Are Democrats Poised for a Senate Comeback?

Republicans are optimistic about the Senate these days, on account of recent polls that show their candidates pulling ahead, or pulling even, in a number of battleground states. Oddsmakers are now saying there is a strong probability the GOP will re-take the Senate in November.

However, there is a catch: as usual, the Democrats’ fundraising this cycle has vastly outpaced the Republicans’. And the Democrats are focusing their resources where it counts, on the Senate. Echelon Insights, a reputable outfit headed by Kristen Anderson and Patrick Ruffini, has been tracking television advertising buys. This is how the reserved air time shapes up between now and November. Click to enlarge:

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Republicans are competitive except with regard to Senate races, where Democrats have reserved almost twice the air time as GOP candidates. Will the Dems’ advertising barrage tilt close races in their favor? Only time will tell. Some think that TV advertising is overrated, others say voters reach a saturation point and last-minute ads are ineffective. Let’s hope that is correct. In any event, if you live in a state with a competitive Senate race and if you watch sports between now and November–and who doesn’t, with the baseball postseason and the NFL in full swing?–brace yourself. You are about to be inundated with Democratic Party ads.

Where is liberalism going?

This past week the Heritage Foundation convened a panel of conservative intellectuals to discuss the future of liberalism in America. I became aware of the Heritage program through Andrew Evans’s Free Beacon article covering it, “Liberalism in America.” The Heritage Foundation promoted the event with this invitation:

Twenty-five years ago, marriage meant what it had always meant, Madonna was considered risqué, and liberals worried about mass immigration, threats to religious liberty and the vulgarity of pop music. The times, they have a-changed. And they will continue to change as the Left presses on.

Where will liberalism be 25 years from now? What new causes will it champion? Will it have exhausted itself or will it continue to grow bolder in its demands? Can conservatives today in any way try to preempt the future agenda of liberalism?

Join us as our three panelists discuss the main currents of modern liberalism and try to anticipate where the Left is going.

Moderated by Federalist publisher Ben Domenech, the panel included Heritage’s David Azerrad, the Claremont Institute’s Bill Voegeli and National Review’s Kevin Williamson. The program was excellent. Our own Paul Mirengoff attended and asked a good question in the question-and-answer part of the program. Williamson’s presentation (highlighted by Evans) in particular struck a chord that is consonant with themes we have pursued this year. The video is below. I think that many readers will find it of interest.

Somalis say: Show us the money

We’ve got a problem in the Twin Cities that is based in our large and still growing population of Somali immigrants. Somalis have been immigrating to Minnesota for more than twenty years now. They have taken advantage of all the services that our state and local institutions offer. They have been welcomed with open arms, in Minnesota’s characteristic style.

Yet Minnesota’s Somali community — a/k/a “Minnesotans” — is the most fertile ground in the United States for the recruitment of terrorists by foreign terrorist organizations in Africa and the Middle East. We are concerned that they may choose to return “home” to Minnesota if they don’t get killed first. What is to be done?

Aside from monitoring imams and mosques, the first thought that occurs to me is freezing Somali immigration to the United States. I think this would give us the opportunity to get a handle on the problem while assuring that we don’t needlessly aggravate it.

Star Tribune reporter Chao Xiong covered the recent Minneapolis forum devoted to the problem confronting us in Minnesota. Ibrahim Hirsi covered it for the online news outlet MinnPost. The stories offer complementary accounts of the forum.

Reading Xiong’s and Hirsi’s stories, I get the sense that Somalis are assimilating to the local culture. Some translation is required, and mine may be imperfect. Hirsi quotes two local Somalis, each of whom makes his own pitch for what I understand to be a “show me the money” approach:

Putting a stop to the romanticization of extremist ideologies is more than investigating and prosecuting folks, said Mohamud Noor, a community activist and Minneapolis school board member. Radicalization will always be alive so long as the immigrant youngsters remain marginalized, without access to adequate education, employment and other opportunities, he added.

“When so many young people are looking for opportunities and they’re denied…because of their color, my dear friends, there is no simple solution,” Noor said. “When we’re trying to find simple solutions to a complex situation, we’re not going anywhere.”

Activist Ilhan Omar noted the community has been combating radicalization for many years, urging officials to invest in anti-recruitment youth programs. “And it needs to happen now,” Omar said. “The longer we wait, the longer our silence will be used as a recruitment tool. The time is now. Let’s act. Let’s put our kids first.”

Minnesota United States Attorney Andrew Luger provided a preview of the government’s thinking in the Age of Obama. I think he announced that the money is on the way:

The Department of Justice has recently announced that the Twin Cities area is participating in a yearlong pilot program aimed to engage at-risk communities to combat recruitment of Muslim youth. Community members hope this pilot program will enable the youth to create some opportunities and integrate them into the society.

Luger said he plans to discussion solutions for the radicalization and recruitment problems with leaders in Washington next month. “The Somali community in Minneapolis and St. Paul will benefit greatly from the additional resources we expect to receive as part of the pilot program,” Luger in a statement.

“Our Somali friends deserve to prosper in Minnesota in peace and security, and this program seeks to make that happen, and create a blueprint for the country for how to prevent the radicalization of vulnerable youth.”

Luger also appeared in part to reassure the Somalis that law enforcement efforts are benign. As quoted by Xiong, he also offered a “root cause” approach to the underlying problem based on the usual liberal theory of causality involving “discrimination.” If this reflects the current thinking of law enforcement, and not just the pap that must be served up for public consumption in the Age of Obama, we are screwed.

Xiong quotes neighborhood community center director Aman Dube. I don’t know if Dube is Somali, but he too has assimilated to the local culture. According to Dube, more afternoon programs are the ticket. “If we have…programs like that, no one will choose negativity,” Dube said. Right.

Xiong’s article is a little superficial, a little indirect and even incomprehensible. In his account, “activist” Ilhan Omar (as both Hirsi and Xiong describe him) is the voice of sober reality. Let’s take a look at the whole thing:

Dozens of Somali community members concerned about the recruitment of local youth into extremist groups called for more resources to help combat the radicalization of their children.

More than 60 people at the Brian Coyle Community Center in Minneapolis on Sunday heard Somali leaders, an imam and U.S. Attorney Andy Luger call for more expanded efforts to support Somali youth, more mentorship of youth by elders and increased partnerships between the community and law enforcement.

Minneapolis resident Ali Hayle said previous pledges by authorities to work with the community left him jaded when they didn’t seem to follow through with action. But Hayle said he left Sunday’s town hall meeting optimistic about the community’s future and the speakers’ sincerity.

“Hopefully, things will change,” Hayle said.

Several Minnesota youths recruited to fight in Somalia or Syria have died on those battlefields.

Hayle and other speakers said a key to fighting the recruitment of youth into terrorist groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Al-Shabab, an Al-Qaida-linked group, is creating an environment in Minnesota where Somalis and other immigrants feel welcomed and have opportunities to succeed.

Amano Dube, director of the Brian Coyle Community Center, said investing in education and after school programs will give youth the skills and opportunities to pursue other avenues in life.

“If we have … programs like that, no one will choose negativity,” Dube said.

Activist Ilhan Omar said that conversations about fighting radicalism often focus on younger children, when most of the approximately 20 people recruited out of Minnesota were older than 22 at the time. Omar said many youths become vulnerable during high school when they face an identity crisis about what it means to be Somali, Muslim and an American.

She urged community members to take it upon themselves to combat radicalization.

“We shouldn’t just think about financial resources,” Omar said, “but about how each of us can be a resource for that young person who is struggling.”

Luger told the crowd that quashing the discrimination Somalis face here will help address the “root cause” of radicalization.

He said some Somalis have expressed concern about treatment at the airport, prompting a meeting with community members and the Transportation Security Administration at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport that Luger called one step in many toward ending the recruitment of Somali youth.

Luger pledged to take community members with him to a meeting at the White House in October addressing the recruitment of Somali youth.

“I want you to know this is not an attack on the Somali community,” Luger said of the fight against radicalization. “This is something we’re doing together.”

Luger’s ascription of alleged Somali mistreatment by TSA at the airport as a cause of the problem beggars belief. Somalis are ubiquitous in service positions at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, including TSA. Indeed, one of them was recruited by ISIS. They heighten the usual sense of the theatrical absurdity that is attached to airport security.

In short, I take it from the two articles devoted to the forum that we don’t have a clue and that nothing useful is going to be done.

Some Liberals To Applaud on Climate

In my Forbes.com column today, “Climate Change Jumps the Shark,” I take aim at the old “no-enemies-on-the-left” mentality that will extend a free pass to the lunatic rantings of Naomi Klein and “Little Bobby” Robert F. Kennedy Jr. So when a liberal does step up and object strongly to this kind of infantile leftism, it is worth noting and praising.

No surprise that it comes from our center-left friends at the Breakthrough Institute, which is making a serious project of what it calls “Eco-modernism,” comprising an embrace of technology, progress, and economic growth—things most liberals used to stand for as a matter of course until they adopted a limits-to-growth mentality back in the 1970s. While shedding none of their left-leaning egalitarian and environmentalist sympathies, the “Breakthroughvians” (as their growing circle of reformist liberals is starting to be called) see the world without illusions.

Will Boisvert, who writes for Dissent, the New York Observer, and other left-leaning publications, gives Klein a good smacking in a new Breakthrough essay “Why Progressives Should Reject Naomi Klein’s Pastoral Fantasy—and Embrace Our High Energy Planet.” It is a long piece, and the whole thing is worth a read, but here are a few short highlights:

Her trademark blend of light wonkery, sardonic prose, sharp-eyed reportage and fist-waving militance appeals to every left constituency from academics to Occupiers. Most important, her penchant for tying absolutely anything she can think of into her thesis du jour feels tailor-made for climate change, the most omnipresent and multifaceted of subjects.

Her new manifesto, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate is a wide-ranging synthesis of Left-green doctrine on the entwinement of ecology and economy. . .

Unfortunately, the result is a garbled mess stumbling endlessly over its own contradictions. Her understanding of the technical aspects of energy policy — indispensable for any serious discussion of sustainability — is weak and biased, marked by a myopic boosterism of renewables and an unthinking rejection of nuclear power and other low-carbon energy sources. Having declared climate change an “existential crisis for the human species,” she rules out some of the most effective means of dealing with it. . .

[H]er uninformed, dogmatic treatment of the substance of that problem, so typical of the Left’s approach, generates only confusion and misdirection. To make a useful contribution to changing everything, the Left could begin by changing itself. It could start by redoing its risk assessments and rethinking its phobic hostility to nuclear power. It could abandon the infatuation with populist insurrection and advance a serious politics of systematic state action. It could stop glamorizing austerity under the guise of spiritual authenticity and put development prominently on its environmental agenda. It could accept that industry and technology do indeed distance us from nature — and in doing so can protect nature from human extractions. And it could realize that, as obnoxious as capitalism can be, scapegoating it won’t spare us the hard thinking and hard trade-offs that a sustainable future requires.

Hear, hear.

In Iowa Senate debate, Braley’s neighbor’s chickens come home to roost

Joni Ernst and Bruce Braley held their first debate last night. Immigration was front-and-center, which is probably not a bad thing for Ernst.

Braley tried, however, to spin the issue into an advertisement for his “bipartisanship.” He invited Ernst to “join John McCain and Marco Rubio in calling on Speaker Boehner to bring this immigration bill to the floor of the House so we can pass it.” Ernst declined the invitation.

She stated that Congress should “secure the border [and] enforce the laws on the books,” and then move to “modernize” the legal immigration system. Ernst added that she doesn’t support “amnesty” and that she opposes President Obama taking executive action to “grant amnesty.”

Braley countered that “Sen. Rubio and Sen. McCain did not vote for amnesty” by supporting the Senate immigration bill. He hopes to gain mileage by invoking the names of the two Republican Senators.

But to my knowledge, McCain has never been particularly popular in Iowa, and Rubio says he no longer wants the House to pass his immigration bill. His current position appears to be about the same as Ernst’s.

Braley is wise, nonetheless, to attempt to appear “bipartisan.” But Ernst had a good counter. She ridiculed her opponent’s claim to be a “bridge builder” by bringing up a feud Braley had with a neighbor over chickens:

Congressman, you threatened to sue a neighbor over chickens that came onto their property. You’re talking about bipartisanship; how do we expect as Iowans to believe that you will work across the aisle when you can’t walk across your yard?

I wonder whether, at the end of the day, Braley is nice enough to win a statewide race in a state as friendly as Iowa.

The Des Moines Register’s account of the debate is here.

To support Joni Ernst in this crucial race, please go here.

Marie Harf explains: ISIL Was Too Fast For Us!

With the dissolution of the Obama administration’s foreign policy in the Middle East and elsewhere, President Obama is talking as fast as he can. Obama set some kind of a land speed record for double-talk in his interview with Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes last night, highlighted by Obama’s passing the buck for his misunderestimation of ISIS to the Director of National Intelligence et al. That hasn’t gone down too well, in part because it conflicts with what one could learn from following the headlines over the past year or two. Empirical reality belies Obama’s buck-passing. Moreover, those who have seen the intelligence reports, such as House Intelligence Committee member Michele Bachmann, have found Obama guilty of nonfeasance at best. Michele says that Obama is not being — what’s the word? — forthcoming.

Obama’s performance on 60 Minutes calls for some kind of explanation. Who better to provide it than State Department spokesman Marie Harf? Appearing on CNN with Wolf Blitzer, Harf explicated the presidential text: “The president said, for a long time we’ve known about the serious threat from ISIL, but everyone — us, the Iraqis, even ISIL itself probably — was surprised by how quickly earlier this summer they were really able to take territory in Iraq.”

Noah Rothman comments: “You see, even the Islamic State was shocked by their own capabilities. Th[ei]rs was a wondrous journey of self-actualization in the form of a campaign of crucifixions and beheadings.”

“They moved more quickly than anyone could have imagined,” Harf added, rewriting the history that is spelled out by Peter Foster in the Telegraph and David Martosko in the Daily Mail.

Pathetic.

Via Noah Rothman/Hot Air.

Modern Science Refutes Global Warming Alarmism

It isn’t quite true to say that the science is settled–climate science is in its infancy, and we have only a poor understanding of the Earth’s climate. Just about every proposition is controversial. But we are very close to being able to say that, as to global warming alarmism, the debate is over and the alarmists have lost. (I mean, of course, the scientific debate, not the political one, which never had much to do with science in the first place.)

One fundamental question in the global warming debate is, what is the Earth’s equilibrium climate sensitivity? That is, how much will the Earth’s average surface temperature rise, ceteris paribus, on account of a doubling of the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? Global warming hysteria is predicated on the belief that average temperature will rise by up to 6 degrees C as a result of doubling atmospheric CO2. All of the scare headlines you see about polar bears, droughts, flooded cities, etc., rely on that assumption.

The problem for alarmists is that contemporary research doesn’t support any such scenario. The most recent nail in the alarmists’ coffin is a paper by Nic Lewis and Judith Curry titled “The implications for climate sensitivity of AR5 forcing and heat uptake estimates,” which concluded that the best estimate of equilibrium climate sensitivity is 1.64 degrees C. Lewis describes the paper’s methodology here, and you can follow the link to the paper and read it for yourself.

The Lewis/Curry paper is consistent with recent scholarship, which pretty universally finds that the UN’s IPCC projections are far out of line. This Cato post by Pat Michaels and Paul Knappenberger illustrates the findings of recent studies, compared with the politically-motivated IPCC projections. As you can see, science doesn’t support the alarmism of politicians and their Michael Mann-style minions:

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If a good estimate of climate sensitivity is 1.64 degrees, what is the significance? That figure is well within the range of natural variability. It will be swamped by other factors that continuously act on the Earth’s climate, and we may never know whether, or to what extent, CO2 had any impact on the Earth’s temperatures. That shouldn’t be too surprising: to the extent that historic temperatures and CO2 concentrations can be reconstructed, there is zero apparent correlation between the two.

Actually, I think the 1.64 degree estimate may be high. Dr. Curry, on her own web site, explains why that may be true:

Is this paper the last word on climate sensitivity estimates? No. The uncertainty analysis in the Lewis and Curry paper relates only to the uncertainty in external forcing, surface temperature and ocean heat uptake. There remains considerable meta uncertainty in the determination of climate sensitivity, including how the problem is even framed.

In particular, the energy balance approach does not account for factors that do not directly relate to the energy balance, e.g. solar indirect effects and natural internal variability that affects forcing (although an attempt has been made in the Lewis and Curry paper to make some allowance for uncertainty associated with these factors) . Further, there was ‘something else’ going on in the latter 19th and early-mid 20th century that was causing warming, that does not seem to relate directly to external forcing. The paper does attempt to factor out the impact of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation through the selection of base and final periods, but this is by no means a complete account for the effects of multi-decadal and century scale internal variability, and how this confounds the energy balance estimate of climate sensitivity.

In other words–as I understand what she and others have said–the Lewis and Curry paper accepts most of the alarmists’ assumptions, and shows that their conclusions are still wrong. I think that when the dust finally settles, perhaps not in our lifetimes, the alarmists’ predictions will be even more discredited. To quote Dr. Curry one more time:

At the heart of the recent scientific debate on climate change is the ‘pause’ or ‘hiatus’ in global warming – the period since 1998 during which global average surface temperatures have not increased. This observed warming hiatus contrasts with the expectation from the 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment Report that warming would proceed at a rate of 0.2 degrees C/per decade in the early decades of the 21st century. The warming hiatus raises serious questions as to whether the climate model projections of 21st century have much utility for decision making, given uncertainties in climate sensitivity to carbon dioxide, future volcanic eruptions and solar activity, and the multidecadal and century scale oscillations in ocean circulation patterns.

One parting comment: contrast the intelligence and technical skill manifested by Lewis and Curry with the borderline psychopathic ramblings of climate alarmists like Robert Kennedy Jr., and Michael Mann trying to sue his critics into submission, and you get a pretty good idea of who is winning the climate debate.