I've received many letters like this about my appearance last week in the United States Senate:
Dear Mr. Steyn:
I've been following the reports on your appearance to give Senate testimony, and the troubles you and other witnesses encountered there. I don't want to pretend that I'm any kind of expert in such matters, but it was my impression going in that the hearings were Senator Cruz's idea, and that you were his invitee. If so, how were the proceedings commandeered by Sen. Markey in the manner that your posts suggest?
Well, Markey didn't "commandeer" the proceedings. He was just blowharding off, and me and Judith Curry decided to blowhard right back at him, to the point where the big wimp cleared out and chose not to return for the second round of questions.
It might be truer to say that the Democrats as a whole commandeered the proceedings. But even that would not be strictly correct. What happened is that Senate Republicans chose to permit the Dems to commandeer them.
How did that happen? Ted Cruz's Science committee is a sub-committee of the Senate Commerce committee. The sub-committee has six Republican members, five Democrats. The senior party representatives on the overall Commerce committee - John Thune (Republican) and Bill Nelson (Democrat) - are ex officio members of the sub-committee and are also permitted to attend. So there should have been seven Republicans and six Democrats in the room that afternoon. Instead:
All the Democratic subcommittee members were present and accounted for: Senator Tom Udall, (D-NM), the Ranking Member; Senator Ed Markey (D-MA); Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ); Senator Gary Peters (D-MI); Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI). Also in attendance, the Ranking Member of Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL).
In Washington, as Woody Allen once joked, ninety percent of success is showing up. All the Democrats showed up.
However, John Thune (R-SD), Chairman of the full committee, was a no-show.
Thus, the most senior Senator present for the hearing, in an institution dedicated to Seniority (hence the name "Senate"), was a Democrat.
Only one other Republican was present on the dais, Senators Steve Daines (R-MT). All the other G.O.P. members, including Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) were absent. Message: I don't care.
Also absent was Cory Gardner, the Colorado Republican. Daines tossed a friendly pitch for his home-state audience, with amusing references to some pal of his re-charging his Tesla in Bozeman. And, when he was done schmoozing for Eyewitness News in Bozeman, he left the room. So, for the remaining 70 per cent of the hearing, what should have been six Democrats and seven Republicans was instead six Democrats and one Republican - the lonely chairman, Ted Cruz. That's why the Dems got 85 per cent of the question time and lobbed puffballs at Rear Admiral Titley - until eventually Judith Curry and I chose to push back at the fatuous Markey.
Why did this happen? I'm a foreigner, and I certainly rarely feel more foreign than when I'm in the ghastly US Senate. But I've attended committees in the Canadian parliament and other parts of the Commonwealth and can't recall any occasion when the majority party's members have chosen to boycott the hearing.
Why did no Republicans show up? Rubio was off campaigning in California and ignoring all those senatorial duties his constituent Jeb! wants him to focus on. But Thune and the rest of those guys were all in the building, voting on various Senate flim-flam going on that day. So even though they were 90 seconds away they chose not to attend.
The not so subtle reason is that, like Bob Dole (currently threatening, if Cruz is the nominee, to "oversleep" on Election Day), their antipathy to Ted Cruz outweighs everything else. Dole feels that Cruz has been given the greatest honor any man can have - the keys to the Senate men's room - and yet he won't play by the rules of the club.
The slightly subtler reason is that these Republicans felt that the whole climate biz was a bit of a hot potato for them. Yet, putting aside my own presence, the three scientists in the room were among the most respectable figures in the field: John Christy is the great innovator who developed the world's first satellite temperature record; Judith Curry, among the old boys' club of climate science, is perhaps the most distinguished female climatologist on earth, although she would disdain such a categorization; and Will Happer is an eminent Princeton physics professor garlanded with almost all the major awards in his field. All of them have paid a price for speaking out against Big Climate. So, in disdaining Cruz (and/or me), senators Thune, Rubio, Moran, Sullivan and Gardner were also disdaining some of the most distinguished climate realists on the planet. Those three scientists did not deserve that from a handful of political hacks. Indeed, by their absence, they were contributing to the overall message of climate conformism: If you disagree with the "97 per cent consensus", at least have the good taste to crawl away and die somewhere far off out of sight.
As I've often said, the Republican Party is so good at folding they should be the White House valets. Doesn't matter what your issue is, they'll fold. They fold on debt, on immigration, on regulation, on gay marriage, on Obamacare, on [Insert Your Issue Here]. Regardless of the merits of this or that issue, on the whole they'd rather pre-emptively surrender. And I got the definite sense from their no-show last week that for these guys global warming will be just the 173rd issue for which discretion is the better part of valor. Save your powder - for next year, next decade, whenever. If you're a Kansan, Floridian, Coloradan, South Dakotan or Alaskan and you voted because you want sanity in environmental policy, well, tough: the GOP don't dance with them what brung them, no way, no how.
Which may have something to do with why Trump, Cruz, Carson and Fiorina have a combined 66 per cent of the vote in the latest poll - and the two clubbable senators, Rubio and Graham, have a combined 11 per cent.
~Speaking of solidarity, ever since the publication of the Mohammed cartoons ten years ago (and as recently as September in the Danish Parliament), I have called on more people to share the risk:
The 12 cartoonists are now in hiding. According to the chairman of the Danish Liberal Party, a group of Muslim men showed up at a local school looking for the daughter of one of the artists.
When that racket starts, no cartoonist or publisher or editor should have to stand alone. The minute there were multimillion-dollar bounties on those cartoonists' heads, The Times of London and Le Monde and The Washington Post and all the rest should have said "this Thursday we're all publishing all the cartoons. If you want to put bounties on all our heads, you better have a great credit line at the Bank of Jihad. If you want to kill us, you'll have to kill us all...
But it didn't happen.
No, it didn't. And so those brave cartoonists were left to "stand alone", and eventually forced into hiding. And those few who stood with them in Paris were slaughtered in January. And almost everyone I have ever shared a stage with on this subject - including Lars Hedegaard, Nekschot and Lars Vilks - have also been deprived of their liberty and live lives where they're shuffled from one secure location to another. And most recently the brave Douglas Murray, a very lonely voice in the British media, has announced that "on security grounds" he can no longer give advance warning of his public appearances. Because almost all our colleagues were cowards ten years ago, more will die, or be reduced to the shrunken horizons of "safe houses". The jelly-spined have sniffed which way the wind is blowing:
Together, inshallah, we will overcome these challenges.
Together, inshallah, the western world is surrendering to its "challenges".
~What do I mean by "share the risk"? Well, it would be heartening if a few more Americans knew stories like this:
It was January, 1945 and Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds had a gun to his head.
The commandant of the Stalag IXA POW Camp near Ziegenhain, Germany, ordered Edmonds, of the 422nd Infantry Regiment, to turn over the Jewish-American soldiers under his command. Edmonds and his men – Jews and non-Jews alike – stood together in formation.
"They cannot all be Jews," the German said, looking over the more than 1,000 POWs.
"We are all Jews," Edmonds responded.
"I will shoot you," the commandant warned.
But Edmonds had his own warning: "According to the Geneva Convention, we only have to give our name, rank and serial number. If you shoot me, you will have to shoot all of us, and after the war you will be tried for war crimes."
The commandant stood down.
The Jewish soldiers among the 422nd Infantry Regiment lived because Edmonds chose to share the risk. He and his comrades were better men than those of us raised in the peace they made.