PowerLine -> What Comey will say

PowerLine -> What Comey will say

Daily Digest

  • Book of the Year: St. Hillary of Hippo
  • What Comey will say
  • ISIS terrorists attack in Tehran
  • The Anti-Social Cost of the Climate Crusade
  • Washington Post peddles Palestinian propaganda, Part Two
Book of the Year: St. Hillary of Hippo

Posted: 07 Jun 2017 01:28 PM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

While we await the threatened—and as yet untitled—memoir of Hillary Clinton, we can delight in a new book also about the inner reaches of Herself, coming in August: Strong for a Moment Like This: The Daily Devotions of Hillary Rodham Clinton. It’s 416 pages! Maybe they are blank pages like that other recent classic, Michael Knowles’s Reasons to Vote for Democrats? No—this is apparently a serious book. Hillary doesn’t joke around you know.

Who knew that Hillary was so devoted to the Bible each day. Move over St. Augustine of Hippo; make way for St. Hillary the Hippo. (As in hypocrite. What did you think I meant?) As the promo page on Amazon tells us:

As Secretary Clinton said in The New York Times (January 26, 2016), “My study of the Bible, my many conversations with people of faith, has led me to believe the most important commandment is to love the Lord with all your might and to love your neighbor as yourself. And that is what I think we are commanded by Christ to do. And there is so much more in the Bible about taking care of the poor, visiting the prisoners, taking in the stranger, creating opportunities for others to be lifted up,* to find faith themselves that I think there are many different ways of exercising your faith.”

Gosh, who knew? If only those stupid ignorant evangelicals in flyover country read this in the New York Times, they wouldn’t have voted against Herself by an 80 – 20 margin.

I can’t wait.

*All under the oversight of federal regulators of course, and fully compliant with Obamacare contraceptive and transgender access mandates.

What Comey will say

Posted: 07 Jun 2017 12:12 PM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)

The Senate Intelligence Committee has released the prepared remarks that former FBI director James Comey intends to present when he testifies tomorrow. Comey plans to testify that President Trump personally sought his “loyalty” while also pressing to “lift the cloud” of the Russia investigation.

Comey will describe a January 27 dinner where, he says, Trump told him: “I need loyalty. I expect loyalty.” In addition, he plans to say that Trump sought his help regarding embattled former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Finally, in good news for the president, Comey plans to testify that he assured Trump he was not personally being investigated. He did this three times, just as Trump has been saying.

Until Comey testifies and is questioned, it’s premature to draw any conclusions. However, I can’t resist.

If Comey testifies as described above and his testimony is truthful, it seems to me that Trump acted improperly. I question whether a president should be telling the FBI director who is investigating the administration that he expects loyalty, and it’s clear to me that he shouldn’t tell the director what he wants the outcome of the investigation to be.

Others, I’m sure, will take a different view. However, I would ask anyone who disagrees with me to consider how he would view the matter if Barack Obama were the president telling an FBI director these things.

On the other hand, Comey’s prepared testimony comes nowhere close to describing obstruction of justice. And the fact that Trump later fired Comey doesn’t change this, in my view.

President Trump may well dispute Comey’s account of the meetings between the two. It would be hopelessly premature to weigh their credibility in the event of conflicting versions.

I will say that, though Comey has been strongly criticized, and not without justification, I’ve never heard anyone I respect say he’s dishonest. He may be self-righteous to the point of egomania, but dishonest? I have no reason to think so.

But let’s see what Comey’s full testimony is, including answers to questions from committee members, and what, if anything, Trump says to contradict the former director. Then, perhaps, we can judge.

UPDATE: Dan McLaughlin at NRO’s Corner has a good analysis of Comey’s prepared remarks.

ISIS terrorists attack in Tehran

Posted: 07 Jun 2017 11:24 AM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)

The Washington Post reports that gunmen stormed two major sites in Tehran today. They killed at least 12 people and wounded another 42 in gunfire and suicide blasts in Parliament and at the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini (the Post calls this a “revered shrine”). ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks.

According to the Post, this is the first serious terrorist attack in Iran. Past attacks have been confined to minor incidents near the border with Pakistan.

Given the enmity between Sunni and Shiite radicals, it’s not surprising that ISIS would want to attack key symbolic locations in Tehran. Such an attack is all the more enticing given that ISIS, which is being defeated in Mosul and in the outskirts of Raqqa, needs to pull off something big.

What seems surprising is that ISIS (or some other terrorist group) was able to carry out successful attacks in the heart of the ayatollahs’ police state. As the Post notes, security forces are deployed at prominent sites, and Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps maintains a vast network of informants and allies around the country.

The security forces apparently weren’t up to the job. The attackers reportedly entered the parliament building through the main entrance. Their siege lasted more than an hour. Moreover, according to the New York Times, one attacker left the building an hour into the siege, “ran around shooting on Tehran’s streets,” and then returned.

Perhaps the regime has become complacent given its success in taming the population. Perhaps it’s just extremely difficult to prevent these kinds of attacks even in a police state.

The regime, which must be hugely embarrassed, has responded, predictably, by blaming the U.S. and the Saudis. The Revolutionary Guard stated:

The public opinion of the world, especially Iran, recognizes this terrorist attack — which took place a week after a joint meeting of the U.S. president and the head of one of the region’s backward governments, which constantly supports fundamentalist terrorists — as very significant.

Taking a rather different line, and displaying characteristic indifference to human life, Ayatollah Khamenei characterized the attack as the setting off of “firecrackers.”

The U.S. State Department issued a statement condemning the attacks. It extended condolences to the victims, their families, and the Iranian people, stating that “the depravity of terrorism has no place in a peaceful, civilized world.” Nor, the State Department might have added, does it have a place even in a brutal, uncivilized, terror-supporting regime like Iran’s.

The Anti-Social Cost of the Climate Crusade

Posted: 07 Jun 2017 10:59 AM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

The linchpin of the Obama Administration’s so-called “Clean Power Plan” (CPP) is something called the “social cost of carbon,” which is a calculation of the net present value of future climate damages from greenhouse-gas caused global warming. The “official” figure the Obama EPA came up within their regulatory analysis—about $40 a ton­—was necessary for the Clean Power Plan to pass a cost-benefit test.

This calculation is tricky to do and involved the crucial step of picking a discount rate against projected costs in the distant future. The scandal of the EPA’s calculation is that the conventional discount rates that the government (and private industry) typically uses for such forward-looking calculations all came in with climate cost numbers so low that the Clean Power Plan couldn’t be justified. So the EPA cheated and used an artificially low discount rate far outside the range of standard practice. (The Trump EPA is currently reviewing the social cost of carbon mischief, and may well reverse it as part of their unraveling of the CPP.)

But even if you accept both the catastrophic temperature predictions of the climatistas and their phony social cost of carbon estimate, there is still the question: what are the economic benefits of cheap fossil fuel energy use? No one ever bothers to offer an estimate of how much better our lives are for the development and diffusion of large-scale energy over the last 150 years. (Start with, oh I don’t know—how about longer lifespans because of all the material improvements energy has made possible?)

Until now, that is. Richard Tol, one of the world’s pre-eminent environmental economists, has produced a working paper entitled “The Private Benefit of Carbon and Its Social Cost.” Here’s the dynamite abstract:

The private benefit of carbon is the value, at the margin, of the energy services provided by the use of fossil fuels. It is the weighted average of the price of energy times the carbon dioxide emission coefficient, with energy used as weights. The private benefits is here estimated, for the first time, at $411/tCO2. The private benefit is lowest for coal use in industry and highest for residential electricity; it is lowest in Kazakhstan and highest in Norway. The private benefit of carbon is much higher than the social cost of carbon.

Yes, I’d say that $411 > $40. Let that sink in: the benefit of using fossil fuels, even accounting for all damages from pollution and prospective climate change, are one order of magnitude higher than the cost of climate change, even using the EPA’s self-serving calculation.

The conclusion of Tol’s paper make the matter clearer and more direct:

The private benefit of carbon is large and, in most cases, much larger than the social cost of carbon. But while the social cost of carbon is tied to carbon dioxide emissions and their impact on the climate, the private benefit of carbon is not tied to fossil fuels. The private benefits of carbon are, really, the benefits of abundant and reliable energy – or rather, the benefits of the services provided by energy, such as warm homes, cooked food, travel and transport, information and communication, and so on.

This is the fundamental reason why the world is not giving up fossil fuels but is going along with charades such as the Paris Climate Accord.

P.S. For an example of the “emperor’s new clothes” aspect of the world’s climate pantomime, take in this story:

India Touts Commitment to Paris Climate Accord, Promptly Invests in Australia’s Largest Coal Mine

By Michael Bastasch

A major Indian corporation approved a $4 billion plan for what will be Australia’s biggest coal mine just one day after a top Indian minister said the country joined the Paris climate accord “due to our commitment to protecting the environment.”

Adani Corporation gave final approval to build “what would be Australia’s biggest coal mine,” Reuters reported Tuesday. Adani is also hopeful they will get a $900 million loan from the government — the same government backing the Paris accord.

Adani’s comments came the same day as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj rebuffed criticism from President Donald Trump that India only joined the Paris agreement because they were promised “billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid from other nations.”

Heh. Here’s me and the author, Professor Tol, from a couple years back:

Washington Post peddles Palestinian propaganda, Part Two

Posted: 07 Jun 2017 09:34 AM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)

Last week, the Washington Post dedicated an entire section of the paper to airing Palestinian grievances and talking points. The section was called “Occupied: Year 50.”

This week, the Post was back with more, turning the first five pages of its Sunday “Outlook” over to Dan Ephron so he could whine about Israeli settlements. I don’t recall anyone ever getting five pages in “Outlook” to write, or in this case rant, about anything.

Ephron’s piece is akin to last week’s rant by William Booth and Sufian Taha. Those two went on and on about the difficulties Palestinians face when traveling from the West Bank to Jerusalem, but never mentioned the reason why checkpoints exist — to protect Israel from the chronic acts of terrorism committed by Palestinians.

This week, Ephron goes on and on about how West Bank settlements have been “normalized” in the thinking of Israelis during the past 50 years, with scarcely a mention of the main reason why. In his telling, the expansion and “normalization” of settlements stems from the ability of settlers to influence public opinion and “bend[] the will of Israeli institutions.” But they could never have done so if the Palestinians had displayed a serious desire to trade land for peace. (Ephron doesn’t mention Palestinian intransigence until the last page and the 51st paragraph of his tome, and then does so only in passing).

Abba Eban, the Israeli diplomat who hoped — as many of us did — to see a trade of land for peace, perfectly captured the reason why the trade never occurred. After years of trying to make this deal, he said that the Palestinians “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

Ephron professes surprise that, after 50 years, the opportunity may well irrevocably have been missed. As he traveled around the West Bank, Ephron was shocked that life in the settlements seems normal. Why, the town of Ariel has a thriving university, a soccer team that competes with clubs from “inside Israel,” a shopping mall, and (soon) a state-of-the-art hospital. And in Kiryat Arba, Israel’s national theater company staged a play.

It’s as if Ephron expected Israelis to demand that their settlers leave no footprint — to live in tents and herd sheep for 50 years — while waiting for the Palestinians to give up their designs on conquering Israel.

In real life, time waits for no one — and certainly not for a people bent on destroying their neighbors.

Ephron also expresses amazement that most Israelis have no reverence for, or even clear concept of, the Green Line — the border Israelis abided by until the Arabs tried to conquer them in 1967. But why should they? The border was ridiculous — at its narrowest point from the Mediterranean coast to the demarcation line, Israel is only about nine miles wide — and it has not corresponded to reality on the ground for 50 years.

Here’s what would genuinely be shocking: for anyone to regard conditions that prevailed 50 years ago to be normal today.

Think of the territorial transformation of the United States between, say, 1800 and 1850. Expecting Israelis to remain confined within the Green Line is like expecting early Americans to remain in the 13 states, but with these differences: (1) none of the 13 original states were nine miles wide and (2) by the time of the American Founding, American Indians, to my knowledge, weren’t bent on driving the former colonists into the sea.

Many passages in Ephron’s article suggest that he is either clueless or, more likely, the captive of anti-Israel ideology. He complains that the settlements “with their swimming pools and other amenities are off limits” to Palestinians.

What is it about the self-preservation instinct that Ephron does not understand? And why, if he expects the settlements to be integrated, does he write at length about the need to forcibly relocate settlers — a minimum of 150,000 of them, he says — under any “peace” plan. In his view, large portions of the West Bank must be judenrein (free of Jews), but until then, Jews should swim with people who insist that they are relocated, and who might want to kill them.

Ephron seems concerned that many Israeli “centrists” have bought into the settlers’ “talking point” that the settlements bolster Israel’s security. However, he offers no evidence or argument that this view is incorrect.

He then moans that “some [centrists] even admire the settlers — for their can-do spirit and their ability to withstand attacks by Palestinian militants.” Admiring pioneers who withstand attacks by Israel’s sworn enemies? We can’t have that. What kind of Jews are we dealing with here, anyway?

I’ll conclude my rant on a personal note. I know a young Israeli woman who is not a centrist, but rather a leftist. She fell in love with a young man from a settler family. His family farms outside of the Green Line.

The young woman is among the Israelis who take the Green Line seriously. She has always been anti-settler. Her potential husband’s desire to live and work on the farm was a serious problem for her.

In the end, though, love prevailed. She currently resides on the West Bank. She is what Ephron would call a settler.

What was this woman supposed to do? Was she supposed to reject the love of her life and his family on the theory that they are obstacles to peace? Was she supposed to put off marriage and wait for the Palestinians to give up their aggressive designs and enter into a peace agreement that has been a chimera for 50 years?

The Palestinians have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Fortunately, the young woman, like so many other Israelis, did not miss hers.

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