At the Pump, Grasping at Straws

Score one for Joe Biden and the Democratic Party:

As the official twitter account of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee shows above, Joltin' Joe has successfully turned around the elevated gas prices that have been bedeviling his administration and dragging down his poll numbers. Looks like smooth sailing ahead, perhaps with an increased seat count in the upcoming mid-terms! Might as well call off the 2024 election, because Biden already has it in the bag.

Except... if you look a little closer at this chart, maybe it isn't all that impressive. First of all, the Y axis isn't showing price changes in dimes or even pennies. It's showing them in fractions of cents. Consequently, in the two weeks depicted in the graph above, the average price of gasoline went down by all of two cents. Which is to say, almost not at all.

Apparently what happened here, as Abigail Marone helpfully illustrates on Twitter, is that heterodox liberal commentator Matt Yglesias sarcastically tweeted out the above graph (sans numbers) with the comment "Gas prices steadily falling since Biden signed the infrastructure bill and fixed inflation." White House Chief of Staff (and de facto president) Ron Klain saw the tweet and, assuming it was legit, liked it and fed it to the DCCC as if it actually meant something. Which it doesn't.

All of which is to say, 1) We're led by idiots who, 2) Can't understand graphs or statistics (cf. our national Covid response), and 3) as the 2024 elections near, the Dems are getting desperate.

Biden's Blame Shifting Comes for Big Oil

Despite being cagey about the topic on the campaign trail, Joe Biden went all in on environmentalism immediately upon entering the White House. Desperate for the approval of the climate crowd, the president killed the Keystone XL pipeline project on his first day in office, rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement, and enacted a moratorium on oil and gas leases on federal land, all to squeals of delight from environmental activists worldwide.

Fast forward a few months and we're in an energy crisis. Now, Biden's green policies aren't solely to blame -- these are complex problems, and pandemic-related disruptions (which can themselves be blamed on the government, at least in part) are probably the bigger culprit. Still, they're making recovery harder than it needs to be.

What's more, it's no coincidence that the rising cost of fuel -- currently at a seven-year high, and expected to keep climbing -- tracks very closely with the president's tanking poll numbers. That collapse at the polls contributed to one Democratic candidate losing the Virginia gubernatorial race and another nearly losing in deep-blue New Jersey, and in the wake of those warning shots Biden's partisans have really started to panic. If things keep on this trajectory, next year's midterm elections are going to be devastating for their party, making the 2010 midterms, which saw the GOP pick up seven senate seats and 63 in the House, pale in comparison. At least in 2010, Barrack Obama was personally popular, even if his agenda was not. Joe Biden has neither going for him.

So Biden is desperate to turn things around. A month ago that meant begging resource companies to lower prices.

That didn't work -- shocker -- because that's not how markets work. So his administration has changed tactics. Their new plan is to open an investigation into the oil and gas industry for "anti-consumer behavior."

President Biden is asking the head of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to look into whether oil companies are illegally increasing prices as consumers face high costs at the pump. "The Federal Trade Commission has authority to consider whether illegal conduct is costing families at the pump. I believe you should do so immediately," Biden wrote in a letter to FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan on Wednesday.

As Luke Thompson put it, "This is vintage Biden. Create a problem. Blame others. Then try to demagogue the issue to avoid accountability." "Fortunately," Thompson continues, "his polling suggests Americans see what’s happening."

The truth is, the Biden administration's environmental actions fall neatly into the very category of "anti-consumer behavior" he's accusing the resource sector of engaging in. We'd be better off if he would change course, open the taps, build the pipelines, grant the leases. That is, steer the ship of state back towards energy independence, and not fret so much about what AOC and the Green New Dealers have to say. (By the way, they're likely popping champagne at the moment, as they did mid-pandemic when the price of oil went negative, a blow from which the industry is still recovering).

But chances are he'll just keep looking to shift the blame.

Of Covid Mandates and Legal Liabilities

Last month President Biden announced an initiative that he asserts will ‘stop’ the SARS Cov-2 virus. A scientifically implausible objective, his outline included a plan to require all private businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure their employees are fully vaccinated or require weekly testing. The mandates are curious because they burden businesses in unprecedented and legally nebulous ways.

Using a mechanism referred to as an Emergency Temporary Standard through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the administration asserts mandating vaccines will stop the transmission of the virus. However, the vaccine was neither developed for, nor indicated to arrest transmission of the virus. According to the FDA website, the vaccine is intended to “…reduce severe illness, hospitalization and death.”

So why might the Administration be issuing mandates for a vaccine that cannot achieve their stated purpose of ‘stopping the virus”? Consider possible reasons by looking through the lens of liability.

Cross my heart and hope to die.

As business-minded leaders do in the face of government overreach, a response must be developed that helps create certainty for the business. To get there in this case, one must review the most fundamental aspect of a mandate… if the business requires the action as a condition of employment, the business owns the consequence of what happens as a result. Understanding the business of vaccine liability may help a business determine whether it is in its best interest to accept the premise of the Biden Administration mandate, or perhaps consider other strategies, including legal challenges.

An important element of the liability relating to vaccines is whether the individual receives the Emergency Use Authorized (EUA)-version of the vaccine, or the newly FDA-approved, branded-version known as Comirnaty. While there is no difference in the actual drug in the syringe, there are differences in the liability protection offered under EUA for those who manufacture, distribute or in some way deliver the vaccine, compared to the FDA-approved Comirnaty.

According to the Congressional Research Service, “…in order to encourage the expeditious development and deployment of medical countermeasures during a public health emergency, the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to limit legal liability for losses relating to the administration of medical countermeasures such as diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines.”

In a declaration effective February 4, 2020, nearly six weeks before the U.S. lock-downs, the HHS Secretary invoked the PREP Act and declared Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) to be a public health emergency warranting liability protections for covered countermeasures inclusive of the available vaccines. According to the current PREP ACT, the protection against liability reaches into 2025.

Ummm...

All state and local governments, medical providers and related manufacturers and distributors of modalities for treatment of Covid-19 were exempted from liability. So for anyone who receives the EUA- version of the vaccine, which as of this writing is still the only version available in the U.S., one has no recourse from a liability perspective, except in very specific and limited circumstances should one experience an adverse event or die. However, once FDA-approved and sold under the brand name Comirnaty, liability is handled differently. Comirnaty is currently only available in Israel.

Under normal circumstances, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) provides compensation for injuries caused by most vaccines routinely administered in the U.S., such as childhood vaccines and non-pandemic seasonal influenza vaccines.

Enter mandated businesses. Once a vaccine is mandated by a private business, an entity not outlined and protected under the PREP Act, nor protected once a branded drug is available on the market, liability protection seemingly does not  exist for businesses.

Looking beyond the PREP ACT, consider the long-term efficacy data currently available. Since vaccines have only been available for a relatively short time, long-term data is simply unknown. However, that doesn’t mean the potential adverse events are not a liability for which a mandated company must model and prepare.

Consider the language from the FDA’s website, pertaining to long-term efficacy of the FDA-approved Comirnaty regarding Myocarditis and Pericarditis.

Additionally, the FDA conducted a rigorous evaluation of the post-authorization safety surveillance data pertaining to myocarditis and pericarditis following administration of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 Vaccine and has determined that the data demonstrate increased risks, particularly within the seven days following the second dose. The observed risk is higher among males under 40 years of age compared to females and older males. The observed risk is highest in males 12 through 17 years of age. Available data from short-term follow-up suggest that most individuals have had resolution of symptoms. However, some individuals required intensive care support. Information is not yet available about potential long-term health outcomes. The Comirnaty Prescribing Information includes a warning about these risks.

Add to this, we now believe the SARS CoV-2 virus was modified in a Chinese lab and the liability issues are more nebulous. A recently exposed a 2018 grant proposal submitted by Peter Daszak of the Eco Health Alliance, to DARPA, the Pentagon’s research and development arm. The proposal sought funding to engineer a Furin Cleavage site (FCS) into a beta coronavirus. The FCS was intended to increase the virulence of the virus in humans. DARPA deemed it too dangerous and denied the grant.

A year later, in 2019, a beta coronavirus virus with a FCS shows up having potentially ‘leaked’ from a Wuhan lab at which Daszak was coincidently using National Institute of Health (NIH) funding to make gain-of-function modifications to beta family coronaviruses. A significant percentage of the spike protein from the original strain of SARS Cov-2 are in the vaccine now being mandated. What other enhancements were made to that virus and inadvertently stitched into the vaccine? The answers are presently unknown.

Companies must decide whether mandating the vaccine for their most valuable asset, their employees, is a sound business decision. Can businesses confidently assert that without a legal fight, they will not have some liability in the face of potential short and long-term health issues associated with the currently available vaccine?

Biden Administration: 'Actually, Pipelines are Good'

I quoted this the other day, but Kyle Smith's line about how anti-pipeline Joe Biden has been bears repeating. For candidate Biden, "Keystone XL not only was a menace to our American way of life by bringing us energy, Biden thought it had to be cut off before his first afternoon nap." And he did, in fact, kill Keystone on Day 1 as promised.

That's a good fact to remember, since during the Colonial pipeline fiasco at least three officials in the Biden administration have admitted that pipelines are the safest and most efficient way to transport fuel. H/T to Breitbart for collecting the quotes:

First, "Climate Czar" John Kerry:

Kerry, when asked by Republican Rep. Darrell Issa (CA) if it is “true, the pipelines are more carbon-delivery efficient than trains or trucks or other forms of delivery?” Kerry immediately responded and said, “Yeah, that is true.”

Next, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm:

Granholm... admitted Tuesday, “pipe is the best way to go” when transporting fuel, during a press briefing regarding the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack.

And finally, Transportation Secretary and former McKinsey Globalist... er, sorry, Small Town Mayor/Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. Asked whether he agrees with Secretary Granholm's comments that "pipelines are still the best way to move oil,”

Buttigieg responded by saying, “certainly.” He then continued, especially “when you’re talking about the efficiency of moving petroleum products.” “That’s why we have pipelines,” he added after.

Maybe someone should clue in the old man upstairs, after he wakes up from his nap.