Does CPAC support open borders?

The big domestic news today is the Conservative Political Action Committee conference, or CPAC, where dozens of major Republican and conservative thinkers (from Minority Leader John Boehner to Glenn Beck) are speaking to 10,000 members of their base. The big news out of CPAC is the Mount Vernon Statement, a commitment to Constitutional-conservative positions with signatories including Grover Norquist, Edwin Meese, and Tony Perkins.

Here is an excerpt:

Each one of these founding ideas is presently under sustained attack. In recent decades, America's principles have been undermined and redefined in our culture, our universities and our politics. The selfevident truths of 1776 have been supplanted by the notion that no such truths exist. The federal government today ignores the limits of the Constitution, which is increasingly dismissed as obsolete and irrelevant.

Some insist that America must change, cast off the old and put on the new. But where would this lead -- forward or backward, up or down? Isn't this idea of change an empty promise or even a dangerous deception?

The change we urgently need, a change consistent with the American ideal, is not movement away from but toward our founding principles. At this important time, we need a restatement of Constitutional conservatism grounded in the priceless principle of ordered liberty articulated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

The Mount Vernon Statement draws support from a number of conservatives, including many members of the Tea Party movement. Here's the problem. The Mount Vernon folks espouse sticking to the letter of the Constitution. But many of them also vocally support some things the Constitution does not -- like military commissions for enemy combatants and closed borders.

According to the Constitution, enemy combatants should be tried in civilian courts. And the Declaration of Independence lists the British crown's restriction of free immigration as one of its grievances: "[The king] has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands."

Some Constitutional conservatives -- like Norquist -- do not attempt to square this circle. They instead support free immigration policies and trying terrorists in civilian courts. Others, it seems, reconcile themselves to an elastic constitution in some circumstances. Either way, it is the subject of feisty debate among conservatives.


Who's the real U.N. climate chief?

Many readers are no doubt understandably confused by journalistic shorthand that often labels two different guys -- Yvo de Boer and Rajendra K. Pachauri -- the U.N.'s "climate chief." De Boer's resignation just went public today, and Pachauri has been in the news a lot lately over "Climategate," so I'm sure the confusion is only going to get worse.

Until he formally steps down on July 1, De Boer will remains the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is the organization that implements a 1992 treaty called... the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. De Boer heads a staff of about 200 people and reports to the U.N. secretary general. His main task has been coordinating efforts to get a new global treaty passed to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the first attempt to get countries to commit to reducing their emissions of greenhouse gases. And he was the U.N.'s point man for last December's Copenhagen summit, though it was the Dutch who handled most of the logistics of the meeting.

Pachauri heads up a separate entity called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is charged with reviewing the literature, pulling together scientific assessments on climate change, and putting them in a format policymakers can digest. It's technically accurate to say it's a U.N. body, but somewhat misleading, as it's really an organization made up of member governments. The RealClimate blog has a concise primer on the IPCC here:

Let’s start with a few basic facts about the IPCC.  The IPCC is not, as many people seem to think, a large organization. In fact, it has only 10 full-time staff in its secretariat at the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva, plus a few staff in four technical support units that help the chairs of the three IPCC working groups and the national greenhouse gas inventories group. The actual work of the IPCC is done by unpaid volunteers – thousands of scientists at universities and research institutes around the world who contribute as authors or reviewers to the completion of the IPCC reports. A large fraction of the relevant scientific community is thus involved in the effort.  The three working groups are:

Working Group 1 (WG1), which deals with the physical climate science basis, as assessed by the climatologists, including several of the Realclimate authors.

Working Group 2 (WG2), which deals with impacts of climate change on society and ecosystems, as assessed by social scientists, ecologists, etc.

Working Group 3 (WG3) , which deals with mitigation options for limiting global warming, as assessed by energy experts, economists, etc.

Assessment reports are published every six or seven years and writing them takes about three years. Each working group publishes one of the three volumes of each assessment. The focus of the recent allegations is the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), which was published in 2007.  Its three volumes are almost a thousand pages each, in small print. They were written by over 450 lead authors and 800 contributing authors; most were not previous IPCC authors. There are three stages of review involving more than 2,500 expert reviewers who collectively submitted 90,000 review comments on the drafts. These, together with the authors’ responses to them, are all in the public record.

So, to summarize: The IPCC does science; the UNFCC does politics and policy.