Despite her best efforts, all's been quiet on the Greta Thunberg front during the Covid-19 pandemic. The problem is that her I'm-sacrificing-my-education-to-travel-around-saving-the-world schtick doesn't go down so well when international travel is restricted and lots of kids are locked out of schools by government order, not to mention selfish teachers unions.
Even so, Greta has pioneered a practice which we can expect to see more of -- using children as human shields in the climate war. The idea is that their emotional appeals will tug at the heart, and fog the mind, until any attempt to engage their arguments is met with horror and reproach.
For just one example of Greta's progeny at work, see this report about a judge in Ontario who defied recent federal court precedent to allow a lawsuit brought against the province by two minors (and five "youths") to go forward. The suit alleges that "the Ontario government’s 2018 reduction in its climate-change target by 15 per cent violates their constitutional rights to life, liberty and security of the person."
Retired litigator Andrew Roman comments,
The exploitation of children to front a lawsuit in this way is ethically troubling. If this case goes to trial and sets this dangerous precedent, why not have children in Calgary sue to set aside the carbon tax or the Clean Fuel Standard or Ottawa’s hyper-regulatory Bill C-69 because they kill any prospect of their employment in the oil industry and thereby infringe their constitutional rights? It does not take a lot of imagination to invent such misuse of children for numerous future cases that are essentially political theatre.
Of course, as the mainstream media has a near monopoly on framing cases like this in the popular mind, you can imagine how they would portray any child who brought forth an anti-Carbon Tax lawsuit on these grounds -- as a poor dupe being cynically manipulated by some adult with an ideological ax to grind. And they might well be right. It's just unfortunate that they promote such cynical manipulation of children when it's their own ideology on the line.
It now appears possible, should Joe Biden win the upcoming election, that as soon as January the United States will rejoin the 2015 Paris climate agreement, which commits us to adopt the “Green New Deal” agenda (now rebranded for political purposes as “Net Zero”).
This will not be accomplished by Senate ratification, but by the ‘pen and a phone’ approach first used by President Obama to claim U.S. “ratification” of what is on its face and by its history a treaty, needing approval by a two-thirds Senate vote. President Trump withdrew from Paris — effective on election day, by chance — without subjecting Paris to the death of a Senate vote. As such, it can be revived this way.
This poses a grave threat, because claiming to “re-join” the Paris climate treaty will immediately subject U.S. energy policy — and thereby its economy — to a U.N. “climate conciliation commission."
Already developed nations' courts and politicians are, respectively, invoking the Paris climate treaty to block infrastructure development, and raise taxes. The United Kingdom’s Court of Appeal ruled earlier this year that Heathrow Airport cannot be expanded because that would violate the U.K.’s ‘net zero’ commitment under Paris. In Ottawa, “The parliamentary budget officer says the federal carbon tax would have to rise over the coming years if the country is to meet emission-reduction targets under the Paris climate accord.”
Now we are reminded that the U.S. can also expect a forum for antagonistic nations to bring their complaints about U.S. policy and claims of non-compliance with Paris’s required “Net Zero” agenda for resolution.
Recall first that the Paris agreement as originally circulated contained a climate tribunal, or court. This was dropped after being noticed outside of polite circles. Nonetheless, U.S. compliance with the Curate’s Egg that is Paris — oh, there are some parts that aren’t legally binding — is subject to the terms of the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC], ratified by the U.S. Senate on the condition that it was and would remain non-binding (which is stated nowhere in its terms, although it uses “shall” 118 times).
This brings us to a newly released (in part) memo — “Request for Authority to Sign and Join the Paris Agreement, Adopted under the [UNFCCC]” — obtained in Freedom of Information Litigation by the transparency group Energy Policy Advocates. This memo reaffirms that Paris is the result of “a 2011 negotiating mandate (the “Durban Platform”).” The Durban “mandate” was to “adopt… a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force at the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties and for it to come into effect and be implemented from 2020."
That of course is Paris, the crushing provisions of which are found in Article 4, emission reduction promises. Art. 4.3 requires that the U.S. revisit and tighten its reduction promises every five years. That would cleverly make this the climate treaty... sorry, “accord”… to end all climate treaties. It commits the U.S. to ever greater "climate" policy restrictions, every five years, in perpetuity.
UNFCCC declares, in Art. 14, “Settlement of Dispute”, that disputes claimed by one party against another, if not resolved, “shall be submitted, at the request of any of the parties to the dispute, to conciliation,” specifically, “[a] conciliation commission shall be created upon the request of one of the parties to the dispute.”
Expect it to play out as follows. Not China, but a proxy will assert it has a dispute with U.S. compliance with its Paris promises, and demand the creation of a conciliation commission.
It is likely that this will be one of the small island nations that, although building airports like mad (see, e.g., Maldives) are aggressively promoting "climate" transfer payments to help them deal with their fate as a climate-change caused Atlantis.
Of course they would have to squeeze this in between dignified maneuvers like underwater cabinet meetings and hysterical, scolding speeches not to mention managing a construction boom to accommodate Western tourists.
Paris requires, and mandates the U.S. revisit and tighten Green New Deal-style policies every five years. This is among the many reasons why the Paris climate agreement is a treaty, and also why it would never have been ratified. However, very soon, Americans may nonetheless be subject to its long-envisioned climate court.
Claims that are sure to arise, then, include that the U.S. hasn't adopted sufficiently aggressive policies to meet its first Paris promise, then that the U.S. isn't tightening its promise sufficiently as is required every five years.
At any time a conciliation commission might be demanded to oppose the infrastructure binge that the two major party candidates for president have promised. And yes the Heathrow case showed that just one major transport-related project, say a major airport, seeking to expand, would be subjected to seemingly hare-brained — yet ultimately successful — litigation on the claim that it's incompatible with the resumed Paris commitments.
Like Paris itself, we are told, the Climate Conciliation Commission’s rulings are “non-binding” (see Airport, Heathrow). We shall see. For now, it is not open to dispute that any U.S. president who claims to “re-join” the Paris climate treaty will subject American energy and thereby economic policy to a U.N. climate “conciliation commission."
It needs to be said: radical environmentalism is both a scam and a destroyer, hiding behind a smiling-face-with-hearts emoji.
I have little doubt that Jim Jones and the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, once much-loved messianic figures, would today be staunch environmentalists. In fact, Jones’ “apostolic socialism” movement was called the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project, which culminated, as we recall, in “revolutionary suicide.”
And one of the central concepts in the Reverend Moon’s Divine Principle is the responsible stewardship of the earth and a caring attitude for the entirety of nature. This doctrine did not prevent him from incarcerating and brainwashing the members of his Unification Church, while operating among his many businesses a car manufacturing plant in North Korea, a sea food consortium, media and estate agencies, and a munitions racket that funded his mansions, castles and large properties around the world. For some of the shadier characters in the salvation business, a tenderness for nature can become a most profitable proposition.
In fact, liberal environmentalism is the cutting edge of the movement for bureaucratized state control of both private life and free market economics, not only conscripting the media, the NGOs, government departments and the intellectual classes to advance its agenda but shrewdly operating through the very corporations it seeks to regulate by offering tax and other incentives to ensure compliance. And it seems to be working.
The former Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, author of Blue Planet in Green Shackles, is on the mark when he warns of the irrationality of the bullish “global warming” industry: “As someone who lived under communism for most of his life, I feel obliged to say that I see the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity now in ambitious environmentalism… Let us not scare ourselves with catastrophic forecasts, or use them to defend and promote irrational interventions in human lives.”
Like Vaclav Klaus, we might one day find ourselves living under a regime that would in many ways resemble the Communist nightmare from which half of Europe has only recently emerged. Similarly, in Left in Dark Times, Bernard-Henri Levy speaks of “the former Reds who have now turned Green and the friends-of-nature type of Greens who have now become greens of the revolutionary jihad variety.”
Green has become big business even though its effects have been largely counter-productive. It should be obvious by this time that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side of the ecological fence. What we see at work is the bizarre confluence of leftist autocracy and wealth known as fascism, that is, corporate totalitarianism, in which capital wealth is placed at the service of but also facilitates the rule of the managerial state. As Jonah Goldberg (among others) elucidates in Liberal Fascism, fascism and communism are kissing cousins, totalitarian movements and regimes that differ only in the disposition of industrial authority, but to the same end.
Corporate totalitarianism is now an internecine phenomenon, predicated on corruption. Robert Morton points out in the first of a multi-part series for The Pipeline that the major “charitable” foundations enjoy lucrative dealings with national competitors while at the same time aiming for oligarchic control of the very nations they putatively serve—all in the name of creating an egalitarian society where the environment is preserved by its self-appointed custodians and stewards, and men can live in harmony with nature. But the underlying motive is almost always money and power.
Morton mentions, for example, the Sea Change Foundation, Renaissance Technologies, Klein Ltd. and their umbrella entity the Lord Jim Trust. These organizations, which have “funneled tens of millions of dollars to anti-fracking environmentalist groups in the United States,” are run by “executives with deep ties to Russian oil interests.” Cui bono? Clearly neither the environment nor the climate. The founders and managers of these firms and trusts are profiting handsomely, as is the state-owned Russian oil company, Rosneft.
These left-wing, faux-environmental trusts, foundations and endowments tend to breed like rabbits on steroids. They are owned and managed by obscenely wealthy people who flourish in a privileged milieu of money, influence, business deals and political connections. The Tides Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation (which “contributes to a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world,” according to its promo), are among the most notorious of these progressivist organizations.
Other such concerns, reported by the Capital Research Center, include the California Endowment, the Chicago Community Trust, the Ford Foundation, the Pew Memorial Trust, the Union Square Foundation, the Lumina Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Novo Foundation, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, the Ben and Jerry Foundation, the Sierra Fund and of course the George Soros Open Society Foundations.
These enterprises are collectively awash in billions of dollars which they use, under the guise of public charity, to promote their own interests. What author Hayden Ludwig says of Tides seems true across the board: “Using a sophisticated funding model, Tides has grown into a leading platform for laundering away ties between wealthy donors and the radical causes they fund—while generating hundreds of new organizations along the way.” That is, many of these groups are conveniently set up to obscure the connection between donors and grantees, many of these latter violent activists who blockade railways, disable pipelines and foment riots.
Such consortiums, then, are designed “to maximize the flow of donations to far-left nonprofits while minimizing donors’ public exposure to the fruits of their largesse.” The motives behind these left-wing philanthropists and groups are a blend of fiscal and political objectives, promoting a “social justice” agenda, a single-party state governed by a plutocratic and technological elite (called “democratic socialism” and “the Great Reset”), and ultimately a monopoly controlling the nation’s wealth.
The environment in which these plutocratic pseudo-philanthropists function, and which galvanizes their interest is not river, land and air but finance, stocks and power. The only hedges they care about are hedge funds. The only power they are interested in is not electrical but political. The fact that the engine of Green energy will render the landscape unsightly, leak toxins into soil and water, remain variously unreclaimable and undisposable, fail to supply sufficient power to sustain a nation’s infrastructure without oil, gas and coal back-up, cost hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of jobs, and crush the population under a punitive tax-and-utility burden is of no account to them. After all, they are our gracious benefactors, complaisant and benign, “friends of nature” laboring to save the planet, just like Jim Jones and the Reverend Moon.
One thinks of Hamlet: “A man may smile, and smile, and be a villain.”
As responsible citizens, we must do our utmost to put the brakes on hasty and poorly thought-out Green infatuations and should proceed carefully and slowly to develop and introduce so-called “renewables” to offset a portion of our energy consumption without collapsing the economy and without fattening the revenues of parasitical corporations intent on political domination.
Above all, caution, thorough study and robust skepticism should be our watchwords. Beware the smiling emojis.
A few months ago we highlighted an article written by Heritage Foundation visiting fellow (and occasional economic adviser to the Trump Administration) Stephen Moore in which he discussed an appearance he'd made on CNN which provoked more hate mail than he had ever previously received.
What topic of discussion could have inspired such vitriol? None other than the massive amounts of money raked in by what he called the "Climate Change Industrial Complex.”
I noted that “in America and around the globe governments have created a multi-billion dollar Climate Change Industrial Complex.” And then I added: “A lot of people are getting really, really rich off of the climate change industry.” According to a recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, “Federal funding for climate change research, technology, international assistance, and adaptation has increased from $2.4 billion in 1993 to $11.6 billion in 2014, with an additional $26.1 billion for climate change programs and activities provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009.”
He went on to point out that this "doesn’t mean that the planet isn’t warming. But the tidal wave of funding does reveal a powerful financial motive for scientists to conclude that the apocalypse is upon us."
But why, one wonders, does this kind of observation arouse so much rage? The answer is that environmentalists -- like so many other activists -- have courted an image of being men and women indifferent to their personal interests, who've given themselves wholly over to the cause. And, for their part, their biggest fans are happy to be taken along for the ride, and unhappy about the intrusion of "filthy lucre" spoiling their reverie.
Environmentalists have a massive influence on our society, from their lobbying for laws and regulations to coerce compliance with their beliefs, to their educational efforts which persuade (or, occasionally, indoctrinate) children from a very young age. When they are doing that with tax money, or money from tax exempt donations, us tax-payers deserve to know something about it.
That being so, our crack team of researchers here at The Pipeline have spent the past month combing through publicly available documents and taking note of the major donors to some of America's most influential environmentalist groups for your information and edification.
So break out your green eyeshade, and enjoy:
Click on the links below to read the rest of our research:
As Deep Throat said during Watergate, "Follow the money."
This is Los Angeles, under the rule of Democrat Eric Garcetti:
It’s almost 3 p.m. Time to turn off major appliances, set the thermostat to 78 degrees (or use a fan instead), turn off excess lights and unplug any appliances you’re not using.
We need every Californian to help conserve energy. Please do your part. #FlexAlert
— MayorOfLA (@MayorOfLA) September 6, 2020
The virtue-signaling mask, the hectoring, peremptory tone, the plea at the end -- it's almost too perfect. But hey, California -- this is the one-party state you voted for. And the fate you devoutly wish upon the rest of the country, and the world.
Energy isn't scarce, but brains apparently are.
Over the past few years, we’ve heard a great deal about women in environmental science, and about the need to get more women into environmental science, with the clear implication that women bring something to research and policy on the environment that men don’t bring.
We’ve been informed of “5 Women Environmental Leaders You Should Know” and invited to “Meet 4 Inspirational Women Working in Environmental Science Today.” Articles that profile such scientists abound, almost always including a discussion of the (allegedly unique) “challenges” the women faced in a male-dominated field, with exhortations about how such challenges can be overcome, almost always through state and global initiatives that benefit women by providing them with money and opportunities not available to their male colleagues.
The alleged distinctiveness of women’s scientific perspective is a never-challenged assumption in many policy documents and political proclamations. An article outlining why “[w]e need to build more networks of women in science” predictably informs readers that women are “far more nuanced in [their] approach to just about anything, including science,” which is why “environmental science can only become stronger if we have more women in research, because [women] often bring the human angle into the science.” The male angle, apparently, is somewhat less than human. Keystone Environmental, a Canadian company that helps businesses comply with environmental regulations, echoes the mantra, saying that “there is a need for more women and girls” in the field.
World agencies and organizations are responding to such unabashedly partisan (and evidence-lite) claims with initiatives to promote opportunities for women. The United Nations has declared February 11 to be International Day of Women and Girls in Science; and its 2019 theme made the point even sharper: “Investment in Women and Girls in Science for Inclusive Green Growth.” The website admits that despite committed effort in “inspiring and engaging women and girls in science,” they “continue to be excluded from participating fully.” They offer little to corroborate this claim, but we are assured that “long-standing biases and gender stereotypes are steering girls and women away from science-related fields.” The idea that women might be somewhat less interested than men in certain types of scientific study, including some areas of environmental science, is never considered.
Citing the principle that “[w]e cannot afford to deprive ourselves of the talents of half of humanity,” UNESCO funds lavish awards for female scientists around the world. Its webpage reveals that “Since its creation in 1998, the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Programme has distinguished 112 eminent women at the height of their scientific careers and supported more than 3,300 promising young women scientists from over 110 countries.” Participating nations have followed suit with state-funded programs, scholarship, and grants. Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council outlines a variety of monetary and other incentives designed to “increase the participation of women in science and engineering, and to provide role models.”
Beyond the feel-good hoopla, these costly female-only programs are based on a set of untested assumptions about women and the environment that are as bigoted and misguided as they are widely accepted, if sometimes unconsciously. For decades, radical feminist ideologues have claimed that both women and nature are oppressed and have been made to serve men’s needs. Men’s sacrifices and good-faith efforts to build societies in which women and children could flourish are never acknowledged. Although not all female scientists are feminist ideologues, a great many have been influenced by feminist doctrine.
A specific branch of feminist theory called ecofeminism alleges that only the full liberation of women from male control can likewise liberate and “save” the environment. According to this theory, the idea of the natural world as a resource to be exploited for human benefit partakes of the same worldview that sees women as the property of men to be exploited for male pleasure.
Ecofeminists such as Carolyn Merchant, Mary Daly, and Vandana Shiva observe that nature in western culture is frequently represented as an untamed female entity, requiring male control. They claim that western men have tended to impose hierarchical structures to bind the feminine in all its forms and deny the interconnections between human and non-human nature through actions, resulting in horrific environmental damage.
Women, on the other hand, have a different (and, from their perspective, superior) appreciation of the intimate connections between all living things, partly because of their sensitive, nurturing natures and their role as child bearers. French feminist theorist Francoise d’Eaubonne, for one, insisted that women would create a much-needed ecological revolution to bring about justice for all marginalized and exploited beings.
Such feminist perspectives are at their root confessedly anti-male, anti-western, anti-industrial, and anti-capitalist. At their most radical, they reject all exploration, development, and utilization of the earth for the purposes of energy and wealth creation. Activities such as drilling, mining, extraction, and the construction of pipelines are seen as inherently male and rapacious. Some feminists even reject what they refer to as “western science,” which they claim is merely a projection of the flawed masculine way of perceiving nature. Though most feminist scientists and scientific agencies do not express such an extreme position, many of them actively seek to minimize the achievements of male scientists in favor of female, place women in visible positions of leadership mainly because of their sex, and transfer resources and authority to women on the assumption that women care more about children, and thus the future, and therefore make more compassionate stewards of the environment.
In a recent example of such a female-centric view, CNN reported on an all-female crew that is “sailing the world” to research plastic pollution in sea water. The clear implication of the story was that women who exclude men from their research expeditions deserve public admiration and applause for their daring. I found it impossible to imagine men posturing and patting themselves on the back for doing anything as men, and expecting praise for it. “The days feel longer at sea. You really have an opportunity to connect with nature,” claims an enthusiastic female voice at the video clip’s opening. Soon we see the smiling face of a young woman, Emily Penn, the co-founder of Exxpedition (note the reference to women’s two X chromosomes), a series of all-women teams sailing the world to study plastics and toxins. Here we have a made-for-United Nations feminist fantasy.
Why are men excluded from these crews, and how is such exclusion a laudable scientific development? It’s never made clear, but it is suggested that women have a deeper passion for the environment and, relatedly, that women are more seriously impacted by ocean pollution, especially by the micro-plastics under study. These plastics, we learn, break down in the ocean, bind with toxic chemicals, and are ultimately ingested by human beings, where they mimic the body’s hormones and interrupt its chemical messages. “I realized that being a woman, having those chemicals inside my body during pregnancy would be really bad news,” Penn asserts, explaining why she came to see ocean plastics as a “female-centered” issue.
Are men not affected by the chemical-plastic stew? Are their bodies invulnerable to endocrine disruption and its implications for reproductive health? Penn doesn’t say, and doesn’t seem to care. In this case and elsewhere, the frequently heard claim that women are more empathetic and bring a human perspective to science seems to apply only to issues affecting women. Where men are concerned, feminist compassion quickly runs dry.
The story, furthermore, implies that Penn and her fellow female researchers are breaking new ground in analyzing this problem. No mention is made of the very significant work already being done by male scientists not only in highlighting the issue but actually seeking to solve it. We hear nothing, for instance, of Boyan Slat, the Dutch inventor who, at age 18 in 2013, founded The Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit foundation involving some 90 engineers, researchers, scientists and computational modelers who have developed systems to remove plastic from the world’s oceans before it breaks down into micro-plastics.
It’s hard to imagine young Boyan making a self-satisfied show of his maleness, deliberately choosing an all-male crew, or claiming that he is interested in plastics because they disproportionately affect the male sex. It would be bizarre if he did. So why is the inverse claim—that women should and do care particularly about women—seen as admirable? In my opinion, it is evidence of a deplorable narcissism.
There is nothing wrong with encouraging women, at least those with the necessary talent and dedication, to seek out careers in environmental science. But a preoccupation with women’s allegedly greater care for our world distorts our understanding of the real (and fake) environmental challenges we face; and the frequently-heard claim that we need to access all the world’s available talent is belied by the focus on women only (how many talented young men will thereby be neglected?).
Even more seriously, the idea that there is something wrong with male perspectives and “western” science is alarmingly regressive, grounded in female supremacist fantasies and long-standing anti-male resentment. These feminist biases are unscientific to the core, and their impact on environmental research and policy are likely to be wasteful and counter-productive, if not downright disastrous, in the long term.
I couldn't help but laugh when I read the sub-headline of this New York Times report on Joe Biden's recent speech laying out his new, improved environmental policy proposals. It reads, "Joe Biden’s plan connects tackling climate change with the economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis, while also addressing racism." Oh, is that all? Forgive me for assuming his advisors just wanted to toss a bunch of hot topics into a single speech to limit his exposure to the voting public.
Biden’s plan outlines specific and aggressive targets, including achieving an emissions-free power sector by 2035 and upgrading four million buildings over four years to meet the highest standards for energy efficiency.... [H]e promised that “the U.S. auto industry and its deep bench of suppliers will step up, expanding capacity so that the United States, not China, leads the world in clean vehicle production.” .... He also pressed the need to link environmental advocacy to racial justice, describing pollution and other toxic harms that disproportionately affect communities of color.
One need not read any further than "an emissions-free power sector by 2035" to recognize this as an unserious plan. As the Times acknowledges, its subtext is shoring up the support of the various Democratic factions who've long been skeptical of Biden. The "climate justice crowd has struggled to figure out what his environmental policies actually are (they're not alone), and doubt his commitment to their cause. The Race uber alles coterie are inclined to hold his role in crafting the '94 crime bill against him. The Bernie Bros economic lefties don't really trust anyone to deliver but Bernie. And the promise of auto-industry jobs and his shot at China are an attempt at outreach to the blue collar voters who pulled the lever for Trump in 2016.
Which is not to say that we shouldn't be concerned about this plan should Biden win in November. House minority whip Steve Scalise referred to it as "Solyndra on steroids,” and that about sums it up. Biden didn't assign a dollar amount to his proposal, but it's clear he plans to spend significantly more than the $1.7 trillion his campaign had initially proposed. It would be hard for a President Biden to renege on a commitment to that kind of spending without drawing a primary challenge from, say, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2024, when she will have just turned 35.
How would a Biden administration pay for this you might ask? Easy:
To pay for it, campaign officials said, Biden proposes an increase in the corporate income tax rate to 28 percent from 21 percent, “asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share."
The odd conflation of corporations and "the wealthiest Americans" aside, the U.S. only just cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent in 2017, and it isn't as if we had trillions of dollars in the budget to spend on electric cars before then.
Joe Biden wants voters to think of him as reasonable and moderate, but proposals like this, ordered towards appeasing the most extreme elements in his party, are a window into how he would actually govern: disastrously.
In the wake of the recent death of George Floyd during an arrest by four Minneapolis police officers, the United States has seen some of the worst civil unrest in decades. As these events were just beginning to heat up, activists from various corners began a synchronized campaign to defund police departments, seemingly out of nowhere. Much of the public was undoubtedly bewildered by this blitzkrieg against policing, which most normal people regard as the last line of defense between law and order and law of the jungle.
The abruptness of the defunding campaign has had many liberals (though not Leftists) denying that it means anything beyond some sort of reform, despite the abundant early evidence from Minneapolis, New York, and elsewhere that “defund the police” does indeed mean defund the police. Given how extremely unpopular abolition or reduction in policing is with the public, backers are probably content with those misconceptions – for now.
To the rest of us, it was pretty obvious that this unidirectional “national dialogue,” as the Left likes to portray their finger-wagging diatribes and tantrums, was never really about George Floyd or “systemic racism” in police departments. Nor was it ever intended to be an intelligent discussion that considered the risks police officers face every day. It was all about causing chaos on President Trump’s watch and setting the stage for a Leftist revolution. We certainly get that the insurrectionists in the streets are demanding something, but we aren’t dumb enough to believe dragging a statue of Columbus into Baltimore harbor has anything to do with police tactics at this point. The proper interpretation of the current crusade is the same one that applies to every crusade of the Left, whether it be eliminating police, abolishing the suburbs, gay marriage, or climate change. It is about radicalization, retribution, and redistribution.
In the old days, liberals sought to push the idea of “root causes” of crime, but it fell out of fashion when their theories were debunked, or the things they uncovered were matters of embarrassment and shame, so they did what Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously called “defining deviancy down,” which is the theme of the modern Left. Instead of having to apologize for or explain away the dysfunction, much less refuse to accept it or confront it, they simply lower the standards of acceptable behavior and raise the threshold of criminal behavior. Proven methods of fighting crime like erasing graffiti, fixing broken windows, and practicing proactive policing are now under renewed attack.
The assault against law and order has been slowly evolving for a long time. One of the best examples is that of sanctuary cities, which provide criminal aliens special protection from federal immigration enforcement, and came into realization at least as far back as 1979 under Special Order 40 in Los Angeles. Today, most major cities are sanctuaries for criminal aliens – some would call them little confederacies – that openly defy federal law by harboring aliens who are clearly a threat to public safety. Despite many shocking examples of how ill-conceived the sanctuary policies are, public safety was always trumped by political correctness. The intent of these policies is to remake our society, to increase the number of warm bodies for census purposes (increasing blue state electoral power), to supply cheap labor and new customers to business, and to provide additional clients in need of public services, growing government in the process.
The anti-law enforcement agenda of the Left has only gotten more extreme in the decades since Special Order 40 was enacted: demands to abolish ICE, open the borders, expand refugee resettlement to people who might be a poor fit for America, and give asylum to all who ask for it. There have been successful parallel efforts to end incarceration for many offenses, decriminalize drug use, raise monetary thresholds for property crimes, accelerate early release from prison, and end bail. The role of outside pressure and activism in the coddling of criminality is not the whole story, however.
Across the country, radical candidates for district attorney (DA) who have pledged not to prosecute many serious crimes are being recruited and well-funded by Leftist donors. Once humdrum DA races have turned into high-stakes dramas with eye-popping amounts of money being spent by George Soros and aligned ultra-Left organizations like the Tides Foundation and the Open Society Foundation. Almost $2 million of Soros-connected money was spent on the 2017 Philadelphia DA race, and another $800,000 on the 2019 Monroe County, NY, DA race. Chesa Boudin, son of Weather Underground parents and a red-diaper baby if there ever were one, was elected as San Francisco DA in 2019 with assistance from these same pots of hard-Left money. As current Los Angeles district attorney Jackie Lacey faces a challenge in November from Soros-backed opponent George Gascon, the Los Angeles Association of Deputy District Attorneys is sounding alarm bells over the far-Left’s attempt to buy DA races.
In many cases, the locals are more than happy to save the ultra-Left political donors the cost and trouble of installing their preferred choices by voting them in without any prompting. During an interview with CNN, Minneapolis City Councilwoman Lisa Bender went on CNN to suggest that having police protection when your house is being robbed is white privilege. Similarly, socialist Seattle City Councilwoman Tammy Morales offered a revolutionary’s blessing for lawlessness and looting:
What I don’t want to hear is for our constituents to be told to be civil, not to be reactionary, to be told that looting doesn’t solve anything.
Apparently, “peaceful protests” are not always what they’re cracked up to be.
The Left’s antipathy toward the police is, of course, nothing new. We are familiar with their usual "terms of endearment", like bastards, pigs, and parasites, and the "love notes" they leave behind, but the venom they spew isn’t just for the police; it’s for you too.
In a recent interview in Mother Jones, Brooklyn College Sociology Professor Alex Vitale, who has made his academic career out of attacking the police, reveals the malice of his anti-police policy prescriptions with one jaw-dropping answer to a question:
Question: “How would things change for the white people who reflexively rely on and trust the police—the Amy Coopers of the world?”
Vitale: “They won’t have this resource that they can weaponize against people. They’ll have to figure out other ways of resolving their problems.”
Vitale is essentially charging whites with using the police like Mafia dons use hitmen against their enemies. Absent this "blue army" (which he probably imagines are at their beck and call) whites will have to figure out how to solve their problems. If they are victims of crime, well, gee, that’s too bad – they’re on their own.
In the old days, community leaders and the business community would have had the influence to put an end to this kind of madness, but now they are either coerced into support, or they pick up and leave.
Finally, one cannot fully understand the defund-the-police movement without recognizing the Left’s police-envy. According to the Urban Institute,
From 1977 to 2017, state and local government spending on police increased from $42 billion to $115 billion (in 2017 inflation-adjusted dollars). However, as a percentage of direct general (state and local) expenditures, police spending has remained consistently at just under 4 percent for the past 40 years.
The special interests on the Left have been drooling over law enforcement money for years, ready to pounce on any opportunity to take it for themselves. Just a small fraction of $115 billion can keep a lot of community organizers, social workers, and bureaucracies administering “programs related to mental health, housing and education” and green climate policies quite happy.
Even if there is an eventual drop-off in attention toward and follow-through for "Defunding the Police" and Black Live Matter (BLM), the intersectional Left has made it clear that they have their fellow social justice warriors' backs and that reinforcements from the red brigades and the green brigades are on the way and here to stay. Climate activists and their organizations have joined in support of BLM to insure the two causes are inextricably linked, and that an attack on either is an attack on both. Their intersectional cry is, “Climate justice is racial justice!”
Whether there is any justice remaining for the law-abiding citizenry of America after law enforcement is dismantled is another matter.
This morning U.S. District Judge James Boasberg, an Obama appointee, ordered the shutdown of the Dakota Access pipeline. He also ordered that it be emptied of oil by Aug. 5. Expect an almost immediate appeal.
Judge Boasberg wrote that he was “mindful of the disruption,” but he stood by his previously articulated position that the original environmental review, completed by the Army Corps of Engineers in 2015/16, wasn't thorough enough since it:
[D]id not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline’s effects are likely to be highly controversial.
At issue is the Missouri River which the pipeline crosses just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, which straddles North and South Dakota. The Sioux and various environmentalist groups argued that the pipeline could contaminate the river, and the Obama administration took their side against the Corps. Obama spent years slow walking the project because of the environmentalists' concerns.
In answer to those concerns, Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, which owns the pipeline, stated:
[W]e're not on any Indian property at all... We're on private lands. That's number one. Number two, this pipeline is new steel pipe... It's going to go 90 feet to 150 feet below the lake's surface. It's thick wall pipe, extra thick, by the way, more so than just the normal pipe that we lay. Also, on each side of the lake, there's automated valves that, if in the very, very unlikely situation there were to be a leak, our control room shuts down the pipe, encapsulates that small section that could be in peril. So, that's just not going to happen.... there is no way there would be any crude to contaminate their water supply. They're 70 miles downstream.
Which is to say, this pipeline doesn't violate native property rights and it is as safe as it can reasonably expected to be. Consequently, after the 2016 election this was one of many stalled projects that Donald Trump greenlit on the strength of the existing environmental reviews.
But now, after the construction has been completed and crude has been pumping through the pipeline for three years, it is being shut down pending yet another environmental review -- if the ruling stands. Workers will be laid off and the company will take a serious financial hit, no easy burden in the present economic climate. As for the oil, somewhat less of it might be pumped -- the ultimate goal of the greens -- or else it will go into storage until it can be moved to the refinery some other way. Very likely by rail.
Seven years ago, on July 6, 2013, in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, a seventy-four car freight train carrying crude oil crashed and exploded. Forty seven people were killed in what was called possibly "the most devastating rail accident in Canadian history.”
It is important that we mourn for and with those effected by this tragedy, but we must also note that it is within our power to reduce the chances of such a thing happening again by making sure that more oil is carried across this continent via pipeline, which is significantly safer than rail.
And since that time, oil by rail has nearly doubled in Canada. Let us not dishonour the memory of those lives lost by caving in to those who block the approval and construction safe pipelines ... please https://t.co/yF2Ogwhm4L
— Dan McTeague (@GasPriceWizard) July 6, 2020
Unfortunately attacking pipelines is a common tactic of the environmentalist left. This is precisely because they are able to safely move large amounts of oil over long distances, and for the Greenies, the safe transport of oil goes against their most fervently held beliefs.
Hopefully all of this is quickly sorted out such that the pipeline can get pumping again. Because as Lac-Mégantic reminds us, the human and environmental costs when something goes wrong with those trains is incalculable.