Over at the Wall Street Journal, Allysia Finley has a piece about the oddities of the Electric Vehicle market, which is driven almost entirely by government mandate. In practice this has meant that "a parade of electric-vehicle startups" found themselves with multibillion dollar stock valuations despite the fact that "most had never sold a single car." "Fueled by cheap credit and political subsidies," -- after all, our governing elite are convinced that E.V.s are the way of the future -- "their stocks surged, only to crash."
China, "the world leader in electric-vehicle production and exports," is seeing similar problems:
Beijing has set aggressive production quotas for car makers and provided generous subsidies for buyers. China’s annual electric-vehicle production capacity has ballooned to 5.7 million vehicles... and is expected to hit 15 million in a couple of years. Yet concerns are mounting in China about oversupply of what the country calls new energy vehicles. “Reckless investments and disorderly efforts can be seen in the country’s NEV industry,” Lin Nianxiu, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, warned in March. “We have too many EV firms,” Xiao Yaqing, minister of industry and information technology, said in September. Some 200 Chinese EV startups have launched in the chase for government subsidies. Many have struggled to scale up production, and some have gone bankrupt.
Both cases illustrate something instructive about the Electric Vehicle market, which is that, overall, it is built upon a desire to circumvent that basic organizing principle of economics, demand. This is a struggle even in China's "state capitalism" economic model, which is much more comfortable dictating to consumers, rather than responding to them, than America's ostensibly free market system is.
In America, E.V. companies like those mentioned above sprung up in response to Democrat-enacted policies whose object was to create an industry more or less ex nihilo, while also smothering the traditional, gas-and-diesel driven automotive industry. But with inflation soaring, and the cost of minerals like cobalt, lithium, and nickel (which are necessary for the production of E.V. batteries) rising, even government subsidies can't cover the cost of doing business. Finley quotes representatives for the E.V. company Canoo (which, she mentions, is currently able to produce only 12 cars per week) as saying that “substantial doubt exists about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern” in the next year.
A kid could grow old and die...
Oddly, the only companies who seem able to take advantage of the regulatory preference for E.V.s (apart from Tesla, which consciously sells itself as a boutique status symbol for wealthy virtue signalers) are the established automobile manufacturers, who are essentially supporting their electric lines by means of government subsidies on the one hand, and gas-powered cars on the other.
But even they are struggling with our new economic realities. Finley mentions that Ford's new electric pickup truck, the F-150 Lightning, is currently selling for only $10,000 more than the traditional model, and they hope that scaling up production will allow them to further bridge that gap. But, once again, the cost of E.V. manufacturing is going up, not down. The great hope of Ford and the other major automakers is that the government will keep throwing money at them (they've been "lobbying hard" for Biden's "Build Back Better" bill) until a major breakthrough in battery technology makes E.V.s financially self-sustaining. Unfortunately for them, that's not how innovation works.
So how will they -- green politicians and automakers on the take -- keep their electric dreams alive? Finley suggests that it will be through a combination of carbon taxation, emissions mandates, and other forms of government intervention, which will have the effect of making traditional cars more expensive rather than bringing the cost of E.V.s down. Unsurprisingly, letting consumer preference -- demand -- sort out these problems seems never to have occurred to them.
We're becoming more like China every day.
Welcome Back, Carter
I mentioned in my last post that environmentalist policies have been a major driver of the energy crisis that's currently eating up Europe. We are now beginning to see the same dynamic play out in North America.
The nations of OPEC, whatever their other problems, have a better instinct for self-preservation than that.
But even with their green bona fides, Biden and Trudeau can't catch a break from Team Gaia. Despite a looming energy crisis, the eco-warriors are refusing to back down in their battle against Enbridge Line 5. The pipeline, which brings petroleum products from Alberta to Ontario by way of Michigan, has been the subject of protests and a simmering legal dispute with Michigan's Governor, Gretchen Whitmer. Here's what I wrote about the stakes in this fight back in May:
Some 540,000 barrels of Canadian oil and natural gas pass through Line 5 every day, between 40 and 50 percent of Ontario and Quebec's total supply.... It has been referred to as the “spinal cord of Ontario’s infrastructure,” and through Ontario, to Quebec and points further east as well. A shutdown would have devastating consequences for consumers in eastern Canada, leading to fuel shortages and price spikes. And then there's the effect on employment -- the government of Ontario estimates that killing Line 5 would cost that province 5,000 jobs directly and indirectly almost 25,000. Whitmer's own constituents would be effected as well -- half of the propane used to heat homes in Michigan passes through Line 5, and a great deal of oil bound for Ohio and Pennsylvania besides. But that's nothing like the effect a shutdown would have on Canada's two largest provinces.
All of that is still true, but this is running a lot hotter than was expected back then because we're seeing "fuel shortages and price spikes" as well as depressed employment numberswhile Line 5 is still up and running!
Consequently, the Trudeau government have now invoked the Transit Pipeline Treaty of 1977 in court with the hope of sidestepping the local authorities in Michigan so they can begin negotiating directly with the Biden Administration about the future of Line 5. But who knows if that will improve the situation? After all, the same activists who have Gov. Whitmer's ear also have powerful friends in the White House, and then president hasn't exactly shied away from screwing over our neighbors to the north.
It's becomealmosta cliché to say the 1970s are back, what with rising crime, stagflation, and especially an energy crisis, while a feckless liberal president blames everyone but himself. But as John Robson has pointed out, what we're going through now is worse in one important respect:
[A]t least in the 1970s it was done by accident, through policies that achieved the opposite of what their architects hoped and expected. This one is deliberate. They said they would get rid of fossil fuels, mocked those who protested that it would cause economic disaster, and now that it is they’re doubling down. They really mean it.
We're getting a glimpse of the future they've been planning. If we don't change course, it's going to get a lot worse.
Russian Hackers Shut Down North America's Largest Pipeline
If you live in the eastern United States and notice the price of gasoline jumping over the next few days, you can thank a group of Russian hackers who call themselves DarkSide. Though they deny that they're the culprits, ransomware with DarkSide's signature all over it was at the heart of a cyberattack on Colonial Pipeline last Friday, even to the point of being coded not to attack computers which have Russian as their default language. The attack ultimately shut down the company's Texas-to-New Jersey line, the largest pipeline in North America. That pipeline delivers roughly 45 percent of the east coast's diesel, gasoline, and jet fuel.
Colonial are confident that the pipeline will be fully operational by the end of this week. "The question now,' says Bloomberg, "is whether regional inventories held in storage tanks are enough to satisfy demand while Colonial works on resuming operations." To that end, the White House declared a state of emergency on Sunday, which according to NBC,
[L]ifts regulations on drivers carrying fuel in 17 states across the South and eastern United States, as well as the District of Columbia, allowing them to drive between fuel distributors and local gas stations on more overtime hours and less sleep than federal restrictions normally allow.
Hopefully easing those restrictions will help, and oil and gas shipments -- via truck or ship -- will stave off real shortages. But it's worth noting that, even with a shut down of such short duration, Gulf Coast refineries, concerned about running out of storage capacity, are preparing to cut back production, meaning that this could have implications for the price of oil for some time to come.
In any event, this episode should serve to remind us that pipelines are central to the our everyday lives. Kirsten Gillibrand was brutally mocked recently for claiming that basically every plank in the Democratic platform is infrastructure (and could therefore be included in an infrastructure bill), but this is the very definition of infrastructure, and vital infrastructure at that.
Let's not forget it.
What Price Secession?
The United States now finds itself at a historic crossroads. Following the documented and undeniably massive electoral fraud that has indelibly tarnished the 2020 American election and the supine refusal of the Supreme Court to intervene, preferring hypothetical “stability” over Constitutional justice—though it will get neither—the country has devolved into a condition of internal dissension and fracture greater than at any time since the 1860s. The specter of secession is in the air though few want to admit it.
Rush Limbaugh worries that America is “trending toward secession,” that the culture is becoming “distant and separated,” and that there are “two completely different theories of life, theories of government, theories of how we manage our affairs.” But he is reluctant to go further.
Texas GOP chairman Alan West suggested that law-abiding states should “bond together and form a union of states that will abide by the constitution.” Many outlets, commentators and pundits (e.g., Law and Crime, YouTube, Slate, ABC, etc.) read West’s statement as an outright call for secession. These people may get their knickers in a knot but, given the greatest electoral swindle in the 244-year history of the United States—the “corrupt bargain” of 1824 that cost Andrew Jackson the presidency is not even close—they have, to use the Supreme Court’s evasive language, “no standing.” They are profoundly complicit in fraud.
It should be noted that West asserted “I never say anything about secession.” Others assure us that West’s proposal—and Limbaugh’s assessment—are by no means cries for civil war or even for states seceding to form independent nations. Rather, disaffected states would come together as a civil society, “to talk things over, to put ideas together, to create fellowships,” as Monica Showalter at American Thinker recommends in her interpretation of Allan West’s suggestion. Similarly, Stacey Lennox at PJ Mediaargues that “States joining together to litigate and push back against [contentious] issues will slow or stop this encroachment on our civil liberties… This alliance could make full-throated and joint objections in court on various issues.”
Disclaimers fly thick and fast, as if “secession” were soon to become the new S-word, as if many are unable or unwilling or afraid to grasp the enormity of what has happened. As Shakespeare wrote in his play, Julius Caesar:
There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures.
I regard these heuristics as highly dubious. For one thing, it is highly unlikely that so tainted a court system or such sensible “civil unions” would deter an illegitimate government from weaponizing the IRS and the FBI, as did Obama, or prevent it from ramming through its chosen policies. For another, domestic pushback against various pieces of legislation will have no effect on a geopolitical situation in which China moves to replace the U.S. as the world’s dominant power, America’s allies and partners drift away from its sphere of influence, and the Iranian mullahs begin fine-tuning their nuclear arsenal.
Moreover, the conviction or hope that a restoration of republican virtue will ensue with the 2022 midterms and the 2024 election assumes that the means to accomplish these laudable goals will not already have been corrupted out of existence, as—given the Democrat track record—they assuredly will be.
It really is time to recognize that the United States as we have known it is truly broken and cannot be repaired by civil confabulations and men of good will gathering together to make reasonable arguments that the left will not heed. Sometimes one must bite the bullet, and even the whole cartridge belt, if one wishes to lead a decent life and provide a stable future for one’s children.
It should be obvious that a marriage in which the partners have grown to have nothing in common, are constantly squabbling to the point of irremediable hostility, do not understand one another’s “languages,” and have taken to living in separate parts of the house must inevitably divorce—a situation as unfortunate as it is necessary.
It should be no less obvious that in modern times—since, let us say, the socialist administration of Woodrow Wilson, the New Deal of FDR, the domestic conflicts of the '60s and the “long march through the institutions,” accumulating with greater intensity into the presidencies of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama until the present moment with an imminent Biden certification—the American marriage is effectively over.
One can temporize, try to put a saving face on savage disagreements, adopt a “cautious approach,” try to soft pedal a looming disaster. But such expedients are ultimately doomed to fail, and the supposition of engaging in “civil” discussion is like visiting a marriage counsellor to paper over the cracks in a relationship, which are not cracks but an unbridgeable chasm of Grand Canyon proportions.
Were I an American—and after having studied at Berkeley, lectured in the U.S., spent some years in the country, and written extensively on American subjects over the last dozen years and more, I sometimes feel that I am—I would understand that the secession of conservative states, however challenging, is far preferable to remaining under the national control of a neo-leftist orthodoxy that will lead to higher taxation, energy depletion, rising unemployment, subservience to foreign powers, outsourcing of industries, a Soviet-style media and Big Tech censorship, diminishment of personal freedom, illegal immigration, sanctuary cities, historical revisionism, Title IX extensions, betrayal of its own military and drastic reduction of Constitutional rights for all its citizens—though, on the bright side, it will not need to “pack the Court” since the Court has demonstrated that it is already packed.
Secession need not mean civil war, given three major factors:
A Washington establishment under Biden and the Democrats would be distrusted if not despised by the majority of red states; in consequence, its power to obstruct secession would be limited.
The blue states are, by and large, distracted and riven by internal violence and are, in any case, embroiled in fiscal disarray.
A secessional coalition of a significant number of red states presents a muscular power bloc, economically, culturally—and militarily as well when its citizen-soldiers are repatriated.
A feasible sessional movement would likely have to begin with Texas. The terms of Texas admission to the Union are complex and debated, but as Showalter points out, “Texas is the one state in the union that actually does have the right to secede. It was embedded in its agreement to enter the Union.” The Texas State Library and Archives Commission writes:
No requirement exists -- either in the Reconstruction Acts governing the rebel states or in the document readmitting Texas to full statehood -- for the governor of Texas to sign a document reaffirming Texas' position as a state within the United States republic. The only ongoing requirement of Texas government was that no constitutional revision should deny the vote or school rights to any citizen of the United States. A thorough check of the volumes of federal statutes for the entire period of Reconstruction (1865-1870) and through 1872 revealed no other legislation requiring further proof of submission to the U.S. government on the part of Texas or any other of the ‘rebel states.’
Looking at the map, one notes that Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Nebraska, Mississippi, Louisiana and other southern-central red states could align with Texas to form a powerful and coherent nation, say the Free States of America (the FSA), with two open coastlines, a vast energy sector, adherence to the original Constitution, and a local industrial, agricultural and maritime base. Other non-contiguous states, such as Alaska and South Dakota, could opt to join the new Union. The problem of leadership could be resolved by inviting Donald Trump to be its first president while the governors of the participating states would assume important portfolio positions. The faint of heart will demur since the difficulties would be formidable, which is true. The difficulties would be formidable, but bear no comparison to what's coming down the pike.
Of course, an alliance of this nature could not happen overnight. Time would be required to iron out the complexities, form a political consensus, educate and persuade the public, and engage in bitter and protracted negotiations with Washington, but a coalition of this magnitude and strength would be bound to succeed. What is needed is the political will and an unwavering belief in the possibility and viability of the project. It is eminently doable, especially in light of the undoubted fact that these states would have no future in a corrupt, fundamentally illicit and quasi-totalitarian oppressive artifact as a Constitutionally defunct United States
In personal life, surgery, however unpleasant, is often necessary to ensure one’s very survival. The same is true in political life. The consequences of indefinite deferral can be terminal. There is no decorous or elegant way out of the crisis; it must be met head-on with mature and determined resolve if liberty is to be defended and political integrity to be affirmed. Courage must be found and a hard decision has to be taken. One recalls John Weissenberger’s pungent remark that “an acceptable conservative [is] one who could be counted on to lose gracefully.” For America -- and the rest of the world -- this can no longer be an option.
'A Republic, If You Can Keep It'
Friday’s announcement that the Supreme Court would not hear the case brought by Texas and other states and parties challenging the election results in Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin andPennsylvaniais a sad blow for those counting on the Court to resolve the issue ofa stolen election of a manifestly incapable candidate. The court ruled that the parties lacked standing to prosecute the case under Article III of the Constitution -- that is to say, they lacked a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which other states conducted their elections.
Justices Alito and Thomas indicated in the short order that they would have heard the casebecause they believe that when one state sues another, a matter in which the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction, the court lacks discretion to refuse to hear it. But both men opined they “should not grant other relief” and expressed “no view on any other issue.” They had earlier dissented in a case on the very point of the Court’s obligation to hear cases broughtby one state against another, the cases in which it has original jurisdiction and no other court may hear such matters.
Or not, as the case may be.
The complainants argued that the stateswhose results they wanted overturned did violate the Constitutional provisionthat state legislatures set the time, place and manner of elections -- not judges or other state officials. Even aside from fraud -- as to which numerous affidavits were attached to the complaint -- they charged this conduct was unconstitutional.
The Secretary of State unilaterally abrogated signature verification requirements for mail-in ballots.
Pennsylvania supreme court changed existing deadline for receiving mail-in ballots from 8 p.m. on the day of election to three days after the election and adopted a presumption that non-postmarked ballots be considered as valid.
Election officials in Philadelphia and Allegheny counties did not follow state law permitting poll-watchers to be present for the opening, counting, and recording of mail-in ballots.
The Secretary of State directed election officials to remove ballots before 7 a.m. on the day of election in order to “cure” defective mail-in ballots. This was done only in Democrat majority counties.
Election officials did not segregate ballots received after 8 p.m. on election day breaking the promise made to the U.S. Supreme Court thus making it impossible to identify or remove those ballots.
The Secretary of State unilaterally abrogated signature verification requirements for mail-in ballots.
The Secretary of State authorized opening and processing mail-in ballots up to three weeks before election day when the law prohibits that until after the polls open on election day.
The Secretary of State materially weakened the security requirements for ballot rejection based on signature verification or other missing information.
First the Declaration, then the Constitution: what could go wrong?
The Secretary of State unilaterally abrogated signature verification requirements for mail-in ballots.
The Secretary of State sent out unsolicited ballots to all 7.7 million registered voters contrary to election law which requires a voter to request a mail-in ballot through a process that includes a signature to be matched with the voter registration.
The Secretary of State also allowed absentee ballots to be requested online without signature verification.
Local election officials in Wayne County -- containing 322,925 more ballots for Biden than for Trump -- opened and processed mail-in ballots without poll-watchers present.
Local election officials in Wayne County also ignored the strict election law requirements of placing a written statement or stamp on each ballot envelope indicating that the voter signature was in fact checked and verified with the signature on file with the state.
The Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) positioned hundreds of unmanned illegal drop boxes to collect absentee ballots. (The use of any drop box, manned or unmanned, is directly prohibited by Wisconsin statute. Any alternate mail-in ballot site “shall be staffed by the municipal clerk or the executive director of the board of election commissioners…” and “Ballots cast in contravention of the procedures specified in those provisions may not be included in the certified result of any election.”)
The WEC encouraged voters to unlawfully declare themselves “indefinitely confined” in order to avoid security measures like signature verification and photo ID requirements. Nearly 216,000 voters said they were indefinitely confined in the 2020 election, nearly four times as many as in 2016.
Strict laws requiring mail-in voters to certify by signature including the signature of an adult witness were ignored or circumvented by election officials.
If you believe, as I and millions of voters do, that the election was stolen from President Trump, it is disappointing that there was no opportunity to have these legal issues resolved. On the other hand, I believed if the Court had decided to take it, it would not have decided who won these states. Instead, it would have remanded the complainants to the legislatures of these states, which have the responsibility to fashion a remedy.
They can do this by decertifying the results and either refusing to offer up a new slate or by picking a new slate on their own and submitting it to Congress at the appropriate time. In fact there was no small amount of evidence of corruption in other states as well -- Arizona comes to mind, and the same option remains for them as well. Prominent conservatives are in fact urging them to do just that.
There are other proceedings concerning individual states wending their way up to the Supreme Court, but I don’t see how any would significantly change the outcome. By my count even if the complainants in the case brought by Texas had been successful , the results would not have been dispositive. Count the electoral votes to see what I mean. Michigan has 16, Wisconsin 10, Pennsylvania 20, Georgia 16. (A total of 62 votes.) If you subtract those from the 306 electoral votes presumptively registered now for Biden and do not award them to President Trump -- which was always the mostoptimistic outcome -- Biden would still have 234 votes to Trump’s 232--a majority of the remaining 466 electoral votes.
"Well done is better than well said."
I only see two ways to reverse the outcome. First, the legislatures in these four states and at least one other could refuse to advance their state's electoral votes to Congress, either leaving the state with none or picking an alternate slate. Second, Congress can refuse to certify those states where fraud marked the balloting. Under the 12th Amendment, the House votes January 6 on certification by state delegation (and the Republican delegations have more votes) . All it takes is an objection by one House member and one Senator to force a vote on such objections.
As Benjamin Franklin famously said, we have “a, republic if you can keep it.” Whether we can depends on what is a predictably weak link, the legislatures of the very states where fraud marked the presidential election this year.