PowerLine -> Australia’s Tony Abbott: On Global Warming, Dare to Doubt + The Important Story You’re Not Hearing Much About

Powerline John Hinderaker at HoaxAndChange

PowerLine -> Australia’s Tony Abbott: On Global Warming, Dare to Doubt + The Important Story You’re Not Hearing Much About

Powerline image at HoaxAndChange

Powerline image at HoaxAndChange

Daily Digest

  • Tony Abbott: On Global Warming, Dare to Doubt
  • Confirm Greg Katsas
  • The Important Story You’re Not Hearing Much About
  • Madness at Reed
  • The case of Fusion GPS
Tony Abbott: On Global Warming, Dare to Doubt

Posted: 18 Oct 2017 04:25 PM PDT

(John Hinderaker)

Tony Abbott, former Prime Minister of Australia, delivered the annual Global Warming Policy Forum lecture in London on October 9. The title of his lecture was “Daring to Doubt.” He began with some general observations on our peculiar age:

It would be wrong to underestimate the strengths of the contemporary West. By objective standards, people have never had better lives. Yet our phenomenal wealth and our scientific and technological achievements rest on values and principles that have rarely been more widely challenged.

To a greater or lesser extent, in most Western countries, we can’t keep our borders secure; we can’t keep our industries intact; and we can’t preserve a moral order once taken for granted. …
In Australia, we’ve had ten years of disappointing government. … We have the world’s most powerful upper house: a Senate where good government can almost never secure a majority. Our businesses campaign for same sex marriage but not for economic reform.

Sounds like my home state of Minnesota.

Our biggest company, BHP, the world’s premier miner, lives off the coal industry that it now wants to disown. And our oldest university, Sydney, now boasts that its mission is “unlearning”.

At least Sydney University is upfront about it. On to climate change.

Climate change is by no means the sole or even the most significant symptom of the changing interests and values of the West. Still, only societies with high levels of cultural amnesia – that have forgotten the scriptures about man created “in the image and likeness of God” and charged with “subduing the earth and all its creatures” – could have made such a religion out of it.
There are laws of physics; there are objective facts; there are moral and ethical truths. But there is almost nothing important where no further enquiry is needed. What the “science is settled” brigade want is to close down investigation by equating questioning with superstition. It’s an aspect of the wider weakening of the Western mind which poses such dangers to the world’s future.

Physics suggests, all other things being equal, that an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide would indeed warm the planet. Even so, the atmosphere is an almost infinitely complex mechanism that’s far from fully understood.

Palaeontology indicates that over millions of years there have been warmer periods and cooler periods that don’t correlate with carbon dioxide concentrations. The Jurassic warm period and the ice ages occurred without any human contribution at all. The medieval warm period when crops were grown in Greenland and the mini-ice age when the Thames froze over occurred well before industrial activities added to atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Certainly, no big change has accompanied the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration over the past century from roughly 300 to roughly 400 parts per million or from 0.03 to 0.04 per cent.

Contrary to the breathless assertions that climate change is behind every weather event, in Australia, the floods are not bigger, the bushfires are not worse, the droughts are not deeper or longer, and the cyclones are not more severe than they were in the 1800s. Sometimes, they do more damage but that’s because there’s more to destroy, not because their intensity has increased.
Even the high-priests of climate change now seem to concede that there was a pause in warming between the 1990s and 2014.

So far, though, there’s no concession that their models might require revision even though unadjusted data suggests that the 1930s were actually the warmest decade in the United States and that temperatures in Australia have only increased by 0.3 degrees over the past century, not the 1 degree usually claimed.

The growing evidence that records have been adjusted, that the impact of urban heat islands has been downplayed, and that data sets have been slanted in order to fit the theory of dangerous anthropogenic global warming does not make it false; but it should produce much caution about basing drastic action upon it.

Then there’s the evidence that higher concentrations of carbon dioxide (which is a plant food after all) are actually greening the planet and helping to lift agricultural yields. In most countries, far more people die in cold snaps than in heat waves, so a gradual lift in global temperatures, especially if it’s accompanied by more prosperity and more capacity to adapt to change, might even be beneficial.

In what might be described as Ridley’s paradox, after the distinguished British commentator: at least so far, it’s climate change policy that’s doing harm; climate change itself is probably doing good; or at least, more good than harm.

Abbott reviews some specifics of energy policy in Australia, which in recent years has been a disaster:

In September last year, though, the wind blew so hard that the turbines had to shut down – and the inter-connector with Victoria and its reliable coal-fired power failed too. For 24 hours, there was a state wide blackout. For nearly two million people, the lights were off, cash registers didn’t work, traffic lights went down, lifts stopped, and patients were sent home from hospitals.

Throughout last summer, there were further blackouts and brownouts across eastern Australia requiring hundreds of millions in repairs to the plant of energy-intensive industries. Despite this, in a display of virtue signalling, to flaunt its environmental credentials (and to boost prices for its other coal-fired plants), last March the French-government part-owned multinational, Engie, closed down the giant Hazelwood coal-fired station that had supplied a quarter of Victoria’s power.

The Australian Energy Market Operator is now sufficiently alarmed to have just issued an official warning of further blackouts this summer in Victoria and South Australia and severe medium term power shortfalls. But in yet more virtue-signalling, energy giant AGL is still threatening to close the massive Liddell coal-fired power station in NSW and replace it with a subsidised solar farm and a much smaller gas-fired power station relying on gas supplies that don’t currently exist.

Wind and solar power are inherently inferior and can never–at least not until electric power can be stored at scale–replace reliable sources like coal and natural gas:

Hydro aside, renewable energy should properly be referred to as intermittent and unreliable power. When the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, the power doesn’t flow. Wind and solar power are like sailing ships; cheaper than powered boats, to be sure, but we’ve stopped using sail for transport because it couldn’t be trusted to turn up on time.

Because the weather is unpredictable, you never really know when renewable power is going to work. Its marginal cost is low but so is its reliability, so in the absence of industrial scale batteries, it always needs matching capacity from dependable coal, gas, hydro, or nuclear energy. This should always have been obvious.
A market that’s driven by subsidies rather than by economics always fails. Subsidy begets subsidy until the system collapses into absurdity. In Australia’s case, having subsidised renewables, allegedly to save the planet; we’re now faced with subsidising coal, just to keep the lights on.

We have got ourselves into this mess because successive federal governments have tried to reduce emissions rather than to ensure reliable and affordable power; because, rather than give farmers a fairer return, state governments have given in to green lobbyists and banned or heavily restricted gas exploration and extraction; and because shareholder activists have scared power companies out of new investment in fossil fuel power generation, even though you can’t run a modern economy without it.

Abbott concludes with an inconvenient truth:

Should Australia close down its steel industry; watch passively while its aluminium industry moves offshore to places less concerned about emissions; export coal, but not use it ourselves; and deliberately increase power prices for people who can’t install their own solar panels and batteries? Of course not, but these are the inevitable consequences of continuing current policies.

That’s the reality no one has wanted to face for a long time: that we couldn’t reduce emissions without also hurting the economy; that’s the inconvenient truth that can now no longer be avoided.

There is much more at the link, including the video. It is, on the whole, a refreshing blast of common sense.


Confirm Greg Katsas

Posted: 18 Oct 2017 12:09 PM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)

Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Greg Katsas to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Katsas is hugely qualified for this important judgeship.

As I discussed here, he was executive editor of the Harvard Law Review, a Supreme Court clerk for Justice Thomas, and a high ranking attorney at the Justice Department during the George W. Bush administration.

Katsas has argued Supreme Court cases as a government attorney and in private practice. He has also argued in every U.S. appeal court. In all, he has more than 75 appeals.

This year, Katsas became deputy counsel to the president in the White House Counsel’s Office. It is this service that provides the left with its pretext for trying to block, as it routinely does, a highly qualified conservative from the federal bench.

The group that calls its People for the American Way openly states that Katsas shouldn’t be confirmed because his “decision to work in the White House Counsel’s office for this particular administration by itself disqualifies him.” It argues that “even if Katsas had no direct involvement” in Trump administration decisions it doesn’t like, “he has chosen to continue to serve and provide legal advice to the lawless president who has carried them out.”

This line of attack will resonate with Senators who would oppose Katsas anyway (namely all or virtually all Democrats). However, it’s not likely to prevent Katsas from gaining support from at least 50 GOP Senators — i.e., support enough to be confirmed.

Thus, at yesterday’s hearing Committee Democrats probed Katsas’ involvement, as deputy White Counsel, in various legal matters.

Katsas handled these questions in just the right way. He disclosed which issues he has worked on, but was unwilling — indeed, unable because of the attorney-client privilege — to disclose the legal advice he gave. And he promised to recuse himself from any cases involving his work as a government lawyer.

Senators were particularly interested in learning about Katsas’ role, if any, in dealing with Robert Mueller’s probe. Katsas testified that he provided “legal advice on a few discreet questions” arising from that investigation.

Nothing in Katsas’ testimony should cause Republican Senators to oppose his confirmation. This nominee is obviously a superstar. There is no basis for doubting that Katsas will recuse himself from hearing cases where it is appropriate to do so. Nothing in his record suggests a lack of integrity.

The Washington Post says it’s “not typical for a president to reach into his own White House Counsel’s Office to fill vacancies on a federal appellate bench in part because of questions inevitably raised about the nominee’s legal advice.” If so, such reluctance is unnecessary, as Katsas’ testimony showed.

The Post also claims “that President George W. Bush’s nomination of current D.C. Circuit Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh was stalled for three years in part because of Kavanaugh’s work as a top White House aide.” This statement is misleading, in my view.

The nomination of Kavanaugh didn’t stall because Kavanaugh offered legal advice to the Bush administration. Kavanaugh served as White House staff secretary, not as a member of the White House Counsel’s office. [Correction: Kavanaugh did serve as assistant White House counsel before becoming staff secretary]

The attack on Kavanugh as a nominee centered around allegations of strong conservatism on his part and that of the Bush administration, including the nomination of judges Senate Democrats didn’t like. This 2004 article from the New York Times provides the flavor.

Kavanaugh’s biggest problem, though, was probably his role in Kenneth Starr’s investigation of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Hillary was a member of the Senate when Kavanaugh’s nomination was under consideration.

It was Mrs. Clinton who, in an act of pure vindictiveness, held up Kavanaugh’s nomination.

This is old (but I hope interesting) history. It is Greg Katsas who is before the Senate now. Given the caliber of the nominee and the importance of the D.C Circuit, I view this nomination as the second best Trump has made — behind only Justice Gorsuch.

The Democrats barely laid a glove on Katsas yesterday, in my opinion. The GOP Senate needs to get this guy confirmed without delay.


The Important Story You’re Not Hearing Much About

Posted: 18 Oct 2017 10:59 AM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

What would you think of someone who got sued, lost in court, and celebrated the loss? You’d think there is something seriously amiss. In fact, this has been the longstanding practice of a number of federal agencies, who actively cooperate with activist groups (invariably on the left) to set up lawsuits against agencies that result in the agencies having more power and instituting more regulations.

To give a good example, when the EPA lost the 2007 case of Massachusetts vs. EPA (that was the one that said the EPA could regulate greenhouse gas emissions), employees at EPA opened champagne to celebrate their “loss” at the Supreme Court. Much of the time these legal actions never actually make it very far in court, because the agency will “settle” with the plaintiffs through a consent decree, which means in practice that the agency conveniently consents to have more power. It is called “sue and settle,” but I call this “crony administration.” Much of the time these faux lawsuits are filed with the active participation of the agency, making a mockery of the rule of law.

This corrupt racket has been going on for 30 years or more, and neither of the previous Bush administrations did anything to stop it. Last week EPA administrator Scott Pruitt said the EPA would end the practice. Pruitt’s announcement reads, in part: “The days of this regulation through litigation, are terminated. The EPA will not resolve litigation through backroom deals with any type of special interest group.” Pruitt also announced steps to increase transparency about all matters under litigation—lifting the veil on this whole racket—so people can see what the activist groups are trying to do. I am sure environmental groups are in a rage about this but are remaining remarkably quiet because they likely know that greater public transparency about this racket is the last thing they want.

Pruitt issued a sparkling good memo explaining more of the legal and constitutional background of his step. My favorite part of this memo are footnotes 8, 9, and 10, where Pruitt cites the Federalist Papers and other founders on the importance of the separation of powers, which the administrative state has been trampling for decades. This has to be the first time an EPA administrator has ever cited The Federalist in an official document. I imagine Gina McCarthy, Obama’s EPA head, probably never heard of The Federalist.

Here are the footnotes in full:

8 In The Federalist Number 47, James Madison wrote: One of the principal objections inculcated by the more respectable adversaries to the constitution, is its supposed violation of the political maxim, that the legislative, executive and judiciary departments ought to be separate and distinct. In the structure of the federal government, no regard, it is said, seems to have been paid to this essential precaution in favor of liberty. The several departments of power are distributed and blended in such a manner, as at once to destroy all symmetry and beauty of form; and to expose some of the essential parts of the edifice to the danger of being crushed by the disproportionate weight of other parts. No political truth is certainly of greater intrinsic value or is stamped with the authority of more enlightened patrons of liberty than that on which the objection is founded. The accumulation of all powers legislative, executive and judiciary in the same hands, whether of one, a few or many, and whether hereditary, self appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny. Were the federal constitution therefore really chargeable with this accumulation of power or with a mixture of powers having a dangerous tendency to such an accumulation, no further arguments would be necessary to inspire a universal reprobation of the system. I persuade myself however, that it will be made apparent to every one, that the charge cannot be supported, and that the maxim on which it relies, has been totally misconceived and misapplied. In order to form correct ideas on this important subject, it will be proper to investigate the sense, in which the preservation of liberty requires, that the three great departments of power should be separate and distinct. The Federalist No. 47 (James Madison) (emphasis added).

9 “The leading principle of our Constitution is the independence of the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary of each other.” Thomas Jefferson to George Hay, 1807. FE 9:59 (emphasis added). “The Constitution intended that the three great branches of the government should be co-ordinate and independent of each other. As to acts, therefore, which are to be done by either, it has given no control to another branch. . . . Where different branches have to act in their respective lines, finally and without appeal, under any law, they may give to it different and opposite constructions. . . . From these different constructions of the same act by different branches, less mischief arises than from giving to any one of them a control over the others.” Thomas Jefferson to George Hay, 1807. ME 11:213 (emphasis added).

10 “The separation of powers inside a government – and each official’s concern that he may be replaced by someone with a different agenda – creates incentives to use the judicial process to obtain an advantage. The consent decree is an important element in the strategy. . . . It is impossible for an agency to promulgate a regulation containing a clause such as ‘My successor cannot amend this regulation.’ But if the clause appears in a consent decree, perhaps the administrator gets his wish to dictate the policies of his successor.” Frank Easterbrook, Justice and Contract in Consent Judgments, 1987 U. Chi. L. Forum 19, 33-34 (1987).

I call this winning for sure.


Madness at Reed

Posted: 18 Oct 2017 08:59 AM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

We reported here last month on the classroom disruptions at left-leaning Reed College in Portland, where apparently anyone to the right of Bernie Sanders is considered a white supremacist oppressor.

The journalist who wrote up the story for The Economist, Joe Kolman, has returned to the story in greater detail for Spiked Online. Very much worth reading the whole amazing tale of how the craziest students are hounding anyone for expressing the slightest puzzlement—not necessarily even disagreement—with the Maoist slogans that pass for political thought at Reed. For readers in a rush here are a couple of excerpts:

I received a letter from two Reed students of colour that was being distributed among alumni like a piece of samizdat. The students didn’t reveal their names for fear of being ostracised, but they described a campus that had been overtaken by militants who routinely shamed as racists anyone who didn’t agree with them. One of those singled out had been a freshman named Hunter Dillman who had been branded a racist after asking the organiser of a Latina student group an innocent question. He was ultimately hounded off campus. . .

At the beginning of the first semester, as [Dillman] was going to dinner with a friend, he read a Facebook post from the leader of a Latina group who wrote that her group planned to ‘Stop Trump’ and asked fellow students for support in a school funding survey. He was curious and considered getting involved. After he asked her a couple of times to be more specific about how the group planned to stop Trump, she accused him of being a racist for challenging a Latina student support group. He responded that if her group called people racist just for asking questions, he had no intention of voting to fund it.

A few minutes later, when the Latina activist happened to meet him waiting in line at the dining hall, she continued her accusations and called him a ‘little white boy’. Shaken, he took his food back to his room and tried to eat as he watched in horror as comment after comment about him appeared on Facebook, denouncing him as a bigot.

The next day, as he was walking across campus, a student screamed ‘Racist!’ at him. The accusers never came up to talk to him, but the online abuse kept coming.

It gets even worse from here (especially the actions of Reed’s administration, which sided with the mob against Dillman), and Dillman ended up withdrawing from Reed. He’s a construction worker now, and likely will have a much happier life for it.

I repeat for the umpteenth time: Liberals run universities. When are liberals going to start defending liberalism?


The case of Fusion GPS

Posted: 18 Oct 2017 06:36 AM PDT

(Scott Johnson)

The so-called strategic intelligence firm Fusion GPS is behind the infamous Trump Dossier. The dossier is one of the keys to the anti-Trump hysteria in which we have been engulfed since the election. Who paid for the Trump Dossier? The House Intelligence Committee has issued subpoenas to figure out what happened and at whose behest. Fusion GPS, however, won’t say. The company’s lawyer has submitted a 17-page list of reasons why the company won’t comply. Something is happening here. It is a most peculiar matter.

A Fox News/AP report asserts that the attorney’s letter signals the company’s refusal to comply with the committee subpoenas. The letter states that if any of the Fusion GPS employees who have been subpoenaed (Glenn Simpson and two others) are compelled to appear before the committee, they will exercise their “privileges” not to testify. Byron York has more on the letter here.

The Fifth Amendment protects against compelled self-incrimination. The Fusion GPS lawyer apparently also added some palaver about First Amendment rights, but I take it that is cover against the inferences reasonable people should draw from the assertion of a Fifth Amendment privilege. I hope that the committee will compel the witnesses to appear and assert their “privileges.” Let’s hear it.

Yesterday Bret Baier broadcast Catherine Herridge’s interesting report. It exposes the company’s smear tactics in the case of Venezuelan journalist Alek Boyd.

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