Biden's Commie Nominee Falls on Her Hammer and Sickle
Joe Biden has pulled the nomination of totalitarian leftist law professor Saule Tarikhovna Omarova to be his Comptroller of the Currency after her radical, un-American beliefs about banking, energy, markets, and economic freedom received the public airing the democratic process requires.
As reported here, the Kazakh-born immigrant whom Biden chose to oversee the banking system wanted to nationalize Americans’ bank accounts, nuke the energy sector, and deindustrialize the world’s largest economy by building a gargantuan new bureaucracy to implement aspects of both the Green New Deal and the Great Reset.
When Senate Republicans grabbed the low-hanging fruit and threw the would-be banking commissar’s own chilling words back at her during the confirmation process, the Left was predictably outraged at the dirty right-wing tactic of reciting facts. Omarova reportedly claimed she was shocked at the “depravity” of the truthful attacks on her nomination.
Too close for comfort, tovarish.
As justifiably frightened, less-radical Democrat lawmakers ran away, U.S. senator and former bankruptcy law professor and former American Indian Elizabeth Warren tried to save the nomination of her Soviet-raised doppelgänger from an unrelenting onslaught of relevant evidence, accusing Omarova’s critics of red-baiting.
“Saule Omarova will stand up to the giant banks that repeatedly break the law and hurt consumers, which is why Republicans have launched a shameful smear campaign against her nomination,” Warren tweeted the day of the confirmation hearing.
Biden, or whoever actually does his job while he bumbles, off-gasses, and gropes, lamented Omarova’s Pearl Harbor Day withdrawal from consideration for the top banking oversight post:
As a strong advocate for consumers and a staunch defender of the safety and soundness of our financial system, Saule would have brought invaluable insight and perspective to our important work on behalf of the American people. But unfortunately, from the very beginning of her nomination, Saule was subjected to inappropriate personal attacks that were far beyond the pale.
This is obvious nonsense. Nothing “inappropriate” was said about Omarova –her background and personal history were fair game— and she was a perfect fit for today’s Democrats. Omarova failed as a nominee not because she was a small-c communist –the Biden-Harris regime is bursting with such people— but because she was so brazen about it. Her voluminous paper trail of Marxist drivel was easy to find and could not be dismissed as the mere thought experiments the nominee belatedly claimed they were.
In the old Soviet Union of her birth, whose ideas remained so dear to Comrade Omarova, someone like her who became an embarrassment to the regime might be disposed of by mysteriously suffering a heart attack or a traffic accident. Because she's in America, she got off easy.
Partiya Lenina, Sila Narodnaya!
The Biden-Harris regime’s embattled nominee to oversee the banking system is a dishonest small-c communist who aspires to nationalize Americans’ bank accounts, crush the energy sector, and deindustrialize the world’s largest economy by creating a mammoth new bureaucracy to implement aspects of both the Green New Deal and the Great Reset. What could possibly go wrong?
She's not alone. Plenty of Democrats share Comptroller of the Currency nominee Saule Tarikhovna Omarova’s view that the economy is a plaything to be manipulated for political ends.
Fortunately for your wallet, five of the more survival-savvy Democrats –including Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Mark Warner of Virginia— are reportedly defecting from Comrade Omarova’s camp, so it seems unlikely she will survive the confirmation process. Republicans have also vigorously criticized her nomination and the regime is fighting back.
Of course, anonymous comments fed to friendly reporters are often the best way to disseminate smears. In that vein, Bloomberg News reported that an unidentified “White House official said the attacks on Omarova, a Cornell law professor who has been sharply critical of big banks and cryptocurrencies, were so unfair that they smacked of the red-baiting smears leveled by Senator Joe McCarthy in the 1950s.” Except McCarthy was right, though that is a discussion for another day.
Even if the nomination craters, these retrograde Soviet-era policies will live on because they enjoy significant support in Democrat circles, academia, and in the halls of government.
Until I came to the US, I couldn't imagine that things like gender pay gap still existed in today's world. Say what you will about old USSR, there was no gender pay gap there. Market doesn't always "know best." https://t.co/vvnx9DZICN
Omarova shares the Leftist regime’s antipathy to American energy independence and said she wants the coal, oil, and natural gas industries to die. “A lot of the smaller players in that industry are going to probably go bankrupt in short order – at least we want them to go bankrupt if we want to tackle climate change,” she said.
The White House formally sent the nomination to the Senate on Nov. 2 but unveiled the pick two months ago, hyping the demographic boxes she checked – as if her sex and skin color might make her a better commissar. “If confirmed, Omarova will be the first woman and person of color to serve as Comptroller,” the Sept. 23 announcement stated. Omarova was born in Kazakhstan and is a graduate of Moscow State University. A Cornell law professor, she holds a J.D. from Northwestern University in Chicago and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She was also arrested for shoplifting from a T.J. Maxx store in Madison in 1995.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, an independent branch of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, supervises some 1,125 national banks, federal savings associations and federal branches and associations of foreign banks, representing $14.9 trillion in assets, or 65 percent of all U.S. commercial banking assets.
Omarova, 55, claims to be a capitalist –even an anti-communist in her youth— but her recent writings tell a different story. At a Senate confirmation hearing Nov. 18, Omarova portrayed herself in prepared testimony as someone who learned firsthand about the dangers of all-powerful government, saying she grew up “under a totalitarian regime presiding over a failing economy.”
Druzhby Narodnov, Nadyozhny Oplot!
In her charm offensive, Omarova said she was raised by her grandmother “who was orphaned and barely escaped death when, in the 1920s, Stalin sent her entire family to Siberia.” Their crime was “that they were educated Kazakhs who did not join the Party.”
These issues are deeply personal to me. Having grown up in an oppressive state-run system, with no free enterprise and no economic opportunity for people like me, I have a unique appreciation for our dynamic and diverse markets. It is what made my life and success possible, and for that I am forever grateful. Every American family should have the same opportunities that my family has had.
Despite giving lip service to freedom, Omarova supports the abolition of deposit-based banking and imposing a totalitarian banking architecture that would put private deposits in the hands of the government. Put another way, she supports communism, except perhaps for all the messy murders of people deemed obstacles to progress like her grandmother’s relatives.
In “The People’s Ledger: How to Democratize Money and Finance the Economy,” published in Vanderbilt Law Review in October 2020, Omarova argued for the abolition of the current banking system. “After decades of rising inequality, systemic instability, and relentless concentration of economic power, ordinary Americans are demanding a greater say in the distribution and use of financial resources,” she wrote.
She urged that all bank deposits be transferred into “FedAccounts” at the Federal Reserve, a move that would kill off banks funded by deposits. “The Fed’s entire balance sheet should be redesigned to operate as … the ‘People’s Ledger’: the ultimate public platform for both modulating and allocating the flow of sovereign credit and money in the national economy.”
In a draft paper published in July, “The ‘Franchise’ View of the Corporation: Purpose, Personality, Public Policy,” Omarova proposed that corporate charters be issued subject to pledges from the companies that they serve government-approved purposes. This is needed to curb “serious societal harms caused by contemporary corporations’ pursuit of their perfectly lawful business activities—rising inequality, exploitative labor practices, environmental degradation, erosion of democratic process, to name a few…”
Not willing to allow a crisis to go to waste, Omarova also urged in an August 2020 white paper titled “The Climate Case for a National Investment Authority,” that the “economic devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic” be used for “a speedy and deliberate move to a massive infrastructure-led rebuilding and ‘greening’ of the U.S. economy.” Such an authority would pursue “the long-term goals of sustainability and decarbonization.” This is the essence of the so-called Great Reset being proposed by the Davos elite led by Klaus Schwab and others.
The Green New Deal movement “has successfully propelled this programmatic vision of an environmentally clean, just, and equitable future to the top of the national policy agenda. The Democratic Party is responding to this enthusiasm accordingly.” Omarova has also proposed the creation of a multi-trillion-dollar National Investment Authority (NIA), “a public entity that would design, execute, and finance a comprehensive nationwide program of environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive growth and revival.”
Drawing on the experience of the New Deal era’s logrolling, hopelessly corrupt Reconstruction Finance Corporation that the Eisenhower administration wisely dismantled, the NIA, she wrote, “offers a novel institutional solution to multiple organizational, financial, and operational challenges associated with an ambitious national project to combat climate change." The United States, she wrote, needs “to shoulder its share of the decarbonization load”:
Estimates of the amount of global investment in clean energy required to meet climate targets between now and 2050 range from about $1 trillion to over $3 trillion annually. The NIA will step into this gap and use innovative financing tools to mobilize and boost the flow of public and private capital into socially beneficial ‘green’ infrastructures.
So much for Omarova’s claimed “deeply personal” commitment to free enterprise and economic opportunity. Actions speak louder than words, so cue the marching bands:
Green is the New Black
The entire industrial world is suffering from needless energy shortages caused by efforts toprecipitously switch from conventionalfossil fuels. It’s not true that simply mandating a switch from reliable power sources to intermittent wind, sun, and water will make the change workable when we need it. There’s scarcely a place in the modern world that will not be feeling the high cost and discomfort of a shortage of energy supplies and their increasingly soaring prices. Lebanon already is. Due to a shortage of oil, the two power plants that supply 40 percent of that country’s electricity simply shut down recently.
It’s an extreme case, but even the United Kingdom, the E.U., the U.S., and China are running up against diminishing ability to obtain the necessary energy supplies to keep things running smoothly. Nature has a way of fouling up such plans. Some of the shortages are due to accidents, like the cutting of an undersea cable to the U.K.; some are due to flooding of mines (China has closed down some mines because of it);some are due to draught in other places like America’s West which at the best of times has limited hydropower; some is due to extreme cold or lack of wind that has limited wind power; some is due to hurricanes which shutdown Gulf oil refineries.
These things are not exceptional occurrences, but reasons why redundancy must be built into energy planning. But most of these shortages are due to green policies and stupid political choices, ironically shutting down oil and gas-fired power plants and fossil fuel exploitation and transport at the demand of the greens, who grossly overestimate both global warming and the ability of air, sun, and water to take their place. Indeed, just today the Biden administration announced a new federal project to develop wind farms in American waters, including one near New York City.
Hard to kill King Coal.
Ironically, this means coal -- the dirtiest possible fuel -- is back in huge demand. The U.S. has lots of it, but the greens forced closing of most of the mines and mining is today a highly skilled job requiring substantial training. The miners who left for other work, are not easily replaced so that source is now not readily available to take up the demand.
The ideological split will drive a wedge between the European Union, a long-time champion of a coal phaseout, and corporate interests as market conditions favour gas-to-coal switching. The switching ratio has slid in coal’s favour in the last weeks of June 2021 and judging by the current futures structure, it will stay in place until at least Q2-2022...
The current coal demand surge should force the European Union to reconsider its position on coal -- as polluting as it might be, it could still help alleviate energy crunches across Europe when the situation demands it. As things stand today, the upcoming four years would see at least seven countries phasing out coal: Portugal (2021), France (2022), UK (2024), Hungary, Italy, Ireland and Greece (all 2025). As Europe has seen nine consecutive year-on-year increases in aggregate coal burns, perhaps more switching flexibility and less bans could still be the way forward.
It’s no secret that the cleanest most reliable fuel – nuclear -- was murdered by the greens (except in France where Macron refuses to shut it down). Then natural gas, the second cleanest, became their target, so now many places are desperate for coal, the dirtiest option.
Was there any point to the war on fossil fuels? Probably not. Judith Curry, one of the most reliable climate researchers, explains how even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) admits finally that the dire climate models off of which they were working were in substantial error. The latest report from the IPCC indicates previous models were predicting a hotter climate than warranted.
A substantial number of the CMIP6 models are running way too hot, which has been noted in many publications. In its projections of 21st century global mean surface temperatures, the [report] provides ‘constrained’ projections (including climate models with reasonable values of climate sensitivity that reasonably simulate the 20th century).
GCMs [Global Climate Models] clearly have an important role to play particularly in scientific research. However, driven by the urgent needs of policy makers, the advancement of climate science is arguably being slowed by the focus of resources on this one path of climate modeling. The numerous problems with GCMs, and concerns that these problems will not be addressed in the near future given the current development path, suggest that alternative frameworks should be explored.
The shortage of energy supplies is causing food prices to rise, in fact, everything from food to gasoline to heating and cooling is becoming more expensive. Inflation is not the only rational worry connected to energy shortages. Scarcities in everything from adhesives and paints to auto partsare already showing up. Russia which is now a major natural gas supplier for Europeis not only growing richer for the reduction of its usualenergy sources from elsewhere (and Europe’s incomprehensible reduction of its conventional sources) but it has now a more powerful lever to bend the gas dependent E.U. to its will.
The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming.
Polling to date has shown people are generally in accord with their propagandized perception of the ill-considered green agenda, but unwilling to pay higher prices and undergo impoverishment to fund it . Expect continued pressure on the government leaders who bowed to the green propaganda (often because it allowed them to shovel government revenues to favored friends and donors) to now shift gears. Even the pork-rich proposed budget framework of the Democrats, contains a unanimously adopted provision to bar implementation of the Green New Deal, an amendment to prevent the promulgation of regulation to ban hydraulic fracturing -- fracking -- which made this country a global leader in oil and gas production, and two amendments barring the Agriculture Department from denying financing to fossil-fuel burning power plants and regulating emissions from farm animals.
It’s a small beginning to what will likely be a multi-national citizen pushback against this nonsense. The one thing politicians worldwide prize over everything else is retaining their personal power, and it’s looking more and more like the Green New Deal will either falter or a lot of political leaders who fell for this irrational program will be shortly out of office.
Enemies of the People: AOC
The Church of Global Warming Will Now Come to Order
Intercessional prayers at my local Anglican church never fail include asking for God’s help in tackling climate change. Suppose I was to ask those expressing concern about climate change whether their concern was related to increased water vapour in the atmosphere, caused by warming engendered by CO2 emissions from burning hydrocarbons fuels; and which, in turn, markedly multiplied the initial warming effect of CO2. If I were ever to ask this question, the odds are that I would get a blank look.
Understandably, people have little knowledge of climate science. And when I say people, I include most politicians, media commentators, Greta Thunberg, Prince Charles, David Attenborough even and, being brutally honest, me too.
Poor sods like me are easily bamboozled by science. The IPCC brigade know that. You might recall “the science is settled” catchcry being used to quell dissent among the hoi polloi. However, such a contradiction in terms proved to be too laughable to survive and it’s now never heard. Nevertheless, to put it mildly, debate is not encouraged. Scientists in institutional settings risk being cancelled for questioning any aspect of the received wisdom. Best to be retired before voicing a discordant opinion.
So we're all agreed then?
The problem is that climate science is no longer in the backroom; delving into esoterica remote from the everyday lives of people in the street. The catholic church stuck too long with Ptolemy’s geocentric theory of the solar system. But, really, did this matter much for trade and commerce? No, it didn’t. That doesn’t apply in this case. In this case, science is in process, through the agency of governments, of upturning the world. And we are told not to ask awkward questions.
After a while, I thought, let them have their theory. The important thing is what’s being done about it. If they would support nuclear energy, then let’s swallow hard and go along with it. For example, you can easily come away with that point of view from reading Michael Shellenberger’s Apocalypse Never. It is a grave mistake.
We are not dealing with rationale beings. For instance, consider AOC and her fellow supporters of the Green New Deal. To them, climate change is a gateway to a brave new world. And that’s not to a world of efficient, affordable, zero-emission nuclear energy. That’s anathema to them. They want to remake society into an inclusive (white men excepted), equitable, diverse, green, nirvana. In reality it would be a Marxist-like hellhole but, hey, they have the best of intentions. Hmm? I wonder. Did Stalin have good intentions?
Our calculations are irrefutable!
For us there is no option. We must go back to the beginning and do “violence” to their inviolable scientific premise. With this in mind, I was attracted to a recent essay I might otherwise have put into the too-hard basket. By Christopher Monckton, it was put up on the site Watts Up With That?
Albeit colourful, Monckton’s a clever guy. Saw him speak in Sydney maybe fifteen or so years ago. I believe, at the time, he described global warming as a monstrous hoax. I don’t think he’s changed his mind. But to his essay. I can’t warrant its worth. I can say, with approval, that it tackles the science. I found it interesting. This is his thesis in summary point form for easy digestion.
The near-to-the-surface temperature of the Earth is 288.5 K (Kelvins); where 273 K = 0 degrees Celsius.
Of this: 255 K is the (base) temperature sans greenhouse effect. 33.5 K is due to greenhouse gasses; pre-industrial (7.6 K) and post-industrial (0.8 K), with feedback adding another 25 K.
Apparently, none of the above is controversial.
According to Monckton, IPCC modellers divide 25 K by 8.4 K to get 3. Accordingly, they conclude each 1 degree of direct warming from anthropogenic greenhouse gasses results in a further 3 degrees of feedback warming; presumably from water vapour.
Monckton argues that the feedback must be measured against the total temperature.
Thus, the feedback of 25 K must be divided by the base temperature (255 K) plus the direct effects of pre- and post-industrialisation greenhouse gasses (8.5 K). This gives 25/263.5 ≈ 0.1
This means that each degree of direct warming as a result of anthropogenic greenhouse gasses produces only another 0.1 degree of feedback warming. Models defenestrated!
In a nutshell, Monckton’s claim is that all of the heat of the earth is complicit in generating feedback warming not just the 8.5 K down to greenhouse gasses. It would explain why model predictions have overegged anthropogenic warming and markedly overshot actual temperatures. Does he have a point? I might have mentioned. Science is not my forte. However, I do believe that science is the turf on which the battle must be reengaged and fought.
Global warming alarmism is like a deep-rooted infection. You’re not going to cure it by trying to make its manifestation more benign. As we speak, parasite upon parasite is gnawing on the supine body-politic of our peerless civilization.
That's the ticket!
Want evidence of these parasites? Look at gargantuan wind turbines, at massive solar farms, at electric cars, at zillions of lithium batteries, at pumped-hydro ventures, at green hydrogen escapades. And what about replacing gas for heating tens of millions of European homes with wind and solar driven electric heat pumps supplementing geo-thermal energy extracted, say, from flooded disused underground coal mines. What could be simpler?
Parasitical boondoggles one and all. Sucking on the taxpayer teat. None able to stand on its own two feet in the marketplace. They will enfeeble us and eventually may lead, one way or another, to our demise.
The received scientific wisdom is wrong. We know that because all of its predictions have been wrong. Normally that would have been sufficient to down the theory. Not this time. Vested interest is at play among institutional scientists, politicians and the aforementioned commercial parasites.
Vested interest is powerful. Some churchmen and papal-court astronomers kept Ptolemaic theory on life support. But it eventually succumbed. Got to keep on. Truth will out. And hopefully, before it is too late.
Green Energy v. Unions, Part Deux
Just a quick follow-up to Michael Walsh's post the other day about the tension between Joe Biden's pro-union rhetoric and the reality of his administration's green energy agenda. The New York Times (of all places) has an article which backs up his point with some pretty shocking numbers:
Accelerating the shift to wind and solar power is likely to create tens of thousands of construction jobs.... But those jobs typically pay far less than those in the fossil fuel industry... [A] standard solar project [employs] about 250 workers for just under a year. About one-third of the workers make $30 an hour or more; the other two-thirds have fewer skills and make hourly wages of less than $20. By contrast, the construction of a gas-powered electricity plant typically lasts two to three years and employs hundreds of skilled, unionized tradesmen — electricians, pipe-fitters and boilermakers — who make $75,000 a year or more, including benefits....
“When you’re talking about the transition to the new green economy, the first question has got to be how are people going to make a horizontal economic move,” said Sean McGarvey, the president of North America’s Building Trades Unions... “I can tell you that in the onshore wind and solar industry, for my members we’re talking in some cases a 75 percent pay cut and they’re losing benefits.” Jim Harrison, the director of renewable energy for the Utility Workers Union of America, said that it typically takes hundreds of workers to operate and maintain a nuclear or coal plant, several dozen at a gas plant — and about a dozen at a wind farm. Solar fields can often operate without a single worker on-site.
Is it any wonder that the Democrats -- with their increasingly radical cultural, economic, and environmental priorities -- have been bleeding private sector union support for years?
In the Union Halls, Strange Bedfellows
Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. At what point to labor unions finally figure out that the Democrat Party is not their friend, that modern Democrats are anti-capitalist, anti-working class socialists of at least the limousine-liberal variety, and that members of the party of slavery, segregation, secularism, and sedition are simply not to be trusted with vital matters of public policy, especially at election time?
Such reflections arise after reading this Politico story, in which once again the blind and the gullible have fallen for Joe Biden & His Media Robinettes:
Biden's green energy plans clash with pledge to create union jobs
President Joe Biden touted his $2 trillion infrastructure plan as a "once-in-a-generation" effort to tackle climate change while creating millions of "good paying jobs." Some unions warn that it may ultimately cost a lot of jobs, too.
Labor groups, echoed by Republicans in Congress, are cautioning that Biden's plan to hitch the jobs recovery to massive green energy investment could backfire because of the quality of employment it will create and the economic devastation it could cause on rural communities.
The president's push to decarbonize the economy will mean eliminating the kind of steady, fixed-location jobs that come with coal mines or fossil fuel power plants. The Biden plan would require the construction of vast numbers of solar, wind and battery projects, along with potentially new pipelines for carbon dioxide and hydrogen. But construction jobs are temporary and require mobility, and once those projects are complete, they'll need few workers to maintain them and keep them operating.
"The jobs that he talked about yesterday were construction jobs," said Phil Smith, a spokesman for the United Mine Workers of America, a day after the Biden speech. "We're not seeing anything concrete that our members can look at and say, 'OK, that's where I'm gonna fit in.'"
Well, how about that! The chimera of "clean energy" should always be read as "bogus energy," not to mention "no jobs." One of the lies behind the claims of "renewable" energy is the implication that such energy will always be readily available and will take next to no effort to extract from Mother Gaia. The wind blows and the sun shines most every day, right? And once your solar panels and scenery-disfiguring windmills are up and running, presto!
No more brutal rape of the virgin Earth. No more big sweaty men with dirty paws and grimy fingernails laboring in claustrophobic coal mines or broiling in the west Texas oilfield. Why, this is energy that even the most fastidious Ivy League poetaster can be proud of: just flip a light switch and you're good to go. Why, you can even plug in your electric car as you would a toaster and know that while your muffin is browning up the Earth has begun healing.
The complaints underscore the difficulty Biden will have in pursuing his two most ambitious goals: reviving the labor market by generating millions of jobs for unions — which traditionally thrive in old-line industries — and transforming the U.S. into a clean economy where electric vehicles and battery storage replace coal, natural gas and oil as energy sources.
Difficulty? Impossibility is more like it. There aren't "millions of jobs" lurking in "green" technology, except may in dumping the wind turbines at the bottom of the Marianas Trench when civilized people finally wake up to the environmental destruction they've created in the name of... preventing environmental destruction.
Environmentalists defend the plan as a necessary move away from old technologies to battle climate change. And others say Biden's plan does include tax incentives for manufacturing and a vision for developing a supply chain that could provide the kind of blue-collar, high-skill jobs that used to be in power plants.
Note the operative words in bold. Any story that includes the word "could" in a context of advocacy is lying to you: the word should be "won't."
While unions are strongly supportive of the administration's pro-labor stance, they worry that the end-goal — if not executed properly — could have devastating effects on their members. “From our perspective, if the jobs aren't there when the mine closes, this plan fails," Smith said. "There's a very large disconnect between what the aspirations are here and what's going to end up actually happening on the ground.”
Biden fought to bring white, blue-collar workers back into the Democratic fold after the party lost them to Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential race, and the administration is seeking to prove that this can be both the most pro-labor and anti-carbon presidency in history. But the reality may prove troublesome.
Ya think? Oh well, sin -- or vote -- in haste, repent at leisure. And learn to code, because unless traditional sources of energy production survive, union members will be looking for new jobs in the great green near-future.
A Greenie for Interior?
Tuned in politicos have been delighting in the Hindenburg-esque descent of hyper partisan Clinton-loyalist Neera Tanden’s nomination as head of the Office of Management and Budget. But another tense confirmation battle has been less commented upon. Congresswoman Deb Haaland was nominated by President Biden to serve as Secretary for the Interior. Haaland is a staunch environmentalist Green New Dealer and putting her in charge of that department would be bad news for the resource sector.
Haaland.... has taken radically anti-fossil-fuel positions throughout her political career. In 2016, prior to being elected to Congress, Haaland traveled to North Dakota to cook food for the protesters demonstrating against the Dakota Access Pipeline. She stayed in the camps for four days that September. In May 2019, [she] told The Guardian, “I am wholeheartedly against fracking and drilling on public land.”
As you can imagine, Republican senators haven't been enthusiastic about Haaland's nomination. During her confirmation hearing, she had a tense confrontation with senators John Barrasso and Bill Cassidy -- both of whom are doctors -- over a social media post in which she asserted that "Republicans don't believe in science." After hammering her about Biden's Keystone XL termination, Cassidy pointed to a State Department scientific survey which held that "building the pipeline lowers greenhouse gas emissions,” and voiced his concern that, under Haaland, the Interior department would “be guided by a prejudice against fossil fuel [and not] guided by science.”
In any event, if Haaland's nomination goes the way of Tanden's, maybe Biden will start thinking more strategically about how to get through appointments with the senate we actually have. No more partisan bomb throwers perhaps. Maybe he could even cut out the middle man and just ask Manchin to make the appointment for him. Worse things could happen.
Making an End-Run Around Democracy, Part Three
[Third in a series. Parts One and Two at the links.]
I paused my last posting on this topic—let’s call it “Democracy Circumvented”—after a quotation from Dr. Roslyn Fuller, head of a progressive pro-democracy Non-Governmental Organisation, to the effect that many progressive NGOs in networks funded by billionaires were not participating in traditional acts of charity or philanthropic research but rather using their investors’ resources to “flip an entire political culture on to a different track by amplifying some voices and drowning out others.”
That may strike you as sinister. But it’s fine as long as it’s open and above board and not financed by public or tax-exempt money. But what if the NGOs are in fact not engaged in a vigorous public debate between opposing parties but are instead players in a Potemkin play of debate in which the “debaters” on both sides, the expert witnesses they call, the judge who sums up the arguments, and the panel of jurors who determine the result are all on the same side, reciting lines written advance to reach pre-determined conclusions?
When that happens in public, political, commercial, or intellectual life—and it does—the term for it is “astroturfing.” Astroturf was coined by Texas senator Lloyd Bentsen, the Democrats’ vice-presidential candidate in 1988, and a wit, and it’s defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “organized activity that is intended to create a false impression of a widespread, spontaneously arising, grassroots movement in support of or in opposition to something (such as a political policy) but that is in reality initiated and controlled by a concealed group or organization (such as a corporation.)”
Sharyl Attkinson, a brave and unbuyable investigative journalist, who has made a special study of astroturfing, explains its general importance and (alas) effectiveness in modern marketing and political campaigning in several appearances across the internet, impressing even skeptical audiences:
Its specific application to progressive networks of NGOs, as outlined in Dr. Fuller’s Spiked article, is that wealthy investors have created a chain of institutions in which each link receives assistance or information from one level which it endorses and then passes onto the next level, and so on and so on, it sometimes feels, ad infinitum.
There are primary research bodies that assemble information on, say, the Green New Deal; secondary research bodies that endorse the “correct” information or point of view (and the think tanks that produce them) and undermine rival ones; motivational research groups that advise on how to tailor their emotional appeal to key constituencies; information technology panels that advise on how to ensure your message is placed before others in internet searches; media outreach groups that package its messages in easy-to-use op-ed or soundbite forms; political education institutes that recruit potential election candidates to carry the torch in elections; and “activist” organizations that organize public protests, sit-ins, occupations of congressional offices, riots, and other civil disobedience events to suggest that a powerful movement of public opinion is backing the Green New Deal or some other "progressive" cause de jour.
And, yes, even activism can be astroturf activism.
Put so baldly, this argument sounds a little like a conspiracy theory. Well, why not? Bear the following points in mind. First, conspiracies exist, sometimes succeed, and even have serious consequences. The First World War was triggered by a conspiracy of students to murder the heir to the Austrian throne. They succeeded, and one can’t deny that the Great War amounted to serious consequences.
This conspiracy went off like a Clockwork Orange.
Second, claiming that a hostile criticism is no more than a discredited conspiracy theory is Exercise One in the conspirator’s handbook. So please test any such denial against the evidence. Third, Dr. Fuller examines the evidence about four organizations in the food chain in detail, checking what they do, how they cooperate, and how they’re financed. What she discovered please read for yourself. It’s partly comic and partly sinister, half stage army, half octopus. But it ain’t chopped liver. And, fourthly, the most damaging accusations against the networks of billionaire-financed NGOs is made by those activists and investors who are running them in the form of enthusiastic pep-talks (quoted below).
If it’s a conspiracy, it’s what used to be called “an open conspiracy” which almost anyone can join, read about, or listen in on via the internet. Dr. Fuller listened in on a webinar in which the leaders of two of the organizations discussed here, namely Sunrise and Momentum, which are respectively a movement of young activists and a political training operation, outlined their purposes and activities. She writes:
Speakers stressed the need to become ‘the dominant political alignment’ which ‘defines the common sense of society’ and ‘directs social and economic policy’. Having realized that this would require ‘tak[ing] over the entire United States and all the institutions in it’, they began ‘finding and developing our first leaders’. This involved moving activists into ‘dorm-style Sunrise Movement Houses for three to six months’ in order to create leaders who had a deep level of commitment ‘for everything that would come afterwards’.
Dr. Fuller concedes that some of this training offers advice that is “not bad” but adds that the “entire impression is of a very steered, technocratic process that attempts to achieve theoretical concepts (‘3.5 percent mobilisation’, ‘dominant political alignment’) through a kind of brute-force factory production.” It’s a very well-funded factory production at that. And noting that a disproportionately large number of the activists and of those recruiting the activists are young and inexperienced people, from teens to postgraduates, she offers the following balanced judgment:
On one level, it is great that young people are taking part in politics. But on another level it is incredibly fake. The youthful participants aren’t so much being empowered as instrumentalized. After all, they are part of the portfolio of an investment fund that is using them to ‘shift power’, with part of the strategy being to shame politicians for not being nice enough to hysterical children.
Dr. Fuller doesn’t mention Greta Thunberg here, but for some reason Ms. Thunberg leaps to mind.
Ride of the Valkyrie.
In instrumentalizing the young activists, these well-funded progressive networks are also instrumentalizing democracy. They are seeking to manipulate the usual democratic tools—information, debate, controversy—not to create a national conversation on political goals and methods but to construct a simulacrum of that conversation in which its conclusions are determined in advance. And when those tools break in their hands—as sometimes happens when others intrude into their staged debates—they use “activism” to de-platform the intruders and to close down a debate escaping their control. We are likely to see much more of such extra-democratic politics in the future.
Indeed, just recently, Time magazine described how such an open conspiracy of corporate executives, labor union leaders, and progressive activists employed some of these methods and some of these troops to “prevent Donald Trump stealing the election” (i.e., to help the Democrats win the election.)
This is the inside story of the conspiracy to save the 2020 election, based on access to the group’s inner workings, never-before-seen documents and interviews with dozens of those involved from across the political spectrum. It is the story of an unprecedented, creative and determined campaign whose success also reveals how close the nation came to disaster. “Every attempt to interfere with the proper outcome of the election was defeated,” says Ian Bassin, co-founder of Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan rule-of-law advocacy group. “But it’s massively important for the country to understand that it didn’t happen accidentally. The system didn’t work magically. Democracy is not self-executing.”
That was very much a “macro” operation. And whatever the reason, it certainly didn’t fail.
But how do these tactics work at a “micro” level—at the level of getting a parliamentary bill passed into law, ensuring that a government report conforms to progressive orthodoxies, or manufacturing a “Green” public opinion when most voters are skeptical. Next time I’ll examine a case in which the U.K. parliament found itself playing the role of junior partner to a group of progressive NGOs in manufacturing a large astroturf carpet of public enthusiasm for Net-Zero policy.
Skeptical? It seems to have persuaded Boris Johnson. Don’t miss it!
The Texas Blame Game
The finger-pointing is well under way in Texas. And understandably so, as the situation on the ground is such a disaster. Millions of people are without power and heat, water pipes are bursting, and thus far thirty deaths have been blamed on the weather and the attendant outages. In a recent interview, Gov. Greg Abbott argued that Green energy is a big part of the problem:
This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America. Texas is blessed with multiple sources of energy such as natural gas and nuclear as well as solar and wind. Our wind and our solar got shut down and they were collectively more than 10 percent of our power grid. And that thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power on a statewide basis.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the face of the Green New Deal, took to Twitter to hit back, saying that the governor has it exactly backwards:
The infrastructure failures in Texas are quite literally what happens when you don’t pursue a Green New Deal. Weak on sweeping next-gen public infrastructure investments, little focus on equity so communities are left behind, climate deniers in leadership so they don’t long prep for disaster. We need to help people now. Long-term we must realize these are the consequences of inaction.
Which sounds vaguely inspiring, but it doesn't rebut Abbott's charge. He claims that the failure of so-called renewable energy, upon which Texas's power grid relies, led to the whole system being overwhelmed. Ocasio-Cortez replied that it'd be nice if Texas had updated its infrastructure. That's probably true, but that doesn't mean it is "quite literally what happens when you don’t pursue a Green New Deal." Why not update the existing infrastructure, reinforcing it against extreme weather, rather than replacing everything -- and with a less reliable power source -- as the GND mandates?
In response to the environmentalist fury at the suggestion that 'renewables' bear any responsibility for this disaster, the Wall Street Journal has a patient walk through of the part that they actually did play.
Last week wind generation plunged as demand surged. Fossil-fuel generation increased and covered the supply gap. Thus between the mornings of Feb. 7 and Feb. 11, wind as a share of the state’s electricity fell to 8 percent from 42 percent, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Gas-fired plants produced 43,800 MW of power Sunday night and coal plants chipped in 10,800 MW—about two to three times what they usually generate at their peak on any given winter day—after wind power had largely vanished. In other words, gas and coal plants held up in the frosty conditions far better than wind turbines did.
By Monday the 15th, temperatures had dropped so low that conventional power plants (aided, yes, by infrastructure failures) began struggling to cover the surging demand. On Tuesday, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas put out a statement saying it "appears that a lot of the generation that has gone offline today has been primarily due to issues on the natural gas system." The WSJ observes that wind's apologists "are citing this statement as exoneration. But note he used the word “today.” Most wind power had already dropped offline last week.... Gas power nearly made up for the shortfall in wind, though it wasn’t enough to cover surging demand."
So, to the Greenies working overtime to assign blame for the disaster in Texas, maybe take a look in the mirror.