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February 2018


I belong to a nonfiction book club. We meet once a month and have read scholarly books, many biographies and current and past books of opinion and prophesy- from De Tocqueville to Orwell to Friedrich Von Hayek, and last month Allan Bloom’s “ The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students” written in 1987.

The book was controversial and successful beyond anyone’s imagination. But, then, it was 1987 and Ronald Reagan was President and the conservative movement was popular.

Allan Bloom was a professor in the University of Chicago who described how ascendant popular culture and “relativism,” a view that ethical truths depend on the individuals and groups holding them, downgraded classics in great music, literature, ethics, philosophy and education. He charged American schools and universities with failure in providing students with information, debate, curiosity, and an open mind to diversity of opinion.

Our club is convivial but often engages in animated discussions and debate, and “The Closing of the American Mind” elicited many criticisms as well as full-throated admiration.

On one thing we all agreed. There is no campus today, where Allan Bloom would find an open-minded and fair hearing- proof of the thesis of his remarkable and prophetic book.

Why Turkey Wants to Invade the Greek Islands by Uzay Bulut

Turkish propagandists also have been twisting facts to try to portray Greece as the aggressor.

Although Turkey knows that the islands are legally and historically Greek, Turkish authorities want to occupy and Turkify them, presumably to further the campaign of annihilating the Greeks, as they did in Anatolia from 1914 to 1923 and after.

Any attack against Greece should be treated as an attack against the West.

There is one issue on which Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its main opposition, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), are in complete agreement: The conviction that the Greek islands are occupied Turkish territory and must be reconquered. So strong is this determination that the leaders of both parties have openly threatened to invade the Aegean.

The only conflict on this issue between the two parties is in competing to prove which is more powerful and patriotic, and which possesses the courage to carry out the threat against Greece. While the CHP is accusing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP party of enabling Greece to occupy Turkish lands, the AKP is attacking the CHP, Turkey’s founding party, for allowing Greece to take the islands through the 1924 Treaty of Lausanne, the 1932 Turkish-Italian Agreements, and the 1947 Paris Treaty, which recognized the islands of the Aegean as Greek territory.

In 2016, Erdoğan said that Turkey “gave away” the islands that “used to be ours” and are “within shouting distance.” “There are still our mosques, our shrines there,” he said, referring to the Ottoman occupation of the islands.

Europe’s Telling Silence on Polish Anti-Semitism by Inna Rogatchi

Given Western Europe’s open aversion to the rise of right-wing parties in Eastern Europe, the EU’s silence in the face of Poland’s behavior politically makes no sense.

Ever since Poland’s far-right Law and Justice Party (PiS) took control of both the presidency and the parliament in November 2015, and quickly changed the rules for public media, the secret service, education, and the military, the European Parliament has been claiming that Warsaw is putting the “rule of law and democracy” at risk.

When it comes to the issue of Polish anti-Semitism, Europe is suddenly at a loss for words. This suggests that it is not merely ineptitude at work.

Implementation of the controversial Holocaust bill, passed by the Polish Senate on February 1, was “frozen” temporarily, due to the toxic rift it caused in Warsaw-Jerusalem relations. The bill, proposed by the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS), makes illegal any suggestion that Poland was complicit in the Holocaust, particularly the Nazi death camps, which were German, but located on Polish soil.

Criticism of the bill in Israel and among diaspora Jews has been loud and forceful across the political spectrum. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the bill an attempt to “rewrite history,” and a Polish diplomatic delegation is arriving in Israel on February 28 to discuss the diplomatic crisis.

Although Jewish outrage over such a law — which would fine and even jail anyone who dared to implicate Poland in the Nazi genocide — is probably no surprise, the crashing silence from the rest of Europe is shocking.

To his credit, European Council President Donald Tusk, a former prime minister of Poland, made two public statements against the bill — one on Twitter and the other during a press conference in Brussels. His sentiments were echoed by members of the world media and intelligentsia, who have protested Poland’s move.

Michael Kile Michael Mann’s ‘Counterfactual Science’ ******

Comfortably settled climate scientists (room service eases jet lag) jetted into New Zealand last week to discuss how modern life, which presumably includes air travel, is riling Gaia ever which way. It was there, at this gathering of great minds and grants, that Mr Climategate explained all.

Few stars in the frothy firmament of academic climate science shine more controversially than Dr Michael E. Mann, creator of the notorious “hockey stick” curve, gloomy prognosticator, conspiracy theorist, co-author of The Madhouse Effect: How climate change denial is threatening our planet, destroying our politics and driving us crazy, anti-Trump activist and fan of climate toothpaste, the only anti-apathy oral hygiene product with UH-OH formula.

The Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, USA, was in New Zealand last week, where he gave a keynote lecture at the Second Pacific Climate Change Conference.

Radio NZ’s Kim Hill caught up with him for a 32-minute interview.

Hill: Can you attribute recent weather events to [dangerous anthropogenic] climate change? (1.40min.)

Mann: You can. In fact, there are droughts, wildfires and floods occurring without any precedent in the historical record where we can now show [the reality of anthropogenic climate change] using computer model simulations.

You can run two parallel simulations; one where carbon dioxide is left at pre-industrial levels, and a parallel simulation where you increase these levels in response to the burning of fossil fuels. You can look at how often a particular event happens in both counterfactual worlds.

What on Earth is a “counterfactual world”? Struggling to prove an anthropogenic influence in the “actual” world, members of the so-called climate detection and attribution (D&A) community were forced to create virtual “worlds” to run their computer games, an opaque process known as in silico experimentation.

Good Climate News Isn’t Told Reporting scientific progress would require admitting uncertainties. By Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.

The biggest lie in American climate journalism is that reporters cover climate science as a science.

Except for a report on the Washington Post website that was picked up by a couple of regional papers, an important study on the most important question in climate science last month went completely unnoticed in the U.S. media. Consult the laughably named website Inside Climate News, which poses as authoritative. A query yields only the response “Your search did not return any results” plus a come-on for donations to “Keep Environmental Journalism Alive.”

So we’ll quote a passage in an exemplary French report that begins, “But uncertainty about how hot things will get also stems from the inability of scientists to nail down a very simple question: By how much will Earth’s average surface temperature go up if the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is doubled?”

“That ‘known unknown’ is called equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS), and for the last 25 years the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—the ultimate authority on climate science—has settled on a range of 1.5 C to 4.5 C.”

The French report describes a new study by climate physicists Peter Cox and Mark Williamson of the University of Exeter and Chris Huntingford of the U.K.’s Center for Ecology and Hydrology. Not only does it narrow the range of expected warming to between 2.2 and 3.4 degrees Celsius, but they rule out the possibility of worrying outcomes higher than 4 degrees.

Their study might be less interesting and newsworthy if it weren’t the latest crystallization of a trend. Even the IPCC is an example. Slightly contrary to the French report, it backpedaled in 2013 to adopt a wider range of uncertainty, and did so entirely in the direction of less warming.

More to the point, this was a much-needed confession of scientific failure that the Exeter group and others are trying to remedy. The IPCC’s current estimate is no more useful or precise than one developed in 1979 by the U.S. National Research Council, when computers and data sets were far more primitive.

This 40-year lack of progress is no less embarrassing for being thoroughly unreported in the mainstream press. The journal Nature, where the new study appears, frankly refers to an “intractable problem.” In an accompanying commentary, a climate scientist says the issue remains “stubbornly uncertain.”

You may be falling out of your chair right now if you recall last year’s lawsuit by New York’s attorney general against Exxon, itself a pioneering pursuer of climate studies, for daring to mention the existence of continuing “uncertainties.”

This question of climate sensitivity goes not just to how much warming we can expect. It goes to the (almost verboten) question of whether the expected warming will be a net plus or net minus for humanity. And whether the benefit of curbing fossil fuels would be worth the cost.

Yet you can practically chart the deepening idiocy of U.S. climate reporting since the 1980s by how these knotty, interesting questions have fallen away in favor of an alleged fight between science and deniers.

“Fake news” is not our favorite pejorative. A better analysis is offered by former New York Times reporter Michael Cieply in a piece he wrote in 2016 when he started a new job at Deadline.com. He describes how, unlike at a traditional “reporter-driven, bottom-up newspaper,” reporters at the Times were required to “match stories with what internally was often called ‘the narrative.’ ”

Leaving climate sensitivity uncertainties out of the narrative certainly distorts the reporting that follows. Take a widely cited IPCC estimate that “with 95% certainty,” humans are responsible for at least half the warming observed between 1951 and 2010. CONTINUE AT SITE

Democrats and the Dossier The House asks Obama officials what they knew and when.

The public deserves a full airing of 2016 election shenanigans, including whether there was any untoward behavior by high-ranking office holders. Toward that end the House Intelligence Committee wants to find out who knew what and when about the infamous Steele dossier.

House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes on Feb. 20 sent a letter to 11 current and former officials requesting information about their awareness and handling of the dossier produced by Christopher Steele. The former British spy was hired to compile his claims of Donald Trump-Russia collusion by Fusion GPS, the oppo-research firm hired by the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee (DNC). The House Intel letter went to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA director John Brennan, and former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, among others.

The debate over the dossier has so far focused on Mr. Steele’s delivery of that campaign document to the FBI, and the bureau’s use of it to obtain an order to surveil a U.S. citizen—Trump adviser Carter Page. But Fusion almost certainly also delivered the dossier to its clients at the Clinton campaign and DNC. Mrs. Clinton maintained close ties to the State Department, and Obama officials were rooting for her election. How wide was the awareness of the dossier at the highest levels of government, and was that information misused?

The House Intel letter asks when the officials became aware of the information in the dossier; how it was presented to them; who did the presenting; when they learned it had been funded by a political entity or the Clinton campaign or DNC; and what actions they took on the basis of the information, including outreach to law enforcement or media.

A Genuine Axis of Evil Deterrence won’t stop North Korea from selling its nuclear arms.

Former Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice and others who say the U.S. can live with a nuclear-armed North Korea cite deterrence and the North’s certain destruction if it attacks Americans. This is a convenient faith, but alas it ignores the threat of proliferation to other regimes or actors that might also use weapons of mass destruction against Americans.

This proliferation threat was in sharp relief Tuesday with leaks from a confidential United Nations report alleging that Pyongyang is circumventing trade and financial sanctions and plying its military wares and knowhow to dozens of nasty foreign customers, including Bashar Assad’s Syria.

The Journal’s Ian Talley reports that the North has shipped 50 tons of supplies to Syria, including “high-heat, acid-resistant tiles, stainless-steel pipes and valves,” likely for use in a chemical weapons plant. The report, written by the Panel of Experts that oversees North Korea’s compliance with U.N. resolutions, reveals more than 40 shipments between 2012 and 2017. It also claims Pyongyang sent weapons experts to Syria multiple times as recently as the past two years.

This would solve the mystery of how Assad obtained the sarin gas he used against his people in 2013 and again in 2017. The U.S. believes he is still using chlorine gas against civilians. In 2007 North Korea worked with Syria to build a nuclear-weapons facility at Al Kibar—until Israel destroyed it in a military raid, against the advice of George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice.

The chemical-weapons news also underscores the porousness of U.N. sanctions as the North sells whatever it can for cash to keep its dictatorship afloat. If sanctions are going to stop North Korea, the U.S. and its allies will have to start boarding ships and commandeering aircraft believed to be carrying WMD material. North Korea will sell anything to any bad actor for a price.

Republican Rep. Steve Scalise (Louisiana District 1) Shot by Dem Urges Dems to Focus on Mental Illness, Not Guns Daniel Greenfield

Lately, the left has been spouting about unchallenged moral authority. Rep. Scalise is the closest thing to a sitting official with unchallenged moral authority on mass shootings. He was seriously wounded when a Bernie Sanders supporter opened fire at practice for a congressional charity baseball game. Instead of seizing on that, Rep. Scalise and other Republicans took the high ground.

Meanwhile after Parkland, the left went right back to its swamp.

I don’t expect the media or the left to listen to Rep. Scalise. But maybe this should be a reminder that decency doesn’t work with the indecent. Republicans should have treated the attack just like Parkland.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said Monday that lawmakers should be focused on addressing mental health to help stop future shootings like the one in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14 and the one last summer in which he was shot, before they focus on ways to take people’s guns away.

“Let’s focus more on addressing these problems in mental health that we’ve started to deal with in Congress,” Scalise said on Fox News. “Let’s close loopholes, let’s figure out what went wrong with government before people start talking about taking away the rights of law abiding citizens.”

That would be the right thing to do. There’s majority support for it. But the left is obsessed with dismantling the Bill of Rights instead.

Yet Another Naturalized Citizen Sentenced On Terrorism Charges Fatally flawed vetting process provided Somali-born terrorist with citizenship and U.S. passport. Michael Cutler

Here we go again. Yet another newly-naturalized United States citizen has been convicted of traveling to Syria to receive terror training, fight on the side of al-Nusrah Front, an al Qaeda-linked terrorist organization, and provide material support to that terrorist organization. He was additionally convicted of lying to an FBI agent.

On January 23, 2018 the Justice Department issued a press release, Ohio Man Sentenced for Providing Material Support to Terrorists, Making False Statements to Authorities.

That “Ohio man” was Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, a native of Somalia.

I have written about this case in two previous articles, A Terrorist and Naturalization Fraud and How DHS Ineptitude Facilitates Terrorist Operations. As I noted in the first of those two commentaries, Mohamud committed fraud when he lied on his application for his U.S. passport by claiming he intended to travel to Greece when, in reality, he traveled to Syria. Furthermore, lying on his application for U.S. citizenship also constitutes fraud. Under Title 18 U.S. Code § 1425 (Procurement of citizenship or naturalization unlawfully) the punishment for this crime carries a maximum prison sentence of 25 years, when this crime is committed in conjunction with terrorism. This is a much greater penalty than he faced for lying to an FBI agent.

Of far greater consequence than the potential longer jail sentence than he faced for lying to an FBI agent, is that conviction for committing fraud in his applications for citizenship would have stripped him of his citizenship and subject him to deportation (removal) from the United States. Yet he was not charged with this crime.

The flawed immigration adjudications process, by which Mohamud was granted U.S. citizenship, provided him with material support by enabling him to legally obtain a U.S. passport that facilitated his travel to Syria. In fact, in reviewing communications with his brother, the issue of his becoming a United States citizen, thereby enabling him to obtain that U.S. passport, emerged as an integral part of his plan to travel to Syria, receive training and return to the United States to carry out a deadly terror attack.

Around the world, the U.S. passport is considered the premier travel document. Consider this statement from Chapter 12 of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States:

For terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons. Terrorists must travel clandestinely to meet, train, plan, case targets, and gain access to attack. To them, international travel presents great danger, because they must surface to pass through regulated channels, present themselves to border security officials, or attempt to circumvent inspection points.

Another School Shooting, Another Flawed Response Our culture’s inability to talk meaningfully about the most consequential phenomenon in history. Bruce Thornton

The reactions to the Florida school shooting have been so predictable that most commentary starts with some variation of “here we go again.” The usual “solutions” to the problem are trotted out, each with its varying degrees of weakness, and none able to achieve what everybody expects––no more massacres of kids at school. But more interesting than this fossilized debate are the unspoken assumptions behind the various recommendations, and our culture’s inability to talk meaningfully about the most consequential phenomenon in history: human evil. That’s why it’s easier to ritually repeat the same failed decades-old “solutions,” or to politicize the bloodshed for partisan gain.

The left, of course, thinks “smarter” gun control is the answer. They want to ban “assault rifles,” a scare-term that confuses semiautomatic with automatic weapons, the sale of which is already strictly limited. Then they sell the bait-and-switch by highlighting sinister-looking add-ons like silencers or high-capacity magazines. But if anti-gun nuts were concerned with gun deaths rather than the relatively rare but more politically fungible multiple-victim school-shootings, they’d know that very few murders involve rifles. In 2016, murderers were 19 times more likely to use handguns than rifles. And more murders were committed with hands and feet than with rifles. Demonizers of “assault rifles” forget that they were banned from 1994 to 2004, and that the ban was ineffective, failing to stop the Columbine shooters in 1999, or even to reduce firearm killings.

Other talking points are equally useless for anything other than partisan gain. Like the “assault rifle,” the NRA has become the bogeyman Dems reflexively trot out for a two-minute hate after every high-profile shooting. Politicians who gobble up billions of dollars from public employee unions and tech plutocrats condemn the comparative pittance the NRA spends in lobbying to defend a Constitutional right. Confiscation of guns, along the lines of Australia’s program a few years back, runs afoul of the Second Amendment, not to mention being practically impossible given that there are about 300 million guns in circulation, five million of which are the dreaded AR-15 “assault rifles.”