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 this Vox 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.

Game Day.

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 there is a concern here. Before me were a bunch of affluent people who probably had no real work to do until their afternoon Zoom meeting. It costs them nothing to stand in line for hours to vote for the Wall Street candidate, more COVID hysteria, and the destruction of blue collar jobs. Then they can head home, park their electric cars in their heated driveways, and futz around until its time to watch election returns on MSNBC.

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?

Biden's Dangerous 'Green' Assault on Oil

In an exchange with President Trump during their final debate last week, Joe Biden avidly supported both fracking, which is a major industry in Pennsylvania -- a critical swing state that he needs to win next Tuesday -- and the continued use of fossil fuels. In a normal year, which this manifestly is not, that would not be exceptional.  

The problem is, Biden has been pushed to the left all year, and is now supporting the Green New Deal of his party's radicals. When Trump called him out on this policy shift, Biden denied any change, and challenged Trump to prove that he was lying. Which Trump promptly did:

Biden further undercut himself on stage by stating that under his administration, the U.S. would be seeing an eventual end to the use of fossil fuels. That is why Biden and his staff are now trying to blur, err, clarify, his comment that he would have the country "transition from the oil industry by 2025,” (!!!) when asked by President Donald Trump if he would close down the oil industry.

"It has to be replaced by renewable energy over time, over time. And I'd stop giving to the oil industry. I’d stop giving them federal subsidies," Biden said.

"Basically what he is saying is he is going to destroy the oil industry," Trump retorted. "Will you remember that Texas? Pennsylvania? Oklahoma? Ohio?"

Vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, who has the most radical policy record in the U.S. Senate, and has been  adamant about ending fracking and fossil fuel production, was among the first primary candidates to be booted by Democrat voters and uninterested donors. And this in a year when a majority of Democrat voters expect her to replace her ailing and mentally diminished boss during the course of his term. 

So is Biden a hypocrite? Is he a liar? Sure. But that is the least of the problems with his willingness to destroy a key national industry in service of the shibboleth of “climate change,” and the full control of the economy that would ensue under the Green New Deal. There are upwards of 300,000 jobs at stake in Pennsylvania, right this minute, which will be destroyed by ending the fossil fuel industries. More hundreds of thousands are at stake as well in Texas and Oklahoma.

Thanks to the Trump Administration's energy policies, the United States is energy independent for the first time in more than half a century. Domestic production is the reason the average price of gas at the pump is hovering down around $2.20 nationally – a huge decrease from average prices during the Obama years.

Energy independence is also a huge national security boon. Some of the biggest foreign policy successes of the Trump administration are arguably a direct result of no longer needing Arab oil. Indeed, the end of the Saudi – and entire Persian Gulf region – oil economy, due to vastly lower demand, has been a prime factor in new Saudi openness to relations with Israel.

Giving up our energy independence at this time to transition to so-called renewable energy sources would be a costly unforced error.

Why Pennsylvania Is in Play

Pennsylvania might be the most hotly contested state in this presidential election, and with good reason. Our fifth most populous state, Pennsylvania is home to two big cities -- Philadelphia and Pittsburgh -- that are flush with the affluent and the underclasses who serve them -- both key Democratic constituencies -- while the rest of the state is dominated by rural, working class voters, who are much more conservatively inclined even when their actual voting patterns are harder to predict.

Republicans have long felt that this second cohort were their natural allies. In the 1980s they were often called Reagan Democrats, and the GOP was convinced that eventually they would come to their senses and become reliable Republicans. But, despite their best efforts, every Democratic candidate from Bill Clinton in 1992 through Barrack Obama in 2012 carried the Keystone State.

That changed in 2016, when rural Pennsylvanians found in Donald Trump a candidate who spoke to their interests and preferences. He won the state by 44,292 votes out of more than 6,000,000 cast, the smallest presidential margin in the state in 176 years.

But this year, the Democrats are determined to win it back. It is very likely that the party establishment decided to go all in on Joe Biden with PA in mind. After all, though he represented Delaware in the Senate for thirty-six years, he never stops reminding voters that he was born in Scranton, and prides himself on his common touch (a questionable characterization).

But beyond that, the Biden camp are offering Pennsylvania's rural voters essentially nothing. Ace reporter Salena Zito, who knows her native state better than anybody, recently spoke to several long-time Democrats in Bethel Park, who all have roughly the same story -- they've been forced to accept that their pro-life, pro-Second Amendment views are no longer welcome in the party. What's more, they've been increasingly disturbed by the Democrat's embrace of rioting and disorder in cities throughout the country, and their tendency to denigrate the police.

And then there's fracking. The natural gas industry, which relies on fracking, employs over 300,000 workers, directly or indirectly, in Pennsylvania. While campaigning for the Democratic nomination, both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren called for a national fracking ban. Joe Biden's position has generally been harder to decipher, but he seems to have settled on a policy of “no more new fracking." while his running mate, Kamala Harris, continues to support a total ban on the practice.

If there's one thing that the aforementioned working class voters care about, it is jobs. Here's Rose Tennent writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer about what fracking has meant for the state:

We allowed responsible, modern natural gas development to go forward, allowing Pennsylvanians to take advantage of some of the world’s greatest shale gas reserves. The result has been an incredible boon to our state and our country. Fracking and the rest of the shale gas revolution saved Pennsylvania from the worst depths of the Great Recession. When our workers were hurting the most in 2008 and 2009, the shale fields eventually catapulted Pennsylvania back to prosperity by restoring the energy dominance that we enjoyed a century earlier. Today, 106,000 Pennsylvanians have mostly well-paid, desirable jobs in the energy sector. That’s a big part of why our state has a 3.9% unemployment rate — a figure that would have been unimaginable only a few years ago.

Those figures are from before the pandemic and the lockdowns, of course, which together brutalized both the economy overall and the resource industry specifically. But the potential for the industry to rebound and the jobs to come back once the lockdowns are relaxed is real, so long as as they're allowed to. Biden's position, which amounts to "read my lips, No Future Fracking Jobs," seems designed to ensure that that that never happens.

There's some in every crowd.

Beyond the benefits it brings for the state itself, Tennent points out that, largely because of fracking, "America as a whole has become energy independent for the first time since we became dependent on imported oil from the Middle East in the 1960s." Hydraulic fracturing doesn't only create jobs stateside, it also makes it so the price of heating our homes and filling up are gas tanks aren't reliant on the whims of OPEC or political stability in the notoriously volatile area surrounding the Strait of Hormuz.

This is very appealing for working class Americans in Pennsylvania, many of whom were wary of the Bush-era Republican Party's middle eastern adventurism. American energy independence removes one of the major justifications for getting involved in the constant squabbles in that part of the world. Consequently, from the perspective of those Americans who both benefit from well paying blue collar jobs in the natural gas industry and disproportionately serve in the military, fracking goes down as a win/win.

So, while polling out of Pennsylvania for this election cycle has been, in the words of elections analyst Jim Geraghty, "boringly consistent," with Biden ahead in nearly every poll for the past several months, reports of a noticeable shift in people registering as Republicans hasn't been surprising. As Geraghty explained recently in National Review,

In November 2016, Pennsylvania had 4.2 million registered Democrats, 3.3 million registered Republicans, and 1.2 million registered with “other parties” or none. By 2020, Pennsylvania had 4.09 million registered Democrats, 3.29 registered Republicans, and 1.21 million registered with other parties. Then the parties began their post-primary voter-registration drives — and Republicans added a net 135,619 voters between June and the final week of September, while Democrats added 57,985 and other voters increased by 49,995.... Add it all up: Democrats are down 66,778 registered members from November 2016, while the Republicans added 125,381, and “other” is up 61,313.

I recently took a trip to Pennsylvania, and it was impossible to miss two things. First, the never-ending cacophony of paid advertisements that are ostensibly pro-Biden, but in actuality anti-Trump. On TV and the radio, you hear over and over tear-jerking stories about someone who lost his job or a family member because Covid-19 (with no explanation as to how Biden would have handled the pandemic differently), ending with the command "vote him out." But the other notable thing was that, driving around the countryside, there must have been ten Trump signs for every Biden sign.

Now, you may object that is a non-scientific measurement, of course, but coupled with the differences in registration, it increases my suspicion that, like in 2016, the polling out of Pennsylvania isn't telling the whole story. Which is to say, the professional forecasters might once again be in for a rude awakening on election night.

On Fracking, It's Biden vs. Biden

Back in March, when people were still unironically saying "Fifteen days to slow the spread," I wrote about the absolute fury the Biden campaign was directing at Republicans over their claims that the former vice president wanted to ban the modern marvel known as fracking. I suggested that Republicans could be forgiven for making these claims -- as RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted, "There are 7.3M Americans whose jobs depend on fracking. Biden and Bernie would eliminate them" -- because Biden's actual position on fracking seemed fairly hard to decipher:

[W]hen Bernie Sanders said he wanted to stop “fracking as soon as we possibly can,” and that he was “talking about telling the fossil fuel industry that they are going to stop destroying this planet—no ifs, buts and maybes about it” in the debate the other night, Biden replied "So am I!" His position is as clear as the noonday sun! Oh, or, er, maybe not so much...

Well, Sleepy Joe is at it again, having said at a speech earlier this week in Pittsburgh, Pa., "I am not banning fracking. Let me say that again: I am not banning fracking. No matter how many times Donald Trump lies about me."

What a relief that must be to the more than 40,000 men and women who work in the natural gas industry in the state of Pennsylvania (which, it is worth noting, Trump won by just over 40,000 votes)!

Then again, maybe they shouldn't be too reassured, since, as Hank Berrien documents, Biden's own words seem to point in the opposite direction:

On January 24, 2020, speaking to a New Hampshire voter, Biden said he would stop fracking. The woman voter asked, “But like, what about, say, stopping fracking?” Biden answered, “Yes.” Woman voter: “And stopping pipeline infrastructure?” Biden: “Yes.”

On March 15, 2020, a Democratic presidential debate between Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders, [Biden said]: "No more, no new fracking."

Also in that debate, Biden stated, “Number one, no more subsidies for fossil fuel industry. No more drilling on federal lands. No more drilling, including offshore. No ability for the oil industry to continue to drill, period, ends, number one.” ....

At a Democratic presidential debate in late July 2019, CNN’s Dana Bash asked Biden, “Just to clarify, would there be any place for fossil fuels, including coal and fracking, in a Biden administration?” Biden answered, “No. We would — we would work it out. Make sure it’s eliminated and no more subsidies for either one of those. Either — any fossil fuel.”

Which is to say, if the claim that Biden opposes fracking is "fake news" from Team Trump, than Crazy Grandpa Joe is in on the conspiracy.

Give It Back to the Indians

You'd think that the Supreme Court's recent decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma, which effectively cleaved the Sooner State in half, would be considered a very big deal, but you can hardly find any worthwhile analysis of it. Perhaps this is because the case has been lost in a sea of other major decisions issued around the same time -- including Bostock v. Clayton, which redefined the word "sex" for the purposes of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; June Medical v. Russo, which held that requiring abortion clinics to have admission agreements with local hospitals is unconstitutional; and DHS v. Regents of the University of California, which asserted that the Trump administration could not undo the Obama Administration's DACA order.

Another possibility is that Americans (unlike our cousins in Canada) are used to thinking of "Native issues" as having purely regional import, with little-to-no effect outside of a few dusty states in the south and west. But McGirt v. Oklahoma has the potential to be among the most significant decisions in years.

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For some background: Jimcy McGirt, a member of the Creek nation, or Muscogees, was tried and convicted in 1996 in Oklahoma for raping a four-year-old girl. While serving a life sentence, he appealed the decision, his legal team arguing that the state of Oklahoma had no right to try him for the crime, since the 1866 treaty which the Federal government signed with the Creek nation establishing a reservation in that territory was not abrogated when Oklahoma became a state in 1907.

In a 5-4 decision (which saw Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch join with the four liberal justices), the court agreed, declaring that, despite a century of behaving otherwise, much of eastern Oklahoma is legally "Indian country," and as such McGirt (and hundreds of other Indians currently imprisoned for crimes in the area) should have been tried in federal court, which has jurisdiction over Indian affairs.

Writing for the majority, justice Gorsuch conceded the potential for this decision to have wide ranging and unpredictable effects:

In reaching our conclusion about what the law demands of us today, we do not pretend to foretell the future and we proceed well aware of the potential for cost and conflict around jurisdictional boundaries, especially ones that have gone unappreciated for so long.

In his dissent, chief justice John Roberts added some more specificity to Gorsuch's point, while pointing to the mind-boggling scope of this decision, which, although ostensibly dealing with criminal law, will necessarily in an over-lawyered America bleed into other areas of governance.

Not only does the Court discover a Creek reservation that spans three million acres and includes most of the city of Tulsa, but the Court’s reasoning portends that there are four more such reservations in Oklahoma. The rediscovered reservations encompass the entire eastern half of the State—19 million acres that are home to 1.8 million people, only 10%–15% of whom are Indians. Across this vast area, the State’s ability to prosecute serious crimes will be hobbled and decades of past convictions could well be thrown out.

On top of that, the Court has profoundly destabilized the governance of eastern Oklahoma. The decision today creates significant uncertainty for the State's continuing authority over any area that touches Indian affairs, ranging from zoning and taxation to family and environmental law.

While all of these points of uncertainty are worthy of further discussion, it is the last one -- environmental law -- to which we will turn our attention.

Oklahoma is our nation's fourth largest producer of oil and third largest producer of natural gas. But according to Dino Grandoni of the Washington Post, after this decision, roughly "a quarter of Oklahoma’s recent oil and gas wells and around 60 percent of its refinery capacity" is now within the confines of Indian territory. "Perhaps more importantly," Grandoni continues, "the network of pipelines pumping crude to and from Cushing, Okla. — a crucial oil terminal for the Keystone XL — spider-web across the redrawn reservation borders."

Andrew Jackson, call your office.

No industry likes uncertainty, and the potential for disruption to the oil and gas industry here is almost unprecedented. Relationships between regulators and producers, established over decades, might ultimately be worthless. The same could be said for the familiarity companies have with the minutiae of local government, and the responsibility that elected officials in Oklahoma have towards constituents effected by regulatory decisions. As Grandoni explains,

Instead of dealing with business-friendly regulators from the state of Oklahoma... producers may soon have to contend with both tribes and the federal government, which often manages land for Native Americans.

This is unfortunate, since, as we've seen, native groups are often susceptible to manipulation and outside interference, either because their governance structures aren't designed to deal with problems at this scale (a particularly acute problem in this case, as the governance of what Roberts called the "rediscovered reservations" hasn't had jurisdiction over this territory in over a century) or because the activist and media narrative diverge from the interests and preferences of the Indians themselves.

Moreover, in instances where the federal government manages territory on behalf of the native population, there is a world of difference between politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., overseeing the environmental regulations and politicians and bureaucrats in Oklahoma City doing the same. While berating bureaucrats is something of a national past time in America, especially on the right, many of Oklahoma's regulators will have grown up in the area, and will know something about the issues and the land, on top of being familiar with the producers. That isn't necessarily the case for bureaucrats at the EPA or the Bureau of Indian Affairs sitting at a desk 1,300 miles away.

And that doesn't even touch upon taxation, which could see the tribes in charge of eastern Oklahoma begin to collect taxes from producers on top of the state taxes which they already pay.

For those reasons and more, its no wonder that producers in Oklahoma are feeling apprehensive. According to Grandoni, "at least one company — Houston-based producer Alpha Energy Inc. — is warning investors it faces potential legal risks in its leasing of 3,400 acres in the state." And former Tulsa mayor Dewey Bartlett, who now runs an oil and gas company, said he "worries investors may be less interested in working with drillers in eastern Oklahoma — especially when similar opportunities exist in the western half of the state and across the border in Texas."

Now, it must be said that hope isn't necessarily lost for the oil and gas industry in Oklahoma. As Gorsuch pointed out in his majority opinion, "Oklahoma and its Tribes have proven they can work successfully together as partners," and that hundreds of agreements already exist between the state and its natives. There is, in fact, already a preliminary agreement between the Five Tribes with authority over this territory and the state of Oklahoma, signed within a few days of the decision.

But that agreement is general in nature, and it is likely that the interested parties will be hammering out the details of this new arrangement for years to come.

Hopefully there will still be an oil and gas industry -- including the jobs it provides to Oklahomans of all ethnicities -- on the other side.