Degrees of Delusion by Peter O’Brien

Does anybody, apart from the Prime Minister, really believe that wrecking the economy in order to combat a trace gas makes any sort of sense whatsoever. Worse than that, if are we just going through the motions to look good before the rest of the world, that isn’t working either.
First the good news if you happen to be a warmist. As of November 4, 2016, precisely 116 “parties” of 197 nations had ratified the Paris climate accord. Even better, the UNFCC website tells us that 112 of those countries submitted CO2 emissions reduction targets, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). These are generally couched in terms of percentage reductions by a pre-determined year –2030, say, against a baseline year of, say, 2005 — and the latest additions to the list mean the accord has now reached its required threshold of global support.

Ostensibly, these contributions have been crafted to help attain the goal of limiting global warming to 2C, but preferably 1.5C, above pre-industrial times. Notice the wording of the national targets. It’s bit of a giveaway. Firstly, they are ‘intended’, i.e. no guarantee they will ever be delivered. And secondly, they are ‘nationally determined’.

On what basis are they determined? This is where the rest of us get to the bad news. One would imagine, ‘climate science’ being such a settled thing, that the UNFCC, prior to the Paris meeting, would have issued some guidance as to exactly what total global CO2 reductions would be needed to meet the 2C goal. How much less CO2 must we emit? Without such guidance how do we know that our nationally determined targets are going to be effective in achieving the goals? Further, how are INDCs to be co-ordinated to maximize the chance of success?

Well, guess what! There is no such official guidance anywhere. Countries simply decided what they could afford. In other words, there is a disconnect between the goal of limiting warming to 2C and what is being promised to achieve it. I’ve written before of this but it’s worth re-visiting the subject in order to highlight the absolute vacuousness of official policy on both sides of the political divide in this country.

Imagine a NSW Premier talking to the CEO of a major construction outfit:

Premier: “We want to build a bridge across the harbour from South Head to North Head. How much will it cost?”

CEO: “How much you got?”

Premier: “We’ve budgeted for $1 billion”

CEO: “Well, give us the billion and we’ll see how far across we can get”

Premier: “Well, it’s worth a shot. When can you start?”

Sounds fanciful, right? What politician in his right mind (admittedly a dying breed) would sign up to something like that? But that’s exactly what we’re doing in relation to the vaunted Paris agreement, only the dollar costs are much bigger.

French Police Detain Four Suspected of Plotting Terror Attack Police find type of explosive material in Montpellier that was used in Paris, Brussels attacks By Noemie Bisserbe

PARIS—Police detained four people in southern France on Friday on suspicion of planning an attack using the same explosive employed by suicide bombers in Islamic State assaults in Paris and Brussels.

Three men—aged 20, 26 and 33—and a 16-year-old girl were taken into police custody in and around the city of Montpellier, according to people familiar with the investigation. At the home of one of the men, police found a liter each of acetone, hydrogen peroxide and sulfuric acid, chemicals used to make the explosive material TATP.

Three of the detainees were suspected of direct involvement in an “imminent attack on French soil,” French Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux said.

In November 2015, Islamic State gunmen, all but one wearing suicide vests containing TATP, killed 130 people in attacks across the French capital. Months later, another group of Islamic State militants using TATP bombed the airport in Brussels and a nearby metro station, leaving 32 people dead.

Friday’s arrests in southern France cap a week of police action across Europe against suspected Islamist radicals.

Two men, one Algerian and the other Nigerian, were taken into custody in Germany on suspicion of planning an imminent attack. Belgian police targeting returnees from Syria detained 11 people in the capital Brussels on Wednesday and released them a day later following questioning.

In the U.K., police on Thursday arrested a 44-year-old man from the southern county of Hertfordshire on suspicion of terror offenses. The man was taken into custody at Gatwick Airport after returning from Iraq, police said, giving no further details.

France has been on high alert after a spate of terrorist attacks in the past 18 months that have left more than 200 people dead.

With presidential elections scheduled for April 23, the country’s Socialist government is under pressure to show it is doing all it can to prevent new attacks. Conservative candidate François Fillon and far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who is leading in the polls, have criticized the government for what they say is its complacency over the threat of terrorism.

French security forces have been granted sweeping powers to hunt and apprehend potential terrorists, and since the beginning of 2016 more than 400 people with suspected links to terrorist groups have been detained.

It was unclear whether the people detained Friday have any links to the militant networks that have carried out attacks in Europe in recent years.

Even as Islamic State loses territory in Syria and Iraq, the militant group has claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks across Europe, which has enabled it to keep the public on edge without being forced to train and equip teams to pull off highly sophisticated operations.

Last week, a man believed to be visiting from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates attacked soldiers near Paris’s Louvre museum while shouting “Allahu akbar.” CONTINUE AT SITE

Asa Fitch and Aresu Eqbali : Iranians Vilify Trump in Annual Rally Renewed friction fuels anti-American displays in celebration of anniversary of Islamic Revolution

TEHRAN—Iran’s annual celebration of its 1979 Islamic Revolution found a new villain on Friday in President Donald Trump, as the country marked the anniversary amid renewed friction between the two countries.

Anti-Americanism has long been a domestic political force in Iran, routinely invoked by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Such sentiments were stoked by Mr. Trump’s recent moves to impose new sanctions in response to an Iranian missile test and bar Iranians from entering the U.S.—and by Mr. Khamenei’s response denouncing the U.S. president.

The annual march in Tehran on Friday featured the ritual burning of American flags, augmented this year with shows of hostility such as an effigy of the American president hanging by a noose and a poster of Mr. Trump with rifle sights on his face.

An Iranian woman holds an anti-Trump poster during an annual event in Tehran on Friday marking the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

An Iranian woman holds an anti-Trump poster during an annual event in Tehran on Friday marking the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Photo: abedin taherkenareh/European Pressphoto Agency

Such displays were also routine during the Obama administration, even as President Barack Obama sought to ease tensions and helped bring about the 2015 deal that lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for the country’s shelving of its nuclear ambitions.

“Iranian people are like this,” said Ali Farhadi, a retired member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, an elite military force. “When they get threatened, they get motivated and are enticed to come out and show resistance.” CONTINUE AT SITE

The Ninth Circuit Ignores Precedent and Threatens National Security Under its ruling, a state university could go to court on behalf of any alien, anywhere. By David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals violated both judicial precedent and the Constitution’s separation of powers in its ruling against President Trump’s executive order on immigration. If the ruling stands, it will pose a danger to national security.

Under normal rules of standing, the states of Washington and Minnesota should never have been allowed to bring this suit. All litigants, including states, must meet fundamental standing requirements: an injury to a legally protected interest, caused by the challenged action, that can be remedied by a federal court acting within its constitutional power. This suit fails on every count.

The plaintiff states assert that their public universities are injured because the order affects travel by certain foreign students and faculty. But that claim involved no legally protected interest. The granting of visas and the decision to admit aliens into the country are discretionary powers of the federal government. Unadmitted aliens have no constitutional right to enter the U.S. In hiring or admitting foreigners, universities were essentially gambling that these noncitizens could make it to America and be admitted. Under the theory of standing applied in this case, universities would be able to sponsor any alien, anywhere in the world, then go to court to challenge a decision to exclude him.

It is also settled law that a state can seek to vindicate only its own rights, not those of third parties, against the national government. The U.S. Supreme Court held in Massachusetts v. Mellon (1923) that it is not within a state’s duty or power to protect its citizens’ “rights in respect of their relations with the Federal Government.” Thus the plaintiffs’ claims that the executive order violates various constitutional rights, such as equal protection, due process and religious freedom, are insufficient because these are individual and not states’ rights.

Even if states could articulate a concrete injury, this is not a case in which the courts ultimately can offer redress. The Constitution grants Congress plenary power over immigration, and Congress has vested the president by statute with broad, nonreviewable discretionary authority to “suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens . . . he may deem to be appropriate” to protect “the interest of the United States.” Numerous presidents have used this authority to suspend entry of aliens from specific countries.

Further, as the Supreme Court explained in Knauff v. Shaughnessy (1950), the authority to exclude aliens “stems not alone from the legislative power but is inherent in the executive power to control the foreign affairs of the nation.” In issuing the order, the president was acting at the apex of his authority. As Justice Robert Jackson noted in Youngstown v. Sawyer (1952): “When the President acts pursuant to an express or implied authorization of Congress, his authority is at its maximum, for it includes all that he possesses in his own right plus all that Congress can delegate.” That point the Ninth Circuit ignored entirely.

The order, frequently mischaracterized as a “Muslim ban,” is actually directed at seven countries that the president believes present a particular threat to U.S. security—a view with which Congress agreed in 2015. All are beset by terrorists and so uncertain and chaotic that proper vetting of potential refugees and immigrants is virtually impossible. CONTINUE AT SITE

Scott Walker’s Tuition Markdown A tuition freeze stirs a campus revolt but not by students.

Scott Walker’s 2011 budget reforms are now paying out what he called a “reform dividend” in his budget proposal this week. The Wisconsin Governor wants to share some of the windfall with college students. Strangely enough, but then maybe not, his inspiration is riling up the bureaucracy that allegedly exists to serve college students.

Mr. Walker froze in-state tuition at the University of Wisconsin in 2013, and now he’s promoting a 5% cut for the 2018-19 school year—the first year-over-year cost decrease in the history of the public university system. The Governor suggests a state budget surplus can be used in part to increase UW’s $6.3 billion budget by $105.2 million, plus a separate $35 million to backfill the lost tuition.

Including the tuition freeze and next year’s cut, the class of 2019 will save about $9,000 each relative to the trend in the decade before the freeze, when UW tuition climbed 118%.

Nearly everybody agrees college affordability is receding and claims to be worried about student debt, though woe unto the Governors who do more than talk. Mr. Walker’s tuition discount is getting a cool reception in the Republican-controlled state legislature because it is a spending increase. But compare that to the reception in Madison and other college towns.

UW–Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank of the flagship campus said in a statement she was “very appreciative” of the funding increases, but she told the faculty in January: “It will not surprise you to know that I think this isn’t the best way to use state dollars. Saving everybody a hundred dollars or so is peanuts compared to what’s needed, which is affordability for low- and middle-income students. We have large numbers of families for whom that hundred dollars is meaningless.”

The UW Board of Regents has been in open revolt against the tuition freeze for years, viewing Mr. Walker’s concession prices as beneath the school’s reputation and dignity. “I don’t want to diminish the importance of tuition, but let’s not get tuition tunnel vision,” UW-System President Ray Cross warned last October. By the way, the new Walker budget brings need-based financial aid to an all-time state high.

Mr. Walker’s tuition cut is a useful exercise in truth-in-advertising for academic priorities. Public universities want both higher costs for students and more taxpayer money, and anybody who tries to challenge this status quo is merely offering “peanuts.”

College to Host Workshop on Anti-Bias Training for Toddlers Apparently there are a bunch of racists and sexist tots out there who need to be educated. By Katherine Timpf

Evergreen State College is planning to host a workshop “to help family members interested in anti-bias education for children ages 3-6.”

The program, called “A is for Anti-Bias,” is scheduled for Feb. 17, according to a description of the event on the school’s official website.

Now, my first thought when I heard this was to wonder whether or not there are actually a bunch of racist, sexist toddlers running around out there that I’ve been unaware of who are inspiring this sort of thing. I mean, I’ve always thought that toddlers were more into things like The Wiggles, temper tantrums, and cookies than white supremacy.

An article in Campus Reform seemed to consider the purpose of the workshop to be to help prevent toddlers from learning racism before it was too late rather than to rehabilitate toddlers who are currently active Nazis, and it’s not clear from the event description itself what exactly the reasoning is.

In any case, I’m not exactly convinced that this is going to do anyone any good, no matter what the aim is. After all, a recent study conducted by researchers from several major universities found that the lessons taught during implicit-bias trainings have very little to do with how people actually act. If these kinds of trainings aren’t doing adults any good, are they really going to have any kind of impact on a human who is still trying to learn how to stick a straw in a Capri Sun juice by himself?

The workshop is sponsored by Children’s Center.

The Federalist Paper: The Publication Neil Gorsuch Helped Found at Columbia Gorsuch has been a sensible voice for conservatism in liberal circles since his college years.By D. Keith Mano

Editor’s Note: We honor our late former colleague, D. Keith Mano, by sharing over the next weeks several of his acclaimed columns, which were published in National Review every fortnight from 1972 to 1989. The following piece was first published in the February 13, 1987, issue, under the headline, “The Federalist Paper​.”

You can still get a good education at Columbia – yes, and Soviet fishing trawlers still do fish. Nonetheless, in that maison tolérée of academic leftism, where political truth is found torso-murdered daily, one student publication had a shocking headline – Divest now in the USSR. This at Columbia, where all right-brain functions are lobotomized during freshman week: first major university to divest from South Africa. They call that one student publication The Federalist Paper (after Columbia alumni Hamilton and Jay) and Vol. I, No. I came out last October. Came out written in elegant, witty, temperate diction, with a fine sense of place and moral errand. FP’s molto is Veritas Non Erubiscit (Truth Doesn’t Blush). And, to quote the first Statement of Purpose, “it will not be shouted down.”

These seven or eight young men who are reinventing conservatism at 116th Street and Broadway make up an extraordinary and diverse group. Brilliant, as you might suppose. But also mature and remarkably poised. They hold their audience in high and affectionate regard—that poor Columbia student intellectually lung-shot and left for dead by campus radicalism. Moreover, though their mean class level is sophomore-junior, they have considerable journalistic experience. Neil Gorsuch, Dean Pride, and A. Lawrence Levy were all associate editors of another conservative publication, The Morningside Review. “The Review.” Gorsuch said, “is more of a magazine. It addresses national and international issues, and it simply isn’t read on campus. What we’ve done here is try to establish something that has a broader base of interest. More people read The Federalist than ever read The Morningside Review.”

Readership matters, of course—so much so that no one on the FP staff will admit to being conservative. This is in part, an honest distancing from Reaganism, Republicanism, Falwell, whatever. In part, too, it is careful policy. “If our first issue had been far right, we might’ve been written off before we got started,” board member P. T. Waters thought. “We try to show that you can be liberal as hell, but still disagree with all those crazy knee-jerk liberals out there.” And Levy took that up: “We’re just trying to be an alternative. At Columbia that usually means you’re right-wing or moderate-to-right, because the mainstream is so far left.” And yet issues one and two belong in a liberal phobia clinic. The Promise of SDI, for instance. Or The ANC is not the only solution. Plus an incisive repudiation of mandatory gay seminars for freshmen. Plus damning information about the Reverend William Starr, leftist Episcopal double agent on campus. Plus a vivid Month in Review short-take section, which imitates NR up front pretty consciously. Like so:


During recent Warsaw Pact maneuvers in Czechoslovakia, authorities discovered that four Soviet soldiers traded their tank to a tavern owner for 24 bottles of vodka, seven pounds of herring, and some pickles. The owner dismantled the lank and sold the pieces to a metal-recycling center.

At Columbia they give you an equivalency diploma for that kind of reportage. Equivalent to ostracism.

Problems of self-definition attend. “We’ve basically been sitting back,” Gorsuch admitted, “and reflecting on what the Left has said and using our month to review it. They choose the issues—South Africa, military recruitment on campus, pornography, SDI. But now I think we have to come out with something.” Waters concurred: “We’d like to change the debate, not just reflect it.” That will be more difficult. These are sharp and idiosyncratic minds from all over America: D.C, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New Jersey. The general atmosphere at FP might be characterized as center to right with a libertarian strain. From that composition, manifestos don’t quickly arise. “Reason why we can be so diverse.” said Gorsuch, “is that there is so much room to the right. It’s not a matter of having to be a conservative 10 be identified with the Right, it’s a matter of being a thinking man or woman.”

American Security and Islamic Reform The government must vet aliens for sharia-supremacist ideology. By Andrew C. McCarthy

‘Do you think Islam needs reform?”

Wouldn’t it be interesting, wouldn’t it get us to the crux of the immigration debate, if our best news anchors — I’m looking at you, Chris Wallace and Bret Baier — would put that question to every major politician in Washington?

Instead, the press is asking not just the wrong question but one that utterly misses the point, namely: “How many terrorist attacks have been committed by immigrants from this handful of Muslim-majority countries?” It is the same wrong question posed by the imperious federal judge in Seattle who suspended President Trump’s temporary travel ban on aliens from those countries — seven of them. It is the same wrong question that animated the incorrigible Ninth Circuit appeals court in upholding this suspension — and intimating along the way that Trump, and by implication all who fear for the future of our country, are anti-Muslim bigots crusading against religious liberty (the Ninth Circuit being notoriously selective when it comes to protecting religious traditions).

Does the Trump administration realize it’s the wrong question? I wonder. Instead of attacking the question’s premise, the administration undertakes to answer it. It seems not to grasp that the security argument is not advanced, much less won, by compiling a list of terrorist plots.

Let’s try this again.

Islam does need reform. This is critical to our national security for two reasons that bear directly on the question of which aliens should, and which should not, be allowed into our country.

First, reform is essential because the broader Islamic religion includes a significant subset of Muslims who adhere to an anti-American totalitarian political ideology that demands implementation of sharia — Islamic law. This ideology and the repressive legal code on which it rests are not religion. We are not talking about the undeniably theological tenets of Islam (e.g., the oneness of Allah, the acceptance of Mohamed as the final prophet, and the Koran as Allah’s revelation). We are talking about a framework for the political organization of the state, and about the implementation of a legal corpus that is blatantly discriminatory, hostile to liberty, and — in its prescriptions of crime and punishment — cruel.

The Ninth Circuit’s Power Grab By The Editors

The Ninth Circuit’s decision against President Trump’s immigration order is worse than wrong. It is dangerous.

To review, Trump issued an executive order blocking entry by refugees and aliens from seven Muslim-majority countries. The travel restriction is to be short-lived: a period of months while better vetting procedures are developed. The administration, moreover, did not pluck the seven countries from its allegedly anti-Muslim imagination. They were cited in a statute enacted by Congress and signed by President Obama, based on the richly supported conclusion that these countries — Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and Sudan — are riven by anti-American jihadism, besides having governments that are either non-functional or implacably hostile to the U.S., rendering any efforts to screen their citizens uniquely difficult.

A federal judge in Seattle, James Robart, issued a temporary restraining order against the travel ban at the behest of two states, Washington and Minnesota, run by Democratic governors. Now, the Ninth Circuit has upheld this single, unelected jurist’s usurpation of the power to make American national-security policy.

According to the three-judge panel, even illegal aliens, to say nothing of aliens holding non-immigrant visas or permanent-resident status, have due-process rights against government actions to protect Americans from foreign threats. Therefore, the president and Congress (i.e., the branches of government constitutionally responsible for national security) may not take such actions unless and until the judiciary (the branch with no such responsibility) has approved those actions.

That aliens are not citizens and have no constitutional right to come to the United States is apparently superseded by their newfangled “right” to be welcomed into the United States courts. And even if they are not here already, even if they remain in the far reaches of the globe, this alien “right” may be asserted by state governments. The states’ interest in having foreign students and scholars at their public universities, we are told, outweighs the public’s interest in excluding aliens who may be terrorists, law-breakers, public charges, or hostile to our Constitution and culture.

The unanimous ruling is the type of lunacy with which the Ninth Circuit has become synonymous. It is also the inevitable result of a turn-of-the-century judicial power grab in the realm of national security.

Lawrence Solomon: Trying to create a Palestinian state would repeat mistakes that have led to so much Mideast bloodshed

Will Palestine exist in another generation? With the Trump administration gearing up for its meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week, it’s a question worth asking. The last thing the Trump administration should want is a repeat of the mistakes the Great Powers made a century ago when they created artificial countries.

Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Yemen and Palestine among others were all carved up out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire by the Great Powers — chiefly Britain and France — after the First World War. It was a recipe for continual strife, as peoples of different nationalities, ethnicities, cultures, religions and political traditions were forced to live together. The Great Powers created, in effect, mini multicultural, multinational states. The result was civil and sectarian discontent, and war, throughout much of the last 100 years.

We see the latest chapter of those horrors in Syria where yet another civil war has led to yet another split up. Iraq has de facto split, as has Yemen, and Lebanon, which originally was part of a multi-state Syrian federation. Jordan, whose Hashemites fought a civil war against its Palestinian Arab majority, is also tenuously held together.

The creation of a Palestinian state astride Israel — the two-state solution today’s Great Powers insist on — would have even less chance of survival than its failed neighbour states. The Arab clans of Palestine throughout the 20th century refused to accept a state of their own. Only in the 1960s did the idea of a Palestinian nation take shape when Yasser Arafat created the concept of an Arabic “Palestinian people.” Previously, “Palestinian” was a term that referred to all the residents of Palestine, Jews and Arabs. The original name of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra was the Palestine Orchestra. The Jerusalem Post was first the Palestine Post.

But Arafat never forged a united people — most Palestinians only grudgingly accepted the rule of his Palestinian Authority and some never did. Few Palestinians identify chiefly with a national identity; their loyalty instead is clan-based — to the tight-knit group of extended families that share the same ancestry, based on the father’s male line and a preference for marrying within the clan. Palestinians pledge loyalty to their clan in a binding, formal code of honour backed by local militias. An attack on one clan member is an attack on all members.

Clan-based systems of governance do not lend themselves to nation states. Little surprise, then, that after Arafat died, civil war broke out and Gaza broke off from the West Bank to form its own statelet. To make dicier still the notion of a coherent Palestinian nation whose people share common values, Gaza is theocratic, run by Hamas, a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, while the West Bank is largely secular.