Manchin Brags About Sinking 'Build Back Better'

If you required further proof that Senator Joe Manchin, the last sane Democrat, is proud of having tanked his own party's multi-trillion dollar "Build Back Better" bill, look no further than this campaign ad he just cut -- for a Republican no less -- in which he brags about his opposition to it for voters in his home state of West Virginia:

The context requires a bit of explanation: redistricting has led to Republican Reps. Alex Mooney and David McKinley fighting to represent the same district, WV-2. Mooney has accused McKinley as being soft on BBB, which is wildly unpopular in West Virginia. And now Mr. Anti-BBB himself has stepped in say that that claim "is an outright lie," in the course of endorsing McKinley.

But that context is less important than the fact that Senator Manchin is now wearing his position as the great slayer of Build Back Better as a badge of honor. And make no mistake -- Build Back Better would have been a disaster As the New York Post explained back in December,

The $5 trillion BBB bill would have been a handout to Democrat-backed unions, federalizing child-care and pre-K workers into their ranks. It was full of gifts for everyone from rich people living in Democratic states (via the state and local tax deduction) to journalists (via media subsidies). Besides being a colossal waste of money, its “climate change” subsidies would have hurt Manchin’s state of West Virginia...

The legislation would have driven up the cost of everything for everyone — adding to our already historic inflation. It was nowhere close to being “paid for,” as President Biden claimed. And yes, it is $5 trillion, not the $1.75 trillion Democrats dishonestly advertised — by pretending programs would disappear after a year or two, when they knew they’d extend them forever. Even not accounting for that gimmick, the bill would add at least $367 billion to the federal deficit.

Considering the fact that Manchin's critiques of the bill (along with other massive spending proposals authorized by Congress and the White House since the outbreak of Covid-19) were always built upon his concerns about impending inflation, he's been proven more prescient than most of his colleagues. Of course they despise him for it. And judging by this commercial, he's ready to say with another Democrat of old, "They are unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred."

Good on you, Senator. You've earned it.

The Davos Road to Serfdom

A recent tweet from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “In a modern, moral, & wealthy society, no American should be too poor to live.” There is nothing remarkable about this empty trope. Scratch any leftist. Out it comes. Even those on the right of the political spectrum might nod along in unthinking moments. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope would nod along in their thinking moments.

Christian religious leaders are prone to flights of fancy. Justin Welby and Francis are keen on so-called inclusive capitalism to solve the ills of the world. Utopia in the here and now. Heaven can wait. Call it also stakeholder capitalism, if you prefer the nomenclature of Klaus Schwab’s great reset of capitalism.

A first thing to say is that this surreal transfiguration of capitalism has no correspondence with reality. It’s made up. A chimera. It cannot be brought to sustained life. At least not the life envisaged. It could morph into something which can be brought to life; albeit a dissolute life. It’s called socialism.

Would you buy a used electric car from this man?

A friend of mine, and fellow Christian, is fond of echoing Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716) in asserting that the universe and all of its contents, animate and inanimate, could not have been better made. It’s an article of faith but impregnable. Try something. For example, if only those pesky tectonic plates didn’t move and cause devastating earthquakes. Okay, if you want to sit on a powder keg in flatland. Everything is on such a knife edge that serious tampering always leads into an abyss. Capitalism is like that.

Capitalism is “free-market capitalism,” or else it isn’t capitalism at all. Yes, I know, capitalism is always accompanied by cronyism and never more so since global-warming boondoggles took off, but that in itself speaks to its power to survive sleazy deals.

Schwab sets "stakeholder capitalism" against what he calls shareholder capitalism, which he associates with (scary) Milton Freidman. But shareholder capitalism is, in fact, another name for free-market capitalism. Owners looking primarily to increase their profits is the way shareholder capitalism, aka free-market capitalism, works to make everybody better off. It’s the reason why poverty in the industrialised world has continually trended down since the mid-eighteenth century.

Best to remember too that the term shareholder capitalism gives a distorted picture of capitalism. Capitalism isn’t just a collection of giant corporations. For example, businesses with from one to 999 employees, account for almost 60 percent all U.S. private sector jobs. Those wielding influence at Davos should put themselves into perspective. Private jets tend to beget arrogance.

How the one percent lives.

We need a better understanding of capitalism. It dispels flights of fancy. As I’ve previously argued, capitalism is akin to a “living system.” Living systems (see James Grier Miller’s defining work) are systems which self-organise and interact with their environment. They are open systems which resist entropy. The second law of thermodynamics has its way with all closed systems. Entropy eventually undoes them.

An open system must have inputs which are higher in complexity than its outputs. Among other things, this gives it the capacity to forestall decay and undertake repairs and renewal. Additionally, an open system must have what Miller calls “a ‘decider” which causes its components to interact optimally.

Only free-market capitalism meets the requirement of an open economic system. A complex brew of resources—raw materials, skilled labor, physical and financial capital, ingenuity, invention, innovation and entrepreneurship—freely interact to produce outputs in the form of goods and services. The “decider” is market prices, which govern where resources are allocated. As for relative complexity, consider the engineering ingenuity which forms just one part of the inputs in producing, say, motor vehicles.

Now consider so-called stakeholder capitalism. “Shared value creation” must predominate according to Schwab. “Environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals… should complement financial metrics.” Executive salaries “should align with the new measure of long-term shared value creation.” Large companies should “work with other stakeholders to improve the state of the world in which they are operating. In fact, this proviso should be their ultimate purpose.”

A fascist spanner in the works.

At every step the open system is stymied. Profitable opportunities can’t be seized. Instead, they are subject to almost never-ending processes to discover their compatibility with normative external aspirations. Executives are prevented from seeking maximum reward and thus businesses which can best employ their skills are denied their services. Large companies face the unenviable and impossible task of improving the world. How’s that for inducing entrepreneurial paralysis.

One way or another, stakeholder capitalism walls off the economic system. Nebulous social and environmental obstacles are put in the way of the system responding to market forces. Prices aren’t the decider. Result: entropy and misery. Increasing prosperity is not an immutable facet of human existence. Plenty of examples of economic regression, e.g., real wages in Argentina more than halved in the thirty years between 1975 and 2005. I’ll leave it to Miller:

Walling off living systems to prevent [free] exchanges across their boundaries results in death by confinement... entropy will always increase in walled-off living systems.

Of course, there are no absolutes in real economic life. It is not a question of there being walls or no walls. How formidable are the walls, is the question? As to that, I don’t sense stunted ambition among the elite at Davos. And recall that a festering ambition to reset capitalism preceded climate-change alarmism and Covid hysteria. These are large dollops of additional grist for their build-back-better mill.

I’m sometimes prone to put the Great Reset in the category of bad things which might come about. A mistake. It’s already afoot; enervation underway: ESG and its ugly sister EDI (equity, diversity & inclusion) permeate boardrooms. Green lawfare, subsidised renewal energy, and woke financial corporations and fund managers are putting fossil fuels out of business. Except, that is, when it comes to Russian tanks and planes. Now there's a thought.

When the lights go out, expect not to see remorseful recanting elites but despotic measures to keep us energy-starved, newly-manufactured, serfs in check. Covid has given them practise runs. State premiers in Australia have shown themselves adept at tyranny, as have many U.S. state governors. As it turns out, mere novices compared with Canadian Duce Justin Trudeau. No shortage of willing Stasi, informants and Jobsworths to enforce rules. It’s time we stopped tiresomely pointing the finger at tyranny abroad and turned it inwards. Ask not for whom the bell tolls.

Merry Christmas from Joe Manchin

Senator Joe Manchin, last of the Blue Dog Democrats, has announced that he is officially a "No" on the fiscally irresponsible, $3.5 trillion "Build Back Better" bill. Which is to say that he's dropped a lump of West Virginia coal into Joe Biden's stocking, while delivering mirth and jollity to the rest of us. Just call him Father Christmas!

The details are spicy -- supposedly Senator Manchin was angry (understandably) at the White House for releasing personalized statements targeting him for holding up BBB (at a time when he's been continually harassed by far left activists, who've taken to camping outside his house) when they know full well that he's far from the only Democratic senator with serious reservations about the bill.

In the end, frustrated by the long, pointless negotiations, he gave the White House just 30 minutes' notice before he went on Fox News to drop his bombshell. In the interim, he refused to take the panicked phone calls of White House staffers, desperate to head him off at the pass.

So, what did the senior senator from West Virginia save us from? The New York Post explains:

The $5 trillion BBB bill would have been a handout to Democrat-backed unions, federalizing child-care and pre-K workers into their ranks. It was full of gifts for everyone from rich people living in Democratic states (via the state and local tax deduction) to journalists (via media subsidies). Besides being a colossal waste of money, its “climate change” subsidies would have hurt Manchin’s state of West Virginia...

The legislation would have driven up the cost of everything for everyone — adding to our already historic inflation. It was nowhere close to being “paid for,” as President Biden claimed. And yes, it is $5 trillion, not the $1.75 trillion Democrats dishonestly advertised — by pretending programs would disappear after a year or two, when they knew they’d extend them forever. Even not accounting for that gimmick, the bill would add at least $367 billion to the federal deficit.

Not jolly enough for you yet? Then check out this piece at NPR, which sobs over Manchin's decision to destroy the world in a climate change-y blaze just for kicks:

With billions of dollars for clean energy, the Build Back Better legislation has the potential to substantially and rapidly cut heat-trapping emissions in the U.S. But Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., rejected the bill on Sunday, and that means Build Back Better is effectively dead at a time when scientists say the world can't afford to wait on climate change. "It's really disheartening," says Leah Stokes, associate professor of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. "We don't have any more decades left to waste, and failure is not an option."

Why on earth did they seek out a poli-sci professor to comment on the climate situation? More:

The legislation earmarked $555 billion for renewable energy and clean transportation incentives over a decade in the country's largest climate change investment ever. The policies are crucial for President Biden's goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 50%-52% by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. Even that goal may not be enough to avoid climate change's most destructive impacts, scientists warn.

Note that even BBB wasn't extreme enough for these people, for all their wailing and gnashing of teeth over its demise. Build Back Better is already pretty unpopular in Manchin's home state (it polls worse there than in the country overall, and that's saying something). In any event, for braving this near universal condemnation, Senator Manchin has made all of the right enemies. Merry Christmas, Senator!

But Where Does Electricity Come from, Pete?

Ladies and Gentleman, "Mayor Pete" Buttigieg, United States Secretary of Transportation and, perhaps, the future face of the Democratic Party:

The Build Back Better legislation] contains incentives to make it more affordable to buy an electric vehicle, up to a $12,500 discount in effect, for families thinking about getting an E.V., families that, once they own that electric vehicle, will never have to worry about gas prices again.

Suffice it to say, I can't remember when I've heard a more brainless sentiment. Buttigieg can't possibly be this dumb, can he?

Maybe it's just that he's been given an impossible assignment -- talk up the increasingly unpopular Build Back Better plan while shifting blame on rising gas prices to combat the president's tanking poll numbers. He might as well be saying, 'Hey, if you people had bought an electric car, you wouldn't have to worry about gas prices right now! But no worries -- we've got a plan to give you a pile of money so you can fix that mistake. That's why pencils have erasers!"

Still, at the risk of asking some obvious questions: Where does Buttigieg think that electricity comes from? Does he not know that it is inextricably tied to the price of petroleum products? Here's David Harsanyi spelling that out for him:

Natural-gas prices have increased over 150 percent in a year’s time — with help from Biden-administration policy. More than 40 percent of our electricity is generated by natural gas.... Right now, fossil fuels are responsible for generating around 60 percent of our electricity — with nuclear, a source that Buttigieg now opposes, responsible for another 20 percent. The remaining 20 percent — often at tremendous up-front costs — is generated by renewable sources.

And as Harsanyi points out, "plugging your car into an outlet for 15 hours every night is going to cost plenty if Democrats get their way and make fossil fuels more expensive."

Even Buttigieg's reference to a $12,500 discount for people buying a new electric vehicle is ridiculous -- the average price difference between a new E.V. and a gas-powered car is $19,000! And that is on top of the significant tax-payer funded subsidies to the E.V. industry, enacted in the hope that it might one day be profitable on its own. It's farcical that even with this new subsidy embedded in BBB they're unable to close the gap.

All of which is to say -- Mayor Pete is trying to take you for a ride. Don't let him.

Climate Pork-a-Palooza

The massive new $1.2 trillion "Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act" contains $47 billion specifically designated to combat the imagined evils of climate change, the largest sum Congress has ever agreed to spend to fight the weather. This $47 billion that we as a country don’t have targets a problem we don’t have, and is part of H.R. 3684, the infrastructure package that will cost $1.2 trillion we don’t have.

The $47 billion in this hernia-causing, pork-barrel, 2,700-page bill is to foster “climate resilience,” an invented buzzword whose meaning is elastic enough to cover a whole range of programs.

Of course, first there was global warming, then climate change, and now this thing called “climate resilience.” This new and improved label that conveniently skips right over the question of whether there actually is a problem and whether we can do something about it, and goes straight to an assumption that manmade global warming is fact and must be dealt with urgently.

The money is fake but the pigs are real.

One enviro site defines climate resilience as “the ability to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to hazardous events, trends, or disturbances related to climate. Improving climate resilience involves assessing how climate change will create new, or alter current, climate-related risks, and taking steps to better cope with these risks.”

The mainstream media is in on this con, as usual. When the New York Times triumphantly reported final congressional approval of the bill Nov. 5, it lied, claiming the money would help cushion the blow of a fantasized environmental apocalypse that was already in progress.

“There were 22 climate disasters that cost at least $1 billion each in the United States in 2020, shattering the previous record of 16 events, which occurred in 2017 and 2011, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,” according to the Old Gray Lady. The funds will be used “to prepare the nation to withstand the devastating impacts of climate change,” and will “help communities prepare for the new age of extreme fires, floods, storms and droughts that scientists say are worsened by human-caused climate change.”

Here is how some of the $47 billion marked for climate resilience will be spent: $11.6 billion to the Army Corps of Engineers for flood control; $3.5 billion to the Federal Emergency Management Administration for flood mitigation and assistance; $550 million to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for forecasting climate change; $500 million to NOAA to improve mapping and forecast inland and coastal flooding; another $50 million to NOAA to predict, model, and forecast wildfires; $500 million to the Department of Agriculture for wildfire defense grants to at-risk communities; and $216 million to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for climate resilience and adaptation for Indian tribes supposedly affected by climate change.

Custer died for climate resilience.

But according to the people the federal government paid to produce the 2018 National Climate Assessment, this is a small down-payment on what really needs to be done to help people cope with a hyped, theoretical problem. That report estimates that adapting to climate change could cost “tens to hundreds of billions of dollars per year.”

“It’s a big deal,” President Joe Biden said late last month in a speech boosting the bill. “And we’ll build up our resilience for the next superstorm, drought, wildfires, and hurricanes that represent a blinking ‘code red’ for America and the world.”

The lure of easy pork that nobody in the mainstream media will complain about drew in some Republicans, including Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican, who crowed about all the money it will bring to his state. He called the bill “the largest investment in infrastructure and coastal resiliency in the history of Louisiana.”

It’s easy for Cassidy to jump on the blame-storming bandwagon. “There’s people living in Lexington Parish, for example, flooded in 2016, whose lives — everything in their life was destroyed,” Cassidy said. “The pictures of their children, the wedding dress in which they married, the home in which they lived, which had never flooded before — the fact that we are helping our fellow Americans avoid that gives me an incredible sense of satisfaction.”

Cassidy: bringing home the bacon for Louisiana.

"Climate science" charlatans blame more or less everything bad that happens on manmade global warming. They point to anthropogenic climate change as the culprit in the burning down of big chunks of forests in California wildfires, ignoring the important role that government mismanagement of forests played. They blame it for creating Hurricane Ida, too, which in September left more than 80 people dead and millions without electricity in the Pelican State.

The funding set aside for climate-resilience projects is only part of the picture, however. The bill funds hundreds of billions of dollars in improvements to roads and other infrastructure to make them more resistant to extreme weather. It also provides $39 billion to boost low- and zero-pollution transportation sources, $7.5 billion to construct electric vehicle charging stations, $2.5 billion to buy electric school buses, and $400 million curb truck emissions at ports.

The measure further makes available $8 billion for water projects in drought-affected areas, $500 million for energy storage pilot projects, $500 million for curbing industrial emissions, $260 million for renewable energy, and funds a new Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations at the Department of Energy. There's also $5 billion for remediating abandoned oil and gas wells, $5 billion to clean up Superfund sites, and $11 billion to clean up abandoned mines.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island Democrat and an in-your-face leftist who enjoys threatening Supreme Court justices, moaned that the legislative package wouldn’t do much to mitigate the supposed problem of climate change itself. “There’s a lot of good stuff in the infrastructure bill to help us prepare for climate upheaval, but that package does very little to affect emissions, and therefore won’t prevent climate upheaval,” Whitehouse said.

Combatting this “upheaval” will be left to the proposed Build Back Better Act, which is still working its way through Congress but nearing passage. That bill would provide a taxpayer-funded bonanza for global-warmist profiteers. It contains another $555 billion we don’t have that is aimed at mitigating climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions they claim are forcing planet-wide temperatures higher.

Another big helping of pork, anybody?

Reality Bites the Green Movement

Thomas Friedman had a very strange column -- even for him! -- in the New York Times recently entitled “A Scary Energy Winter Is Coming. Don’t Blame the Greens.” The headline captures pretty well what Friedman obviously wanted to say, namely that the exploding energy prices we are already beginning to see, and the shortages that Europe, especially, is bracing for, are not the fault of the environmentalist movement. But Friedman seemed to struggle making any kind of a case to that effect. Perhaps that's because there is none -- environmentalism really is at the heart of the matter, if not the whole of it. So he just sort of talks around the problem, and his ramblings are ultimately rather revelatory.

Friedman begins by fretting that the mounting crisis will, 1- "[M]ake Vladimir Putin the king of Europe," 2- Empower Iran to build atomic weapons, and 3- (apparently worst of all) cause blackouts in the U.K. during the upcoming U.N. climate conference in Glasgow, embarrassing the all-in-on-wind government of Boris Johnson. Friedman is very aware of how bad things are shaping up to be:

Natural gas and coal prices in Europe and Asia just hit their highest levels on record, oil prices in America hit a seven-year high, and U.S. gasoline prices are up $1 a gallon from last year.

He's concerned about predictions that this might be an especially brutal winter, and quotes with alarm a recent newsletter by market analyst Bill Blain who said simply, “This winter [in Great Britain and Europe] people are going to die of cold." But then Friedman articulates the thought which seems to central to his foreboding: If these concerns are realized, he says, "I fear we’ll see a populist backlash to the whole climate/green movement."

I'm glad he's got his priorities straight.

Tom Friedman, green as ever.

This type of thinking is so typical of the environmentalist approach to the real world problems that arise from the relentless pursuit of their ideological goals. Governments around the world have been giving way to their pressure for years, mandating the transition to unreliable energy sources and creating increasingly onerous regulatory hurdles the traditional resource industry must meet.

But then the wind stopped blowing and the sun didn't shine enough and scaled-back production meant the oil and gas companies didn't have enough product in storage. At which point Friedman & Co. say, not 'We screwed up,' but 'The populists are going to say we screwed up!' It's never the Green movement's fault.

Now, perhaps I'm being unfair to Friedman -- he does suggest that developed nations have attempted to transition to renewables too quickly, and criticizes the clearly foolish decision of the Merkel government in Germany to shut down all of its nuclear power plants by next year ("an overreaction to the Fukushima nuclear accident," he explains). Even so, his solution to the current problem includes "a carbon tax in every major industrial economy" and using nuclear power and natural gas as a bridge to wind and solar power. Sounds like just more of the same to me.

Actually, the Earth Didn't 'Heal' Itself

Early on in the pandemic, former Greek finance minister (and current lefty activist) Yanis Varoufakis posted the following now-infamous  tweet:

It was a perfect example of what the very online call "saying the quiet part loud," an admirable tendency of Varoufakis. The idea was that the δῆμος (or the plebs for us descendants of western Europe) were responding pretty well to the unprecedented government intrusion into their everyday lives, and that post-Covid we should extend the state of emergency in order to put an end to "climate change."

It was essentially the opening salvo of the Build Back Better/Great Reset discourse, and also anticipated the  "Earth is Healing Itself" trope which emerged shortly thereafter. Since the Earth is doing such much better with us behind closed doors, went this line of thinking, perhaps we should stay there.

Well, unfortunately for Varoufakis and other likeminded leftists, the lockdowns don't seem to have effectively laid the groundwork for their green utopia. Jim Geraghty points out that climatologists are now saying that "carbon dioxide emissions fell by [only] 5.8 percent" due to the Covid-related lockdowns, which "merely amounts to a short-lived 'blip'" on the scale of global CO2 emissions. Geraghty explains the significance of this finding:

The global impact of COVID-19 is difficult to overstate. The earth literally grew quieter for several months, causing human-caused vibrations around the globe to be cut in half. At least 3 million excess deaths in 2020, a global working-hours impact four times worse than the 2008-2009 financial crisis, about $4 trillion in lost productivity, a huge drop in global gross domestic product, school closures for roughly 1.5 billion children around the world. This is about as big and bad as anyone could imagine, short of World War Three or the apocalypse. And if this kind of a halt to all kind of human activity wasn’t enough to have a significant impact on reducing carbon dioxide emissions, then no change in human behavior is going to make a significant reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

In point of fact, it's hard to conceive of a more illustrative and visceral argument for our side of this debate. "You want to use the power of the government to massively reduce carbon emissions? Well, remember how awful the Covid lockdowns were? You'll have to do a lot more than that."

Great Reset hardest hit.

Lucky for all of us, higher concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere seem to have some real benefits, most especially for plant life and global crop yields. And then there's the fact that technological innovations like the improvements in fracking techniques, have enabled America's transition away from high-carbon coal to low-carbon natural gas, contributing to our leading the world in total emissions decline since 2000.

So maybe true lovers of the planet should consider leaning into the American energy revolution and embracing their ancient enemies, fracking and nuclear power, and stop lobbying for western nations to heavily invest in China's toxic waste generating solar panels, which are, by the way, built using coal-fired power plants.

A man can dream.

Which way, Senator Manchin?

Joe Manchin, chairman of the Senate's Energy and Natural Resource committee, has sent an open letter to Joe Biden imploring him to reverse his Keystone XL pipeline decision. That letter begins:

I am writing to express my support of responsible energy infrastructure development, including of oil and natural gas pipelines. Pipelines continue to be our safest mode to transport our oil and natural gas resources, and they support thousands of high paying, American union jobs. To that end, I encourage you to reconsider your decision to revoke the cross border permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and to take into account the potential impact of any further action to safety, jobs, and energy security.

Manchin goes on to argue that increasing our environmentally safe pipeline infrastructure (which, he explains, have "a 99.999% safety record," much better than oil shipped by rail or highway) should be at the very heart of Biden's "Build Back Better" economic recovery plan, because it keeps "Americans working while strengthening North American economic and energy security." Indeed, the great benefit of Keystone XL and other pipeline projects is that they "maintain[] that energy security through strategic relationships with our allies rather than increasing reliance on OPEC nations and Russia."

This intervention is notable. The last of the Blue Dog Democrats, Manchin represents the now-heavily Republican (and resource heavy) state of West Virginia. A former governor of that state, Manchin's margins of victory have shrunk in each of his senate races, and in 2018 he only won by about three percentage points. His next election will come during a presidential year, and in 2020 the Republican presidential candidate carried West Virginia by almost forty points. If he wants to be reelected, he will have to start getting some results.

Aware of the above realities, minority leader Mitch McConnell is no doubt courting Manchin heavily, in the hopes that he will cross the aisle and a 50-50 senate will be controlled by the GOP once more. Will letting Manchin keep the Energy committee chairmanship (over ranking Republican John Barrasso of Wyoming) be enough? Maybe giving him the Interior subcommittee (over Alaska's Lisa Murkowski) as well? Both seem doable.

At the same time, there is something to be said for being a senator from the president's own party. The real possibility that he could flip (as Jim Jeffords did in 2001, moving from the GOP to Independent and voting with the Democrats, thus ending the tie) makes him the most important senator for the White House's hopes of implementing some form of the new president's agenda, and he knows it. Manchin has already been throwing his weight around, vowing that he will not be the fiftieth vote in favor of "the Green New Deal or socialism," giving McConnell his word that he won't let his party nuke the filibuster, and voicing his opposition to further $2,000 stimulus checks for all Americans.

Still, if Biden wants to keep Manchin on his side, he'd better give him a few substantive wins that he can point to back home. Because if not, Biden's unmerited triumph in Georgia (which saw Republican own goals turn the senate blue) will have been wasted. Taking Manchin's letter seriously would be a good place to start, if not with Keystone, perhaps with other, less conspicuous pipeline projects going forward.

If not, well, he'd look pretty good in a red jersey.