A Flood of Superficial Climate Reports

 

This past week, the Biden administration doubled down in its campaign against climate change with the release of a suite of four reports, on national defense, financial risk, homeland security, and migration. These reports all start with the common premise that the climate crisis is now upon us in full fury. Moreover, they also all insist that the issues at hand are nonpolitical, and that the objective at all times is “to be guided by the best available science and data.” To say the least, however, the claim looks hollow, given that none of these reports offers any data whatsoever to support its major contentions.

The reports never address contrary views or even acknowledge that on some points the science is, to use the much-mooted phrase from Steven Koonin, “unsettled” on such key questions as the size of the Greenland ice sheet, the patterns of sea level rise, or the impact of expected temperature increases on economic growth over time. The reports are also dead silent on the role that technological improvements will play in reducing the raw materials or carbon dioxide output needed for any given output of energy, agriculture, or machinery. Nor do they ask whether human decisions, like poor forest management, account for increases in fires and air pollution, or whether a shift to nuclear power, natural gas, or clean coal might change the arc of history. Finally, they never acknowledge the complex interactions between American actions, international treaties, and the actions of key players, like China and the European Union.

Sadly, instead of asking any hard questions, these reports just take the worst-case scenario for granted and move on. The financial risk report summarizes this basic orientation by wrongly claiming that the report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change “concluded with high confidence that the climate crisis is ‘code red for humanity.’ ” The quoted words were not, however, from the IPCC report but rather from a florid press release by the secretary-general of the United Nations, António Guterres, which unwisely went well beyond the IPCC report.

Are Florida Employers Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place?

 

At the moment, I’m glad that I’m not a Florida employer.

As I understand it, the federal government has issued various vaccine mandate policies that would require some Florida employers to require their employees to be vaccinated.  For purposes of this discussion, I’ll assume that I’m one of these employers, and that I face significant federal sanctions if I fail to comply.

Ricochet.com Editor-in-Chief Jon Gabriel is in for Jim.  Today, Jon and Greg welcome polls showing just a 4-6 point lead for the Democrat in the New Jersey governor’s race. They also have plenty to say as emails show the National School Board Association and the Biden administration were in contact well before the NSBA publicly asked for the administration’s help in declaring parents domestic terrorists and the Justice Department turned the FBI loose on those same parents. And they have fun with the argument from some on the left that trees need legal rights.

 

Ricochet.com Editor-in-Chief Jon Gabriel is in for Jim today.  Join Greg and Jon as they welcome Sen. Sinema’s demands of no tax hikes on corporations, individuals, or capital gains. They also hammer Pres. Biden for pushing for the guaranteed boondoggle of high-speed rail, but Biden also admits the real goal is to get your car off the road. And they cringe as Democrats in Virginia take another swing at loosening absentee ballot rules.

 

Summary

One of the most frequently cited justifications for sanctuary policies is the claim that immigrants are less willing to report victimization to authorities. A report was released by the Center for Immigration Studies casts doubt on this claim, using the latest data from the National Crime Victimization Survey.

Mark Krikorian, the Center’s executive director and host of Parsing Immigration Policy, moderates a rebroadcast of the Center’s recent panel discussing the report. Two of the study’s co-authors participated in the panel, Center researchers Jessica Vaughan and Steven Camarota. They were joined by Capt. Keith Harmon of the Collier County, Fla. Sheriff’s Department, which has long experience with ICE’s 287(g) program.

Supreme Court Commission Comes Through

 

On April 9, President Biden issued an executive order to form a bipartisan presidential commission to examine possible reforms to the United States Supreme Court. The call came at the same time as a strong progressive push to expand the size of the court in order to allow the Democrats—with their wafer-thin control of the Senate—to add perhaps as many as four justices to the court. The plan was to convert a six-three Republican majority into a seven-six Democratic majority—assuming that the president could fill four seats with the midyear elections looming.

No more. After the issuance of the commission’s preliminary draft report, it seems that the push to “pack the court” is over. In general, the commission is to be highly commended for its preliminary work. Its exhaustive draft report has none of the signs of a political screed. Its long, thorough discussions are largely free of the inflammatory rhetoric that mars so much of the partisan debate on the role of the court. The report is well-written, scrupulously documented, and filled with arguments that start with “on the one hand,” only to move adroitly to address the issues “on the other hand.” Just that stylistic choice offers a strong sign that no controversial reform will occur. Meddling with Supreme Court tradition and practice requires a solid consensus about what is broken and an equally solid conviction of what counts as an appropriate cure.

On the court-packing issue, it is quite clear that the consensus is against the move. Indeed, I was both somewhat surprised and highly pleased with the carefulness of many of the major institutional submissions. The American Civil Liberties Union has, to say the least, taken positions that are different from mine on a wide number of issues, such as (in alphabetical order) affirmative action, abortion rights, campaign finance, and voting rights, to name a few. But the thoughtful submission by its national legal director, David Cole, sounded more like the ACLU of old, insisting that the dominant role of the courts is to protect those “unable to protect themselves through the political process,” which promptly led it to be “skeptical of proposals for court reform that would risk further politicizing the court or the processes for the selection of justices, such as proposal to increase the court’s size.”

Join Jim and Greg as they cheer Bari Weiss for stating six major truths on CNN about how the left is driving the world insane. They also chronicle how Democrats are asking black churches in Virginia to play videos of Kamala Harris explicitly urging them to vote for Terry McAuliffe. They shudder at reports that destitute Afghans are selling their children to pay debts. And they honor the life of former Secretary of State and former retired Army Gen. Colin Powell.

 

Federal Judge Rules DC Jail Warden in Contempt of Court

 

It seems that the Federal Judge has been asking the DC Jail Warden to supply documents relating to the medical treatment (or not) of one of the January 6 “rioters.” The judge has now ruled the DC Jail Warden in contempt of Federal Court and demanded an investigation of how those defendants who are confined to the DC jail have been treated for the past ten months. Judge Royce C. Lamberth, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, has asked the Justice Department for a Civil Rights investigation to be instituted.

Now, I wonder how the Biden DOJ will treat that request. Might they stall, and stall some more, and come up with dozens of reasons why an investigation might not be a good idea? Might they, essentially, refuse to investigate themselves? If so, what can that Federal Judge do? Ricochet lawyers?

Labor Markets Don’t Need The Antitrust Cudgel

 

Modern progressive thinkers are united in their newfound determination to ramp up antitrust enforcement to respond to their perception of greater monopoly risks. Lina Khan, the new head of the Federal Trade Commission, spearheaded the agency’s decision on a straight party-line (3–2) vote to withdraw the revised Vertical Merger Guidelines the FTC and the Department of Justice had issued in June 2020. The reason: to combat the twin problems of rising prices and shrinking wages, without saying exactly how these means and ends are connected. That wage motif was even more prominent in acting head of the Antitrust Division Richard Powers’s assertion that any violation of the antitrust law is “just as irredeemable as agreements to fix product prices and allocate markets, conduct that the division has prosecuted for over one hundred years.”

Powell’s remarks did not arise in a void, but were inspired by a large body of recent scholarship that claims that powerful quantitative techniques induce large wage reductions through excessive concentration in labor markets. As in other areas, the antitrust violations could be of two sorts. First, competitors may explicitly seek to lower wages or divide markets, using, as in the tech industry, so-called “no-poach” agreements, as between different tech firms. Here, the issues of proof are relatively easy, because the needed evidence is all on the paper record, so that all that remains is to apply sound, well-established antitrust principles.

Often these “naked” restraints justify some combination of financial penalties looking backward and injunctive relief looking forward, just as in the market for products and services. But often a “rule of reason” analysis is appropriate to let firms explain why their behavior is efficient. For example, there is a constant risk that workers know the trade secrets or customer lists of their current employers, which they could easily carry to their competitors if allowed to freely shift jobs. The competitors can then improve their relative position by the cost advantage they obtain by using, without charge, valuable information generated by their competitors.

Join Jim and Greg as they welcome Sen. Manchin’s furious response to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s partisan response to extending the debt ceiling. They also wince as the job numbers for September come in way below expectations and the unemployment rate drops for the wrong reason. And they fire back as Dr. Leanna Wen suggests the U.S. adopt vaccine mandates for planes and trains and forcing people to get the shot if they want to see their family members. Plus, they assess Pres. Biden’s shaky vaccination math.

 

Join Jim and Greg as they welcome a Quinnipiac poll showing Republicans actually leading Democrats on the 2022 generic ballot. They also stunned in disbelief as Chicago prosecutor Kim Foxx refuses to press any charges in a fatal gang shootout because the deadly violence involved “mutual combatants” who willingly took part. And they shake their heads as there is considerable disagreement among government officials over whether booster shots are a needed for most people who have been vaccinated.

Join Jim and Greg as they cheer on the resolve of Taiwan’s president and people in the face of growing Chinese threats. They also have questions as Attorney General Merrick Garland announces the FBI will start investigating alleged threats made against school officials in highly charged debates around the country. And they sigh as Dr. Fauci gives contradictory answers on whether he recommends people visit with family over the holidays and the CDC comes out with absurd guidelines for celebrating Thanksgiving.

 

Join Jim and Greg as they welcome news of a new COVID treatment that greatly improves a patient’s chance of staying out of the hospital. They also shake their heads as evidence emerges that Democratic leaders have been lying for months about Sen. Joe Manchin offering no specific changes he would make to the reconciliation bill. And they fire away as Education Sec. Miguel Cardona says parents are getting upset at school board meetings because “their guys didn’t win” last year.

A Bill That Costs Too Much, Does Too Little

 

There is a growing consensus that the Biden $3.5 trillion spending bill is in trouble, and for all the obvious reasons. The president is down on his luck politically, which gives him relatively little leverage to push hard on behalf of legislation that has divided progressives and moderate Democrats—and left Republicans united in their opposition to a bill that they claim does too much too soon.

One measure of Biden’s desperation is his belated announcement that the $3.5 trillion bill will cost nothing “because we’re going to raise the revenue” through higher taxes on corporations and high-net-worth individuals. Unfortunately, this one naive observation captures the fatal flaws in Biden’s grand vision.

It Doesn’t Pencil Out

Join Jim and Greg as they react to Gen. Milley and Gen. McKenzie telling lawmakers they recommended keeping 2,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan to avoid the very debacle that ended up happening – a recommendation Pres. Biden denied just last month.  They also hammer New York Gov. Kathy Hochul for forcing health care workers to lose their jobs unless they got vaccinated by midnight.  In addition, they cringe over Hochul saying that God wants everyone to be vaccinated her urging supporters to be her vaccination “apostles.”  And they sigh as Biden suggests we need a 97 or 98 percent vaccination rate to get back to normal.

Threats to Privacy Are Limited by New Florida Law

 

Have you ever considered how your privacy could be violated through the use of your DNA? Florida legislators have taken this danger seriously by being the first state to expand on federal laws protecting the use of DNA testing results:

‘Given the continued rise in popularity of DNA testing kits,’ Sprowls said Tuesday, ‘it was imperative we take action to protect Floridians’ DNA data from falling into the hands of an insurer who could potentially weaponize that information against current or prospective policyholders in the form of rate increases or exclusionary policies.’

Federal law prevents health insurers from using genetic information in underwriting policies and in setting premiums, but the prohibition doesn’t apply to life, disability, or long-term care coverage.

One True Supreme Court Justice

 

Why is it so hard to get more than one or two real Supreme Court Justices at a time? Last week, Justice Thomas gave a stirring speech, a model of a classic American. Some excerpts:

“What had given my life meaning and sense of belonging, that this country was my home, was jettisoned as old-fashioned and antiquated. … It was easy and convenient to fill that void with victimhood. … So much of my time focused intently on our racial differences and grievances, much like today.”

“As I matured, I began to see that the theories of my young adulthood were destructive and self-defeating. … I had rejected my country, my birthright as a citizen, and I had nothing to show for it.”

Biden’s Latest Firings Are Unjustified

 

On September 8, in his latest exercise of political muscle, President Joe Biden ordered Catherine Russell, the White House director for presidential personnel, to send letters to all incumbent presidential appointees on the visiting committees of West Point, the Naval Academy, and the Air Force Academy, each of whom had received commissions for three-year terms. Her message was short and to the point: either resign by the close of business today or you will be terminated by 6 p.m.—thank you. Among those individuals who were targeted on the West Point visiting committee was former president Donald Trump’s national security advisor and current Hoover senior fellow, H. R. McMaster, who had just been named the recipient of a distinguished graduate award for 2021 from West Point.

Press secretary Jennifer Psaki sought to supply the explanation left out of Russell’s demand letters:

The president’s objective is what any president’s objective is, which was to ensure that you have nominees and people serving on these boards who are qualified to serve on them and who are aligned with your values.

Join Jim and Greg as they welcome the surprising analysis from NBC’s Chuck Todd that Pres. Biden had a major credibility problem on many different issues. They also smile at reports that Democrats fear they won’t be able to pass the $3.5 trillion monstrosity in its entirety or maybe at all, and they point out just one truly absurd provision in the bill that would impact all of us. And they highlight White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki for her ridiculous contention that illegal immigrants are not planning to stay long in the United States.

Join Jim and Greg as they marvel at the new hi-tech details surrounding Israel’s successful targeting of an Iranian nuclear scientist back in November. They also welcome the perfectly logical conclusion of the Senate parliamentarian that amnesty for illegal immigrants does not belong in a budget reconciliation bill. And they vent as the Pentagon actually admits its ISIS-K drone strike actually killed a bunch of innocent people but top officials somehow stand by the intelligence behind the strike.