"Climate czar" John Kerry made a particularly tin-eared comment recently which demonstrated how ignorant liberals are about the world outside of their utopian fantasies. Kerry was asked what he would say to oil and gas workers who would "see an end to their livelihoods" should the Biden administration's climate agenda be fully implemented. He responded, "What President Biden wants to do is make sure that those folks have better choices... That they can be the people to go to work to make the solar panels."
This was justly mocked as a modern-day rendering of the apocryphal Marie Antoinette quote, "Let them eat cake." But it's worth noting that there's something more shocking about Kerry's blockheadedness. Does he really not know how ridiculous it is that Green Energy jobs could replace the natural resource ones he wants to disappear?
The U.S. government subsidizes wind and solar power to the tune of $7 billion per year to make it even somewhat competitive with traditional energy sources. Even if the Biden administration doubled that, so-called renewables wouldn't come close to filling the gaping hole left by lost oil and gas jobs. In an editorial about green jobs, the New York Post offers a relevant anecdote:
[Andrew] Cuomo spent $950 million in public money to put up a solar plant in Buffalo. The first tenant, SolarCity, went bust; Elon Musk had to have Tesla take SolarCity over. Panasonic was lured in to help Tesla make a go of the plant, only to flee a year ago. With nearly a billion bucks down the drain, the project has never come close to offering the jobs once promised for it.
Pouring money into renewables isn't going to create the jobs they claim it will, and certainly not in Appalachia or the Rust Belt, which would be hit hard by a fracking ban.
Which is to say, whatever his intentions, Kerry's energy preferences don't amount to blue collar job creation, but to increased American investment in Chinese renewables in order to subsidize China's addiction to coal. Maybe if he came down off his private jet for awhile he'd realize how crazy that is.
But this is a bigger deal that you might think -- 22 percent of American oil production and 12 percent of natural gas extraction occurs on federal land. Those numbers go up precipitously when you look at some of our western states -- according to the American Petroleum Institute, federal land production accounts for well over 92 percent of Wyoming's production, half of New Mexico’s, 42 percent of Colorado's, and 63 percent of Utah's.
As those numbers make clear, a move against these leases will cause profound disruption in the natural resource industry. It will also have serious governmental repercussions. As Shawn Regan explains in a recent article entitled The Cost of Not Drilling: “revenues from energy development on federal land and in offshore waters are a major source of federal income, second only to tax revenue.”
Moreover, the revenue they generate is split between the federal government and the states, and it is in the latter where their loss will really be felt. Oil and gas revenue account for a full 20 percent of New Mexico’s budget, and much of the $150 million Wyoming receives in revenue from these leases annually are earmarked for K-12 education. A recent study by the University of Wyoming estimated that an extended lease moratorium could cost the states $1.6 billion per year on average.
It's worth noting that the initial lease freeze covered Native American tribal lands, but after some strenuous pushback -- the American Petroleum Institute quotes a letter from Utah’s Ute Indian tribe as saying “Your order is a direct attack on our economy, sovereignty, and our right to self-determination” -- an exemption was granted. This included the direction that “the Secretary of the Interior shall engage with Tribal authorities regarding the development and management of renewable and conventional energy resources on Tribal lands.”
To this the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board quips “States also have sovereign rights under the Constitution. Why isn’t the Administration engaging with them?”
Trouble in the Land of Enchantment
Throughout the 2020 presidential campaign, candidate Joe Biden was rarely left on his own to articulate his economic plan for recovering the pandemic-wounded economy. He and his surrogates so routinely punted on details of his vision for recovery that one might have mistaken them for the 2020 offensive line of the Dallas Cowboys…or worse, the Chargers. Those who voted for him presumed that any Biden plan would include job creation since jobs are foundational to any economic recovery... but even more so after a summer of BLM building-burning and pandemic-driven lock downs.
Oil and gas industry workers were particularly fretful about how a Biden administration would "Build Back Better" when Democrat hostility has underpinned every reference to their industry. They knew well that their industry would bear the brunt of whatever plan the administration eventually conjured up. After all, Biden had promised to end fracking during the second debate…a moment of inadvertent candor that created a momentary panic within his campaign.
By popular demand!
Within days of taking office, it was not job creation that illuminated his path to recovery. Instead, he presented a plan for cutting jobs…. lots of them. President Biden signed an executive order canceling construction of the XL Pipeline. Almost immediately 11,000 direct jobs are on the chopping block for elimination, with an estimated 60,000 additional indirect jobs that will potentially be eliminated. These are well-paying, blue collar jobs. The kind of jobs that represent real economic impact.
Then, days later, it happened again. The Biden administration announced another executive order that will cause further economic destruction. The order directs the Department of the Interior to suspend new oil and natural gas leasing on public lands and offshore waters, concurrent with a comprehensive review of the federal oil and gas program. According to the press release, the order "will help restore balance on public lands and waters, create jobs, and provide a path to align the management of America’s public lands and waters with our nation’s climate, conservation, and clean energy goals.”
Together these orders portend negative economic implications, reverse positive environmental trends and weaken national security by negatively affecting energy security of the U.S., an achievement of the Trump administration that unquestionably changed the geo-political landscape.
At the state level, the implications are grave. Wells on federal and trust lands account for about 20 percent of the nation’s oil production, and less of its gas output. However, the companies that own these leases pay taxes, based on production. These fees help fund millions of dollars of the budgets of a number of western states and Indian tribes including Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico where the federal lands are located. Of those states perhaps New Mexico and the Ute Indian tribe will be most negatively impacted by the second of these two Executive Orders.
New Mexico hardest hit?
According to the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association and the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) new analysis, there will be profound negative consequences for New Mexico if a ban on federal leasing and public lands takes effect. New Mexico, which accounts for 57 percent of federal onshore oil production and 31 percent of onshore natural gas production, is projected to lose more than 62,000 jobs by 2022 and more thereafter, This represents more than five percent of all the jobs in the state by 2030. With nearly 40 percent of the state’s budget funded by natural gas and oil production, a ban puts at risk more than $1 billion of federal revenue sharing which helps support New Mexico’s entire budget. New Mexico voters chose candidate Biden to be President Biden. If the oil and gas industry were a nose, the voters of New Mexico just cut it off to spite its own face.
Because of the Biden administration’s attack on U.S. energy production, the implications are also environmentally detrimental. Currently, the U.S. is a net exporter of energy. This was achieved by oil and gas extraction from shale. Natural gas has proven the driver of unprecedented lower emission levels. In fact, the levels have been so low, the Americans led emissions reductions when compared to the bloviating bunch of dooms day Paris Climate Accord signatories.
By removing the ability for the U.S. to produce domestic energy, two things occur. First, the use of coal, which had been on the decline in the U.S. will not end up being retired, as is the current plan. Next, coal generation, according to the API’s analysis, will initially increase by 6 percent under a permit ban, and will continue to increase by 15 percent in 2030. As a result, CO2 emissions will increase by an average of 58 MMT and will continue rising, ultimately representing a 5.5 percent increase by 2030.
Finally, there are the national economic impacts of the proposed permit ban. Immediately following implementation of the federal leasing restrictions, U.S. economic growth will slow. Lower U.S. energy production and higher energy prices will reduce GDP by a cumulative $0.7 trillion according to the API analysis.
It is clear that the Biden administration does not value U.S. economic superiority, nor the impact a strong economy has on our citizens. Instead, the administration seeks to weaken the country by undermining the most foundational element to innovation and economic vitality -- inexpensive and abundant energy, delivered by those working in the oil and gas industry.
Whether it's due to the political and financial debts President Biden and his family and many in the administration have to China, the influence of contributors and environmental extremists, or even more sinister motivations, doesn't matter. As an industry, we must defend our country against the madness of unmaking America. We must engage in the arena of ideas, engage in our state legislators to push back against these attacks and ensure it we drive our own narrative. There is not “someone else” who will do it for us. We must do it on behalf of this great country… to save our industry and save our county.
Of Pledges, Promises, and Pie-Crusts
“Elections have consequences,” President Obama liked to say to journalists and political opponents when they objected to some of the policies he pursued as president. It’s a fair point, especially when a presidential candidate has promised to introduce those policies in the party platform or campaign speeches. It’s even got some force when he introduces policies that were never mentioned in the campaign but that can be plausibly presented as necessary responses to crises that no one foresaw earlier.
Governments are elected to cope with emergencies. It’s part of the job, and they need the flexibility to do so. But what about those policies that a political leader explicitly denied he would pursue if elected? A president can’t justify those policies by saying that elections have consequences if the policies are exactly the reverse of the what the electorate chose on election day when they voted for him. He has zero democratic justification for them. And if he wants to pursue them anyway, he owes the voters (and his defeated opponent) the courtesy of an explanation and apology.
That doesn’t happen very often, of course, but it should happen whenever election pledges are unceremoniously broken. Crude reversals of policies that were promised in the campaign undermine the unwritten contract between the voters and elected officials that votes are exchanged for pledges. It’s totalitarians who treat promises with contempt—for instance Lenin who famously remarked “Promises are like pie-crusts, made to be broken.” Democratic leaders are supposed to mean them and to abide by them.
Failing to meet this obligation can sometimes get a political leader into serious electoral trouble. Britain’s 1960s-1970s Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, got a bad reputation for infidelity to the electorate when he said of a particular manifesto commitment: “This is no lightly-given promise. It is a solemn pledge.” An opposition back-bencher, tongue firmly In cheek, asked him at Question Time if he could list for the voters which of his commitments were solemn pledges and which were lightly-given promises. Collapse of stout Prime Minister.
Which lie should I tell?
Which brings us to President Biden’s election pledge not to ban fracking—a method of extracting natural gas from deep underground by injecting water into rocks (my very non-technical definition.) That was an important pledge economically and politically. Economically, the so-called “fracking revolution” had made the U.S. energy-independent after decades of being held to ransom in foreign policy by Middle East and other foreign energy producers.
It had reduced American carbon emission levels more than any other major industrial power had done. It had made possible the switch from “dirty” coal to “clean” natural gas (hence the reduced carbon emissions.) And it had powered the massive recovery of the U.S. economy, delivering the highest rise in wages and salaries for poor and minority Americans for decades.
Politically, it was a potentially election-winning issue for President Trump in states such as Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and Texas which had millions of workers to whom the fracking boom had given high levels of prosperity and a sense that America was back.
All in all it was a tricky issue for the Democrats and for candidate Joe Biden, in particular because his party’s powerful radical Left wing was strongly opposed to fossil fuels in general and to fracking in particular. As a result, Biden in the primaries gave the impression that he was opposed to fracking while in the general election he claimed to be in favor of it.
Thus, in a July 2019 exchange, CNN’s Dana Bash asked the former Vice-President if there would be any place for fossil fuels, including coal and fracking, in a Biden administration. To which Biden responded boldly: “No, we would . . . we would work it out. We would make sure it’s eliminated and no more subsidies for either one of those, either . . . any fossil fuels.” Less boldly his campaign staff told the media that Biden meant that he intended to eliminate not fracking but government subsidies to oil and gas.
We can work it out.
Similarly, as the campaign got going, Biden said in a March 2020 debate with Bernie Sanders that he was against “new fracking” and afterwards his campaign again told the media that this referred to a ban on oil and gas permits on public. No promise to ban fracking here, folks, move along please.
Once the general election campaign arrived, however, the strategy dictated that Biden should now assure the voters, especially those in Pennsylvania, that he was a supporter of fracking and always had been. Biden did not make this claim personally, but because his campaign wanted to keep him out of the public view except when he could issue some soothing bromide to pacify the voters, the burden of presenting this case fell to his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris.
Though she had herself been a passionate fracking opponent, Harris had no difficulty in stating this argument in the most unqualified terms. “The American people know Joe Biden will not ban fracking,” she told Mike Pence in the October 7 vice-presidential debate. “That is a fact. That is a fact.”
It was not “a fact,” of course. And given how much calculation and choreography of lying went into the presentation of Biden’s positions on fracking in the two years of the campaign, it wasn’t exactly a lightly given promise either. It was a calculated attempt to confuse and deceive the American voter of an elaborate kind -- and therefore a lie.
Because of its obvious contradictions, it could hardly have succeeded in its deceptions as it did—see the Pennsylvania voting—if it had been critically examined by the media. The media participated in this deception, however, not only by not examining Biden’s policies critically but in a series of absurd "fact-checks" by actually protecting its contradictions. I am obliged to my National Review colleague, David Harsanyi, for neatly demolishing one attempt:
In a Forbes article, “Did Biden Break Campaign Promise On Fracking? No—And Here’s Why,” Rachel Sandler makes the acutely irrelevant observation that “the president does not even have the power to ban fracking nationally.” Biden, you see, is only banning the fracking he can ban. Which is tantamount to arguing that Donald Trump never supported a wall on the southern border because he didn’t have the power to unilaterally build it.
In his first few days in office, we now know, Biden set out to ban the kind of fracking he could ban. That was always going to happen because his larger promises to eliminate oil and gas in the U.S. economy “over time, over time” and to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 inevitably meant the end of fracking—and over a fairly short time period to boot.
And when the political costs of enforcing a lower standard of living on the American people through higher taxes, higher energy prices, and lowered competitiveness against a rising China bring on an electoral whirlwind, Biden or his successor will suffer all the odium of having made promises to the voters that, like pie-crusts, were made to be broken.
Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Testing
Greetings again from Lyford Cay. I’m here at the house of some lovely friends I met at Annabel’s “Thanksgiving” party. I put Thanksgiving in quotes because it was an accommodation for me… a reasonably recent resident of Los Angeles who got quite used to the tradition in just a few short years, and Annabel being my dearest friend-and rather eager hostess, jumped at the chance to out-hostess everyone else.
I’d been holed up in London, in my childhood home, as Covid started cutting into my peripatetic life, and now found myself in Lyford, happily sunning and meeting other wonderful people. There was a bit of a flap over “some Americans” from New York who had a large party and one (yes, one) hostess tested positive. Other Lyfordians were purportedly “furious” but that’s mostly bluster since Americans are always assailed wherever they go. Luckily I can rely on my very posh British accent even if Judith (mummy) says I shouldn’t use the word posh anymore.
No Reset necessary here.
Over cocktails last night I’d met a lovely gay couple from France, by way of California, by way of London who like myself, take a huge interest in the health of our planet. They also live very near where I am staying and are purported to have a pool and ballroom to die for.
I’m looking forward to seeing it and discussing the intersections of our interests, even if I was confused as to why they claimed they’d had to relocate to France just to get married when California had been issuing licenses some five years prior.
They returned today for Christmas brunch and didn’t seem as eager to talk to me as I’d hoped, but I made my way over to them anyway. I was interested to hear their take on the Great Reset, as all I had was one Google search and daddy’s ever-informed dismantling of my shaky facts. They were less passionate about the environment than I’d understood—it was as if last night’s conversation didn’t happen and they seemed only to want to talk about how Covid had marginalised the LGBTQ community. Intrigued I listened. Apparently the Coronavirus had led to “a loss of safe spaces and the gay community was hardest hit”. Or so said Stephen, as his partner ditched us both.
At the risk of sounding like Daddy, I was beginning to think he was right and that the Great Reset affected every agenda the most. Meaning… if it mattered to you, you were affected.
“HOW?” I asked. And Stephen responded,
“Legal rights of trans people have eroded, and young LGBTQ are further harmed by the closure of safe spaces.”
“I see.” I said. Even though I really didn’t. I only knew that Japanese women had succumbed to suicide under Covid-19 in numbers greater than all of Japan’s other Covid deaths combined. I hadn’t heard this happening to any other bastion of society but I asked:
“Could safe spaces not migrate online as others have done?” I asked.
“Online are not safe spaces to be,” he said, “This is where they can face abuse, or get outed.”
And at which point I decided this conversation was nuts, in person-safe, yet online was a risk of being outed? And although supported by the World Economic Forum as fuel for the Great Reset, I wasn’t having it. Clearly NO ONE cares about the planet, least of all the man with the fabulous pool; and his London accent was sounding a bit more Lambeth if you asked me.
Just then I overheard another conversation about the Great Reset and I nearly flew to their side. It was coming from a tall and very good-looking South African-accented gentleman named Galen. Never mind the sticky Rum Dum Sour dripping down my wrist.
“Hello I’m Jenny and…”
No sooner did I arrive when Galen said, “In the post-Covid Era…”
“Excuse me? I lobbed. “It’s now it’s own era?”
“Well there is no arguing that the Great Reset needs to happen and that capitalism has empirically failed.”
“Well, I believe there is such an argument.” I said, "and might I present Exhibit A: Lyford Cay.”
“What I am TRYING to say…, he began, “is we envision a better, fairer world, integrating the next generation to be in harmony with nature again.”
“What you are SAYING…is Marxism.” I insisted.
Galen gave me the why don’t you go back to the nursery look which was not going to work on me. I brushed my voluminous curls to one side and looked at him with fresh eyes. He was trying to convince himself as much as me, and having taken this moment I could see that.
“What I’m saying IS…” He began again, “is we can take the technologies of the fourth industrial revolution and provide everyone with better lives.”
I could hear Daddy shouting in my ear or maybe it was just blood welling in my temples. Better lives? He was just parroting the ridiculous stuff I’d heard from that very mixed- up fellow, Klaus Schwab.
“Fascinating” was all I replied, and before I could take my leave he asked,
“What is it you do?”
“DO???” I responded. “Surely you remember from the pre-Covid era… one does not just ask what one does at a social gathering.”
Happy happy, merry merry.
His eyes steeled against mine and now it was me panicking. I was just not going to tell him I was a life coach… he would never understand the importance.
“My family is in oil exploration. I declared. And speaking of a commitment to making things once again in harmony with nature… fracking.”
I could smell a bit of Rum Dum Sour I’d transferred from my hand into my hair, but of course he couldn’t.
“Anyway… Happy Christmas!” I added. And split.
Thanks Again, Fracking!
In a recent article in the Toronto Sun, Lorrie Goldstein comments on a surprising fact: that Justin Trudeau, the dream political leader of the environmental lobby, is going to have to concede that Canada has missed the emissions reduction target it agreed to in 2009, while America -- after four years under Donald J. Trump -- will actually exceed that target. Says Goldstein:
This despite the fact Trump, unlike Trudeau, never imposed a national carbon tax on the U.S. Nor has any American president done so. Also, despite the fact Trump, unlike Trudeau, announced he was withdrawing from the 2015 Paris climate agreement in 2017, saying it was contrary to the economic interests of the U.S.
The 2009 targets, negotiated by the prime minister and the president's respective predecessors as part of the Copenhagen Accord, informally committed both nations to reduce emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. While America's emissions projections for 2020 are about 20 percent below 2005 levels, Canada's projections are down only 0.14 percent. For Canada to meet its commitments for 2020, Goldstein points out, "we would have to cut our current emissions by 123 million tonnes — the equivalent of the annual emissions from our entire agriculture sector and most of our electricity sector — in less than a month."
How could this be? Well, part of the story of America's success (if you could call it that) is the government imposed Covid-19 lockdowns. Goldstein mentions that U. S. emissions for 2020 are down roughly 10 percent from where they otherwise would have been without the lockdowns, which sounds great until you consider the economic devastation they also wrought. The cure in this case was far worse than the disease.
Of course, Canada also locked down and had an equivalent emissions drop. Which is to say, the pandemic doesn't even begin to tell the full story.
What actually happened is that, while the Trudeau government dove deep into virtue signaling environmentalist rhetoric, the U. S. allowed "market forces, innovation and [smart] energy policy" to do their work. Among other things, the U. S. leaned in hard to hydraulic fracturing, allowing us to gradually transition away from our reliance on coal towards natural gas, which "burns at half the carbon dioxide intensity of coal."
Meanwhile in Canada, Goldstein points out, "several provinces have banned fracking," bowing to anti-fracking sentiment in the green movement, while the Trudeau government has imposed a national carbon tax (and doubled it mid-way through a global pandemic), and put real political capital into transitioning away from oil and natural gas, which accounts for roughly 10 percent of the nation's GDP.
It'd be nice if more environmentalists started recognizing (as Michael Schellenberger has) that their preferred methods of addressing these issues are mostly hokum and started advocating for policies which actually work. Both don't hold your breath. Most of them are just hypocrites who mindlessly condemn President Trump as a Captain Planet-style villain, while lauding all of the Trudeaupian fluff.
The Swamp Strikes Back
Joe Biden has started to announce appointments to key roles in his administration should he be inaugurated in January. He finds himself constrained by the unexpected failure of his party thus far to retake the senate and its reduced majority in the House.
Consequently, it doesn't look like we will be seeing Elizabeth Warren at Treasury, Bernie Sanders at Labor, or -- a popular rumor over the past few weeks -- Hillary Clinton as Ambassador to the United Nations. But instead of those ideological actors, we're getting mostly career political staffers and bureaucrats, aka the Swamp.
The big fish thus far is longtime Biden ally Antony Blinken for Secretary of State. Blinken -- the son of wealthy investment banker and Clinton-era Ambassador Donald Blinken -- served as then-Vice President Biden's national security adviser before being promoted to Deputy Secretary of State by Barack Obama. He is also a Russia hoax-supporter and an ardent champion of the kind of hawkish foreign policy which Trump ran against in 2016. As The American Conservative's Curt Mills wrote this morning, the worry about Blinken isn't so much that he's a "wild-eyed radical," but that "his policy views are emblematic of a broader rot within the American establishment."
The same could be said for the the other intended appointments announced on Monday, including former Foreign Service Director General Linda Thomas-Greenfield to the U. N. and former Hillary Clinton foreign policy advisor Jake Sullivan. The latter, as you might have guessed from his relationship with Mrs. Clinton, is another hawk, but he is also noteworthy for having had a hand in secretly negotiating the Iran deal, which the U. S. has since backed out of.
Environmentalist groups are upset by the potential appointments of both Sullivan and Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), who Biden has announced as a senior advisor, as both are reportedly skeptical of their cause. Sullivan appears in one of the leaked Clinton E-Mails questioning the idea that carbon neutrality by 2050 is at all realistic. As for Rep. Richmond, environmentalists are concerned by his closeness with oil and gas in his home state of Louisiana. The Sunrise Movement, an environmentalist activist group, put out a statement opposing his appointment which read,
One of President-Elect Biden’s very first hires for his new administration has taken more donations from the fossil fuel industry during his Congressional career than nearly any other Democrat, cozied up to Big Oil and Gas, and stayed silent and ignored meeting with organizations in his own community while they suffered from toxic pollution and sea-level rise.
Now, should those of us who are concerned about the resource sector as a source of good jobs and safe, reliable (and clean) energy be encouraged by these appointments? Probably not. There's a civil war brewing on the left, which has been held in check until recently by shared loathing for Donald Trump. Though Biden might feel forced staff up with conventional swamp creatures, before too long he will feel the need to satisfy the loudest lefties in his caucus. Short sighted as they might be, carbon taxes and increasing restrictions on fracking are the easiest bones he can throw them.
Of course, for the Greens, those would only whet the appetite.
Green Pen, Green Phone
On Wednesday I mentioned that Democrats were disappointed by the failure of their projected blue wave to materialize. Their congressional majority has been whittled down to almost nothing, the best they can hope for in the Senate is a draw, and in the presidential race, the decisive rejection of Donald Trump they were hoping for didn't happen.
What's more, less radical (or more pragmatic) office holders, like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), have been arguing that the Green New Deal, along with other extremist proposals like Medicare for All and Defunding the Police, are the reason they fared so poorly.
But, of course, backing off on such proposals, which might make the party more attractive to actual voters, would alienate the leftist donor class. So what is the solution? Executive orders of course! Faced with a similarly divided government, Barack Obama proudly proclaimed that his administration was
[N]ot just going to be waiting for legislation.... I've got a pen and I've got a phone… and I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions.
In various liberal publications right now, the details of a Biden administration's own climate-related "pen and phone" strategy are being hammered out.
To take just one example, in the Los Angeles Times, Anna M. Phillips has a list of five climate actions Biden can take immediately, "without Congress’ help." These include imposing California's onerous auto emissions standards nationwide; halting the issuance of new permits for fracking and oil drilling on federal land (a position Biden stumbled his way onto over the course of his campaign), as well as imposing new regulations on oil and gas companies operating on existing federal permits (decidedly not something he campaigned on); declaring a climate national emergency; and creating a "climate club" of countries who mutually agree to reduce carbon emission through carbon taxation.
On this last point, a club would have two uses. First, if all nations involved impose carbon taxes on themselves, none can reap the economic rewards of being a cheaper and easier place to live or do business. And second, each one can mutually agree to punish any other country that attempts to get a leg up on the others, "through trade measures such as tariffs" in Phillips' words. It is worth noting that leftists have already started making lists of countries they want to see punished in this way -- see thisVox article entitled "How Joe Biden could make Brazil his first “climate outlaw.”
By the way, if you're surprised to see Brazil as the highest climate priority, rather than mega-polluter China -- the world's second largest economy -- you'll be doubly so to read through article and see China mentioned as a potential ally against Brazil. This is as good a detail as any to demonstrate that this isn't really about the climate, it's about power.
So, while AOC's legislative Green New Deal might be D.O.A. in Congress, the Executive Green New Deal is rarin' to go. We will all suffer the consequences.
Voting in a W.A.S.P. nest
I rolled out of bed before six this morning, threw on some clothes, and hopped into the car to go and vote. I was hoping to beat the lines and then get home quickly for my first cup of coffee.
Well, no such luck. Despite the near freezing weather, the line in my small New England town was around the block by the time I got there, Baby Boomers as far as the eye could see. I guess I should have waited for that coffee.
I shouldn't be surprised, of course. I hang my hat in W.A.S.P. country these days, and while the prevailing wisdom (and social science data) holds that Mainline Protestant affiliation is in steep decline, the truth of the matter is that the theological character of those once prominent sects has actually just shifted in a worldly direction, such that woke virtue signaling now occupies the space once held by creeds and confessions.
Cancelling and shame storming modern reprobates has replaced more traditional W.A.S.P. practices, but in the age of Donald Trump, voting has become the biggest virtue signal of all -- provided, of course, that you're voting that Orange Man Bad. Consequently, this line -- full of people in designer jeans, with the slightest hint of the dear old Ivy League in their accents, and air of never having a single thought that isn't preapproved by the New York Times editorial board -- had the atmosphere of a religious rite. The earliest protestants reduced the number of sacraments from seven to three, but it seems that their distant progeny have reduced them even further, to one: voting.
And it was livelier than a June wedding. People were taking selfies, wearing sweaters that said "Vote!" One (gray-haired) woman greeted some friends and, referring to the number of people, exclaimed, "This is the coolest thing I've ever seen!" This despite the fact that we don't live in a swing state, and the allocation of our seven electoral votes is a foregone conclusion.
As the line inched forward, I couldn't help but feel that this all reeked of privilege. Many conservatives, me included, guffawed at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's recent claim that long lines were a sign of voter suppression, even when they're "happening in a blue state." AOC's New York is, of course, just terribly governed, as the pandemic and this election season should make plain to everyone.
But how many regular working people -- plumbers, electricians, construction workers, even cops and firemen -- who have good reason to fear the further empowerment of the left in this country, looked at those lines and said to themselves "I don't have time for this"?
Well, hopefully they make it through in the end. If not in my neck of the woods, at least in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and everywhere else where their votes really count and their livelihoods are under assault. It'd be nice to see the smug liberals I saw this morning mugged by reality, just like four years ago.
The Lockdown Archipelago
As we enter the final week of the U.S. presidential election campaign, the alarming truth is that the political issue dominating all else is whether the mainstream media and Big Tech are justified in refusing to cover news about a possible corruption scandal linking the Biden family, Ukraine, and China which might influence the election result.
That’s an acid commentary on the quality of election debate, of course, since it concedes that most of the formal election issues from foreign policy to taxation haven’t seriously captured the attention of voters as they have in most elections since 1945.
Though President Trump and challenger Joe Biden went through the motions of discussing them in the final (relatively calm) debate—and though the election will broadly determine which of two very different approaches will be followed—the voters don’t seem very excited by these bread-and-butter choices. They give the impression of being absorbed instead in a larger cultural struggle over the meaning of America which is also, oddly enough, a struggle with strong overtones of social class.
Back to the future, comrade?
Interestingly, Mr. Biden himself referred to this in an 2019 interview with the New York Times editorial board when he described how even Democrat politicians were drifting away from their working class base:
We stopped showing up at the Polish American club. We stopped showing up, and we all went to you, the really smart people. We had a new kind of coalition we were putting together. College-educated women and college men and boom, boom, boom and so on.
To be clear, Biden was not endorsing this drift. He argued that there was no necessary conflict between progressive values and working class values, and he urged Democrats to make the progressive case to their traditional supporters. But even if that were true—and it is at least questionable—there is clearly a conflict between progressive policies and blue-collar interests. And it has come out into the open in the debate over natural gas and fracking.
Fracking is an important matter because it has revived America’s energy independence, shifted much energy production from dirtier fuels to clean natural gas, enabled America’s pre-Covid economic boom to take place alongside lower carbon emissions, and created energy industry jobs in several states, notably “swing state” Pennsylvania, where today the employment of tens of thousands of Americans is dependent on fracking. So it’s an issue that has to be handled carefully.
It would be fair comment to say that Joe Biden has mishandled the issue carefully. From the early primaries to last week’s debate with Trump, Joe Biden has taken every possible position on the fracking issue depending on who was his main opponent at the time. He’s been for fracking, against fracking, and in favor of encouraging it while removing government “subsidies” to it.
And that opens up a vulnerability in the Biden campaign. Indeed, an article in The Nation (which is strongly against fracking) gives Biden firm advice, exquisitely tailored to reflect voter preferences in a specially commissioned opinion poll, that he should back off any idea of a fracking ban: “[W]e observed significant movement away from a fracking ban, support for which dropped seven points, from 46 percent before the debates to 39 percent after them."
“Don’t mention the ban,” however, is a strategy that can only work if the media plays along with it. And by and large the media has been, ahem, compliant. Biden has not been subjected to any serious media cross-examination over his contortions on fracking—nor, indeed, over his previous incautious statements that he wants to phase out fossil fuels altogether.
If the media were to subject Biden’s wider energy policies—"achieving a 100 percent carbon-pollution-free electricity grid by 2035 [and] a $2 trillion investment in new clean-energy infrastructure,” as The Nation describes them—to a cost-benefit analysis that offered realistic estimates of substantially higher taxes and electricity prices as experienced in Germany under similar policies, it can be reasonably guessed that they would become as unpopular with the voters as the fracking ban is currently.
That is unlikely to happen, however, as everyone knows even if they formally deny it for the record. Though popular concern has concentrated in the last few weeks on the “scandalous” aspects of the Biden campaign, the real increase in media bias—and the willingness of media professionals to justify it openly—has developed above all in relation to climate change and energy. On those topics, major news organizations such as the BBC have stated as a matter of principle that they regard the science of climate change as settled and that climate change skeptics should be treated as a lesser breed of experts.
Admittedly, it is true that the degree of media bias over the evidence of corruption in Hunter Biden’s laptop has been extreme. For Twitter and Facebook to lock the New York Post’s story about it out of their systems amounts to outright censorship which, incidentally, is not improved because it is imposed by a private company.
Worse than that, not only have journalists not objected loudly to it, as they almost invariably did in the past to lesser infractions of press freedom, but some have attacked the minority of mainstream reporters who have developed the Post story further, and others have advanced justifications for suppressing it that suggest a nascent totalitarian mindset in the trade: for instance, the Washington Post column which argued that blocking its New York rival was justified even if the story was true.
Message: the media gatekeepers are back, and we should all be grateful for the fact. Biden’s “really smart . . . college-educated women and college educated men,” will be controlling the narrative again.
Might this have gone unnoticed if the motives of the censors were not transparently partisan and their actions occurring in the two weeks before an election? Probably not. Censoring one side in an election campaign is simply too outrageous to be ignored. What makes a bigger difference, however, is that the election has given the people on the other side of the class divide a rare opportunity to protest their being treated as too stupid and reactionary to decide for themselves what to make of the news.
That is the explanation, I think, of the lively, multi-ethnic crowds of ordinary patriotic Americans who have been turning up in amazingly large numbers not only at Trump’s rallies but also at points on the routes to the rallies. They’re saying “We know the game is rigged against us, and we’re not going take it lying down.” It is a great and glorious collective “No!”
It may not forecast a surprise Trump victory, however. The really smart side of the conflict is fired up too, and it controls not only the narrative but most of the institutions that will decide a very close election. That said, every election leads . . . to the next election. Goldwater’s landslide defeat inspired the routed GOP conservatives to turn their insurrection into a political movement that led . . . to a conservative landslide in the 1966 mid-term elections and to Richard Nixon’s narrow victory in 1968. Politics never goes on vacation.
In the meantime, depending on the result, both sides will be re-designing their institutional armor for the next battle—the new blue-collar Right its “alternative” media and social media (suggested title: Samizdata), and the “really smart people” more effective ways of controlling the narrative, if possible covertly, since some of them are queasy about open censorship.
Samizdata, here we come?
And they’ll have problems—especially on the big scientific issues where most people don’t usually pay close attention but which they now find intruding massively into their everyday lives and become “woke” to them.
For instance, the science underpinning Covid-19 “lockdown” is coming under serious criticism as the lockdowns grow more draconian and a solution to the pandemic more distant. British and Australian political writers are predicting U-turns by their governments on pandemic policy. Similarly, as climate science becomes a more crowded field, so the number of skeptics increases, and the publication of “inconvenient facts” grows, not exponentially perhaps but impressively and worryingly.
As we have seen, Joe Biden and The Nation offer "achieving a 100 percent carbon-pollution-free electricity grid by 2035 [and] a $2 trillion investment in new clean-energy infrastructure” as their climate policies. That’s a lot of money. But how well have we spent similar sums in the past?
That question is answered in a recent study by five Irish and American scientists who examine how much money was spent worldwide on climate and energy policies between 2011 and 2018. Here is an extract from their executive summary:
US$3660 billion has been spent on global climate change projects over the period 2011–2018. Fifty-five percent of this expenditure has gone to wind and solar energy. According to world energy reports, the contribution of wind and solar to world energy consumption has increased from 0.5% to 3% over this period. Meanwhile, coal, oil, and gas continue to supply 85% of the world’s energy consumption, with hydroelectricity and nuclear providing most of the remainder.
I traced that information to its original source from an article by James Delingpole on Breitbart—a samizdat writer appearing in an alternative news website who added his own characteristic touch of tabasco: “Renewable energy is cripplingly expensive, hopelessly unreliable, massacres wildlife, destroys landscapes, destabilises the grid, harms indigenous peoples, and causes climate change. But apart from that it’s great.”
While such samizdata exists and reports genuine news, the attempts of mainstream media and Big Tech at controlling the narrative can never really succeed. On current trends, however, how long will that be?