November 27, 2015 – CLIMATE REPORT

Click on WORD or PDF for full content



The ship of fools will be visiting Paris next week for the Climate Summit. Take that, ISIS! Time for another CLIMATE REPORT.


Just to prove some college professors have played the part of idiots for a long time, Real Science has found a 1941 paper from Cincinnati that quotes a U of Cinncy prof who says it was climate problems that caused Hitler. He says warmer weather makes people more docile. Just for added grins they included in the post some stuff from CIA pukes in 1974 and 1976 that predicted global instability caused by a cooling climate. 

CLIMATE – there’s nothing it can’t do! 

And here, all along, Pickerhead thought that was solely the power of bacon.




Steve Hayward of Power Line says the New Yorker is trying to be as silly as the NY Times.

Oh, good grief. The New Yorker is trying to give the New York Times a run for its money as the most pathetic attempt to put The Onion out of business:

Why a Climate Deal Is the Best Hope for Peace

By Jason Box and Naomi Klein

. . . The connection between warming temperatures and the cycle of Syrian violence is, by now, uncontroversial. As Secretary of State John Kerry said in Virginia, this month, “It’s not a coincidence that, immediately prior to the civil war in Syria, the country experienced its worst drought on record. As many as 1.5 million people migrated from Syria’s farms to its cities, intensifying the political unrest that was just beginning to roil and boil in the region.” …’




Some scientists say the Climate Summit is based on nonsense. Climate Depot has the story.

A team of prominent scientists gathered in Texas today at a climate summit to declare that fears of man-made global warming were “irrational” and “based on nonsense” that “had nothing to do with science.” They warned that “we are being led down a false path” by the upcoming UN climate summit in Paris.

The scientists appeared at a climate summit sponsored by the Texas Public Policy Foundation. The summit in Austin was titled: “At the Crossroads: Energy & Climate Policy Summit.”

Climate Scientist Dr. Richard Lindzen, an emeritus Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at MIT, derided what he termed climate “catastrophism.”

“Demonization of CO2 is irrational at best and even modest warming is mostly beneficial,” Lindzen said.

Lindzen cautioned: “The most important thing to keep in mind is – when you ask ‘is it warming, is it cooling’, etc.  — is that we are talking about something tiny (temperature changes) and that is the crucial point.”

Lindzen also challenged the oft-repeated UN IPCC claim that most of warming over past 50 years was due to mankind. …




Ed Rogers understands why the upcoming Paris climate change conference is perfect for this president. Yes, this is a repeat from the last Climate Report. But, this post is about climate fools so recycling is appropriate. 

After failing at almost every foreign policy challenge he has been confronted with, perhaps there is now something on the horizon that actually sets up nicely for President Obama. The Paris Conference on Climate Change, which will be held from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, could be an event that perfectly matches his skills and interests.

The U.N.-sponsored Paris festival lends itself to unrealistic giveaways and meaningless rhetoric — the more self-righteous and pretentious, the better. The meeting won’t produce any particular result, and the day of reckoning where we find out it was all for naught won’t be scientifically determined until many years in the future. It seems well-suited for this president.

All Obama has to do is go to Paris, give a vapid speech about saving the planet, capitulate to those who would like to see the United States weakened, pretend that others will fulfill their pledges to reduce carbon emissions and then return home to a round of self-congratulations from his own staff and sycophant appointees. To follow up on his brave proposals, all he has to do is sign a couple of executive orders that slap American businesses with some gratuitous, onerous regulations and declare that a noble deed has been done. And, by the way, the White House will have to do whatever it takes to keep any agreement reached in Paris from being voted on in Congress. …




John Barrasso, Wyoming senator, says Congress can cool off obama’s climate plans.

When the U.N. climate-change talks convene in Paris next week, the risks will be high for American taxpayers. President Obama wants a climate deal and is willing to pay dearly to get it. The inevitable outcome is a plan with unproven benefits and unreachable goals, but very real costs. It will be up to Congress to check the president’s ambition of committing the U.S. to an international green scheme that will produce little or no return.

The ostensible goal of the Paris talks (Nov. 30-Dec. 11) is to convince countries to commit to enacting laws that reduce carbon emissions. That fits President Obama’s vision of a world without fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. The American people oppose these policies, but the president has shown himself determined to circumvent Congress.

The Obama administration has already imposed burdensome regulations—for instance, the sprawling Clean Power Plan aimed at wiping out the coal industry—that will raise the cost of energy and put hundreds of thousands of Americans out of work. Now the president wants his negotiators to use these international climate talks to pile on more restrictions. …



Actually, the earth is coming into a cold spell reports the Nation.

The sun will go into “hibernation” mode around 2030, and it has already started to get sleepy. At the Royal Astronomical Society’s annual meeting in July, Professor Valentina Zharkova of NorthumbriaUniversity in the UK confirmed it – the sun will begin its Maunder Minimum (Grand Solar Minimum) in 15 years. Other scientists had suggested years ago that this change was imminent, but Zharkova’s model is said to have near-perfect accuracy.

So what is a “solar minimum”?

Our sun doesn’t maintain a constant intensity. Instead, it cycles in spans of approximately 11 years. When it’s at its maximum, it has the highest number of sunspots on its surface in that particular cycle. When it’s at its minimum, it has almost none. When there are more sunspots, the sun is brighter. When there are fewer, the sun radiates less heat toward Earth.

But that’s not the only cooling effect of a solar minimum. A dim sun doesn’t deflect cosmic rays away from Earth as efficiently as a bright sun. So, when these rays enter our atmosphere, they seed clouds, which in turn cool our planet even more and increase precipitation in the form of rain, snow and hail. …


… Other researchers and organisations are also predicting global cooling – the Russian Academy of Science, the Astronomical Institute of the Slovak Academy of Scientists, the Institute of Terrestrial Magnetism Russia, Victor Manuel Velesco Herrera at the National University of Mexico, the Bulgarian Institute of Astronomy, Dr Tim Patterson at Carleton University in Canada, Drs Lin Zhen at Nanjing University in China, just to name a few.

For now nevertheless, the IPCC and other authoritative agencies are sticking to their CO2-dominant climate-forcing theory. They attribute the cold spells to a disruption in the jet stream caused by Anthropogenic Global Warming. Some of their theories have heads being scratched, for instance the “pause” in global warming they attribute to heat being absorbed deep into the oceans. When Antarctic ice reached record levels in 2013, scientists were “baffled” because the water beneath the ice was warm, they claimed. In climate science old and new, nothing is certain.

We conclude with a bit of good news, though. Recent research has determined that the famous Stradivarius violin owes its unique, esteemed sound to the last Maunder Minimum. The solar condition changed the texture of the trees that provided the wood from which the instrument was crafted. So lovers of classical music can place their orders for the next generation of incomparable violins, coming – giving the trees time to mature – in about 100 years.



Meanwhile polar bears are doing great. The story from Breitbart

Global polar bear populations are at a fifty-year record high. Yet the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has just released a study suggesting that they are doomed.

Which version of events should we believe?

Well that all depends on where you prefer to place your trust: on reality or on computer models concocted by activists who desperately want the polar bear to retain its status as the ursine victim of the man-made global warming apocalypse.

If you prefer to go with reality, here’s the good news from Susan Crockford, who puts the global polar bear population at a very healthy 26,000. This would mean, she has noted before, that the population has increased by around 4,200 since 2001.

Ironically, the IUCN—the world’s leading conservation monitoring body, responsible for producing the “Red List” which classifies endangered species—agrees with her estimates. What it won’t do is admit that the news is good. (Well, good if you think having lots of extra polar bears is good. I’m not so sure. I’d agree with my friend Steven Crowder that actually they are evil: one of only two species—the other being the Saltwater crocodile—which deliberately hunts down human beings as prey). …

November 23, 2015

Click on WORD or PDF for full content



Our last post covered the president and some of his foreign policy failures. We were looking for other subjects, but events intrude. Of course our favorites have found fault, but today’s post is bookended by Ron Fournier of the National Journal and David Remnick of The New Yorker. Two more reliably left/liberal types could hardly be found. So we post again on the empty suit in the White House.


Fournier is first with his essay titled – Leaderless. 

In his mem­oir, Le­on Pan­etta ar­gued that for all of Barack Obama’s strengths, he is miss­ing an es­sen­tial in­gredi­ent of lead­er­ship. He lacks “fire,” wrote Obama’s former CIA dir­ect­or and Pentagon chief. “The pres­id­ent re­lies on the lo­gic of a law pro­fess­or rather than the pas­sion of a lead­er.”

Obama has proved Pan­etta right again and again dur­ing his pres­id­ency, but nev­er more dan­ger­ously so than with his shoulder-shrug ap­proach to IS­IS. Obama called it a “J.V. team” be­fore it star­ted be­head­ing Amer­ic­ans. He said it was “con­tained” be­fore it at­tacked Par­is. Now he’s call­ing it “a bunch of killers with good so­cial me­dia.

That’s how you de­scribe a street gang—a bunch of killers with good so­cial me­dia. The Is­lam­ic State is no street gang.

Ob­ject­ive ob­serv­ers from across the polit­ic­al spec­trum took ex­cep­tion to Obama’s tone. This from Frank Bruni, a lib­er­al-minded New York Times colum­nist: …

… On IS­IS, Obama breaks every rule. He min­im­izes the threat and dis­misses our fears, which raises doubts about his candor and cap­ab­il­ity. An over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of Amer­ic­ans dis­ap­prove of his hand­ling of IS­IS, a new poll shows, and 81 per­cent think IS­IS will strike the United States.

In Ju­ly 2013, six months in­to his second term, I wrote a column that ques­tioned wheth­er Obama would ful­fill his enorm­ous po­ten­tial, wheth­er he even cared any­more about his prom­ises to change Wash­ing­ton, wheth­er he could write the mod­ern rules of the pres­id­ency and build a new bully pul­pit. I asked, “What if Obama can’t lead?”

I now have my an­swer.



Next we have the weekly USA Today column by Glenn Reynolds who is a law professor in Tennessee and blogs at Instapundit.

When President Obama spoke in Washington about the terrorist attacks in Paris, he was curiously unable to raise much passion. The passion came out only later in Turkey when he started attacking Republicans. Those attacks continued throughout that week, with charges that people who oppose resettling Syrian refugees in America are somehow xenophobic haters who are not in touch with American values.

There are two problems with this line of attack for President Obama. The first is that it isn’t true: The opponents of refugee resettlement aren’t xenophobic haters, but ordinary Americans — and, in fact, include roughly a fourth of the House Democratic Caucus, who voted with Republicans to limit refugee resettlement.

The second problem is that Obama himself is the source of the Syrian refugee crisis. But don’t take it from me. Listen to foreign-affairs expert Walter Russell Mead, an original Obama supporter himself: “To see the full cynicism of the Obama approach to the refugee issue,” Mead wrote in The American Interest, ”one has only to ask President Obama’s least favorite question: Why is there a Syrian refugee crisis in the first place?”

Mead continued, “Obama’s own policy decisions — allowing Assad to convert peaceful demonstrations into an increasingly ugly civil war, refusing to declare safe havens and no fly zones — were instrumental in creating the Syrian refugee crisis. This crisis is in large part the direct consequence of President Obama’s decision to stand aside and watch Syria burn. For him to try and use a derisory and symbolic program to allow 10,000 refugees into the United States in order to posture as more caring than those evil Jacksonian rednecks out in the benighted sticks is one of the most cynical, cold-blooded, and nastily divisive moves an American president has made in a long time.” …

… In 2008, a substantial chunk of American voters chose to take a holiday from history and go with “hope and change.” In 2012, they chose to ignore Mitt Romney — whose warnings about everything from Russian adventurism to terrorism in Mali have borne fruit — in order to continue that holiday.

The holiday is over now, and the bills are due. The next president will find undoing this damage a tough job.



And David Goldman in his Spengler guise at Asia Times essays on Vladimir Putin – the Leader of the Free World. 

… In 2008 I endorsed Putin for the American presidency, in jest, of course. Now he is leading America’s president by the nose and directing the anti-terror efforts of France and Germany. No-one could have anticipated Putin’s sudden ascent to global leadership during the past several weeks. Russia is in the position of a vulture fund, buying the distressed assets of the Western alliance for pennies on the dollar. Faced with an American president who will not fight, and his European allies whose military capacity has shrunk to near insignificance, the Russian Federation seized the helm with the deployment of a mere three dozen war planes and an expeditionary force of 5,000 men. One searches in vain through diplomatic history to find another case where so much was done with so little. As an American, I feel a deep humiliation at this turn of events, assuaged only slightly by Schadenfreude at the even deeper humiliation of America’s foreign policy establishment.

The world runs by different rules than it did just a few weeks ago. Putin has answered the question I asked in September (“Vladimir Putin: Spoiler or Statesman?”). President Obama declared at the Nov. 17 Antalya summit, “From the start, I’ve also welcomed Moscow going after ISIL…We’re going to wait to see whether, in fact, Russia does end up devoting attention to targets that are ISIL targets, and if it does so, then that’s something we welcome.” After this week’s Russian and French airstrikes on ISIS’ stronghold in Raqqa, that is a moot point. It seems like another epoch when Mitt Romney declared that Russia was America’s greatest geopolitical threat. Russia, on the contrary, is pulling America’s chestnuts out of the fire. Obama is utterly feckless; by the time the next American president is sworn in, the world will be a difference place. Ukraine? Never heard of it. …



More from David Greenfield in his Sultan Knish blog.

… When reporters ask Obama how he plans to win the war, he smirks tiredly at them and launches into another condescending explanation about how the situation is far too complicated for anything as simple as bombs to work. Underneath that explanation is the belief that wars are unwinnable.

Obama knows that Americans won’t accept “war just doesn’t work” as an answer to Islamic terrorism. So he demonstrates to them that wars don’t work by fighting wars that are meant to fail.

In Afghanistan, he bled American soldiers as hard as possible with vicious rules of engagement that favored the Taliban to destroy support for a war that most of the country had formerly backed. By blowing the war, Obama was not only sabotaging the specific implementation of a policy he opposed, but the general idea behind it. His failed wars are meant to teach Americans that war doesn’t work.

The unspoken idea that informs his strategy is that American power is the root cause of the problems in the region. Destroying ISIS would solve nothing. Containing American power is the real answer.

Obama does not have a strategy for defeating ISIS. He has a strategy for defeating America. …


… Obama responded to ISIS by denying it’s a threat. Once that stopped being a viable strategy, he began to stall for time. And he’s still stalling for time, not to beat ISIS, but to wait until ISIS falls out of the headlines. That has been his approach to all his scandals from ObamaCare to the IRS to the VA.

Lie like crazy and wait for people to forget about it and turn their attention to something else.

This is a containment strategy, but not for ISIS. It’s a containment strategy for America. Obama isn’t trying to bottle up ISIS except as a means of bottling up America. He doesn’t see the Caliph of the Islamic State as the real threat, but the average American who watches the latest beheading on the news and wonders why his government doesn’t do something about it. To the left it isn’t the Caliph of ISIS who starts the wars we ought to worry about, but Joe in Tennessee, Bill in California or Pete in Minnesota.

That is why Obama sounds bored when talking about beating ISIS, but heats up when the conversation turns to fighting Republicans. It’s why Hillary Clinton named Republicans, not ISIS, as her enemy. …



Today the New Yorker published David Remnick’s report on a group of Syrian refugees who are fighting ISIS. This nugget was in the report. And if the president was a Republican, you can bet this would have far more detailed and elaborate.

… The members of R.B.S.S. are utterly frustrated with the efforts of the West to defeat both Assad, who has fended off the opposition so far, and ISIS, which has suffered recent losses in Iraq and Syria, but which has proved capable of exacting suffering from Sinai to Beirut to Paris.

“The problem the Syrian people have with the United States is that we are suffering for five years with barrel bombs,” one R.B.S.S. journalist said. “Assad has killed so many innocents, and many people have lost hope. After Assad’s chemical attack, when he crossed the so-called ‘red line,’ the U.S. just took the weapons. It made America look like a liar and weak. …


The cartoons are good too.

November 21, 2015 – PRESIDENT PETULANT

Click on WORD or PDF for full content



After the Paris attacks the president got really angry – at Americans, says Michael Barone.

Three days after the Islamic State terrorist attacks in Paris, Americans were primed to hear their president express heartfelt anger, which he did in his press conference in Antalya, Turkey, at the end of the G-20 summit. And they did hear him describe ISIS as “this barbaric terrorist organization” and acknowledge that the “terrible events in Paris were a terrible and sickening setback.”

But what really got him angry, as the transcript and video make clear, were reporters’ repeated questions about the minimal success of his strategy against ISIS; Republicans’ proposals for more active engagement in Syria and Iraq; and critics of his decision to allow 10,000 Syrians into the United States. …




Robert Tracinski, at the Federalist, calls him the worst president ever.

… It’s clear that the prospect of imposing gun control domestically gets Obama riled up. Fighting the enemies of America overseas does not. But the first of these goals is actually prohibited to him by the Constitution — while the second is mandated for him. I don’t know if we’ve ever seen a president whose personal priorities are so out of sync with the actual demands of his office.

The administration’s reaction has only gotten worse as it has had more days to respond. On Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry let out the howler that the terrorist attack in France earlier this year — wiping out the headquarters of a satirical magazine that had offended radical Muslims — was kind of understandable.

There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that. There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of—not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, okay, they’re really angry because of this and that. This Friday was absolutely indiscriminate. It wasn’t to aggrieve one particular sense of wrong. It was to terrorize people.

To be sure, this sentiment didn’t come from Obama himself. But he hired Kerry, who has a record of making horribly insensitive statements. He is the same guy who thought a James Taylor song was an appropriate response to the Charlie Hebdo massacre — and Obama apparently agreed that this would make up for skipping out on an international unity rally in support of France. So maybe we know now why the administration couldn’t really get mobilized to show support for Charlie Hebdo: deep down, they thought the magazine had it coming.

Obama’s administration can’t even get the easy, symbolic stuff right. But the real problem is the substance of his response.

That brings us to Obama’s petty, peevish press conference on Monday. …

… This is one of those moments when you almost appreciate the parliamentary system, which can hold a vote of no confidence in the chief executive. You want to talk about popping off? If Obama is traumatized and overwhelmed by the job of being commander-in-chief, he can pop off to the golf course and clear the way for someone else to do it.




More from Peter Wehner.

We all know people of towering arrogance and we all know people of staggering incompetence, but Barack Obama is quite possibly the perfect package. No one on the scene today combines these two qualities in quite the same way as Mr. Obama.

On the incompetence side, and sticking just with the president’s policies and record in the greater Middle East, there is Mr. Obama’s mishandling of the rise of the Islamic State, which just last year he referred to as the “jayvee team” and just last week declared was “contained.” Recall his threat to Syrian President Assad that if Assad used chemical weapons on his own people it would constitute crossing a “red line” (Assad did and Obama did nothing), and his stop-start-stop support for opposition forces in Syria.

Then there is the president’s decision to pull out all American troops from Iraq, which had disastrous consequences; his failures in Afghanistan (including announcing a withdrawal date even as he was announcing a surge in troops); his bungled relations with Egypt; his failure to support the Green Revolution in Iran in 2009 and his nuclear deal with Iran in 2015, which Charles Krauthammer called ”the worst agreement in U.S. diplomatic history.” Add to that Mr. Obama declaring his policies in Libya, Yemen and Somalia to be models of success before things collapses in all three countries, his alienation and mistreatment of Israel, and his botched handling of relations with our Arab allies – not to mention policies that have allowed Russia a presence in the Middle East unlike any its had since Anwar Sadat expelled the Soviet Union from Egypt in the early 1970s – and you have a catastrophic foreign policy record. It was only in the summer of last year that the Wall Street Journal reported, “The breadth of global instability now unfolding hasn’t been seen since the late 1970s” – and things are more disordered, chaotic and violent now then it was then. Things are so bad that the president has even lost CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. …



And Jonathan Tobin.

… the main takeaway from Obama’s presser is not so much that he is unwilling to consider alternatives to an American strategy that offers little hope of defeating ISIS. Just as important is his dogged refusal to admit that he has failed in spite of the manifest evidence that American policy is an ongoing disaster. That’s a terrible failing in any man, let alone a commander-in-chief. But it is particularly bad for Obama because, at least when viewed from this perspective, because it proves that the keynote of his entire presidency is a falsehood. Throughout the last seven years, Democrats have justified everything that Obama has done, good or bad, on the basis of the contrast with the supposedly failed administration of George W. Bush.

Most of us may agree that the decision to invade Iraq was a mistake and there is much else to criticize about the Bush presidency. But when faced with the disaster that the insurgency created after Saddam’s fall, Bush did not pretend that all was well as Obama did today. Though he was no more eager to admit failure than anyone else, Bush did not double down on a strategy that was going nowhere. At the end of 2006 with the war at a stalemate, he faced up to facts. He sacked his secretary of defense and switched strategies allowing the troop surge that would during the course of the next two years turn the war to America’s favor. By the time that Obama came into office, he had inherited a stable situation that he could declare Iraq to be a war that had been won.

Obama threw away that victory by abandoning Iraq and opened the door for ISIS. …



Using Leon Trotsky’s admonition about war, Noah Rothman suggests how to proceed against ISIS.  

… American policy has not been to eliminate it but to confine the Islamic State to its fluid borders. Barack Obama reluctantly swore to lead a multinational coalition designed to “degrade and destroy” the organization, but the practical effects of his nearly 18-month-long campaign have been to do what he admitted yesterday: to “contain” the Islamic State. The West is war-weary. We wanted nothing less than renewed war in the Middle East, but the resulting disengagement is precisely what allowed the ISIS threat to mature and to metastasize. Even if the Paris attack is linked to another terrorist network in the region, it is a clear indication that a terrorist incubator in Iraq and Syria cannot be allowed to survive. This is a proto-state that must be crushed, not only in service to the shared human values and treasures this organization has busily been destroying but in service to the preservation of national security. 

No one wants perpetual war, but that is precisely what the West has invited with its displays of faltering resolution and its commitment to conduct a war with the smallest possible footprint. Meanwhile, Western values are slowly eroded as we grow more comfortable with soldiers on the streets, metadata retention programs, and theatrical displays like TSA airport screenings. There cannot be a “new normal” while one side of this conflict is continually reshaping what “normal” means. The Islamic State will not be destroyed from the air. The handful of Special Forces and U.S. advisors on the ground in Iraq and Syria cannot neutralize this threat. ISIS cannot be contained. Only an overwhelming force can accomplish the necessary task of destroying the Islamic State. What’s more, it is the responsibility of the civilized world to destroy it. …


The cartoonists have a field day.

November 16, 2015 – HIGHER ED

Click on WORD or PDF for full content



Turning away from the problems in the administration’s foreign policy, we return to their disaster doubling the amount of student loans. First off is the NY Times which has come to think student debt is worse than bien pensants have thought. But you knew that because you’ve been reading Pickings. 

After a series of blockbuster hearings held 25 years ago on abuses in the higher education industry, Congress created a system to protect undergraduates from risky student loans.

But two weeks ago, the Education Department released a trove of new data suggesting that the system is failing and that, at some colleges, the saddling of students with loans they cannot afford to pay down is far more dire than anyone knew.

The loan crisis hits hardest at colleges enrolling large numbers of students from low-income backgrounds. These undergraduates have to borrow for college, then often have difficulty finding well-paying jobs after graduation — if they graduate at all. …

… In September, the department made a different calculation. Instead of default rates, the department calculated nonrepayment rates, which include both defaulters and borrowers who have never paid a single dollar of principal on their loans.

The nonrepayment category includes people who are only paying interest, have delayed making payments by enrolling in graduate school or are getting loan extensions. The nonrepayment rates were calculated over a longer time period: at one, three, five and seven years after students leave college.

Some of the numbers are startling. American National University — a for-profit chain offering degrees in business, health care and information technology, both online and at 30 campuses in six Midwestern states — has an official default rate of 8.5 percent, well below the national average of 11.8 percent. But its five-year nonrepayment rate is 71 percent. Even after seven years, most of the university’s students, the large majority of whom borrow, have failed to pay back a penny of their loans. …

… Among both public and private nonprofit institutions, the debt problem is most acute when students with very little money attend colleges with very little money. All 25 of the public universities with the highest five-year nonrepayment rates are historically black institutions. Of the 25 private colleges with the worst nonrepayment rates, 22 are historically black. One example, Lane College in Jackson, Tenn., has a 12.9 percent default rate but a 78.2 percent nonrepayment rate.

Historically black colleges are neither unusually expensive nor profligate institutions. Most have served their communities for decades or longer, enduring racism and inadequate funding while enrolling young people who are often low-income, first-generation college students. As a result, despite the fact that tuition at historically black colleges is often much lower than at well-heeled private colleges, a vast majority of their students borrow.

That so many graduates of black colleges struggle to repay their loans may exacerbate racial wealth disparities. These nonrepayment rates, moreover, do not include the private loans that many students take out once their federal aid is exhausted, or the debt that parents are increasingly carrying to pay for their children’s college educations.

The new data may prompt Congress to revisit its system for ensuring that students who take on debt have a fighting chance to pay it back.



Megan McArdle of Bloomberg News wonders what we’re buying with $1,000,000,000,000 (That’s a trillion) in student loans.

College is expensive, and getting more so every year. Since most families don’t have tens of thousands of dollars lying around, the government has responded with ever-more-generous student loan programs.

First there were the loans themselves, with interest subsidized while you’re in school. Then, when that proved inadequate, we instituted income-based repayment, allowing students to cap their payments at a percentage of their discretionary income (stretching out the loan, and getting forgiveness on any balance remaining after 25 years). Then, since that wasn’t quite enough, we made the terms more generous. Now the Obama administration has announced that it’s making 5 million more people eligible for the program.

You know what they say about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. This is certifiable. College is too expensive, so have the government make it easier to finance — then keep shifting more and more of the cost burden to the government, without doing anything about the underlying cost inflation that is making it necessary for government to get into the finance business.

Obviously, this can’t go on indefinitely. …



Richard Vedder of PopeCenter lists seven ways the Fed Ed Department has made higher Ed worse.

… The 30 years between 1950 and 1980 were the Golden Age of American higher education. The proportion of adult Americans with college degrees nearly tripled, going from 6 to 17 percent. Enrollments quintupled, going from 2.3 to 12.1 million. 

By the end of the period, the number of doctorates awarded in engineering had quintupled and over 40 percent of Nobel Prizes were going to individuals associated with American universities. 

This was the era in which higher education went from serving the elite and mostly well-to-do to serving many individuals from modest economic circumstance. State government support for higher education rose dramatically—spending per student rose roughly 70 percent after inflation. 

During this period, however, the federal role was quite modest. …

… Compare the Golden Age to the post-Department of Education era (1980 to 2015). While college attainment has continued to grow, in percentage terms the growth has slowed. But that is not all. Let me briefly enumerate seven other unfortunate trends.

First, of course, education costs have soared. Tuition fees rose more than three percent a year in inflation-adjusted terms, far faster than people’s incomes. As new research from the New York Federal Reserve Bank demonstrates, rising federal student financial aid programs are the primary factor in this phenomenon.

If tuition fees had risen as fast after 1978 as in the four decades before, they would be about one-half the level they are today, and the student debt crisis would not have occurred. Presidential candidates would not be talking about “free” tuition. …

… Sixth, the Department is guilty of regulatory excesses and bureaucratic blunders. For example, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) imposes a “preponderance of evidence” standard on colleges in sexual assault cases that violates American ideals regarding due process and fair treatment of accused. Twenty-eight members of the law faculty at Harvard, among others, have bitterly complained about that, but the OCR continues its crusade. 

Also, the form required of applicants for federal student aid (FAFSA) is Byzantine in its complexity—the 2006 Spellings Commission criticized it severely—but nothing important has been done about it.

Seventh, the one arguably useful function of the Department is to provide information to consumers and taxpayers about college performance. Yet Department bureaucrats have done very little to give useful information on student learning, post-graduate success, consumer satisfaction, et cetera. …



And in the Washington Post a former editor of the Chronicle of Education writes on how baby boomers have presided over a disaster in higher Ed.

Fifty years ago this week, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Higher Education Act, ushering in an era of massive federal support for college students through a flurry of new programs: tuition grants, guaranteed student loans, and work-study funds. The law allowed a much greater swath of Americans to earn a college degree regardless of their family income. During the following decades, enrollment at campuses across the country grew threefold, to some 20 million students.

But today, Johnson’s vision of the Higher Education Act as a great equalizer in the American economy is at risk. Indeed, the divide between the haves and have-nots in higher education is almost as great today as it was in the mid-1960s. In the past decade alone, the percentage of students from families at the highest income levels who received a bachelor’s degree has grown to 82 percent, while for those at the bottom it has fallen to just 8 percent.

Who is to blame for this growing divide? In large part, the same generation that mostly benefited from the original ideal of the law: the Baby Boomers.

When that generation went to college in the 1960s and 1970s, many of them paid little in tuition at nearly-free public institutions or received generous federal and state grants that paid for most of their bachelor’s degree. But during the past two decades, as members of that same generation came to power — in Washington, in state legislatures, or as college presidents and trustees — they presided over the decay of the basic building blocks of the Higher Education Act as they drastically increased tuition and pulled back on financial aid.

In a column last week about how Baby Boomers are to blame for much of what’s wrong with the American economy, The Washington Post’s Jim Tankersley mentioned how college costs have more than doubled since the early 1980s. But Tankersley’s list of grievances with the Baby Boomers didn’t go far enough when it comes to higher education. A college degree has become much less affordable for families in recent years largely because public officials and college leaders have abandoned three basic elements of the original Higher Education Act: …



Another day without cartoons, but from a blog in Canada, Syrup Trap, we learn about a wayward coyote who wandered onto a campus in British Columbia. Certain predictable mishaps have befallen the canine.

VANCOUVER (The News Desk) — A coyote that has been seen wandering around the campus of the University of British Columbia has suddenly found himself with more than $21,000 in outstanding student loan debt.

“I don’t know, yesterday I lost my way in the forest and ended up wandering around the campus for a few hours. Next thing I know, I’m getting an email from the NSLSC saying that my loans are going into repayment,” said the coyote.

“I am not in a position to take on this much debt right now.”

The coyote told press that his predicament is proof of how much the costs of higher education have spiraled out of control in recent years.

“All I did was eat a squirrel near the Main Library and make eye contact with a professor. Many students spend five, sometimes six years bathing, breeding and foraging on this campus. I can’t imagine what their costs are like.”

Vice-president Students Louise Cowin said that students should not expect exemption from student fees just because they are wildlife.

“I don’t care if you’re an animal — a wolf or a bird or whatever. Many of our students manage to complete undergraduate degrees without displaying any higher-order cognitive functioning.”

November 14, 2015 – PARIS

Click on WORD or PDF for full content



Yesterday morning the president declared ISIS had been “contained.” With that in mind, Mark Steyn posts on last night’s attacks in Paris.

… With his usual killer comedy timing, the “leader of the free world” told George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning, America” this very morning that he’d “contained” ISIS and that they’re not “gaining strength”. A few hours later, a cell whose members claim to have been recruited by ISIS slaughtered over 150 people in the heart of Paris and succeeded in getting two suicide bombers and a third bomb to within a few yards of the French president.

Visiting the Bataclan, M Hollande declared that “nous allons mener le combat, il sera impitoyable”: We are going to wage a war that will be pitiless.

Does he mean it? Or is he just killing time until Obama and Cameron and Merkel and Justin Trudeau and Malcolm Turnbull fly in and they can all get back to talking about sea levels in the Maldives in the 22nd century? By which time France and Germany and Belgium and Austria and the Netherlands will have been long washed away.

Among his other coy evasions, President Obama described tonight’s events as “an attack not just on Paris, it’s an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share”.

But that’s not true, is it? He’s right that it’s an attack not just on Paris or France. What it is is an attack on the west, on the civilization that built the modern world – an attack on one portion of “humanity” by those who claim to speak for another portion of “humanity”. And these are not “universal values” but values that spring from a relatively narrow segment of humanity. They were kinda sorta “universal” when the great powers were willing to enforce them around the world and the colonial subjects of ramshackle backwaters such as Aden, Sudan and the North-West Frontier Province were at least obliged to pay lip service to them. But the European empires retreated from the world, and those “universal values” are utterly alien to large parts of the map today. …




Roger Simon is a more direct than Steyn. 

I am not going to blame Barack Obama entirely for what happened in Paris Friday — but mostly.  And that’s not just because he famously called ISIS the jayvee team, when they are now unequivocally the New York Yankees or the Manchester United of terror, repellent as that analogy may be (he started it).

But what is clear from the carnage at The Bataclan theatre and elsewhere in Paris that we will be studying for weeks or months to come is that the West has no leader in our evident civilizational war — no Churchill, no Roosevelt, no de Gaulle, not even a George W. Bush.  It’s certainly not Barack Obama, a ludicrous man who thinks the world’s greatest problem is climate change in the face of Islamic terror.  This is the same man who oversaw, indeed instigated, a large-scale American démarche for the first time since World War II.

And look what happened. …



Same with John Podhoretz

“We’ve gone through these episodes ourselves,” President Obama said Friday afternoon in explaining how the “heartbreaking” events in Paris were resonating with Americans. Well, no, we haven’t. We haven’t been through an episode of this kind, ever. We haven’t had a soccer stadium bombed and a concert venue occupied and three gathering places shot up simultaneously. We have not experienced urban warfare executed by a terrorist organization using a combination of suicide bombers and gunmen. We’ve had 9/11, and we had the Tsarnaev brothers, and we’ve had lone shooters. Combining these approaches is a horror we’ve yet to undergo. About these things, we are innocents.

The question is how much longer we will be. If one assumes this was an ISIS operation, that would mean the group may be engaged in a systematic effort against countries that have announced a common goal of extirpating it. And it may be doing so on an accelerated schedule. Two weeks ago, ISIS apparently took down a Russian airliner. Yesterday, it went wild in Paris. Where next? Germany? Australia? Turkey? 

Or here in the U.S.? …



And Andrew McCarthy.

There is always the chance that the next attack will knock the scales from our eyes. Always the chance that we will realize the enemy is at war with us, even as we foolishly believe we can end the war by not fighting it, by surrendering.

As this is written, the death count in Paris is 158. That number will grow higher, and very many more will be counted among the wounded and terrorized.

“Allahu Akbar!” cried the jihadists as they killed innocent after French innocent. The commentators told us it means “God is great.” But it doesn’t. It means “Allah is greater!” It is a comparative, a cry of combative aggression: “Our God is mightier than yours.” It is central to a construction of Islam, mainstream in the Middle East, that sees itself at war with the West.

It is what animates our enemies.

Barack Obama tells us — harangues us — that he is the president who came to end wars. Is that noble? Reflective of an America that honors “our values”? No, it is juvenile. …


No cartoons today. Nothing humorous about living in an obviously leaderless country.

November 11, 2015

Click on WORD or PDF for full content




John Hinderaker has a post on  the growing availability of oil.

… So for thirty-eight years, our government has been predicting the demise of fossil fuel energy and subsidizing, to varying degrees but amounting cumulatively to many billions of dollars, solar and wind energy. What has the result been?

This chart tells the story. It plots global energy consumption from 1965 to the present; you can see the contributions of solar and wind power as a virtually straight line, approximating zero, across the bottom of the graph: …

… The world’s energy story is almost all about developing coal, oil and natural gas resources. Nuclear energy makes a contribution, although it is severely limited by hostility from so-called environmentalists and most of the world’s governments. Solar and wind are a joke, existing mainly because they provide opportunities for graft. And nothing about this picture has changed since 1977.



Road & Track on how to get the best rental car.

Consider this: Whenever you plan a trip, you spend hours poring over the details. The right hotel location and amenities. Which airline to fly. Restaurants, excursions, nightlife. Yet after you’ve done all of that, you select the cheapest rental car you can find and accept whatever happens. What’s that about?

You can do much better. How do I know? I’m on the road for work more than 40 weeks a year. I’ve landed at 76 different airports in the United States, and, in the past five years, I’ve rented nearly 150 cars. For me, travel isn’t just an activity, it’s a way of life. So when I see people making mistakes with their travel planning, I feel obligated to help. Here are some pointers and rules that will keep you in the best cars at any rental agency.

Pick Your Own Car 

Whenever possible, you should choose a rental car agency that allows you to pick your own car—either a specific model when you make your reservation, or from a much wider selection upon arrival. Otherwise, you stand a good chance of getting a Sonic LS just because the attendant behind the counter is having a bad day. Hertz is the only company that allows you to pick a specific model online when you make a reservation, but it’s only from the class that you’ve paid for—no upgrades.

The best option: Several companies have special programs that give you a choice of cars at larger locations upon arrival, including National’s Emerald Aisle and Hertz’s Gold Choice. You can sign up to be a member of their reward programs at no cost to you. Once you do, you can pay the midsize rate and then you’re free to select any car that they have in their Emerald Aisle or Gold Choice areas. With National, after 12 annual rentals, you get bumped up to Executive, which gives you an additional row of upgraded vehicles to choose from. This can often mean an upgrade of two or three car classes for no additional charge. It’s not uncommon for me to make a reservation for an intermediate car—think Sentra or Corolla—and drive out in a premium Explorer Limited or a Cadillac CTS. …



Telegraph, UK on why other checkout lines move faster. And gives tips on picking.

… How to choose the best queue:

Pick a queue that is mostly men they are less patient than women and more likely to give up

Veer to the left most people are right-handed so we have a natural inclination to turn right. Do the opposite, queues on the left may be emptier

Avoid the supermarket express lane what dictates speed is the number of people in front of you, not the number of items they are buying

Select a cash-only queue. Studies show cash is quickest

Don’t overthink it sometimes you are best off just joining the queue with fewest people in it



Smithsonian on how monster pumpkins are grown.

Waiting in line for their weigh-in, a plethora of lumpy, pale pumpkins sag on their pallets like deflated balloons. But to become a world heavyweight champion, looks don’t really matter. When it comes to this competition, decades of intense selective breeding have banished the petite, perfectly ovoid and brilliantly orange fruits with a focus on one exclusive trait: massive size.

Every year, an international community of giant-pumpkin farmers loads up beastly gourds on trailers, carting them to local fairs and weigh-ins for a chance at the title.

The size of these pumpkins is unimaginably large to me—I can barely grow tomatoes without making heart-breaking tears through their delicate flesh, innards dripping to the ground. So I went to scientists and competitive pumpkin growers to ask this burning question: How do you make a monster pumpkin?

The current world record is held by Beni Meier, a Swiss accountant by day, who grew a pumpkin that weighs in at 2,323.7 pounds, roughly the same amount as a small car. …



Whadayaknow? The governments advice to avoid whole milk was wrong. Investor’s Business Daily is first on the subject.

If you look up “whole milk” in the government’s official Dietary Guidelines, it states pretty definitively that people should only drink skim or 1% milk. “If you currently drink whole milk,” it says, “gradually switch to lower fat versions.”

This is the same advice the government has been issuing for many years. And it’s wrong.

Research published in recent years shows that people “might have been better off had they stuck with whole milk,” according to a front-page story in the Washington Post on Wednesday. “People who consumed more milk fat had lower incidence of heart disease.”

The story goes on to note that the government’s push for Americans to eat a high-carb diet “provokes a number of heart disease risk factors.” …




Many more details from WaPo’s Peter Whoriskey. Remember, never trust the government. It’s run by A students. You know, the ones who sat in the front row.

 U.S. dietary guidelines have long recommended that people steer clear of whole milk, and for decades, Americans have obeyed. Whole milk sales shrunk. It was banned from school lunch programs. Purchases of low-fat dairy climbed.

“Replace whole milk and full-fat milk products with fat-free or low-fat choices,” says the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the federal government’s influential advice book, citing the role of dairy fat in heart disease.

Whether this massive shift in eating habits has made anyone healthier is an open question among scientists, however. In fact, research published in recent years indicates that the opposite might be true: millions might have been better off had they stuck with whole milk.

Scientists who tallied diet and health records for several thousand patients over ten years found, for example, that contrary to the government advice, people who consumed more milk fat had lower incidence of heart disease.

By warning people against full-fat dairy foods, the United States is “losing a huge opportunity for the prevention of disease,” said Marcia Otto, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Texas and the lead author of large studies published in 2012 and 2013, which were funded by government and academic institutions, not the industry. “What we have learned over the last decade is that certain foods that are high in fat seem to be beneficial.” …

November 6, 2015 – Laqueur, Bannon, and Late Night

Click on WORD or PDF for full content



Three items for the weekend. Yale historian Timothy Snyder’s new book is the subject of a devastating review by Walter Laqueur. Bloomberg/Business Week reports on Steve Bannon who they call “the most dangerous political operative in America.” And we have a double strength issue of Late Night Humor from Andy Malcolm.


Yale Historian Timothy Snyder made waves five years ago with the publication of Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (Basic Books, 2010). It had been previously suggested that the World Wars of the 20th century could easily be called the first and second Ukrainian Wars. Thus, a book about the conflict between Germany and Russia over that piece of the world was well received. Then, mining the same sources, Snyder published Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning. 2015. Pickings offered a review of that book in September. As readers can see, Snyder has made a leap from historian to environmental scold. Here are pull quotes from that review;

In my 2012 book, Merchants of Despair, I exposed the role that Malthusian thought — the belief that the world cannot support a growing human population — has had in motivating most of the worst atrocities of the past two centuries, notably including those of Nazism and more recent antihuman movements operating under the “population control” and “environmentalist” banners. Now prominent Yale historian Timothy Snyder has written Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning, which also lays out the Malthusian ideology behind the Holocaust.

But instead of forcefully rejecting the axioms of Malthusianism and the claims of its modern adherents, Snyder argues there’s something to them. The world faces catastrophe from the overconsumption of fossil fuels, anthropogenic global warming, and impending food and resource shortages, he says — echoing similar pernicious claims of the 1930s — and for this he blames the U.S. …

… But Snyder has it horribly wrong. Competition for scarce resources (land, food, energy) is effective as a demagogic myth, but it is not reality. There was no ecological crisis in the 1930s, any more than there is today. What there was then, as there is today, was ideological insanity. The Nazis’ war had no rational basis. Germany never needed more “living space.” Germany today has much less land per person, but a far higher living standard, than it had under the Third Reich. The problem was all in their heads.

Similarly, today there is no resource crisis. There are far more resources available per capita today than ever before in human history. That is because resources are defined by human creativity. Thus, contrary to Malthus and all of his followers, the global standard of living has continuously gone up as the world’s population has increased. The more people — especially free and educated people — the more inventors, and inventions are cumulative.

In this respect, America has been the most productive of nations. It is an anti-American — and anti-human — lie to say that we are destroying the world’s resources. The opposite is true. …

… The real lesson of the Holocaust for our time is this: We are not threatened by there being too many people. We are threatened by people who say there are too many people. …

… The fundamental question boils down to this: Are humans destroyers or creators? If the idea is accepted that the world’s resources are fixed, with only so much to go around, then each new life is unwelcome, each unregulated act or thought is a menace, every person is fundamentally the enemy of every other person, and each race or nation is enemy of every other race or nation. The ultimate outcome of such a worldview can only be enforced stagnation, tyranny, war, and genocide. …


Worse for Snyder has arrived in the November issue of Mosaic where his new book is reviewed by Walter Laqueur one of the pre-eminent historians of European History. Laqueur is 94 years old and it would have been better for Snyder if he had held publication until the Mr. Laqueur had passed to his reward.

… The reception given to both of Snyder’s books has generally been rapturous, if more so in the United States than in Europe, and more so in some circles than in others. They have been called epic, haunting, brilliant, profoundly original, groundbreaking, provocative, erudite, challenging, unforgettable—exhausting the thesaurus. Most of those cheering, however, are not historians who have specialized in the study of Nazism, Eastern Europe, or the Holocaust. Within that more select group, a number have entered serious reservations and criticisms of Snyder’s work, and some have voiced harsher and more heated judgments; a harvest can be found at the website Defending History. …

… The belief in the need for German expansion—Lebensraum—did indeed exist and had an impact on Nazi policy, as seen in Hitler’s invasion and seizure of the breadbasket regions of Eastern Europe. But as far as the Holocaust is concerned, it was hardly a decisive factor. Besides, if Hitler really did experience “ecological panic” (Snyder’s term), he would not have kept it a secret. It would have prominently figured in his Table Talk, in the writings of those closest to him (see Joseph Goebbels’ multi-volume diaries), in orders passed on to his ministers, and so on. It does not. By the same token, the central role in Germany’s economy would have been played by Walther Darré and Herbert Backe, the two key operatives in the regime’s agricultural policies, and not, as was really the case, by the banker Hjalmar Schacht in the 1930s and by Albert Speer in the 1940s.

The theory that the Holocaust was decisively motivated by German domestic needs does appear in the writings of a few “unorthodox” researchers. But those writings mainly date back a quarter-century or so, when environmental concerns figured less prominently on the agenda of intellectual and academic politics; instead of ecological panic, they tend to ascribe Hitler’s decision to plunder the Jews on the need to finance his “social state,” that is, the various social services that added much to the popularity of the regime. In any event, I suspect it is to this general source that one should look for Snyder’s misplaced inspiration. …

… There is a great deal more in this very crowded volume, including its bizarre and much commented-upon concluding chapter with the “warning” promised in the book’s subtitle. Here are the supposed lessons for today that lie hidden within the calamitous and genocidal events of yesterday—lessons about all the terrible and mistaken ways that people react in the face of impending dangers, real and perceived. And here the narrative shifts from the barbarism of the Nazis to global warming, from Auschwitz to Rwanda, from the gas chambers in Eastern Europe to greenhouse gases in the upper atmosphere, from the Holocaust, which took place, to all kinds of ecological horrors that may or may not take place. I need not dilate further. …

… In general, despite the range of his research and his touted command of many languages, Snyder is more reliable when writing about Eastern Europe (though not necessarily about Russia) than about Germany and the West. Little slips give much away. Thus, discussing Rosa Luxemburg, the famous Marxist revolutionary and propagandist of the early 20th century, he refers to the “immensely influential” German journal Die Neue Zeit. In fact, Die Neue Zeit was a close runner-up for the period’s most boring publication; one doubts Snyder ever had an opportunity to consult it. And was it ever influential at all, let alone “immensely influential”? Hardly.

Or take the treatment of Carl Schmitt, Germany’s best known political philosopher of the 20th century, frequently quoted by Snyder as the man who gave Hitler many of his anti-state ideas: “Throughout Hitler’s career, Schmitt had provided elegant theoretical support for the Führer’s actions.” Here, too, reality is otherwise. Schmitt was indeed a member of the Nazi party—which, however, he joined only after Hitler came to power—and he wanted to be the new rulers’ supreme legal authority. But beginning in 1936 he ran into serious trouble, was charged with many ideological sins, and had to resign from all but two of his official positions.

Then there is the matter of the book’s approach and its tone. I’ve already referred to Snyder’s oft-proclaimed confidence in his originality and Newton-like authority. Another nettlesome quality is his tendency to senationalize minor or inconsequential details and magnify them out of all proportion to their historical significance.

One example: the Jewish personality most frequently and copiously quoted in Black Earth is not the eminent British Zionist Chaim Weizmann (who rates a single mention) or David Ben-Gurion (none at all); neither is it a communal leader in prewar Poland, a commander of the Jewish underground, a prominent East European Zionist, Bundist, or Jewish Communist, or one of the heads of the ghettoes appointed by the Germans. Instead, Snyder’s top Jewish witness is a young man in his late twenties named Avraham Stern (codename “Yair”), the head of the Zionist right-wing paramilitary group in Palestine known as Leḥi or the Stern Gang, which split off from the Irgun in 1940.

Stern, who was shot and killed by a British policeman in Tel Aviv in February 1942, is a tragic figure: a poet, a man of great bravery, and unfortunately, when it came to political judgment, something of a hopeless naif if not a fool. Before the war, he and his followers were involved in talks with Polish officials aimed at expediting the emigration of Jews from Poland to either Palestine or Madagascar. Later on, emissaries of his little group were sent to Beirut to talk to German diplomats there, evidently in the quixotic hope of establishing a common front against the British, then the Mandatory power in Palestine. All of these initiatives went nowhere.

Since nothing Stern did or failed to do was of genuine consequence, why has he been singled out for such extended treatment in Black Earth? What point is Snyder striving toward? That not all Jews were political geniuses? This is not exactly news. Was our author ignorant of the fact that Stern’s poignant story has already been thoroughly covered by historians of the period? Was he personally just so captivated as to conclude it therefore warranted greater publicity? Or was it the opportunity to bring into the picture Menachem Begin, a successor head of Irgun/Leḥi and a former member of the Polish anti-Nazi fighting force known as Anders Army, that he found irresistible? Whatever the motive, his elaborate treatment of this one figure is characteristic of an approach that tends repeatedly to favor the striking or outré at the expense of the relevant and important …

… It is not easy to do justice to Snyder. When he is not operating under the compulsion to play the role of a Newton, or to present versions of history radically different from those of his predecessors, or to indulge his mania for exaggeration and sensationalism, or to waste his own and his readers’ time encapsulating serious and complicated topics in shorthand, he deserves attention, respect, and some of the epithets bestowed on him by his admirers. On certain topics and on certain issues, especially concerning Eastern Europe, his work can be valuable and even innovative. If I have dwelled more on his shortcomings and misjudgments than on his merits, it is because seldom if ever can I remember having encountered so maddening a combination of right and wrong, imagination and fantasy, good sense and absurdity located together in such close vicinity.

In the end, one can say this: Snyder’s obfuscating and half-baked “discoveries” about the Holocaust do further harm to a field of study already disfigured by the work of emissaries of one school or another, not to mention outright deniers. His book will not be the last such venture in misguided interpretation—the varieties are unlimited—but it will lengthen the time needed to repair the damage.




When the book Clinton Cash appeared last winter, it was amazing to see how the book was featured prominently by many in the main stream media. How those circumstances were created is just one of the themes in Bloomberg/Business Week’s long and exhaustive story on the man they call “the most dangerous political operative in America” - Steve Bannon. He is the head of the Breitbart organization and the lower key Government Accountability Institute.

… Bannon’s life is a succession of Gatsbyish reinventions that made him rich and landed him squarely in the middle of the 2016 presidential race: He’s been a naval officer, investment banker, minor Hollywood player, and political impresario. When former Disney chief Michael Ovitz’s empire was falling to pieces, Bannon sat Ovitz down in his living room and delivered the news that he was finished. When Sarah Palin was at the height of her fame, Bannon was whispering in her ear. When Donald Trump decided to blow up the Republican presidential field, Bannon encouraged his circus-like visit to the U.S.-Mexico border. John Boehner just quit as House speaker because of the mutinous frenzy Bannon and his confederates whipped up among conservatives. Today, backed by mysterious investors and a stream of Seinfeld royalties, he sits at the nexus of what Hillary Clinton once dubbed “the vast right-wing conspiracy,” where he and his network have done more than anyone else to complicate her presidential ambitions—and they plan to do more. But this “conspiracy,” at least under Bannon, has mutated into something different from what Clinton described: It’s as eager to go after establishment Republicans such as Boehner or Jeb Bush as Democrats like Clinton.

“I come from a blue-collar, Irish Catholic, pro-Kennedy, pro-union family of Democrats,” says Bannon, by way of explaining his politics. “I wasn’t political until I got into the service and saw how badly Jimmy Carter f—ed things up. I became a huge Reagan admirer. Still am. But what turned me against the whole establishment was coming back from running companies in Asia in 2008 and seeing that Bush had f—ed up as badly as Carter. The whole country was a disaster.”

As befits someone with his peripatetic background, Bannon is a kind of Jekyll-and-Hyde figure in the complicated ecosystem of the right—he’s two things at once. And he’s devised a method to influence politics that marries the old-style attack journalism of, which helped drive out Boehner, with a more sophisticated approach, conducted through the nonprofit Government Accountability Institute, that builds rigorous, fact-based indictments against major politicians, then partners with mainstream media outlets conservatives typically despise to disseminate those findings to the broadest audience. The biggest product of this system is the project Bannon was so excited about at CPAC: the bestselling investigative book, written by GAI’s president, Peter Schweizer, Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich. Published in May by HarperCollins, the book dominated the political landscape for weeks and probably did more to shape public perception of Hillary Clinton than any of the barbs from her Republican detractors. …

… While attacking the favored candidates in both parties at once may seem odd, Bannon says he’s motivated by the same populist disgust with Washington that’s animating candidates from Trump to Bernie Sanders. Like both, Bannon is having a bigger influence than anyone could have reasonably expected. But in the Year of the Outsider, it’s perhaps fitting that a figure like Bannon, whom nobody saw coming, would roil the national political debate. …

… What made Clinton Cash so unexpectedly influential is that mainstream news reporters picked up and often advanced Schweizer’s many examples of the Clintons’ apparent conflicts of interest in accepting money from large donors and foreign governments. (“Practically grotesque,” wrote Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig, who’s running for the Democratic presidential nomination. “On any fair reading, the pattern of behavior that Schweizer has charged is corruption.”) Just before the book’s release, the New York Times ran a front-page story about a Canadian mining magnate, Frank Giustra, who gave tens of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation and then flew Bill Clinton to Kazakhstan aboard his private jet to dine with the country’s autocratic president, Nursultan Nazarbayev. Giustra subsequently won lucrative uranium-mining rights in the country. (Giustra denies that the Clinton dinner influenced his Kazakh mining decision.) The Times piece cited Schweizer’s still-unpublished book as a source of its reporting, puzzling many Times readers and prompting a reaction from the paper’s ombudswoman, Margaret Sullivan, who grudgingly concluded that, while no ethical standards were breached, “I still don’t like the way it looked.”

For Bannon, the Clinton Cash uproar validated a personal theory, informed by his Goldman Sachs experience, about how conservatives can influence the media and why they failed the last time a Clinton was running for the White House. “In the 1990s,” he told me, “conservative media couldn’t take down [Bill] Clinton because most of what they produced was punditry and opinion, and they always oversold the conclusion: ‘It’s clearly impeachable!’ So they wound up talking to themselves in an echo chamber.” What news conservatives did produce, such as David Brock’s Troopergate investigation on Paula Jones in the American Spectator, was often tainted in the eyes of mainstream editors by its explicit partisan association.

In response, Bannon developed two related insights. “One of the things Goldman teaches you is, don’t be the first guy through the door because you’re going to get all the arrows. If it’s junk bonds, let Michael Milken lead the way,” he says. “Goldman would never lead in any product. Find a business partner.” His other insight was that the reporters staffing the investigative units of major newspapers aren’t the liberal ideologues of conservative fever dreams but kindred souls who could be recruited into his larger enterprise. “What you realize hanging out with investigative reporters is that, while they may be personally liberal, they don’t let that get in the way of a good story,” he says. “And if you bring them a real story built on facts, they’re f—ing badasses, and they’re fair.” Recently, I met with Brock, who renounced conservatism and became an important liberal strategist, fundraiser, and Clinton ally. He founded the liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America and just published a book, Killing The Messenger: The Right-Wing Plot to Derail Hillary and Hijack Your Government. Brock’s attitude toward Bannon isn’t enmity toward an ideological opponent, as I’d expected, but rather a curiosity and professional respect for the tradecraft Bannon demonstrated in advancing the Clinton Cash narrative. What conservatives learned in the ’90s, Brock says, is that “your operation isn’t going to succeed if you don’t cross the barrier into the mainstream.” …



Late Night Humor from Andrew Malcolm.

Fallon: New York City Mayor De Blasio signs a bill requiring stores to keep their doors closed when the air conditioning is on. So apparently De Blasio is not only our mayor, he’s also our dad.

Meyers: The Vatican has announced that Pope Francis will visit Mexico next year. Now that he’s met all the Catholics in the United States, he wants to see where they’re from.

Fallon: Yellowstone National Park has set a visitor record. Officials credit cheap gas, good marketing and kids being so distracted by their phones that you can drive them anywhere.

November 4, 2015 – HILLARY

Click on WORD or PDF for full content



Hillary’s emails show she likes sycophants. Matthew Continetti has some fun.

… I am wading through a sea of flattery and am terrified I’ll drown. It’s a few days after the State Department released another batch of Hillary Clinton’s emails from her time as secretary of state. And while there are no surprises as I read these latest documents, they are nonetheless revealing—not only of Clinton but also of her coterie of admirers, courtiers, supplicants, and mandarins.

The emails are also nausea-inducing. The FBI is investigating whether Clinton damaged national security by hosting classified information on her private server. What the FBI has no doubt learned—indeed, what anyone who spends a few minutes reading these emails is bound to discover—is that the former secretary of state loved to hear from lackeys, hangers-on, and loyalists who spent their days puffing up Clinton’s already considerable ego.

What strikes you right away about the Hillary emails is how sycophants describe her in terms more fitting for a religious figure. “My name is Roy Spence,” wrote a Texas Democrat to Clinton in April 2010. “And I love you and…I miss you a lot. I have no idea how you keep on keeping on doing whatever it takes to lift people—everywhere up—championing your Core Purpose of Fighting and digging deep for the opportunity for each person to be able to live up to the God Given Potential. Here and Around the world.”

Spence went on like this for several more badly punctuated and ungrammatical paragraphs, riffing in a patois that’s half campaign commercial and half fortune cookie. “The pursuit for opening doors of happiness for those who struggle with the unimaginable,” he wrote. “The steady. The Steadfast.” Lucky numbers 27, 8, 5, 16, 34.

Spence’s conclusion: “So I say to a beloved and dear love one—that be you—I love you. I respect you. I miss you. I cherish every moment of our remarkable journey together. God Speed. Dear Sis. We shall cross paths soon. And until then. Onward in all things.” Below Spence’s initials are the mysterious words “Ride at dawn.” I wonder what the Russian hackers made of that one.

Spence is a cheerleader, apologist, and promoter. The word stalker also comes to mind. Now, the average person who received such an email would be likely to grimace. He’d become uncomfortable. He wouldn’t know how to respond. Not Hillary. She forwarded it to one of her aides with the demand, “Pls print.” Maybe she wanted to frame it. …

… Petty, silly, insular, back-scratching, backstabbing—the attributes of Clinton and her inner circle are comic when they aren’t disheartening. America faces a dangerous world, slow economic growth, social discord, and cultural fragmentation. And guess what? We’re possibly a little more than a year away from handing the White House to a group of people who make the conniving, selfish, vain, incompetent characters on HBO’s Veep look like FDR’s Brains Trust.




Along the same line, WSJ has the following; Hillary Clinton Emails Show Insiders Embracing flattery

A common thread running through the tens of thousands of emails that landed in Hillary Clinton’s in-box in her time as secretary of state is that aides and assorted advisers believe she is, well, awesome.

With a few exclamation points tacked on.

In notes sent to the private email account Mrs. Clinton used, various advisers routinely heap praise on the person who gave them their jobs or elevated them to her inner circle. Email flattery of this sort is a common tactic in the everyday workplace, but the Clinton emails show how it comes into play at the highest levels of government.

Employees tell Mrs. Clinton she is doing a “spectacular job,” that she has many admirers and that her remarks were “pitch perfect.” They assure her she looks “gorgeous” in photos and commend her clothing choices.

Mrs. Clinton often solicited the feedback, asking aides “How do you think it went?” and “What’s the verdict on the article?” Rare is the response that offered a whiff of constructive criticism.

A cache of 7,000 pages of Clinton emails released by the State Department Friday offered fresh examples of State department officials who adored the boss. State has been releasing the emails on a rolling basis at the end of each month, in response to Freedom of Information Act requests; it has now made public about half of the total. …




Perhaps her employees wish to worship Hillary, but David Harsanyi says she owns the chaos in Libya.

Libya is in chaos. A festering pit of radicalism, anarchy, and death, epitomizing everything that can go wrong when Western intervention has no clear long-term purpose. And the woman who believes she should be president of the United States—ostensibly on the strength of her decision-making abilities as Secretary of State—believes what’s going on in Libya is a success.

This point seems pertinent. So beyond any facts surrounding the American deaths in Benghazi, the blatant lying about her computer servers, or whatever else Republicans may or may not uncover about Hillary, one of the most politically relevant topics examined by the Benghazi Committee is her insistence that Libya was not a “disaster.” Over and over, in fact, Hillary argued that Libyans had elected “moderates” and that democracy had thrived and that all things were peachy (though she does concede there were security risks). And she was still praising the Arab Spring, long after its collapse into violent radicalism across the Arab world.

At first I wondered, how could she maintain something so obviously contestable? Then I realized, how could she not? Rep. Peter Roskam spent his entire time attempting to push Hillary to own the Libya intervention. Democrats joked on Twitter that Roskam had now conclusively proven that, yes, Hillary was Secretary of State. But it was much more. She reiterated that she was the chief architect of the war in Libya. Hillary has to claim that the U.N.-authorized Libyan air campaign in 2011 was a model of successful foreign intervention because Hillary was the one who urged Barack Obama, over the strong misgivings of others, to intervene in that civil war. She brought the Arabs on board. She articulated many of the administration’s arguments.

Later, after the whole thing fell apart, she would falsely blame some obscure video for the whole thing. …




You must wonder what the president thought when he learned Hillary continued her attachment to Sid Blumenthal. Micah Morrison on why it matters that Clinton went rogue.  

After the media inexplicably dubbed Hillary Rodham Clinton the “winner” of the Benghazi hearings, her apologists dismissed a line of questioning into her unofficial adviser, Sidney Blumenthal.

So he was sending her e-mail offering advice on Libya and other matters of state. In the immortal words of Clinton at an earlier Benghazi hearing, “What difference does it make?”

It matters because Clinton flouted President Obama’s authority, secretly employing a man the administration had banned — then Clinton and Blumenthal pursued a rogue agenda often motivated by political favors and payoffs for friends.

Blumenthal was an aide to President Bill Clinton from 1997 to 2001 and one of his most reliable hatchet men. Luca Brasi without the charm, Blumenthal had smeared Monica Lewinsky, Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, Republicans — and, when the time came, presidential candidate Barack Obama himself. His nickname: “Sid Vicious.”

E-mails show Hillary Clinton wanted him hired at State. But still smarting from Blumenthal’s attacks during the campaign, the administration nixed the appointment.

Clinton was undeterred. Despite telling the Benghazi committee that Blumenthal was “not my adviser, official or unofficial,” records show the Clinton political machine paid him at least $320,000 a year. …


Morrison also provides examples of Blumenthal’s undo influence in Libya affairs.

… In Libya, Blumenthal promoted a deal sought by US defense contractor Osprey Global Solutions. According to its Web site, Osprey offers a wide variety of services — including “security, training, armament” — as well as the sale of assault rifles.

In an Oct. 7 letter to Benghazi committee ranking minority member Elijah Cummings, the panel’s chair, Trey Gowdy, noted Blumenthal “acknowledged a personal stake in Osprey.”

In hundreds of pages of e-mails, Gowdy noted, Blumenthal served as Secretary Clinton’s “primary adviser on Libya” and pushed her hard “to intervene” as Khadafy was going down.


But Blumenthal’s real motivation, Gowdy claims, was “money.”

Specifically, a deal to bring Osprey together with the fledgling transitional government in Libya.

Gowdy wrote that “at the same time Blumenthal was pushing Secretary Clinton to war in Libya, he was privately pushing” the Osprey deal in Libya.

Blumenthal lobbied for more aggressive military action. In a March 2011 e-mail, he urged “another round or two of ferocious bombing” of Khadafy’s army. He also advised Clinton to take credit for Khadafy’s eventual fall.

“You must go on camera,” he e-mailed her in August 2011, two months before the dictator’s gruesome death. “You must establish yourself in the historical record.”

Meanwhile, in a July 14, 2011, e-mail cited in the Gowdy letter, Blumenthal wrote Clinton that “Osprey will provide medical help, military training, organize supplies and logistics” to the post-Khadafy government.

He and his colleagues, Blumenthal wrote, “acted as honest brokers, putting this arrangement together through a series of connections, linking the Libyans to Osprey and keeping it moving.”

“Got it,” Clinton wrote Blumenthal. “Will follow up tomorrow. Anything else to convey?” Clinton forwarded the Blumenthal e-mail to a top aide, Jake Sullivan. …



Noah Rothman has more on the Blumenthal connection.

… Blumenthal was a Clinton confidante long before Hillary Clinton went to work at Foggy Bottom. She appealed to the Obama administration to allow Blumenthal to join her staff as a speechwriter, but the request was declined. Blumenthal had developed a reputation as a partisan flamethrower – a fixer, of sorts, who was not above getting his hands dirty in order to protect the Clintons. Nevertheless, as Hillary Clinton’s secretive emails revealed, Blumenthal continued to work closely with Hillary Clinton, sent her numerous communications related to the sensitive ongoing workings of the American government, and was compensated for his performance.

How many communications would that be? In the case of Libya, a conflict zone the committee established Clinton lost interest in after the Gaddafi government was overthrown, a lot. In an open letter to his Democratic counterpart on the committee, Gowdy revealed that approximately half of all the email messages Clinton received relating to Libya were sent from Blumenthal. Gowdy called him “Secretary Clinton’s primary advisor” on that North African trouble spot.

Worse, one of those email communications from Clinton that was forwarded to Gowdy contained classified information – information that was apparently sensitive enough so that it was redacted when the committee received it. That email contained the name of a CIA operator, and its transmission on an unsecure cable could literally have put that person’s life in danger. “She is exposing the name of a guy who has a clandestine relationship with the CIA on her private, unprotected server,” former CIA Mideast officer John Maguire, who noted that the revelation should trigger the creation of a “crimes report” in the Department of Justice. …



The Weekly Standard has a short on the Secretary of State’s availability to large Clinton Foundation donors.

Hillary Clinton always makes time for friends at the State Department—especially those who have money.

In a newly released email from the State Department, an official sends Clinton her schedule. On that schedule, one sees the entry, “3:10 pm (t) PRIVATE DROP-BY — DANNY ABRAHAM (T).”

Abraham isn’t just an old friend, he’s also founder of Slim Fast and a big donor to the Clintons. He has contributed between $5 and $10 million to the Clinton Foundation, and almost a million in hard and soft money to the Clintons.

In 2010, Clinton said, “I don’t know how many times Danny called my husband in the 1990s … or how many times he called and said he had to come see me in the Senate or come see me in the State Department.” 

But remember, Clinton says she’d support a constitutional amendment to get rid of money in politics. 

“We have to end the flood of secret, unaccountable money that is distorting our elections, corrupting our political system, and drowning out the voices of too many everyday Americans … Our democracy should be about expanding the franchise, not charging an entrance fee.”



We’ll leave it to Thomas Sowell to sum up Benghazi.

… Meanwhile, there was an American presidential election campaign in 2012, and Barack Obama was presenting himself to the voters as someone who had defeated Al Qaeda and suppressed the terrorist threat in the Middle East.

Obviously the truth about this attack could have totally undermined the image that Obama was trying to project during the election campaign, and perhaps cost him the White House. So a lie was concocted instead.

The lie was that the attack was not by terrorists — who supposedly had been suppressed by Obama — but was a spontaneous protest demonstration against an American video insulting Islam, and that protest just got out of control.

Now that Hillary Clinton’s e-mails have finally been recovered and revealed, after three years of stalling and stonewalling, they showed explicitly that she knew from the outset that the attack that killed Ambassador Stevens and others was not a result of some video but was a coordinated terrorist operation.

Nevertheless, Hillary 2.0, along with President Obama and national security advisor Susan Rice, told the world in 2012 that the deaths in Benghazi were due to the video, not a terrorist organization that was now operating freely in Libya, thanks to the policy that got rid of the Qaddafi government.

Yet that key fact was treated by the media as old news, and what was exciting now was how well Hillary 2.0 outperformed the Congressional committee on television. If the corruption and undermining of the American system of Constitutional government eventually costs us our freedom, will the media say, “What difference does it make now?”

November 2, 2015 – CLIMATE

Click on WORD or PDF for full content




Steve Hayward of Power Line provides graphic illustrations of how climate data are manipulated to cause concern and even panic. But, honestly presented facts provide a calm competent contextual understanding.

… A little hard to get worked up about this, isn’t it? In fact you can barely spot the warming. No wonder you need a college education to believe in the alarmist version of climate change. No wonder the data (click here for original NASA data if you want to replicate it yourself) is never displayed this way in any of the official climate reports.

If this chart were published on the front page of newspapers the climate change crusaders would be out of business instantly.



Attached to a picture of a small boy in a Mozambique slum, an essay by Bjørn Lomborg suggests the child has little need for solar panels. Lomberg is a serious environmentalist who despairs at the prescriptions of the light-weight trend-surfing greens.

In the run-up to the 2015 U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, rich countries and development organizations are scrambling to join the fashionable ranks of “climate aid” donors. This effectively means telling the world’s worst-off people, suffering from tuberculosis, malaria or malnutrition, that what they really need isn’t medicine, mosquito nets or micronutrients, but a solar panel. It is terrible news. …

… Providing the world’s most deprived countries with solar panels instead of better health care or education is inexcusable self-indulgence. Green energy sources may be good to keep on a single light or to charge a cellphone. But they are largely useless for tackling the main power challenges for the world’s poor.

According to the World Health Organization, three billion people suffer from the effects of indoor air pollution because they burn wood, coal or dung to cook. These people need access to affordable, reliable electricity today. Yet too often clean alternatives, because they aren’t considered “renewable,” aren’t receiving the funding they deserve.

A 2014 study by the Center for Global Development found that “more than 60 million additional people in poor nations could gain access to electricity if the Overseas Private Investment Corporation”—the U.S. government’s development finance institution—“were allowed to invest in natural gas projects, not just renewables.” …



Ed Rogers understands why the upcoming Paris climate change conference is perfect for this president. 

After failing at almost every foreign policy challenge he has been confronted with, perhaps there is now something on the horizon that actually sets up nicely for President Obama. The Paris Conference on Climate Change, which will be held from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, could be an event that perfectly matches his skills and interests.

The U.N.-sponsored Paris festival lends itself to unrealistic giveaways and meaningless rhetoric — the more self-righteous and pretentious, the better. The meeting won’t produce any particular result, and the day of reckoning where we find out it was all for naught won’t be scientifically determined until many years in the future. It seems well-suited for this president.

All Obama has to do is go to Paris, give a vapid speech about saving the planet, capitulate to those who would like to see the United States weakened, pretend that others will fulfill their pledges to reduce carbon emissions and then return home to a round of self-congratulations from his own staff and sycophant appointees. To follow up on his brave proposals, all he has to do is sign a couple of executive orders that slap American businesses with some gratuitous, onerous regulations and declare that a noble deed has been done. And, by the way, the White House will have to do whatever it takes to keep any agreement reached in Paris from being voted on in Congress. …



The ugly underside of the green movement is examined by Joel Kotkin.  

What is the endgame of the contemporary green movement? It’s a critical question since environmentalism arguably has become the leading ideological influence in both California government and within the Obama administration. In their public pronouncements, environmental activists have been adept at portraying the green movement as reasonable, science-based and even welcoming of economic growth, often citing the much-exaggerated promise of green jobs.

The green movement’s real agenda, however, is far more radical than generally presumed, and one that former Sierra Club President Adam Werbach said is defined by a form of “misanthropic nostalgia.” This notion extends to an essential dislike for mankind and its creations. …Robert Malthus (1766-1834), a Protestant cleric and scholar, believed that rapid population growth would lead to mass impoverishment and starvation.

Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 book “The Population Bomb” helped revive the Malthusian ethos, in decline during much of the 20th century, with his hoary predictions of imminent mass starvation in the Third World. Not that he had much hope for richer countries.

“By the year 2000,” he predicted, “the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people. … If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”

Good thing Ehrlich is not a professional gambler – and that he didn’t control policy apparatus. Among the policies embraced by Ehrlich was the possible feasibility of placing “sterilants” in the water supply, and he advocated tax policies that discouraged childbearing.

Overall, Ehrlich’s dire predictions proved widely off the mark – food production has soared, population growth slowed and starvation declined – but his influence lives on. One of his closest acolytes, John Holdren, is President Obama’s top science adviser. (As once pointed out in Pickings, Holdren is perfect for this administration – an academic who’s usually wrong.)

… Progressive pundits increasingly envision the presidential election in 13 months as a “last chance,” as one put it, to stop “climate change catastrophe.” Even Gov. Jerry Brown, formerly more pragmatic, now uses extreme language about “extinction” – once again peddled by the irrepressible Ehrlich – in connection with climate change. If you believe that Gaia’s reckoning is imminent, after all, you can only accept the most extreme, draconian steps, whatever the effect on living standards and economies. And while you’re at it, bring on those sterilants!

Hillary Clinton’s shift from favoring to opposing the Keystone XL pipeline, despite strong union support for the project, makes clear that climate change policy will be at the center of the campaign, pitting the energy and manufacturing states of the U.S. interior against those controlled by the coastal gentry, among whom climate change has acquired something of a religious aspect.

The only way to break the grip of the Ecotopian fantasy will be for others – including what’s left of traditional Democrats – to join with Breakthrough and other pragmatic thinkers to come up with sensible alternatives to address the climate issue. Rather than accept the intimidating treatment of the greens and their media enablers, mainstream businesses and middle-class voters need to insist on practical ways to preserve the planet without destroying humanity.


American Interest spots this in Great Britain;

Green activists have found a new way to villainize hydraulic fracturing in Britain: claiming that sand, one essential component of the sluice pumped at high pressure into horizontal wells to “frack” shale, will give people cancer. The Times (of London) reports:

‘[Activist group Friends of the Earth] distributed thousands of leaflets asking for donations to help stop fracking. The leaflets said fracking would expose communities to chemicals that could cause cancer because it involved “pumping millions of litres of water containing a toxic cocktail of chemicals deep underground . . . [which] could end up in your drinking water”.

The leaflet said that the group had already helped people in Lancashire prevent fracking by Cuadrilla, the company which had two applications rejected by the county council this summer. When Cuadrilla complained to Friends of the Earth that it did not use toxic chemicals, the group replied listing the evidence on which it based its claims. It wrote: “We understand that Cuadrilla used a significant amount of sand to frack the well at Preese Hall [in Lancashire in 2011]. Frack sand tends to contain significant amounts of silica which is a known carcinogen.” ‘

By this logic, greens ought to be calling for the quarantining of beaches—to hear these activists tell it, the sand you’d be tanning on there would be as big a cancer risk as the UV rays you might be soaking up.



Mark Steyn spots some in the scientific community coming to their senses about climate.

Nine years ago self-proclaimed “climate hawk” David Roberts was contemplating Nuremberg trials for deniers:

“When we’ve finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we’re in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards — some sort of climate Nuremberg.”

But in his latest piece, at, he’s singing a rather different tune:

“Basically, it’s difficult to predict anything, especially regarding sprawling systems like the global economy and atmosphere, because everything depends on everything else. There’s no fixed point of reference.”

Now he tells us.

“Grappling with this kind of uncertainty turns out to be absolutely core to climate policymaking. Climate nerds have attempted to create models that include, at least in rudimentary form, all of these interacting economic and atmospheric systems. They call these integrated assessment models, or IAMs, and they are the primary tool used by governments and international bodies to gauge the threat of climate change. IAMs are how policies are compared and costs are estimated.

So it’s worth asking: Do IAMs adequately account for uncertainty? Do they clearly communicate uncertainty to policymakers?

The answer to those questions is almost certainly “no.” ”

Mr Roberts is almost certainly right. But he’s unlikely to find any takers for that line among the warm-mongers at next month’s Paris climate jamboree.As I explain in my new book, the IPCC used Michael E Mann’s ridiculous hockey stick to sell certainty: 1998 is the hottest year of the hottest decade of the hottest century in, like forever.

Given the zillion-dollar alarmism industry it fueled, it would be asking a lot for its beneficiaries to back away from that to something more qualified. And thanks to the cartoon climatology of Mann’s stick, there are millions of starry-eyed activists who now think the very concept of “uncertainty” is a denialist plot. …

October 17, 2015

Click on WORD or PDF for full content



One of the reasons Pickerhead has been so scarce lately, is the postseason of the Chicago Cubs. Life is in suspended animation. The National League Championship Series against the Mets starts with two games this weekend in New York and picks up on Tuesday with three games in Chicago. This baseball issue will start though with some items on Yogi Berra who died a few weeks ago. This from Jason Gay in the WSJ.

He was a spectacular baseball player. That sometimes gets forgotten in all the folksy warmth surrounding Yogi Berra, who died Tuesday at age 90. The numbers are staggering, almost supernatural, something out of a comic book: 18 seasons as a catcher for the New York Yankees, 10 World Series rings, 14 Series appearances, 15 All-Star Games and three most valuable player awards. There’s never been a career like it, before or since. I once emailed the groundbreaking statistician (and “Moneyball” godfather) Bill James about Berra’s rank among baseball’s all-timers, and his response was instant and unequivocal:

“I certainly think that Yogi was the greatest catcher who ever lived,” James wrote. “I have no doubt of this, honestly.”

Statistics tell only a fraction of his story. Berra was the son of immigrants, a World War II veteran who had left a Yankees farm club to join the Navy and served at D-Day, a gunner’s mate on a landing craft support vessel. “I think his military service has been a little overlooked, because men like him really didn’t talk about it much,” Carmen Berra, Yogi’s wife of 65 years, told the Star-Ledger a year before her death in 2014. “It wasn’t a big thing to him…it was just what they had to do.”

Such humility defined his life. Yogi Berra was not a pretentious man. His exceptional talent didn’t yield the type of payday that is now customary for ballplayers today—Berra never made more than $65,000 in a season, and never had more than a one-year contract. His easygoing style and proclivity for malapropisms—actually, it’s not fair to call them malapropisms; they’re Yogi-isms, sui generis, many of them brilliant (“Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical,” not even Twain was that good)—made him a beloved figure even to those who hated the mighty Yankees. Berra returned the laughs with a twinkle of self-awareness: Yogi made people chuckle, but he always got to be in on the joke. …




NewsMax has 53 of Yogi’s best Yogi-isms.

“So I’m ugly. I never saw anyone hit with his face.” 

“Take it with a grin of salt.” 

“We were overwhelming underdogs.”

“The towels were so thick there I could hardly close my suitcase.”

“You should always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise, they won’t come to yours.”

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” 

“It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.”




Turning to the Cubs, we learn first about their unorthodox manager, Joe Maddon. Brian Costa writes in the WSJ

Inside their clubhouse at Wrigley Field, Chicago Cubs players can find each day’s schedule on a whiteboard near the door. On any other team, the rundown would typically include times for stretching, batting practice, meetings and other pre-game work. But for the Cubs, the itinerary often entails little more than showing up within a couple hours of the first pitch.

In his quest to lead the team to its first championship since 1908, manager Joe Maddon is encouraging players to do something that defies the ingrained culture of baseball. He’d like them to prepare less. And if it’s all right with them, he’d rather they not show up for work quite so early.

In an effort to preserve players’ energy for games, Maddon has all but eliminated batting practice, a tradition that is nearly as old as the sport itself. Though he has long considered the routine to be archaic, this season represents Maddon’s greatest challenge yet to the popular notion that more practice leads to better performance.

The Cubs recently went more than a month without taking batting practice at Wrigley Field and have done so before only three games overall since Aug. 29. Even when Maddon allows such practices, players are often free to skip them. 

Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez, who worked alongside Maddon with the Tampa Bay Rays, said the manager has never reduced his team’s practice time on the field to this extent. A few Cubs veterans said they have never seen anything like it. …




The inexperienced Cubs took their series with the playoff veterans of the Cardinals 3 games to 1. Grantland writes on the rookies who carried the ball.

Going into the series against the battle-tested St. Louis Cardinals, a lack of playoff experience was supposed to be a problem for the Chicago Cubs. They were relying on four rookies — Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber, and Jorge Soler — and another near rook in Javier Baez. Hell, only two of their starting position players (Miguel Montero and Dexter Fowler) had ever even played in the postseason before.

After Tuesday night’s 6-4 win over the Cardinals, the Cubs are now moving on to the National League Championship Series — and the virtues of playoff maturity lie in tatters throughout the Wrigley Field bleachers.

Bryant smashed the Game 3 go-ahead homer that gave the Cubs a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Russell whacked a pulse-stopping triple in Game 3 and knocked in the go-ahead run in Game 2 with a well-timed squeeze play. Schwarber showed off his cartoonish power, clubbing his second and third homers of the postseason. Soler and Baez didn’t even open the series in the starting lineup. But by the time Hector Rondon struck out Stephen Piscotty in the ninth inning Tuesday, Soler had emerged as the best player of the series and Baez had delivered one of the biggest blows of the postseason — an unlikely, electrifying, opposite-field three-run homer that started the Cubs on their way toward a clinching victory. They all make the guy who hit last night’s game-winning homer in the sixth — 26-year-old Anthony Rizzo — seem like a grizzled vet.

For as talented as all those kids are, the havoc-wreaking of Schwarber, Baez, and Soler in particular made it hard not to wonder: In an admittedly small sample size of games, what made these youngsters seem so immune to playoff pressure? …

… The Cardinals battled valiantly, but simply couldn’t muster the talent to match the Cubs’ cavalcade of free-swinging young’uns. Aside from a well-placed double in that sixth inning, Tony Cruz looked overmatched as an injury replacement for Molina. Jaime Garcia suffered from a stomach ailment in Game 2. Holliday’s lingering quad injury rendered him punchless in this series, just as he was upon his return from the DL in mid-September. A seemingly deep bullpen unraveled during both games at Wrigley. And adding insult to injury, the Cubs’ own pen proved instrumental in victory, providing six innings of relief in support of Hammel, including appearances by three different pitchers who’d been designated for assignment at some point this season.

This deep into the postseason, every team will have plenty of mashers and bat-missers at its disposal. But the remaining team with the best regular-season record has more position-player talent to throw at opponents than either of its potential NLCS foes. Throw in the historic Jake Arrieta and these guys just might be the Senior Circuit favorites.

When a young group makes the playoffs, we’ll often hear about how the players weren’t supposed to be there this quickly. Well, the Cubs still are. And with this group of precocious pulverizers taking the field, don’t count on them going away anytime soon.





Yahoo News covers the money side of the Cubs rebuild.

… Everything starts with the play on the field, where this year the Cubs have this year shed their lovable losers’ image and fans are instead dreaming of winning the World Series.

The losing before this year led Epstein to rebuild the team with an emphasis on lower-priced, young players and that in turn has given the team flexibility to spend on expensive free agents such as the signing of pitcher Jon Lester this past offseason.

“They took their lumps for a while, but now it’s bearing fruit,” said Sal Galatioto, president of sports banker Galatioto Sports Partners, which represented the Ricketts family in their purchase of the Cubs. “Great performance gives you leverage in doing anything.”

The financial trends all look good for the Cubs.

In 2009, the Cubs’ payroll was more than $141 million, or third highest among MLB’s 30 pro teams, according to Baseball Prospectus.

That fell last year to 20th at $93.2 million as the team brought in young stars like third baseman Kris Bryant and outfielder Kyle Schwarber, but missed the playoffs. The Cubs’ payroll climbed back to $120.3 million, or 13th in the league, this year.

The Ricketts family bought 95 percent of the Cubs for $845 million and in March, Forbes magazine valued the entire club at $1.8 billion, the fifth highest in the league and up 50 percent from the prior year. The New York Yankees are No. 1 with an estimated value of $3.2 billion. …




CNN Money says tickets to playoff games at Wrigley Field are becoming dear.

Fans have already paid an average of $674 for the Cubs’ first game in the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field, slated for October 20. Tickets for the second game the following night sold for an average of $729, according to SeatGeek.

For Cubs fans who haven’t bought their tickets yet, those prices look like a bargain. Tickets to the Cubs home playoff games were listed for a record average $1,325.93 as of Wednesday morning, according to TiqIQ, another tracking service. That’s nearly twice the previous record set for a league championship ticket, which was for the San Francisco Giants in 2012.

The most expensive Cubs ticket now is a first-row box seat in the infield listed for $11,700. …





According to YardBarker, the towering home run bit by Kyle Schwarber in the last game of the Cubs/Cardinals series was found on top of the right field scoreboard where the ball will stay at least through the post season where it will provide a hex on visiting teams.

The Chicago Cubs reportedly intend to leave the home run ball hit by Kyle Schwarber in the 7th inning of Tuesday’s series-clinching 6-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals right where the slugger deposited it: On top of the new scoreboard at Wrigley Field.

A source with the team on Wednesday confirmed to the Chicago Tribune that the team will leave the ball where it landed until the conclusion of the Cubs’ participation in the postseason.

The team did send an employee to inspect the ball so it could be confirmed that it was Schwarber’s moon shot home run ball, and an MLB postseason watermark verified its authenticity.

The Cubs also intend to place a plexiglass box around the ball to keep the ball safe from the elements and a security staffer will escort any person who travels to the top of the scoreboard until the ball is taken down.

The Cubs obviously know a thing or two about curses — to put it mildly — and the perceived toll such things can have upon an organization, whether it’s real or utter nonsense. Whatever the case, perhaps it’s not surprising the team is attempting to create some positive mojo by leaving Schwarber’s moon shot home run ball right where it landed … instead of waiting around and succumbing to the supposed curses of generations past.




Five Thirty Eight says this year is the Cubs best chance to break their curse.

Seeing the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series is a little like seeing a four-leaf clover — it’s uncommon, but nature does allow it from time to time. And after holding off the St. Louis Cardinals for a 6-4 win on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, Chicago has stumbled across the rarest of shamrocks — a legitimately dominant Cubs team on the cusp of the World Series.

Three earlier Cubs teams have breathed the crisp, autumnal NLCS air: the 1984, 1989 and 2003 teams. (The league championship series format was introduced in 1969.) Those three squads lost their respective series, but according to our Elo ratings, this year’s NLCS-bound Cubs team is the strongest of the bunch. And even though they’ll cede home-field advantage to either the New York Mets or Los Angeles Dodgers, the 2015 Cubs have the best chance of any of their predecessors at winning the NLCS and advancing to the World Series. Our ratings give the Cubs a 60 percent chance of reaching the World Series; it would be the team’s first appearance there since 1945. …

Norman Rockwell portrayed the hapless Cubs as the team watched a bonehead play perhaps at Ebbet’s Field in Brooklyn. You can find it at the end of the cartoons.