Donald Trump is many things. But one thing he is not is a defender of the 2009-2016 status quo and accepted progressive convention. Since 2017, everything has been in flux. Lots of past conventional assumptions of the Obama-Clinton-Romney-Bush generation were as unquestioned as they were suspect. No longer.
Everyone knew the Iran deal was a way for the mullahs to buy time and hoard their oil profits, to purchase or steal nuclear technology, to feign moderation, and to trade some hostages for millions in terrorist-seeding cash, and then in a few years spring an announcement that it had the bomb.
No one wished to say that. Trump did. He canceled the flawed deal without a second thought.
Iran is furious, but in a far weaker—and eroding—strategic position with no serious means of escaping devastating sanctions, general impoverishment, and social unrest. So a desperate Tehran knows that it must make some show of defiance. Yet it accepts that if it were to launch a missile at a U.S. ship, hijack an American boat, or shoot down an American plane, the ensuing tit-for-tat retaliation might target the point of Iranian origin (the port that launched the ship, the airbase from which the plane took off, the silo from which the missile was launched) rather than the mere point of contact—and signal a serial stand-off 10-1 disproportionate response to every Iranian attack without ever causing a Persian Gulf war.
Everyone realized the Paris Climate Accord was a way for elites to virtue signal their green bona fides while making no adjustments in their global managerial lifestyles—at best. At worst, it was a shake-down both to transfer assets from the industrialized West to the “developing world” and to dull Western competitiveness with ascending rivals like India and China. Not now. Trump withdrew from the agreement, met or exceeded the carbon emissions reductions of the deal anyway, and has never looked back at the flawed convention. The remaining signatories have little response to the U.S. departure, and none at all to de facto American compliance to their own targeted goals.
Rich NATO allies either could not or would not pay their promised defense commitments to the alliance. To embarrass them into doing so was seen as heretical. No more.
Trump jawboned and ranted about the asymmetries. And more nations are increasing rather than decreasing their defense budgets. The private consensus is that the NATO allies knew all along that they were exactly what Barack Obama once called “free riders” and justified that subsidization by ankle-biting the foreign policies of the United States—as if an uncouth America was lucky to underwrite such principled members. Again, no more fantasies.
China was fated to rule the world. Period. Whining about its systematic commercial cheating was supposedly merely delaying the inevitable or would have bad repercussions later on. Progressives knew the Communists put tens of thousands of people in camps, rounded up Muslims, and destroyed civil liberties, and yet in “woke” fashion tip-toed around criticizing the Other. Trump then destroyed the mirage of China as a Westernizing aspirant to the family of nations. In a protracted tariff struggle, there are lots of countries in Asia that could produce cheap goods as readily as China, but far fewer countries like the United States that have money to be siphoned off in mercantilist trade deals, or the technology to steal, or the preferred homes and universities in which to invest.
The Palestinians were canonized as permanent refugees. The U.S. embassy could never safely move to the Israeli capital in Jerusalem. The Golan Heights were Syrian. Only a two-state solution requiring Israel to give back all the strategic border land it inherited when its defeated enemies sought to destroy it in five prior losing wars would bring peace. Not now.
The Palestinians for the last 50 years were always about as much refugees as the East Prussian Germans or the Egyptian Jews and Greeks that were cleansed from their ancestral homelands in the Middle East in the same period of turbulence as the birth of Israel. “Occupied” land more likely conjures up Tibet and Cyprus not the West Bank, and persecuted Muslims are not found in Israel, but in China.
An aging population, the veritable end to U.S. manufacturing and heavy industry, and an opioid epidemic meant that America needed to get used to stagnant 1 percent growth, a declining standard of living, a permanent large pool of the unemployed, an annual increasing labor non-participation rate, and a lasting rust belt of deplorables, irredeemables, clingers and “crazies” who needed to be analyzed by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. At best, a middle-aged deplorable was supposed to learn to code or relocate to the Texas fracking fields. Perhaps not now.
In the last 30 months, the question of the Rust Belt has been reframed to why, with a great workforce, cheap energy, good administrative talent, and a business-friendly administration, cannot the United States make more of what it needs? Why, if trade deficits are irrelevant, do Germany, China, Japan, and Mexico find them so unpleasant? If unfettered trade is so essential, why do so many of our enemies and friends insist that we almost alone trade “fairly,” while they trade freely and unfairly? Why do not Germany and China argue that their vast global account surpluses are largely irrelevant?
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) assured us that the world would be suffocating under greenhouse gases within 12 years. Doom-and-gloom prophecies of “peak” oil warned us that our oil reserves would dry up by the early 21st century. Former Vice President Al Gore warned us that our port cities would soon be underwater. Economists claimed Saudi Arabia or Russia would one day control the world by opening and closing their oil spigots. Not now.
Three million more barrels of American oil are being produced per day just since Trump took office. New pipelines will ensure that the United States is not just the world’s greatest producer of natural gas but perhaps its largest exporter as well.
Trump blew up those prognostications and replaced them with an optimistic agenda that the working- and middle classes deserve affordable energy, that the United States could produce fossil fuels more cleanly, wisely, and efficiently than the Middle East, and that ensuring increased energy could revive places in the United States that were supposedly fossilized and irrelevant. Normal is utilizing to the fullest extent a resource that can discourage military adventurism in the Middle East, provide jobs to the unemployed, and reduce the cost of living for the middle class; abnormal is listening to the progressive elite for whom spiking gasoline and power bills were a very minor nuisance.
Open borders were our unspoken future. The best of the Chamber of Commerce Republicans felt that millions of illegal aliens might eventually break faith with the progressive party of entitlements; the worst of the open borders lot argued that cheap labor was more important than sovereignty and certainly more in their interests than any worry over the poor working classes of their own country. And so Republicans for the last 40 years joined progressives in ensuring that illegal immigration was mostly not measured, meritocratic, diverse, or lawful, but instead a means to serve a number of political agendas.
Most Americans demurred, but kept silent given the barrage of “racist,” “xenophobe,” and “nativist” cries that met any measured objection. Not so much now. Few any longer claim that the southern border is not being overrun, much less that allowing a non-diverse million illegal aliens in six months to flood into the United States without audit is proof that “diversity is our strength.”
The Republican Party’s prior role was to slow down the inevitable trajectory to European socialism, the end of American exceptionalism, and homogenized globalized culture. Losing nobly in national elections was one way of keeping one’s dignity, weepy wounded-fawn style, while the progressive historical arc kept bending to our collective future. Rolling one’s eyes on Sunday talk shows as a progressive outlined the next unhinged agenda was proof of tough resistance.
Like it or not, now lines are drawn. Trump so unhinged the Left that it finally tore off its occasional veneer of moderation, and showed us what progressives had in store for America.
On one side in 2020 is socialism, “Medicare for All,” wealth taxes, top income tax rates of 70 or 80 or 90 percent, a desire for a Supreme Court of full of “wise Latinas” like Sonia Sotomayor, insidious curtailment of the First and Second Amendments, open borders, blanket amnesties, reparations, judges as progressive legislators, permissible infanticide, abolition of student debt, elimination of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau and the Electoral College, voting rights for 16-year-olds and felons, and free college tuition.
On the other side is free-market capitalism but within a framework of fair rather than unfettered international trade, a smaller administrative state, less taxation and regulation, constitutionalist judges, more gas and oil, record low unemployment, 3-4 percent economic growth, and pressure on colleges to honor the Bill of Rights.
The New, New Normal
The choices are at least starker now. The strategy is not, as in 2008 and 2012, to offer a moderate slow-down of progressivism, but rather a complete repudiation of it.
One way is to see this as a collision between Trump, the proverbial bull, and the administrative state as a targeted precious china shop—with all the inevitable nihilistic mix-up of horns, hooves, and flying porcelain shards. But quite another is to conclude that what we recently used to think was abjectly abnormal twenty years ago had become not just “normal,” but so orthodoxly normal that even suggesting it was not was judged to be heretical and deserving of censure and worse.
The current normal correctives were denounced as abnormal—as if living in a sovereign state with secure borders, assuming that the law was enforced equally among all Americans, demanding that citizenship was something more than mere residence, and remembering that successful Americans, not their government, built their own businesses and lives is now somehow aberrant or perverse.
Trump’s political problem, then, may be that the accelerating aberration of 2009-2016 was of such magnitude that normalcy is now seen as sacrilege.
Weaponizing the IRS, unleashing the FBI to spy on political enemies and to plot the removal of an elected president, politicizing the CIA to help to warp U.S. politics, allying the Justice Department with the Democratic National Committee, and reducing FISA courts to rubber stamps for pursuing administration enemies became the new normal. Calling all that a near coup was abnormal.
Let us hope that most Americans still prefer the abnormal remedy to the normal pathology.
His ‘Clean Energy Revolution’ echoes Obama-Biden’s eco-failures.
Former vice president Joe Biden’s Clean Energy Revolution exploded on the launch pad Tuesday. Large, now-attributed passages of his manifesto against so-called global warming initially were lifted from other publications. Biden’s plagiarism recalled his flat-out theft of a speech by far-left British parliamentarian Neil Kinnock in 1987.
But Biden’s plan is far worse than just partially stolen. It confirms that the “centrist” Biden is just another big-government leftist, hooked on high taxes and reckless spending.
Biden’s Revolution is a $1.7 trillion tax hike. It enshrines his pitch to voters in South Carolina and elsewhere: “First thing I’d do is repeal those Trump tax cuts.” Biden pledges to rescind the tax relief that has resuscitated U.S. industry, revived 3.2 percent GDP growth, and reduced unemployment to 3.6 percent and historical or near-record lows for blacks, Hispanics, and women.
After siphoning $1.7 trillion from America’s productive sector, Biden would follow the liberal playbook: Assign Washington-based experts to redistribute this bounty more wisely and justly than the bedraggled American people ever could.
Biden, no surprise, recommends a Santa’s sleigh of “allocated tax credits and subsidies” for “sustainable” initiatives. The eco-crats will succeed next time. After all, Washington always learns from its mistakes. And mistakes multiplied as the Obama-Biden administration poured taxpayer cash into countless eco-brainstorms:
• $570 million dripped into solar-power company Solyndra. Then it went bankrupt. Obama-Biden financed 18 green companies that also died and were buried in the Heritage Foundation’s Green Energy Graveyard.
• $3 billion flowed into Cash for Clunkers. Americans traded their old automobiles for $4,500 each in federal outlays. This was supposed to create jobs in Detroit, as drivers bought new, fuel-efficient U.S. vehicles. While 38.5 percent of this program’s car purchases were domestic, J.D. Power estimated, 61.5 percent were foreign. Cash for Clunkers primarily enriched Japanese and Korean autoworkers.
• $34.7 billion cascaded from Obama-Biden’s Department of Energy into clean-tech companies. They created “nearly 60,000” jobs. Cost per post: $578,333.
Biden also offers what statists truly crave: control. They never are happier than when they can boss Americans around, from dawn to dusk.
“I fought along with President Obama,” Biden said in a video that accompanied his proposal, “for a Clean Power Plan that limited carbon emissions from both existing and new power plants.”
CPP’s reels of red tape were designed to hamstring existing energy suppliers, at injurious economic cost. Using data from Obama-Biden’s Energy Information Agency, I calculated that — between 2015 and 2040 — CPP would have:
• Slashed real GDP by $993 billion, or an annual average of $39.7 billion.
• Sliced real disposable income by $382 billion, or $15.3 billion yearly.
• Chopped manufacturing shipments by $1.13 trillion, or $45.4 billion per annum.
• Whacked 1.7 million manufacturing jobs, or 68,000 pink slips yearly.
And for what benefit?
EPA assumed no Chinese, Indian, or other cheating and forecast that Obama-Biden’s scheme would have shaved expected global warming by 0.02 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050. That’s like cranking a thermostat from 72 degrees way, way down to 71.98 degrees.
As Americans for Tax Reform reports, Biden also wants an “end-to-end high-speed rail system that will connect the coasts.” Ideally, a Japanese-style U.S. bullet train would zoom at 200 mph. Thus, today’s 2,450-mile, 4.5-hour, nonstop jet ride from Los Angeles to New York would last at least 12.25 hours on Bidentrak. (A 24.5-hour round trip would devour more than one entire transit day.) Why would anyone travel nearly three times more slowly by rail than air — assuming neither stops nor glitches?
Beyond staying in Delaware, Joe Biden’s Earth-friendliest move would be to recycle his Revolution and, instead, promote natural-gas production. Carbophobes should cheer this news: Thanks largely to gas fracking, U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions keep falling — down 13.4 percent from 2005 to 2016 and, BP estimates, another 0.82 percent in 2017, under President Donald Trump. Meanwhile, CO2 output rose 1.8 percent in 2017 across the climate-obsessed European Union. Natural gas cuts CO2 by 42 to 53 percent versus other fossil fuels, generates jobs, and has made America the world’s largest energy producer.1
Michael Malarkey contributed research to this opinion piece.
By Peter Roff • MY Journal Courier
Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed new regulations that could dramatically ramp up the use of ethanol, a corn-based bio-fuel that can be blended into gasoline. That news was music to the ears of Iowa corn farmers.
But the rest of the country isn’t so pleased. A recent poll finds that more than 80 percent of voters are concerned the new policy will raise prices at the pump. And more than two-thirds think the ethanol expansion will harm their engines.
Americans are right to be alarmed. Ethanol is an expensive, environmentally hazardous fuel. The EPA’s new policy is a flagrant attempt by the Trump administration to buy the support of farmers — at huge expense to American consumers.
The EPA’s plan would lift restrictions on gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol, a blend known as E15. At the moment, the sale of E15 is banned during the summer because the fuel generates more ozone than is permitted by the Clean Air Act.
But recently, President Trump instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to begin the process of legalizing year-round E15 sales.
The president found an E15 ally in Iowa senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee.
In many cases, E15 is dangerous. Roughly three-quarters of the cars on the road today weren’t built to use E15, and could be seriously damaged if forced to run on the fuel.
E15 might even harm engines that have just rolled off the line. Many prominent automotive brands — including BMW, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Mazda and Volvo — have model-year 2018 cars that aren’t equipped to handle the fuel. Some automakers have warned drivers that filling up with E15 could be grounds for voiding their vehicles’ warranties.
The fuel is also useless for motorcycles and boats, as well as lawnmowers and other outdoor equipment.
Pushing more E15 into the market will inevitably lead to costly engine damage for Americans who mistakenly assume that this government-mandated fuel is actually safe to use.
This isn’t the only way in which E15 is a bad deal for consumers. Since ethanol contains only a third of the energy of gasoline, motorists who fill up with E15 can expect to get far fewer miles to the gallon — forcing them to fill up more often.
Ethanol was developed to be a clean-burning alternative to other fossil fuels. But ironically, it actually poses a grave threat to the environment. Over a 30-year period, the net emissions from ethanol are 28 percent higher than emissions from gasoline, according to the Clean Air Task Force. One Princeton University researcher warns ethanol’s true emissions are even higher. He estimates bio-fuels emit twice as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as gasoline over three decades.
Ethanol proponents often argue the bio-fuel is necessary for America’s energy independence. But today, Americans already have an abundant supply of domestic, clean, low-cost fuel. Thanks to improved drilling techniques such as fracking, the country is producing historic levels of both oil and natural gas. Natural gas in particular burns far cleaner than coal, propane or gasoline. Major automakers are already designing vehicles to run on the fuel.
The president seems intent on forcing consumers to buy a costly, inefficient, environmentally damaging fuel unsuitable for most vehicles. It’s no wonder that the policy has raised a red flag with so many voters. Their concerns are more than justified. Americans deserve an energy policy that serves the country’s needs — and not the narrow interests of corn-growers.
Peter Roff is a senior fellow at Frontiers of Freedom. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.
By George Landrith • Houston Chronicle
The Trump administration is working to slow down the implementation of a major international environmental regulation that’s set to take effect in 2020. The administration hopes that the effort will ease the compliance burden on businesses by phasing in the rules gradually, rather than all at once.
Counterintuitively, phasing in the regulation could raise costs on American consumers, rather than reduce costs as the administration intends. It’s smarter to let the rules go into effect as scheduled.
The regulation was issued years ago by the International Maritime Organization, which regulates global shipping. The rules will require ships to use fuel containing no more than 0.5 percent sulfur — a compound which causes acid rain and exacerbates people’s breathing problems. That’s a steep drop from the current global limit of 3.5 percent sulfur. Continue reading
By Jim Geraghty • National Review
Take some time to peruse the “Green New Deal” in writing.
The deal includes a plan to “cut military spending by at least half” and withdraw U.S. troops from overseas.
The United States military currently has 1.3 million active-duty troops, with another 865,000 in reserve, and 680,000 civilian employees. Green New Deal advocates haven’t laid out exactly how many fewer personnel the U.S. military would have if spending was cut in half, but a military that was half the size of the current one would leave about 1.4 million personnel out of work. And remember, advocates of the Green New Deal pledged to cut military spending in “at least half.”
When there are no U.S. forces stationed in Europe, South Korea, Japan, or the Middle East, how much safer do you think those places get? Do you think conflict is more likely or less likely once all U.S. military personnel leave? Do you think China, North Korea, Iran, and Russia become more aggressive or less aggressive? Continue reading
By Robert Bryce • National Review
The energetic chatter of the moment is dominated by talk about the Green New Deal — a collection of proposals that would require running the entire American economy on renewable electricity within a decade or so.
The Green New Deal has been endorsed by scads of liberal politicians including New York governor Andrew Cuomo, former California state senator Kevin de León, media darling and newly sworn-in Democratic representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and anti-hydrocarbon activist Josh Fox. The goals of the Green New Deal are nothing short of radical. As the website for the left-wing think tank Data for Progress explains, the Green New Deal aims to “transform the economy and the environment in ways that achieve sustainability, equity, justice, freedom, and happiness.” Achieving happiness has never been easy. Even harder will be the Green New Deal’s aim of completely eliminating the use of coal, oil, and natural gas by 2050. Continue reading
by Peter Roff • Washington Examiner
Only in Washington would a congressional committee recommend a one-year extension of the tax credit for electric vehicles (in this case motorcycles) the day after General Motors announces it’s pulling the plug on the all-electric Chevy Volt.
Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, the outgoing chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, generally opposes these kinds of special provisions. They’re bad policy because they distort activities in the marketplace. Nonetheless, it’s right there in the bill he has proposed.
What’s even stranger is that Congress signed off on phasing out this credit in its entirety in the 2018 tax bill. It’s an expensive write-off that mostly benefits the uber-wealthy, who buy electric cars as status symbols and tokens of environmental consciousness. Continue reading
By Stephen Moore • Investor’s Business Daily
This has been a colder-than-usual winter in the Midwest and Northeast, so many Americans are facing high home heating and electric bills. In some areas, these bills can reach $1,000 a month.
Liberals, of course, charge that Donald Trump is the culprit. An AP story last week screamed: “Trump Once Again Wants to Cut Energy Assistance to the Poor.” Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders charged that if Trump has his way and eliminates the Low Income Heating Assistance Program, people might “freeze to death.”
But wait. Donald Trump is pro-American energy development. He isn’t the one who is making energy bills more expensive in the Northeast and the mountain states. It’s the liberal green groups and politicians such as Bernie Sanders, who accede to their anti-fossil fuel demands.
In my book Fueling Freedom, my co-author Kathleen Hartnett White and I discovered that the shale gas revolution lowered the price of natural gas by about Continue reading
by Julie Kelly • National Review
A new study by Environmental Progress (EP) warns that toxic waste from used solar panels now poses a global environmental threat. The Berkeley-based group found that solar panels create 300 times more toxic waste per unit of energy than nuclear power plants. Discarded solar panels, which contain dangerous elements such as lead, chromium, and cadmium, are piling up around the world, and there’s been little done to mitigate their potential danger to the environment.
“We talk a lot about the dangers of nuclear waste, but that waste is carefully monitored, regulated, and disposed of,” says Michael Shellenberger, founder of Environmental Progress, a nonprofit that advocates for the use of nuclear energy. “But we had no idea there would be so many panels — an enormous amount — that could cause this much ecological damage.”
Solar panels are considered a form of toxic, hazardous electronic or “e-waste,” and according to EP researchers Jemin Desai and Mark Nelson, scavengers in developing countries like India and China often “burn the e-waste in order to salvage the valuable copper wires for resale. Since this process requires burning off plastic, the resulting smoke contains toxic fumes that are carcinogenic and teratogenic (birth defect-causing) when inhaled.” Continue reading
The EPA announced that it will disregard the current law and rush new mandates into place before Obama leaves office.
In 2012, the Obama Administration pushed through a dramatic increase in Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards — jumping the fleet average mileage mandates to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2015. At the time, it was agreed there would be a mid-term review before 2018 to determine if the new CAFE standards were feasibly possibly in the time frame required. However, now the Obama Administration and the EPA just announced that there will be no midterm review and that intends to impose the 54.5 miles per gallon mandate regardless of the feasibility or impact. Continue reading
By Jennifer G. Hickey • Fox News
Democratic officials’ campaign against fossil fuel companies is entering a new phase as state attorneys general launch investigations that mirror the Justice Department’s landmark case against “Big Tobacco,” probing claims that oil companies misled the public about the risks of global warming — a charge industry representatives adamantly reject.
Massachusetts and the U.S. Virgin Islands are the latest to announce probes, specifically into whether ExxonMobil was up-front regarding what it knew about climate change.
“Fossil fuel companies that deceived investors and consumers about the dangers of climate change should be held accountable. That’s why we have joined in investigating ExxonMobil,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in announcing the inquiry. Continue reading
Add “Green Energy” Pork Barrel Tax Extenders to Unrelated FAA Bill
Millions of Americans are deeply disappointed that Senators John Thune (R-S.D.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) worked to insert sweetheart tax benefits for special interests in the so-called renewable energy industry. Simply stated, hard working Americans who are struggling to make ends meet may now end up paying hundreds of millions of dollars to well-healed “green energy” companies — like wind and geothermal energy — who can afford the best lobbyists money can buy. Continue reading
How scary are your jack-o’-lanterns? Scarier than you think, according to the Energy Department, which claims the holiday squash is responsible for unleashing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Most of the 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins produced in the U.S. end up in the trash, says the Energy Department’s website, becoming part of the “more than 254 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) produced in the United States every year.”
Municipal solid waste decomposes into methane, “a harmful greenhouse gas that plays a part in climate change, with more than 20 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide,” Energy says. Continue reading
San Francisco’s Solazyme also received millions in stimulus funds from DOE
by Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon
The CEO and Board of Directors of Solazyme, a company the military paid $149 per gallon for “alternative” fuel, have donated more than $300,000 to Democratic candidates and committees, according to a Washington Free Beacon analysis.
Recipients of significant donations included the Obama Victory Fund and the Democratic National Committee. Additionally, Solazyme donated between $100,000 and $250,000 to the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.
A Congressional Research Service (CRS) report found that the Department of Defense (DOD) paid Solazyme $149 per gallon for fuel made of algal oil, costing taxpayers a total of $223,500 in 2009. The group also received a $21 million stimulus grant from Department of Energy in 2009.
“Based in South San Francisco, Solazyme’s mission is to improve our lives and our planet by producing sustainable, high-performance oils and ingredients derived from microalgae,” the company states. Solazyme claims that their process serves as a better alternative to limited resources such as petroleum, vegetable oils, and animal fats. Continue reading
by Nicolas Loris • Daily Signal
It may be the most “important” from a top-down, regulatory mandate for high energy prices, but it won’t accomplish much, if anything, in terms of combating climate change.
Even though electricity generation accounts for the single largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, the estimated reduction is minuscule compared to global greenhouse gas emissions.
Climatologists estimate that the administration’s climate regulations will avert less than two hundredths of a degree Celsius by 2100. Continue reading