Good Friday Morning! It’s a cold morning here in Tennessee as winter returns, and just as winter returns for a bit, so does the Mueller investigation. I’ve got a column coming out today at the Conservative Institute, so I’ll hold off repeating that here, but keep an eye out. Today I’m covering the upcoming hurricane season, returning to lessons people should have learned last year. But I’m going to start on a story that broke Thursday, The Atlantic’s decision to fire conservative writer Kevin D. Williamson just two weeks after hiring him. Links will follow.
New this week at the Conservative Institute
Roseanne is back on the airwaves, and with it, Hollywood’s latest attempt to connect with the Donald Trump voter.
Or at least, that’s what we’re led to believe with the project, headed by Roseanne Barr and most of the original cast.
The ultimate question we’re left with is whether Roseanne is an accurate representation of a conservative — or Trump voter — or if it’s just what Hollywood producers want those voters to be in their imaginations.
“The mind cannot foresee its own advance,” observed twentieth-century Austrian economist and philosopher Friedrich Hayek. His point was that humanity is limited in its ability to predict the future with exacting detail.
It’s so limited, in fact, that we can’t see how our own minds will advance.
The mob purges The Atlantic
For those who don’t know, Kevin D. Williamson was a senior writer a National Review for years. He’s been their best writer for quite some time, even if you measure purely on writing skill. I don’t always agree with him, in fact, I don’t know anyone who does. But he’s one of those modern political writers whose ideas you have to grapple with if you’re a serious reader or writer (some others would be Andrew Sullivan, Megan McCardle, Thomas Friedman, Johnathan Chait, Ross Douthat, and Jonah Goldberg).
The Atlantic hired him away from National Review two weeks ago, proclaiming that Williamson would broaden their intellectual bullpen. And even a glance at the Atlantic’s roster of writers, including Williamson, presents a formidable cast.
When the Williamson announcement came out from the Atlantic, it met hostile ridicule from just about every liberal outlet you can imagine. The hostility rivaled that Bret Stephens moving from the Wall Street Journal to the New York Times.
There are plenty of areas you could attack Williamson, for instance, I think he’s a weak writer on issues of race (though that’s endemic to National Review as a whole, with a few exceptions). But the reason The Atlantic fired Williamson is over his pro-life stance on abortion.
Williamson holds what I’d consider a more extreme view on the pro-life front. His essential stance is that killing an unborn life amounts to murder. All participants involved in ending the child’s life, doctor, mother, everyone, should be criminally prosecuted for murder. The more typical position is that only the doctor should get held criminally liable, because the mother is a victim in the proceeding, as argued by Robert George.
Williamson’s critics on the left decided to pounce on this stance and hammer him with it. They used provocative tweets where Williamson sarcastically tweeted he was ok with mothers getting hanged for abortion, and a podcast episode where he used the same hyperbolic analogy to express his view.
The Atlantic says they fired him because of these views.
Here’s the thing, I don’t care who The Atlantic ultimately hires or fires. They can have anyone write for them that they want. But they’re outright lying when they’re saying they were surprised and dumbfounded by Williamson’s statements. None of the criticisms launched against Williamson were new when they hired him, everything he’s written is public domain and easily accessible. They hired Williamson with full knowledge of everything he had written and said.
They didn’t make their decision because Williamson held extreme views, they made their decision because they listened to a left-wing mob that consistently rises whenever any slightly provocative writer on the right gets a mainstream job. And The Atlantic caved to that mob.
Williamson’s first column at The Atlantic was about Libertarianism in the GOP, and leftist writers from ThinkProgress on down blasted it as an attack on… them.
Again, the Atlantic has every right to hire and fire who they want. But they can’t bill themselves as a free-for-all forum of ideas if they’re going to start letting mobs dictate who writes for them. If the New York Times can tell its mostly liberal readership to gets used to Bret Stephens, I think the Atlantic’s readers will survive.
As one final aside on this topic, it’s common to see people say that mobs pushing for a change is just the free market at work. That’s patently false; the free market is a reference to the trade of supply and demand. Social media mobs fall under the old definition of tyranny of the majority in a democracy, the hordes that inevitably devolved into tyranny.
Busy Hurricane Season Ahead
I want everyone to take note of the early hurricane projections for the new year:
As it has done every year since 1984, Colorado State University has released its initial predictions for the upcoming season. Its forecast is for a total of 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes, which is slightly above the long-term average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes. Last year, we saw 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes and six major hurricanes.
These 2018 predictions will be updated on May 31, July 2 and Aug. 2.
Two primary factors critical for determining how active the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season will be whether El Niño develops and the configuration of North Atlantic sea surface temperatures.
When El Niño conditions are present and ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific are warm, the Atlantic hurricane season tends to be less active. The reverse is true when La Niña, the opposite phase, prevails and the tropical Pacific waters are cool. Right now, the verdict is still out about which conditions, if any, will take control by the time hurricane season is underway.
Similar to what occurred last winter, the tropical eastern and central Pacific cooled to weak La Niña conditions this past winter. These weak La Niña conditions have continued to persist, although there has been rising of sea surface temperatures in the eastern and central tropical Pacific in recent weeks.
During the Northern Hemisphere spring, the future state of the El Niño and La Niña is notoriously difficult to predict — a phenomenon known as the springtime predictability barrier.
The low-level winds that force ocean circulation changes that drive El Niño and La Niña events are usually at their weakest during this time, and consequently, small changes in the atmosphere can have significant effects on whether El Niño develops. As a result, computer model forecasts are typically least reliable during the Northern Hemisphere spring. This lack of skill was clearly demonstrated last year, as most of the forecast models called for El Niño to develop by the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. Instead, we ended up with neutral to weak La Niña conditions, which supported the very active season.
Here’s why everyone should pay attention: last year, the predictions were saying that 2017 was going to be a busy year. Everyone ignored it because the prior decade, from 2007 – 2017 had seen a drought of major hurricanes, measuring from 3-5 on the official scale. Before that, you’d have to go back to the 1860’s to find a similar hurricane drought.
The drought ended in 2017 when we had 17 named storms, six of which were major hurricanes. And some of the same favorable conditions that set off 2017 are present again in 2018, with major questions outstanding on sea temperatures and the El Nino/La Nina cycle.
I bring this up because these warnings got ignored last year, and people freaked out about major hurricanes reappearing, and they blamed global warming (there’s no confirmed linked between warming and stronger hurricanes, my write-up on last season here). If we see another active season, people will freak out again because they’re not used to dealing with a historically regular hurricane season.
So when things kick into gear, be prepared, but also be aware that hurricane patterns could be returning to normal. Which means we get 3-5 major hurricanes in a season.
Always remember weather =/= climate.
And I say all this as a person who agrees there are distinct and measurable climate changes occurring — I really hate the stupid social media alarmists who blame every single “bad” weather phenomenon on climate change.
Links of the week
On the Cowardly Firing of Kevin Williamson – David French, National Review
The Roseanne Test: Which matters more: economics or identity politics? – Matthew Continetti, The Washington Free Beacon
Keeping Things Civil: Afterword to the novel Empire – Orson Scott Card
THE ISIS FILES: We unearthed thousands of internal documents that help explain how the Islamic State stayed in power so long. – Rukmini Callimachi, The New York Times
Polarization Is an Old American Story: Gordon Wood, the noted historian of early America, says Adams’s Federalists and Jefferson’s Republicans were far more divided than today’s political parties. – Jason Willick, The Wall Street Journal
Any method of reducing the US current account deficit is risky: The language of morality tempts America into unnecessary and costly trade wars – Megan Greene, The Financial Times
On Secularism and Conservatism – Jonah Goldberg, National Review
Where Will Conservatives Draw the Line on Trump?: This is personal, not policy. – Noah C. Rothman, Commentary Magazine
The Nonexistent Border Crisis – Jonathan S. Tobin, National Review
The Left’s Year of Magical Thinking: Fantasies about the Second Amendment, the Mueller investigation and Stormy Daniels threaten to sabotage the Democrats in November. – Jeff Greenfield, Politico Magazine
On World Autism Awareness Day, Remember ‘The Neglected End Of The Spectrum’ – Hannah Brown, The Huffington Post
When cops become robbers: Inside one of America’s most corrupt police squads – Jessica Lussenhop, BBC News
Satire piece of the week
LYNDONBERG, PA—Local progressive Christian and liberal religious blogger Landon Gerry is being heralded as a hero of the faith for ensuring the survival of Christianity by gradually denying every major Christian doctrine, sources confirmed Wednesday.
Religious commentators around the country agreed that Gerry’s heroic defense of the faith, comprised primarily of rejecting everything Christians have believed since the New Testament was completed, is the last hope for Christianity’s survival in the 21st century.
“If Landon hadn’t compromised everything we hold dear, the faith would be in real trouble,” one pastor in California told reporters. “Thanks, Landon. We owe it all to you buddy!”
Thanks for reading!