Friday, December 19, 2014

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Daily Digest

December 18, 2014   Print

THE FOUNDATION

"Liberty is a word which, according as it is used, comprehends the most good and the most evil of any in the world. Justly understood it is sacred next to those which we appropriate in divine adoration; but in the mouths of some it means anything, which enervate a necessary government; excite a jealousy of the rulers who are our own choice, and keep society in confusion for want of a power sufficiently concentered to promote good." --Oliver Ellsworth, A Landholder, No. III, 1787

TOP 5 RIGHT HOOKS

Smothering Free Speech Via 'The Interview'

Gone are the days when Hollywood released Charlie Chapman's "The Great Dictator," a film lampooning Adolf Hitler. Although the film was released March 1941 -- months before the attack on Pearl Harbor -- it was the comedian's most successful film. Today, we have a studio poised to release another lampoon of another infamous dictator but essentially self-censoring the film at the threat of hackers, who appear to be connected to North Korea. The hackers broke into Sony Picture's computer network, released sensitive information, apparently because of "The Interview." After threatening 9/11-type terror on any theater that dared air the film, which is about the assassination of Kim Jong Un, the hackers forced Sony to bow to the rule of terror -- even though DHS thought the threat was not credible. "In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview," Sony said in a statement, "we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release. ... Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale -- all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like." The movie appeared to be a crass film dragged along by sex jokes. The product wasn't worth defending, but the ideal of free speech is. More...

Obama Cries Racism for Being Handed the Keys

Barack Obama issued fresh race bait Wednesday in an interview he and Michelle granted to People magazine. For Barack, it's racism when someone threw him the keys to their car. "There's no black male my age who's a professional who hasn't come out of a restaurant and is waiting for their car, and somebody didn't hand them their car keys," he said, because, in his eyes, only black men are valets. As Ian Tuttle of National Review points out, it's not like that stunt wasn't included in a James Bond film. But Obama had to elevate his story to the status of racial injustice. He continued, "It's one thing for me to be mistaken for a waiter at a nice gala. It's another thing for my son to be mistaken for a robber and to be handcuffed or worse, if he happens to be walking down the street and is dressed the way teenagers dress." That is another very cheap shot at cops nationwide from a guy who happens to be president of the United States, not a valet guy. Next thing you know, he'll be complaining that he lives in the White House.
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Michelle Obama Cheats at Race Cards

Michelle Obama twisted her tale about a trip to Target to add her two cents to the White House's long-running race-bait narrative. In an interview with People magazine, Michelle said, "[T]he only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf, because she didn't see me as the first lady; she saw me as someone who could help her." Michelle first told the story on The David Letterman Show in 2012, except in that version she said the person asked for her help reaching something "because she was short." The customer didn't ask for help because she confused her with a store clerk, but because Michelle was tall -- and Michelle even said "I felt so good" helping her. But now she has a race narrative to spin -- because she hasn't done anything for anybody as first lady.

New Congress Will Tackle Keystone Pipeline First

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the first order of business for the 114th Congress -- hopefully with the 67 votes needed to override Obama's veto powers. "We'll be starting next year with a job-creating bill that enjoys significant bipartisan support. The first item up in the new Senate will be the Keystone XL pipeline," McConnell told reporters. In an effort to show the Republican-led Senate is willing to work with the minority Democrats -- who let's just say haven't been the most gracious majority in history -- McConnell added, "We'll hope that senators on both sides will offer energy-related amendments, but there'll be no effort to try to micromanage the amendment process." Hearing how now-Minority Leader Harry Reid is talking about obstructing "crazy stuff," it seems like the olive branch won't be received well. More...

Canadian Jihadi May Have Been 'In Direct Contact' With ISIL

In October, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau attacked the Canadian Parliament after killing a soldier. Leftmedia reports were quick to insist it was a "lone wolf" attack. We declared that wrong at the time. We were right. Josh Rogin writes at Bloomberg, "Canadian Justice Minister Peter MacKay told me in an interview that not only did the Canadian government believe that Zehaf-Bibeau and Martin Couture-Rouleau, a Muslim who drove over two soldiers only days earlier, were radicalized by the Islamic State, they now suspect both men may have been in direct contact with the group." According to MacKay, "They were influenced by ISIS there is no question." Before his attack, Zehaf-Bibeau made a video, and MacKay said his statements in it are "consistent with our belief that his motivations were very much as a result of being radicalized by the Islamic State." Perhaps the jihadi in Australia will turn up similar connections. More...
For more, visit Right Hooks.

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RIGHT ANALYSIS

Obama's Bay of Pigs

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Obama wearing Che wearing Obama
Nothing like making friends with commies to bring on the holiday spirit -- peace on earth and good will and all that. Taking a break from complaining about being mistaken for a valet driver, Barack Obama announced Wednesday the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with the communist dictatorship of Cuba.
"Today," Obama's statement read, "the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba." Well, for starters, the U.S. has never had a problem with the people of Cuba; it's the communist government with which our Liberty-loving nation has taken issue. But casting principle -- not to mention law -- aside, Obama extended to Cuba the hand of America's friendship and tossed in an embassy to boot. It's a metaphorical Bay of Pigs betrayal all over again.
As Red State's Erick Erickson writes, Obama's "mentor, communist activist Frank Marshall Davis, would be proud of him."
The announcement came after 18 months of secret talks between the U.S. and Cuba and on the heels of Cuba's releasing U.S. contractor Alan Gross, who had been imprisoned there since 2009. Cuba also released a U.S. intelligence agent who had been imprisoned for 20 years, while the U.S. let loose three convicted Cuban spies.
Yet Obama's vain attempt to write a foreign policy success story accomplished nothing for Cubans, which is even more remarkable at a time when low oil prices have weakened Cuban sponsors Venezuela and Russia. In other words, the U.S. was in prime position to negotiate for human rights improvements in Cuba. Instead, Obama just offered Cuba a huge influx of dollars for nothing in return.
In heralding this Christmas gift to Fidel and Raul Castro, a senior administration official said, "We are charting a new course toward Cuba. The president understood the time was right to attempt a new approach, both because of the beginnings of changes in Cuba and because of the impediment this was causing for our regional policy." Translation: Not to worry, Castro brothers, we forgive you. Care for some U.S. economic investment?
Lifting the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba will require congressional action, but that's never stopped Obama before. As the Guardian reports, "The White House hopes that by using a series of executive actions to minimize its enforcement [of the embargo], it can provide a breakthrough that will encourage political reform in Cuba and soften political opposition in the US." Congress and the Constitution be damned. Full speed ahead.
Of course, this is hardly surprising, seeing how well Obama was able to get away with amnesty, along with the fact that Congress has gone home for the holidays. And he's never cared much for the Constitution or Rule of Law anyway.
The truth remains, though, that there is a reason the U.S. closed our embassy in Cuba in 1961 and imposed a trade embargo that same year. That reason was Castro's oppressive regime. And that regime -- and reason -- still stand.
Cuban-Americans on both sides of the political aisle aren't pleased with Obama's actions. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), soon-to-be former chair of the powerful U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and whose parents came to America from Cuba just before his birth, said, "President Obama's actions have vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government."
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), incoming chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Western Hemisphere Subcommittee and whose parents, like Menendez's, were Cuban immigrants, also slammed the president's actions. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Rubio wrote, "The announcement by President Obama on Wednesday giving the Castro regime diplomatic legitimacy and access to American dollars isn't just bad for the oppressed Cuban people, or for the millions who live in exile and lost everything at the hands of the dictatorship. Mr. Obama's new Cuba policy is a victory for oppressive governments the world over and will have real, negative consequences for the American people."
He also noted, "The opportunity for Cuba to normalize relations with the U.S. has always been there, but the Castro regime has never been interested in changing its ways. Now, thanks to President Obama's concessions, the regime in Cuba won't have to change."
Other nations like Iran are taking note.
It remains to be seen whether Congress will at last take a stand against the president's recklessness and uphold our constitutional government. In the meantime, somewhere, Comrades Castro are smiling.

Pouring Cold Water on 'Hottest Year Ever'

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The Lima Climate Change Conference hosted by the power-hungry United Nations came to a close Sunday, but not before burning through a whopping 50,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, the organization's dirtiest carbon footprint to date. The dismissal capped a two-week ordeal that laid the groundwork for a pivotal meeting in Paris late next year, where delegates from across the globe will attempt to hash out a universal blockbuster deal targeting fossil fuels. That event, dubbed COP21, will mark the 21st anniversary of the Conference of the Parties -- ironically a few short years older than the global warming hiatus that alarmists have swept under the rug.
The UN assembly preceded what is expected to be a major announcement next month by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Should current trends continue, that announcement will effectively crank up the alarm dial right when ecofascists need it most. What is this big news, you ask? Pending the outcome of December's temperature anomaly, alarmists are drooling over the likelihood of 2014 going down as the world's "hottest" year yet, providing a nice garnish to policymakers' narrative going into next year's symposium.
According to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, "The first 11 months of 2014 was the warmest such period on record, with a combined global land and ocean average surface temperature of 1.22°F (0.68°C) above the 20th century average of 57.0°F (13.9°C), surpassing the previous record set in 2010 by 0.02°F (0.01°C). The margin of error is ±0.18°F (0.10°C). 2014 is currently on track to be the warmest year on record if the December global temperature is at least 0.76°F (0.42°C) above its 20th century average."
Aside from the obvious disclaimer -- the sample size is puny given our relatively brief history of record keeping -- there are two important questions that arise. First, is NOAA's assertion correct? Second, if so, doesn't that stand in stark contrast to some of the other claims floating around the conservative world?
To answer the first question, we must first determine what methods NOAA uses to compile data. The agency uses two tools: The Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN-Monthly), defined as a "data base [that] contains historical temperature, precipitation, and pressure data for thousands of land stations worldwide," and The Extended Reconstructed Sea Surface Temperature (ERSST), "a global monthly sea surface temperature analysis derived from the International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Dataset with missing data filled in by statistical methods."
Simply stated, the government's standard heavily relies on land-based instruments that are vulnerable to discrepancies, the most axiomatic of which is the heat island effect among metroplexes. Consequently, those measurements are skewed. And even if they weren't, NOAA's report cannot be considered complete. Case in point: The year-to-date temperature departure graph included in the research depicts globs of red ink (heat) intermingled with considerably less blue (cold), but there's another color that takes up a lot of real estate -- gray -- which represents the areas that did not have data and were therefore excluded. That would include all of Antarctica and a large portion of the North Pole.
Apparently, publishing a report that omits data from the coldest places on earth -- and, importantly, areas where ice is rapidly expanding and rebounding -- doesn't warrant a giant asterisk.
Back to the original question, determining if NOAA is right depends on how you construe data -- or, in this case, refuse to consider it. And obfuscating your findings is generally not a good way to build trust. Moreover, this malfeasance extends to the manipulation of pre-satellite records to fit the narrative. WeatherBell Analytics meteorologist Joe Bastardi wrote in an email to The Patriot Post, "The current methods [used by NOAA] involve 'normalizing' temperatures in the pre-satellite era, in many cases cooling previous warm periods, making today look warmer."
And here we thought science was "settled."
The government does not use one method considered superior by many, and it tells a different story. Remote System Satellite (RSS) measurements reveal that this year doesn't even rank among the top five warmest. The Daily Caller's Michael Bastasch says, "2014 is nowhere near the warmest year on record, so far only ranking as the seventh warmest on record."
That's important because WeatherBell's Bastardi considers satellite measurements the most objective way to accurately record global temperatures. Added Bastardi: "[W]hat we can know is what we see today -- and that is the leveling off and eventual downturn in global temperatures as measured objectively. This eliminates any of the 'fox guarding the henhouse' arguments, as many people on my side of the argument believe is going on here."
As for the global warming pause, that was also discovered via RSS. No wonder policymakers discard it too -- objectivity has no place among ideologically driven political leaders. Is it really any wonder what the United Nations would have to say about RSS measurements if its findings happened to fit the narrative?
During the Lima Climate Change Conference, Bolivian President Evo Morales delivered an accurate description of the UN's core motivating philosophy. "The deep causes of global warming," he complained, "are not being dealt with here. The origin of global warming lies in capitalism. If we could end capitalism then we would have a solution." His honesty is somewhat refreshing, if disconcerting all the same.
This war that's being orchestrated by alarmists is not against fossil-fuel-emitting power plants, the greenhouse gas effect or rising sea levels; it's against the free-market enterprise that springs from the foundation of Liberty. The ones who declare the debate over because Science™ says so are the same ones trashing other reputable scientific findings for their own political gain. Remember that in January when they claim, falsely, that 2014 was "the hottest year ever."
For more, visit Right Analysis.

TOP 5 RIGHT OPINION COLUMNS

For more, visit Right Opinion.

OPINION IN BRIEF

Economist Friedrich August von Hayek (1899-1992): "When it becomes dominated by a collectivist creed, democracy will inevitably destroy itself."
Historian Victor Davis Hanson: "Drones blow up everybody nearby. Waterboarding does not affect other nearby prisoners who are not being interrogated. If the wrong suspect is waterboarded, he can be exempt from further such interrogation. If the wrong target is blown up, he has no second chance. Did saving American lives distinguish between the two practices? We do not know. But the suspects incinerated by drones never had any opportunity to be interrogated. Their knowledge of terrorist networks went up in smoke with them. However, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the waterboarded mastermind of 9/11, may have offered information about several supposed copy-cat operations to follow. Was President George W. Bush more nonchalant about enhanced interrogation techniques than was President Obama about drone killings? Not really. The charge against Bush is one of laxity. Supposedly, CIA interrogators freelanced without proper executive-branch supervision. In contrast, Obama is said to go over the drone hit list himself."
Columnist R. Emmett Tyrrell: "Will Rogers, the late American humorist and corn-pone philosopher, once said, 'All I know is what I read in the papers.' That statement earned him a place in Bartletts's Familiar Quotations. Were he alive today it would most likely be inviting widespread derision. Today's newspapers abound with bogus stories. ... The story that originated in Italy's Corriere della Sera and quickly traveled around the world claimed that Pope Francis, while attempting to console a grieving young boy who had lost his pet, asserted that heaven is open to pets. ... Pope Francis never made the idiotic statement and there was no grief-stricken boy. The news story was based on a misreading of the pope's general audience at the Vatican Nov. 26. Yet the Reverend Ciro Benedettini, a Vatican spokesman, did have a helpful bit of information for journalists. He said, 'There is a fundamental rule in journalism. That is double-checking, and in this case it was not done.' Nor was it done at New York magazine or at Rolling Stone, and, apparently, it will not be done at the University of Virginia's campus newspaper. Thus we can anticipate more amusements from American journalists in the years to come."
Comedian Jimmy Fallon: "Obama recently said that his day is all about politics, so in the mornings he likes to watch ESPN. So if you get the feeling he's repeating himself every half hour, that's where he learned it from."
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