sense to say that a non-citizen has a civil (i.e., legal) right to enter the country and remain forever, regardless of any laws to the contrary. Otherwise, Holder’s proposition–which I think accurately reflects the thinking of the Obama administration–is nonsensical.