2021 Best and Worst Commencement Orations

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AMAC (Association of Mature American Citizens) published a list The Best & Worst Commencement Addresses of the Year.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Another school year has come to a close at colleges and universities across the country, but before the class of 2021 turned the tassel to begin their journey as new graduates, they were given some sage – and in some cases, pretty strange – advice by leading politicians, academics, diplomats, and captains of industry. You may have missed most of this year’s most notable commencement addresses, so AMAC Newsline has compiled the highlights–and the lowlights–of this year’s speeches.

“The Biggest Risk Of All Is That We Stop Taking Risks At All”

Former Republican Governor of Indiana Mitch Daniels and current President of Purdue University gave perhaps the best commencement address of the season. Daniels discussed how, during the past year, America had witnessed not only a public health pandemic but also a pandemic of fear that had paralyzed America’s leaders and caused them to flinch in the face of making difficult decisions. Daniels challenged his Boilermakers to have “the courage to act on the conclusions you reach.” Here are some of the best parts of the speech:

“The risk of failure, of a hit to one’s reputation, or just that the gains don’t outweigh the costs, all these can deter or even paralyze a person out of fulfilling the responsibility someone has entrusted to them.”

“This last year, many of your elders failed this fundamental test of leadership. They let their understandable human fear of uncertainty overcome their duty to balance all the interests they were responsible for. They hid behind the advice of experts in one field but ignored the warnings of experts in other realms that they might do harm beyond the good they hoped to accomplish. Sometimes they let what might be termed the mad pursuit of zero, in this case, zero risks of anyone contracting the virus, block out other competing concerns, like the protection of mental health, the educational needs of small children, or the survival of small businesses. Pursuing one goal to the utter exclusion of all others is not to make a choice but to run from it. It’s not leadership; it’s abdication.”

“Maybe the great historian Jacques Barzun summed it up best: ‘The last degree of caution is cowardice.’ Certainty is an illusion. Perfect safety is a mirage. Zero is always unattainable, except in the case of absolute zero where, as you remember, all motion and life itself stop.”

“Your Most Important Titles Will Be Wife, Husband, Mother, Father, Follower Of Christ.”

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave an inspirational commencement address to students at Regent University in Virginia. What set Pompeo’s speech apart from others was the fact that it challenged the class of 2021 to put faith and family at the center of their career rather than just purely professional accolades and material accomplishments.

“You should all know that life will offer you lots of ways to use your talents, your education, industry, your intelligence to achieve personal success, how you define it, in your chosen life, in your chosen professions. And it will also offer you chances to know a far more lasting happiness by serving someone far greater than yourself or your self-interest – your God.”

“Our country must remember that no one can enjoy the pursuit of happiness if you cannot own the fruits of your own labor. And no society can retain its legitimacy or a virtuous character without religious freedom.”

“We must cherish our freedom, particularly this freedom to practice our faith, not just for the opportunities it provides to each of us, but for the goodness of living a life in accordance with God without oppression that it makes possible. And when government oppresses that freedom, we must stand up. Each of you have that responsibility. It is a big burden.”

“Our Goal Is An Independent Mind, In The Service Of Truth Instead Of Fads Or Groupthink.”

Joe Biden was originally supposed to speak at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. But Biden snubbed the Catholic school, apparently choosing to stay away from Notre Dame after more than 4,400 Notre Dame students and alumni wrote a letter noting that Mr. Biden had embraced “the most pro-abortion and anti-religious liberty public policy program in history.”

Instead, Jimmy Dunne gave the commencement address to Notre Dame graduates. Dunne works for an investment company that was once located on the 104th floor of 2 World Trade Center. Many of the company’s employees died on 9/11, but Dunne has worked tirelessly to help the sons and daughters of his former coworkers get the scholarships they need to attend colleges across the country, including Notre Dame.

In an emotional speech, Dunne showed the moral courage to say the things that every college student needs to hear, but no one would ever hear in a commencement address delivered by Mr. Biden. Dunne asserted that the real purpose of education is to teach about the “permanent things” to build “character, not just knowledge, moral aspiration, not just ambition.” Dunne appeared to call out cancel culture and woke college campuses as “fads” and “groupthink.” Dunne concluded his remarks with a memorable line calling out Joe Biden for not showing up. He said: “It almost makes me feel bad for the President, because he missed this wonderful sight of a graduating class as promising as any in America.”

“The mark of a great university is that you learn more than they’re teaching. Here, we talk about forming ‘the whole person,’ and it’s a true commitment grounded in real things, permanent things. The aim is character, not just knowledge, moral aspiration, not just ambition. You’ve all got degrees in different disciplines, but you have a single major in common – and that is leadership. The fashions that wash over higher education don’t get far at this university. Our goal is an independent mind, in the service of truth instead of fads or groupthink. The great problems and moral obligations of life are not suddenly discovered here. Those obligations have been the core purpose from the start.”

“You are a quiet — you’re a really dull class. I mean, come on, man. Is the sun getting to you?”

Joe Biden gave what was easily the worst commencement address of any U.S. President in recent memory to cadets at the Coast Guard Academy. Biden started the speech by asserting: “[W]e’re going to speak for about four hours” and “I thought I was hot in a blue suit.” Biden mispronounced the name of a distinguished cadet, butchered a reference to a cadet handbook, and quoted a Chinese dictator.

On two occasions, Biden asked that the cadets clap for him. Early on, Biden tried to make a joke by chiding cadets for spending “a little too much time at the Slice,” a local pizza restaurant. But Biden did not get the laughs and applause he wanted, so he instructed the cadets: “You can clap. Come on, man.” On another occasion, Biden again demanded applause: “Congratulations the Bravo Company, by the way, on your victory. You can clap. It’s okay. Even if you’re lost, you gotta clap.”

The worst moment of the speech, though, occurred when Biden tried to tell a joke about the Navy that fell totally flat. Instead of just moving on, the man who is supposed to be America’s commander in chief directly insulted the very people who have pledged to fight and, if necessary, die to keep America safe. The actual White House transcript records Biden as saying: “You are a quiet — you’re a really dull class. I mean, come on, man. Is the sun getting to you? I would think you’d have an opportunity when I say that about the Navy to clap, but — but being here together.”

“Just Ask Any Marine Today, Would She Rather Carry 20 Pounds Of Batteries Or A Rolled Up Solar Panel, and I am positive she will tell you a solar panel, and so would he.”

Kamala Harris followed up Biden’s brutally bad commencement speech with a woke dud of her own. Harris, addressing graduates at the Naval Academy, showed where the Biden administration’s priorities truly are in terms of national defense when she asserted that “climate change” is a “very real threat to our national security.” Harris never once mentioned China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, or any of the other “real threats” to American national security during the course of her remarks. On the topic of climate change, Harris’s comments were laughable but not in the way Harris intended them to be. She told the Navy midshipmen and Marines:

“You are ocean engineers who will help navigate ships through thinning ice. You are mechanical engineers who will help reinforce sinking bases. You are electrical engineers who will soon help convert solar and wind energy into power, convert solar and wind energy into combat power. And just ask any Marine today, would she rather carry 20 pounds of batteries or a rolled up solar panel, and I am positive she will tell you a solar panel, and so would he.”

But, solar panels store energy in batteries. The Marine, regardless of gender, will still have to carry a battery along with the solar panel. That technicality aside, these bizarre remarks were delivered by Harris as part of a commencement address on Memorial Day weekend. The sacrifices that Navy midshipmen have made for this country throughout history were never mentioned during the course of the remarks. Rather, Harris sounded like she had shown up to give a speech at the National Resources Defense Council instead of the U.S. Naval Academy. She used her time to issue veiled threats like, “One country’s carbon emissions can threaten the sustainability of the whole earth.” The likelihood that Navy graduates can actually learn something from such statements that will help them as they defend this country is doubtful at best, which is why this commencement address earns last place for the 2021 season.

 

 

Heartland Wisdom from Iowa

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Todd Blodgett writes at the Des Moines Register Biden paving the way for Trump to win again.  (Full disclosure:  My mother, Dagmar Henningsen was born near Des Moinres, and I am 1/2 Danish because of her.)  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Only a smidgeon of popular votes would flip the few states needed for Trump to net 270 electoral votes.

In 2020, had 23,000 votes, spread across Wisconsin, Arizona and Georgia, flipped, the Electoral College would’ve been tied, at 269-269. And with Republicans holding a majority of the states’ congressional delegations, the U.S. House of Representatives would’ve chosen Donald Trump as president.

But after five months, Joe Biden’s agenda and actions on several critical issues are diminishing Democratic prospects for 2024, and even for 2022. If the GOP retakes the House next year, it will be disastrous for the Biden-Harris administration.

But even if that doesn’t happen, the border crisis that Biden singlehandedly created has already caused many of his voters to suffer a severe case of buyers’ remorse. Nixing the Keystone pipeline was stupid and killed tens of thousands of jobs and indicated to oil-producing nations that the United States is impeding domestic petroleum production — which, under Trump’s policies, made us net energy-independent.

Increasingly, many Americans now see that Trump was the kind of president that they always wanted — but they didn’t realize they had.

After all, most Americans appreciate straight talk from their elected officials and distrust career politicians, especially lawyers. Many voters prefer no-nonsense, business-style governance. Most Americans also favor “America First” policies and expect their president to prioritize their interests above those of foreign nationals — particularly lawbreakers. As well, most Americans despise clueless leftists who advocate defunding the police. Polls reveal that most likely voters want presidents to appoint judges who are pro-victim, not pro-perpetrator, and who favor taxpayers over indolent, able-bodied, welfare scammers.

Americans expect their leader to understand that China not only isn’t our friend, but represents a clear and present danger to us.

Trump, not Biden, was that president.

Most taxpayers also strongly oppose Biden’s unprecedented, irresponsible spending spree. Even some Democrats detest Biden’s planned tax hikes and his costly boondoggles, which includes fancy hotels for immigrants, bailouts that discourage employees from returning to work, and paying the disreputable World Health Organization $200 million to reinstate America’s membership. Biden’s absurd claim that Trump caused this border disaster only exacerbates the scorn which scores of millions of Americans have for this liar.

Biden even released Mexico from its agreement — negotiated by Trump — to post federales (troops) on Mexico’s side of the border, to block border-crashing immigrants. As the Washington Post reported on May 25: “Under new Biden administration rules curtailing immigration enforcement, ICE carried out 3,000 deportations last month, the lowest level on record. Biden has placed ICE deportation officers on a leash so tight that some say their work is being functionally abolished.”

As Biden and Kamala Harris foment this destructive insanity, many pro-USA citizens justifiably feel like horrified, handcuffed, blindfolded passengers in the back seat of a vehicle being driven by a drunkard at 100 mph. When Ronald Reagan visited Des Moines in the fall of 1980, he told me that his opponent, President Jimmy Carter, made it “easy” for him, “because of how badly he’s screwed things up.” Will Biden do the same?

Trump will be the same age (78) in 2024 that Biden is now. However, Trump moves, acts, and looks 15 years younger than Biden — who, in 2024, will be 82. By 2024, old Joe could easily look like Jimmy Carter. If so, his predecessor may well become his successor. Only a smidgeon of popular votes would flip the few states needed for Trump to net 270 electoral votes.

Biden is basically setting the stage for Trump’s comeback.

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Joakim Book Skewers Sacred Environmental Cows

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Joakim Book is an economist and social observer with a knack for pithy critiques of current governmental foibles.  He has pierced the fog of global warming/climate change hysteria in several articles, but his POV is best summarized in his AIER essay Climate Catastrophism and a Sensible Environmentalism.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.  If you are familiar or not with his work, enjoy the read and do explore the links

Like many of us, I had an iconic and charismatic high school teacher who left a lasting impression. He used to say something memorable about asking for forgiveness: “Apologize if you’re in the wrong,” he said, “but double down if you’re not.”

As the pro-lockdown media poured its anger over the Great Barrington Declaration and other voices for human freedom and dignity have been silenced or viciously attacked, allow me to heed my high school teacher’s great advice ‒ and double down.

Much of the outrage over AIER’s sponsoring and hosting of the Declaration had nothing to do with what the scientists in it said, or even the topic of societal disagreement that it captures. Conspiratorial writers from Byline Times to The Guardian as well as editors at Wikipedia attacked AIER for a minor, inconsequential connection to the “evil” Koch Foundation, damning the Institute’s efforts in a laughable attempt of guilt-by-association.

As a carte blanche ‒ the ultimate “gotcha” in these unenlightened and confused times ‒ many of these outlets attacked AIER for “downplay[ing] the threats of the environmental crisis,” and linked specifically to a number of my climate change articles.

I don’t see how I have anything to apologize for regarding what’s in those articles ‒ so instead I’ll double down.

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How to do environmentalism, and how not to do environmentalism

A tragic dissonance has emerged in most popular climate arguments: a childlike refusal of accepting the lesser of two evils, of trading off one goal for another. The more ardently you push climate policies, it seems, the more strongly you hold romantic and unrealistic beliefs about how we can repent for our environmentalist sins. In impossibly short times, it is believed, we can effortlessly transition to 100% renewable energy; overhaul society completely, but at no cost whatsoever; and our restrictive climate policies will even boost our economies and create jobs!

You must presume that the world is a pretty sinister place if greedy capitalists, supposedly in it for the money, are all leaving these “obvious” opportunities on the table.

Never mind that renewables ‒ or more aptly called “unreliables” ‒ can’t power a modern civilization, that their intermittency problem is light years behind where its proponents assume it to be, that they’re not energy-dense enough to provide us with the energy and electricity we want. Without the amazing help of fossil fuels we couldn’t do half the things we’re currently doing ‒ living, eating, flourishing, helping, traveling (well…), producing.

None of that matters; we need to fix the climate, activists say, and quell CO2 emissions urgently. But while we’re at it we must also ensure equal gender representation on corporate boards, and shut down tax havens, and confiscate the rich’s productive assets. And naturally, end racial inequality, and most certainly regulate who may use a public bathroom carrying this or that gendered sign on it.

A cynic, perhaps reaching for a tin foil hat or the closest religious text to understand how this could possibly make sense, would conclude that catastrophists are not really addressing the problem they say they are. Alternatively, climate change can’t be that bad if the same Green New Deal bill that saves humanity is littered with minimum wage laws and paid maternity leave and a range of other social policies that just happen to align with what the hard-left has long wanted.

But we don’t have to be cynics to derive this conclusion: its proponents freely and openly say so. The British organization ‘Extinction Rebellion,’ whose infamous promoters chain themselves to trains and block London roads for media attention (or sling fake blood at buildings), happily confess that they do things that feel right rather than what would have material impact for their cause.

For years, people like Naomi Klein, the author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, have said that their goal is to destroy capitalism ‒ and climate change just happens to be the best tool and best argument she has found. Simon Hannah for OpenDemocracy describes capitalism as having a “’parasitoid’ relationship to the Earth.” Capitalism, he writes, “is simply incompatible with social justice” and the climate change issue offers a vivid illustration of this.

If you’re concerned about these other societal problems ‒ which you could be as they are serious concerns in their own right ‒ then you’re also unavoidably telling me that you don’t think the climate crisis is existential or even that bad. After all, if you think climate change will kill millions or billions of people, why would you bother, for instance, throwing everything and the kitchen sink at a coronavirus the mortality of which is a rounding error compared to the apocalyptic climate future you see? (When faced with claims of mass death, always ask how exactly that’s supposed to happen as we’re safer, richer, better fed, and better protected against the powers of nature than ever before).

The worse and more unavoidable the damages from a changing planet are, the more acute does a rapid transition to nuclear power look, and the greater the merits of geoengineering ‒ for instance, artificially spewing out sulfur into the high atmosphere, mimicking large volcano eruptions of the past.

Michael Shellenberger, a pro-nuclear environmentalist, writes

The problem posed by the existence of nuclear energy was that it proved we didn’t need to radically reorganize society to solve environmental problems. We just needed to build nuclear plants instead of coal-burning ones. And so the New Left environmentalists attacked nuclear energy as somehow bad for the environment.

[S]olar farms require hundreds of times more land, an order of magnitude more mining for materials, and create hundreds of times more waste, than do nuclear plants. And wind farms kill hundreds of thousands of threatened and endangered birds, may make the hoary bat go extinct, and kill more people than nuclear plants.

Nuclear energy should be the environmentalist’s greatest gift: in one fell swoop we could make a serious dent in CO2 emissions. But of course, the more ardent an environmentalist you are, the more fiercely you oppose nuclear, going nuts from just voicing the option (“Nuclear is awful, filthy, unclean, dangerous, and unsafe!”).

It’s like all the previous arguments about how devastating human civilization is for the planet, how desperately urgent it is for us to take action, that we “listen to the scientists” as Greta Thunberg urges us, just go out the window. Well, not those scientists, explaining how modern nuclear plants can safely power our societies. Or how unreliables give us higher electricity prices and more CO2 emissions in our electricity mix. Or how modern engineering can tame the sea. Or how modern information technology, large-scale supply chains, and construction of storm shelters have reduced Bangladeshi deaths from cyclones by 99% in a generation, even though Bangladesh has a much larger population today.

Sensible and Balanced Approach

We should deal with the threats of climate change, but we should do so sensibly and in conjunction with other threats. Because one thing is dangerous and potentially harmful, every other dangerous and harmful thing doesn’t just go away. Do things like the World Health Organization recommends here, things that help against the baseline danger of nature as well as the increased risk from climate change:

The development of a 500 metre coastal mangrove forest zone will further reduce the vulnerability to cyclones, which is especially important given the likelihood of a rise in sea level and an increase in tropical storm frequency and strength due to climate change.

In a special climate issue of the Scientific American from last year, climate scientist Jennifer Francis was accounting for recent extreme weather events. After several long paragraphs outlining how bad the record-setting heat waves of the 2018 summer had been in the U.S., Japan, Scandinavia, and in the Arctic, she wrote, “Worldwide, thousands of people without air-conditioning died.” (emphasis added)

Yes, exactly! Scorching heat waves are bad for people, with or without climate change. A sensible, effective, and direct way to fix that… is ensuring that people have access to air-conditioning! Instead of aiming for some elaborate government-mandated degrowth platform, circular economies, carbon tax, or subsidies for solar and wind ‒ how about just giving people cash for air conditioners? That should be much more effective in preventing deaths from inhospitable elements, even if climate change makes nature a little bit less safe for humans.

Most changes to the climate can’t be rolled back

What’s scary about the climate impact of the CO2 we’ve already emitted into the atmosphere is that it lingers there for hundreds of years. Unless we find a way to remove it from the skies, much of what will happen to the planet over the next century or so is already “baked in.”  That also means that we must prepare for those changes rather than muck about with blunt tools like carbon taxes or symbolic bans on plastic bags.

So let’s abandon fanciful and fleetingly ineffective climate policies.

  • Let’s rapidly transition to the cleanest and most reliable electricity source we have (nuclear).
  • Let’s build protective dams along vulnerable coastlines, and experiment with ways to raise and reclaim land from the sea.
  • Most importantly ‒ and globally just ‒ let’s make sure the poorest of the poor can enrich themselves enough so that they too stand a chance against the inevitable changes that we know will come.
  • Let’s stop torturing ourselves with totalitarian policies against a virus we can’t control.
  • Let’s stop injuring poor countries with our obstacles to their goods and services, and their migrating people.

Those are climate policies that a sensible, pro-human environmentalist could get behind. Blunt and small-impact carbon taxes, Paris Agreements with next-to-no effect, or symbolic gestures like recycling ‒ not so much.

How’s that for doubling down?

Joakim Book is a writer, researcher and editor on all things money, finance and financial history. He holds a masters degree from the University of Oxford and has been a visiting scholar at the American Institute for Economic Research in 2018 and 2019.  His AIER essays are here.  As readers can see from the above article, Book creates many provocative capsules.  Some examples from his work:

Reshuffling who owns the instruments that finance the physical assets that emit the byproduct CO2 doesn’t change anything about their emissions: the CO2 enters the atmosphere whether you, me, Warren Buffett, or Russian oligarchs own the facilities.

Still, none of the mainstreaming structures we had built over decades turned the tide as much as did an iconic, blonde, white(!) girl with Asperger’s. . . Following her popular success, the most powerful institutions in our fiat world – the central banks – have not resisted the pull of this inane black hole. They “want to become the guardians of the environment as well” begins Simon Clark’s recent article in the Wall Street Journal, identifying an eerie trend of mission creep and central bank activism. They can’t hit their own targets very well, but still wish to dabble in everybody else’s.

Years ago I suggested that climate activists pool their funds and go into the (re)insurance business, specifically to address their concerns about financial climate risk. With a longer time horizon and lower required rate of return, you might even have an edge over financial incumbents.

Politics is a game that shifts the natural and inherent relationship between human beings. Ordinarily, people in their commercial or civic engagements have strong incentives to harmonize, to avoid conflict, streamline, make efficiency gains, and reach workable consensus; they have skin in the game, bear responsibility and costs for the (negative) outcomes of their actions, and often simply want to get on with their lives. Politicians, involved in their sinister games, disrupt this harmony.

We have four centuries of evidence that, over time and on net, the market process that enriches us gradually overtakes the government power that impoverishes us. But during this time, we can have long periods where government power makes life worse, over and above what innovation, growth, and individual ingenuity could marshal.

Media coverage inundates us with a constant flow of catastrophes from one part or the world or another, while overlooking the great non-events of the world. When super cyclones kill 128 people instead of the hundreds of thousands they used to or would have, we don’t even hear about them. When hundreds of thousands of people are lifted out of extreme poverty a day, every day, that’s no longer newsworthy. The result is, Gapminder notes, that “people end up carrying around a sack of outdated facts that you got in school (including knowledge that often was outdated when acquired in school).”

Doctors abide by the “First, do no harm” promise. Maybe journalists should too.

Far from being settled, climate science is tricky: we don’t know well what happens to global temperatures when atmospheric CO2 doubles (“climate sensitivity”); we can’t properly model clouds and cloud formation, crucial for how much of the sun’s incoming heat will be reflected away; the range for best-guesses as to what the global temperature rise over the coming century will be is vast (maybe 1° Celsius – maybe 5° Celsius) – so vast, in fact, that it hardly warrants a quantification.

The sustainability crowd has managed to make this word mean a lot more things than that. So much so that the same Cambridge Dictionary lists a secondary meaning for ‘sustainable:’ “Causing little or no damage to the environment and therefore able to continue for a long time”(emphasis added). The secondary meaning of its opposite, ‘unsustainable,’ is similarly bonkers: “causing damage to the environment by using more of something than can be replaced naturally.”  Lots of things are wrong with these seemingly innocent lines, and I’ll focus on three: the environment as a friendly sentient being, the causal chain between environmental damage and sustainability, and the replacement rate of resources.

Human beings are the organism that has been the most successful at removing nature’s obstacles from our path, and protecting ourselves from its damaging forces. Even though there are six billion more of us today than in 1900, fewer people die at the hand of nature’s powers. That’s us impacting the environment and it is cause for celebration. Impact away!

For some reason, Joakim Book reminds me of Jimbob:

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Who runs education

 

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Dumb and Dumber Energy Advice from NYT

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Benjamin Zycher at Real Clear Markets takes the NYT to task for its stupid article about fossil fuel infrastructure, awarding it The Dumbest New York Times Op-Ed of 2021.  Of course there are many months left for NYT to publish even worse inanities this year.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds. I have reorganized the content to juxtapose the wild claims with sober facts.

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Summer still is weeks away, but already we have a winner in the fierce competition for the coveted title of “Dumbest New York Times opinion column of 2021.” The envelope please… and the winner is “Why Charles Koch Wins When Our Energy System Breaks Down,” by someone named Christopher Leonard. One really does have to read this column to grasp — actually, to marvel at — the inanity of Leonard’s argument, which can be summarized as follows.

Claim:
Our fossil-fuel infrastructure — pipelines in particular, and refineries as well — is “increasingly unreliable” and “dominated by a very small group of very profitable companies.”

Fact:  
Leonard does not tell us what he means in his assertion that U.S. pipelines are “increasingly unreliable” — it is easy to infer that he has no idea — but if we define “reliability” as the annual number of adverse pipeline incidents, there has been no trend since 2002, even as pipeline mileage increased almost 63 percent between 2004 and 2019.

Claim:
The Colonial Pipeline shut down in 2016, and again this month due to a cyberattack, but the five companies that own Colonial “profit handsomely off its operations and earn outsize profits in the face of the bottlenecks and supply squeezes caused by shutdowns.”

Fact:  
That is absurd: The pipeline generates revenue only when it is moving product; if it is not operational it is not generating revenue.

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Claim:
The 2016 shutdown “didn’t seem to hurt the owners’ earnings” in that afterward “Colonial boosted its annual dividends — at least in part because of the Trump administration’s 2017 tax cuts.”  The growth in Colonial’s investments in updating and protecting the pipeline have been “modest, while dividend payments have risen sharply.”

Fact:  
Apart from Leonard’s confusion about whether it is due to the 2016 shutdown or to the 2017 tax cut, he apparently has no concept of the factors addressed by corporate managers as they determine the appropriate dividend. In particular, a dividend change is driven by the evaluation of the after-tax return to shareholders from retaining more financial capital within the firm compared with that from distributing more to the shareholders. An increase in the dividend suggests that the latter has increased relative to the former, presumably in this case because of the nuances of the 2017 tax bill. Were the Kochs responsible for that?

Claim:
Charles Koch “has profited for years off similar energy bottlenecks in the upper Midwest” because of such infrastructure investments as the Pine Bend refinery, which “owes its profitability to its location in the middle of a broken fuel market.” Koch “buys cheap crude” in a market “oversupplied” with Canadian crude oil, after which “Koch then sells its finished fuel into an undersupplied gasoline market in the upper Midwest.”

Fact:  
And about that “oversupplied” (whatever that means) midwestern market for Canadian crude oil: The midwestern refinery market would be far less “oversupplied” had the Keystone XL pipeline been approved at long last, delivering heavy Canadian crude oil to the Gulf coast refineries designed to refine it. Did Charles Koch urge the Biden administration to reject the pipeline? Has Leonard criticized that decision? I can find no record of any such stance on his part.

And then there is Leonard’s assertion that the gasoline market in the upper Midwest is “undersupplied” (whatever that means). The Energy Information Administration divides the U.S. gasoline market into five regions (“PADDs”). As of May 24, Gulf Coast gasoline prices were the lowest, followed by the Midwest, and then (in ascending order) the East Coast, the Rocky Mountain states, and the West Coast, the last of which had the highest prices even excluding California. What is Leonard talking about?

Claim:
Regulatory hurdles have paved the way for these profits for decades.” “The Clean Air Act… made it nearly impossible for competitors to open a refinery near Pine  Bend” to increase competitive pressures.

Fact:  

The comedy highlight of Leonard’s column is the assertion that it is the Clean Air Act, regulatory obstacles to new pipeline investment, and general “regulatory stasis and dysfunction” that have yielded the “outsize profits” enjoyed by the Kochs. Leonard seems actually to believe this: “Just by letting the broken market limp along, Koch Industries reaps extraordinary profits from a broken system.” So the Kochs are vastly more powerful than anyone could imagine, responsible for the regulatory morass, for the ideological leftist political opposition to fossil infrastructure, for NIMBYism, and for allowing the “broken market” to “limp along.” Just as the pipeline owners win whether the pipelines are operating or not, Leonard clearly believes that they earn “outsize profits” whether the regulatory environment is light or dysfunctional. Who knew?

Claim: 
Regulatory fights benefit big refiners that can afford expensive legal experts and lobbyists: “Koch benefits from regulatory stasis and dysfunction.”

Fact:  

The utter stupidity of Leonard’s argument is illustrated by his assertion toward the end of the column that “new wind farms or solar installations could open up a whole new energy market.” Somehow, I was led to believe that Leonard’s argument was about pipelines and refineries and gasoline prices, and the ability of the Kochs to earn large profits no matter what. But no: An endorsement of unconventional electricity, expensive and environmentally destructive, just had to be shoehorned in as an exercise in virtue-signaling par excellence despite the reality that it has nothing to do with Leonard’s silly central argument. Or does he want to argue that more wind farms will reduce gasoline prices in the Midwest?

Conclusion

And so we arrive at the larger reality illustrated by the Leonard column. Misguided, illogical, and at odds with the facts, it is of a piece with the broad opposition of the environmental left to energy infrastructure generally, and pipeline investments in particular. Utter incoherence is the inevitable result of that ideological opposition to fossil fuels, one impervious to facts and analytic rigor, and dependent upon arguments fundamentally inconsistent. That opposition is anti-human at its core because it implies opposition to investment in human capital — education, training, health care, etc. — and the improved human well being that has the effect of increasing the demand for energy and its infrastructure. Forget the Kochs; they are a bogeyman and red herring the mere mention of which is intended to elicit a Pavlovian reaction from the enlightened invitees to the right cocktail parties.

The real bogeymen are the New York Times opinion editors who found such drivel fit to print, a measure of the intellectual depths to which they have sunk.

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See Also Shellenberger to NYT: Isn’t a correction merited?

Election Skimming Program Exposed in NH

I have been patiently hoping for some truth to emerge out of the murky 2020 election.  Some flares have been lit in Arizona and Michigan, and a lamp lit this week in Georgia, and a few candles in places like Pennsylvania and, improbably New Hampshire.  This last one involves an audit in Windham, New Hampshire, a town of 14,853 people, which has long been a stalwart Republican stronghold in an otherwise Democrat state.  The pattern of election skimming shows up very clearly, as explained in an article at American Thinker An election audit in New Hampshire may be the pebble that diverts the stream.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.  

Windham, New Hampshire, a town of 14,853 people, has long been a stalwart Republican stronghold in an otherwise Democrat state. As was the case throughout New Hampshire, it relied on AccuVote machines to collect and tally its 2020 votes.

When the election in Windham ended, Kristi St. Laurent, the Democrat candidate, had lost by only 24 votes. With that close a margin, she naturally demanded a hand recount.

The hand recount revealed something peculiar: St. Laurent hadn’t lost by 24 votes; she’d lost by 420 votes. In a small election, that meant that her margin of defeat wasn’t 0.005% but was, instead, 9.6%, which is a significant loss.

That same recount revealed an even greater anomaly: across the board, in every Windham election, Republicans had been shortchanged, and Democrats had been overcounted:

Windham NH results


Windham election results by Ken Eyring.

Those kinds of numbers manifestly demanded a full recount, which is what’s happening now in Windham. And as with counts and recounts elsewhere, funny things are happening — not funny-ha-ha, but funny-peculiar:

An audit team sent to conduct a forensic examination of the 2020 election results in Windham, N.H. started the process off well enough on Tuesday. But by Wednesday, they hit a major snag: The live stream cameras that had been broadcasting the audit room around the clock went offline for close to 90 minutes, potentially obscuring any problematic intervention.

The team decided Thursday morning to reinspect the ballot machines on camera in an attempt to maintain observers’ faith in their process. They needed to determine whether the machines had been tampered with over night when the cameras mysteriously went down.

Even if the camera failure is nothing, the consistent Republican deficits cannot be shrugged off as a series of random errors. When a “mistake” repeatedly runs in only one direction over a separate series of events, the hand of man becomes apparent.

New Hampshire was called for Biden, but if the “mistake” was state-wide — that is, if Republicans were undercounted and Democrats overcounted in every county — perhaps Biden didn’t win New Hampshire. And if he didn’t win New Hampshire, maybe he didn’t win in some other states called for him, either.

Our elections need to be tightened — and doing away with voter ID is not the way to do it. Although I seldom look to England for anything good lately (sorry, England, I once loved you as only a true Anglophile could), its approach to voting is superb and getting better. Funnily enough, though, that’s one policy that the left — which is always anxious to show how badly America measures up to the rest of the world — doesn’t want to copy.

Update on Georgia Election Audit:

Georgia Judge Calls For Emergency Audit After Suspicious Discrepancies Found

Back in March, a judge gave an order to unseal absentee ballots in Fulton County so a government watchdog can investigate allegations of voting fraud in the November election.

A lawsuit filed in Fulton County Superior Court contends that fraudulent ballots were cast and other irregularities occurred as workers counted ballots at State Farm Arena on election night. Those allegations were investigated and dismissed by the secretary of state’s office. Nonetheless, Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero — who is overseeing the case — said he’s inclined to order the ballots to be unsealed and reviewed by experts hired by Garland Favorito, a voting-integrity advocate.

And today, May 21, 2021, the same judge went even further called for the motion to unseal ballots after suspicious discrepancies were found.

During a hearing, VoterGA.org lawyers “described large discrepancies (21%) between the number of ballot batches reported by the GA Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger who certified the election, and the number of ballot batches actually provided by court-ordered access in the previous April hearing in the case,” according to CD Media.

“A high number of ballots appear to have been counted twice,” said one witness.

VoterGA.org has been examining the ballot images at a low resolution since the hearing in April, and declared they need the actual physical ballots to understand the number of counterfeit ballots certified.

Favorito is seeking to review absentee ballots in Fulton County. He says county workers likely fabricated ballots and counted some ballots multiple times on election night. As evidence, his lawsuit cites video of the counting, as well as sworn statements from people who were present.

The observers were suspicious of ballots that were printed on a different stock of paper than regular ballots, appeared to have been printed instead of marked by ink in a voter’s hand or were not creased, indicating they had not been placed in an absentee ballot envelope and mailed.

Background from previous post  Election Skimming Program Detected

Update Nov. 13, 2020 at the End

Dr.SHIVA LIVE: MIT PhD Analysis of Michigan Votes Reveals Unfortunate Truth of U.S. Voting Systems

MIT professor Dr. Shiva and colleagues discovered a pattern in Michigan voter data whereby tens of thousands of Trump votes were taken away and added to Biden totals.  As the video describes the program was designed to skim more votes away from large pools of Trump votes and avoid small pools, in order to be less noticeable.  The proportion of straight ticket Republican voters serves as the indicator of precincts where larger numbers of Trump only votes can be switched to Biden only votes (only refers to a vote not part of a party line ballot.  The linear relationship is quite striking and abnormal.  The more voters in a precinct voted Republican party line, the more Trump only votes in that precinct were taken away.

From Jo Nova website:

A “Transistor Function” algorithm has been used to alter voting patterns in Michigan. It has a “Weighted Race” feature.

Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai, an MIT engineer and Fulbright Scholar, with Phil Evans B.S.E.E. and Benny Smith (election commissioner and data analyst) have back-analyzed the pattern of voting in Michigan and figured out the electronic algorithm used to alter votes. Voting patterns are distorted in a way that can only be explained by a linear transformation (an algebraic equation) and he can approximate that equation and slope of the line. This means he can calculate how many votes were flipped and he does, and it’s massive.

This one form of fraud alone is enough to flip the election to Biden. That’s without all the postal vote backdating, the dead people voting, the out of state votes, the discarded ballots, the crooked media coverups, the pollsters fakery and the Pfizer hiding of the Covid Vaccine news. Trump won the election despite all the other trickery. If there had been real media coverage, honest vaccine headlines, exposure of Hunter Biden and honest polling the election probably could have been called by 8pm on Election day.

The action analysis starts at 13:30 minutes.

In disconcerting news, votes are stored as a decimal fraction. They are not even trying to record votes as whole numbers, as individual choices.

The dashed orange line should be a flat line, instead the downward slope “cuts in” and votes are increasingly distorted in precincts where more Republicans vote.  The ratio depends on the percentage of Republican voters in a precinct. The more Republicans there are, the more likely they are to abandon Trump and vote a Biden-then-Republican ticket.

The slope of that line is “too perfect” — it’s almost perfectly linear. The transistor effect kicks in and shows that the same algorithm was used in different counties across all precincts. The pattern is non-random. Even if you wanted to believe that Rep voters were tired of Trump it would not happen in a perfect line that depended on the number of Rep voters around you. (45 mins.)

Update Nov. 13, 2020


Paul Sperry writes at RealClearInvestigations, Pro-Biden Bug Also Suspected in Georgia’s Vote-Counting Software. Excepts in italics with my bolds.

A curious thing happened as Fulton County, Ga., election officials counted mail-in ballots at Atlanta’s State Farm Arena in the days after the election. In the early hours of Nov. 5, a surge of some 20,000 mail-in votes suddenly appeared for Joe Biden, while approximately 1,000 votes for President Trump mysteriously disappeared from his own totals in the critical swing state, where Biden holds a razor-thin lead.

A poll watcher noticed the suspicious shift in votes while monitoring the interim election results on the Georgia secretary of state website.

“I concluded from looking at these results that this was an irregularity, since there was no obvious reason for President Trump’s totals to have decreased while former Vice President Biden’s totals increased dramatically,” Voter GA co-founder Garland Favorito swore in an affidavit he filed this week with the secretary of state’s office.

Favorito suspects a variety of factors, including that votes were “artificially inflated” for Biden while using the same Dominion Voting system used by Antrim County, Mich., which erroneously transferred 6,000 votes from Trump to Biden. Last year, Georgia contracted with Dominion to automate vote tabulations in all 159 of its counties.

“The software appears to have thrown votes from Trump to Biden here too,” he said in a RealClearInvestigations interview. “Or Biden ballots were manufactured.”

The large disparity of gains between the two candidates “was something I had never witnessed before in my years of election monitoring,” said Favorito, a career IT professional who has been a leading advocate for election integrity in the state over the past two decades. He says he is not a Republican or Trump supporter.

On Nov. 10, Favorito sent his affidavit to Georgia Secretary of State recommending a full, by-hand ballot recount. The next day, his office announced it will conduct such an audit for the presidential race. Biden currently leads Trump by more than 14,000 votes in the state.

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The Untaxed Fat Cats: Universities and Foundations

An interesting opinion appeared at Washington Post, of all places.  Despite their slogan being “Democracy Dies in Darkness”, this article is the rare bit of brightness at that news organ given their bent of shining light only on all things progressive, and casting conservative concerns into the outer darkness. The essay by Henry Olsen is So you want to tax the rich? Okay, let’s start with Harvard.  I am sympathetic to his argument because it is universities and foundations culpable above all in spending to spread so much poison into western civilization, including (among others) critical race theory and climate hysteria.  But would the government do anything different with the money from imposing comparable taxes?  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

President Biden and congressional Democrats seem determined to raise taxes on the rich, especially the rate paid on capital gains. If they’re really serious about this, there’s one sector of American wealth that is undertaxed even by today’s standards: universities and foundations.

The amount of wealth held by major colleges and large grant-making foundations is astounding. The National Association of College and University Business Officers’ annual study found that 107 institutions held endowments of $1 billion or more as of June 30, 2019. Together, these institutions of higher learning held $494 billion in assets, or roughly a tenth of the total net worth of all individual billionaires in the United States combined. The university figure is surely much higher today.

Charitable foundations hold even more wealth. One estimate found they held more than $1 trillion in assets in 2017, with the richest five alone holding nearly $100 billion between them. Given that the stock market has risen more than 50 percent since then, their portfolios should be hundreds of billions of dollars richer. That means America’s charitable foundations and billionaire universities hold at least $1.5 trillion in assets. That’s far more wealth than that of Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and the founders of Google and Oracle combined.

Democrats often criticize these billionaires for not paying their fair shares, but they pay a lot more than these wealthy institutions. Rich universities and grant-making foundations pay a mere 1.4 percent in federal taxes on their net investment income, a fraction of the 23.8 percent rich people pay on their capital gains. To put this in perspective, if Gates made $100 million in trading Microsoft stock, he would pay $23.8 million in federal capital gains tax, plus any state income taxes he might owe. If the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation made the same $100 million trading the same stock, it would pay Uncle Sam a mere $1.4 million.

There’s no reason these billionaire institutions should continue to be exempt from paying normal capital gains rates on their income if the public’s need is so great. Harvard may cry that paying higher taxes on the gains from its nearly $40 billion endowment would force it to crimp spending on student aid or faculty research, but wealthy individuals can make the same argument: Higher taxes would reduce the amount of money they can invest in tech start-ups or other economically productive ventures. Plus, both the wealthy institution and the rich individual have more than enough money to make do and adjust to the higher tax rates, especially if the public spending their taxes would finance is so essential.

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Even taxing rich institutions at lower rates would raise considerable revenue for the federal government. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) recently introduced her Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act, which would levy an annual 3 percent wealth tax on individuals with assets of $1 billion or more. Perhaps not coincidentally, it does not apply to institutions such as the former law professor’s old employer, Harvard University. Had Warren applied the same wealth tax on universities, good old Harvard, which had a $39.4 billion endowment as of 2019, would pay nearly $120 million annually under Warren’s proposal, more than twice the $49.8 million it paid on its net investment income in 2019.

Applying Warren’s tax to the combined fortunes of ultra-rich colleges and foundations would easily raise more than $30 billion a year. That’s not chump change.

Democrats would never take up this charge, especially given how much these institutions skew to the left. Only 3 percent of Harvard’s faculty members, for example, are conservatives compared with almost 78 percent who say they are “liberal” or “very liberal.” Harvard isn’t much of an outlier; a recent study found that registered Democrats at 32 elite colleges and universities outnumber registered Republicans by more than 10 to 1. Foundations also tilt heavily to the left, with clearly left-wing foundations possessing more than 10 times the assets of clearly right-wing institutions. Treating institutional wealth the same as Democrats propose treating individual wealth clearly would harm their friends much more than it would harm their enemies.

That shouldn’t matter, however. Wealth is wealth, and massive accumulations of it should be taxed regardless of the source if the federal government needs the money. If Democrats won’t do that, it shows they care more about professors and foundation fat cats than they do about entrepreneurs. I doubt average Americans agree.

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The Actual Letter from 120 Generals and Admirals

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Notably, biased journalists like those at Politico published their own disparaging comments about this open letter, including ad hominem attacks against some of the signers.  Read below the actual text of the letter and judge for yourself whether their concerns are reasonable, despite the backlash from progressive media. Thanks to Thinking Conservative for posting the letter.  My bolds added.

Open Letter from Retired Generals and Admirals

Our Nation is in deep peril. We are in a fight for our survival as a Constitutional Republic like no other time since our founding in 1776. The conflict is between supporters of Socialism and Marxism vs. supporters of Constitutional freedom and liberty.

During the 2020 election an “Open Letter from Senior Military Leaders” was signed by 317 retired Generals and Admirals and, it said the 2020 election could be the most important election since our country was founded. “With the Democrat Party welcoming Socialists and Marxists, our historic way of life is at stake.” Unfortunately, that statement’s truth was quickly revealed, beginning with the election process itself.

Without fair and honest elections that accurately reflect the “will of the people” our Constitutional Republic is lost. Election integrity demands insuring there is one legal vote cast and counted per citizen. Legal votes are identified by State Legislature’s approved controls using government IDs, verified signatures, etc. Today, many are calling such commonsense controls “racist” in an attempt to avoid having fair and honest elections. Using racial terms to suppress proof of eligibility is itself a tyrannical intimidation tactic. Additionally, the “Rule of Law” must be enforced in our election processes to ensure integrity. The FBI and Supreme Court must act swiftly when election irregularities are surfaced and not ignore them as was done in 2020. Finally, H.R.1 & S.1, (if passed), would destroy election fairness and allow Democrats to forever remain in power violating our Constitution and ending our Representative Republic.

Aside from the election, the Current Administration has launched a full-blown assault on our Constitutional rights in a dictatorial manner, bypassing the Congress, with more than 50 Executive Orders quickly signed, many reversing the previous Administration’s effective policies and regulations. Moreover, population control actions such as excessive lockdowns, school and business closures, and most alarming, censorship of written and verbal expression are all direct assaults on our fundamental Rights. We must support and hold accountable politicians who will act to counter Socialism, Marxism and Progressivism, support our Constitutional Republic, and insist on fiscally responsible governing while focusing on all Americans, especially the middle class, not special interest or extremist groups which are used to divide us into warring factions.

Additional National Security Issues and Actions:

Open borders jeopardize national security by increasing human trafficking, drug cartels, terrorists entry, health/CV19 dangers, and humanitarian crises. Illegals are flooding our Country bringing high economic costs, crime, lowering wages, and illegal voting in some states. We must reestablish border controls and continue building the wall while supporting our dedicated border control personnel. Sovereign nations must have controlled borders.

China is the greatest external threat to America. Establishing cooperative relations with the Chinese Communist Party emboldens them to continue progress toward world domination, militarily, economically, politically and technologically. We must impose more sanctions and restrictions to impede their world domination goal and protect America’s interests.

• The free flow of information is critical to the security of our Republic, as illustrated by freedom of speech and the press being in the 1st Amendment of our Constitution. Censoring speech and expression, distorting speech, spreading disinformation by government officials, private entities, and the media is a method to suppress the free flow of information, a tyrannical technique used in closed societies. We must counter this on all fronts beginning with removing Section 230 protection from big tech.

Re-engaging in the flawed Iran Nuclear Deal would result in Iran acquiring nuclear weapons along with the means to deliver them, thereby upsetting Mideast peace initiatives and aiding a terrorist nation whose slogans and goals include “death to America” and “death to Israel” . We must resist the new China/Iran agreement and not support the Iran Nuclear Deal. In addition, continue with the Mideast peace initiatives, the “Abraham Accords,” and support for Israel.

Stopping the Keystone Pipeline eliminates our recently established energy independence and causes us to be energy dependent on nations not friendly to us, while eliminating valuable US jobs. We must open the Keystone Pipeline and regain our energy independence for national security and economic reasons.

Using the U.S. military as political pawns with thousands of troops deployed around the U.S. Capitol Building, patrolling fences guarding against a non-existent threat, along with forcing Politically Correct policies like the divisive critical race theory into the military at the expense of the War Fighting Mission, seriously degrades readiness to fight and win our Nation’s wars, creating a major national security issue. We must support our Military and Vets; focus on war fighting, eliminate the corrosive infusion of Political Correctness into our military which damages morale and war fighting cohesion.

The “Rule of Law” is fundamental to our Republic and security. Anarchy as seen in certain cities cannot be tolerated. We must support our law enforcement personnel and insist that DAs, our courts, and the DOJ enforce the law equally, fairly, and consistently toward all.

The mental and physical condition of the Commander in Chief cannot be ignored. He must be able to quickly make accurate national security decisions involving life and limb anywhere, day or night. Recent Democrat leadership’s inquiries about nuclear code procedures sends a dangerous national security signal to nuclear armed adversaries, raising the question about who is in charge. We must always have an unquestionable chain of command.

Under a Democrat Congress and the Current Administration, our Country has taken a hard left turn toward Socialism and a Marxist form of tyrannical government which must be countered now by electing congressional and presidential candidates who will always act to defend our Constitutional Republic. The survival of our Nation and its cherished freedoms, liberty, and historic values are at stake. We urge all citizens to get involved now at the local, state and/or national level to elect political representatives who will act to Save America, our Constitutional Republic, and hold those currently in office accountable. The “will of the people” must be heard and followed.

 

Resist the Great Reset

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Sven and Beatrix von Storch among others are sounding the alarm about the elitist plot to install a “new world order” using the so-called “climate emergency” as the pretext.  Sven recently put out a video, and Beatrix explained what is the plan and why it must be resisted by reasonable and freedom-loving people in her article The Tyranny of Davos: What is the Agenda of the Great Reset?  Excerpts below in italics with my bolds.  And later on a backgrounder describing this new brand of class warfare.

Every year, the captains of industry, finance and politics meet at Davos: This year, World Economic Forum head Klaus Schwab wrote a book entitled “COVID-19: The Great Reset”, laying out a comprehensive agenda for an “accelerated system change“ under cover of the COVID crisis.

Without a doubt, his point of view reflects World Economic Forum debates and goals shared by large parts of the political and financial elite. These ideas are a grave danger to our liberty and democracy. That’s why I have summed them up in this article. Every citizen should know about them.

The Totalitarian Vision of Davos

Let’s summarize what is meant by the Great Reset:

  • The primary goal is a global economic regime under the motto of “global governance” to replace national democracies. The market economy will be replaced by a managed economy.
  • Companies will no longer obey their shareholders, instead being forced to comply with climate and gender policy requirements, due to pressure from the finance industry and aggressive far-left activists. Companies that do not follow suit will be destroyed.
  • This cabal between high finance and far-left activists serves to intimidate political opponents and companies that refuse to show “good will”. Distance rules and “social distancing” are to continue even after the crisis. This will spell the destruction of the middle class, catering, retail and the entertainment industry. Big Tech and e-commerce will take their place.
  • With the new means of digital surveillance and under the guise of public health, workers will be monitored and their behavior recorded.
  • The breakdown in consumer demand in large sections of the population due to the lockdown will be continued, and expanded in order to achieve global climate goals.


This agenda is a grave threat to our civil rights, democracy and the free market economy. It is inherently totalitarian and hostile to freedom.
We have to alert all our citizens to this danger, and use all democratic means to stop it.

 

Background from previous post 2021 Class Warfare: The Elite vs. The Middle

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Edward Ring explains in his essay at American Greatness Why America’s Elites Want to End the Middle Class.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Feudalism is a viable alternative to tolerating a middle class, especially lucrative to the multinational corporations and globalist billionaires that hide this agenda behind a moral masquerade.

It doesn’t require a conspiracy theorist to suggest these wholesale shifts in American culture are not happening by accident. Nor are they solely the result of nefarious intent, at least not among everyone occupying the highest rungs of power and influence in America. What motivates members of the American elite, billionaires and corporate boards alike, to approve of these radical changes?

Unsustainable Prosperity for Me, But Not for Thee?

One answer comes down to this: They believe the lifestyle of the American middle class is not sustainable, because the planet does not have the carrying capacity to extend an American level of consumption to everyone in the world. By dividing and confusing the American people, while wielding the moral bludgeons of saving the planet and eliminating racism, policies can be implemented that will break the American middle class and habituate them to expect less.

In the name of saving the planet, for example, new suburbs will become almost impossible to construct. Single-family detached homes with yards will be stigmatized as both unsustainable and racist, and to mitigate these evils, subsidized apartments will replace homes, with rent subsidized occupants. As America’s population grows via mass immigration, the footprint of cities will remain fixed. The politically engineered housing shortage will force increasing numbers of Americans into subsidized housing.

All of this is already happening, but it’s just getting started.
Similar cramdowns will occur with respect to all social amenities that consume resources.

Land is just the primary example, but water, energy, and transportation will all be affected. This new political economy will also depopulate rural areas—through corporate consolidation of farmland as regulations and resource costs drive small operations under and through punitive regulations and insurance burdens driving people out of the “urban-wildland interface.” Outside of major cities, for the most part, the only people left will be extremely wealthy landowners and corporate employees.

Joel Kotkin, who has studied and written about demographics and migrations for years, recently authored The Coming of Neo Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. Of all the shorthand descriptions for the political economy that is coming, feudalism may be the best fit. As Kotkin puts it:

The new class structure resembles that of Medieval times. At the apex of the new order are two classes―a reborn clerical elite, the clerisy, which dominates the upper part of the professional ranks, universities, media and culture, and a new aristocracy led by tech oligarchs with unprecedented wealth and growing control of information. These two classes correspond to the old French First and Second Estates.

Below these two classes lies what was once called the Third Estate. This includes the yeomanry, which is made up largely of small businesspeople, minor property owners, skilled workers and private-sector-oriented professionals. Ascendant for much of modern history, this class is in decline while those below them, the new Serfs, grow in numbers―a vast, expanding property-less population.

Both Kotkin and Hanson assert that the trend towards feudalism can be reversed if people understand what is occurring and react effectively. To that end, it is necessary to understand that behind the obvious benefit these new rules have in service of the elites and their interests, there is a moral pretext. How solid is that pretext, that America’s middle class is not sustainable?

It All Comes Down to Energy

Energy is the prerequisite for economic growth. If you have abundant energy, you can have abundant water, transportation, communications, light, heat, mechanized agriculture, refrigerated medicines; everything. And the cold fact confronting America’s elites is this: For everyone on earth to consume half as much energy as Americans consume, total energy production worldwide would have to more than double.

Can America’s middle class sustain its current lifestyle while consuming half as much energy as it does today? Or is it feasible for energy production in the world not merely to double, but quadruple? And if that can be done, is it possible without paying too high a price in terms of environmental impact? And if it cannot be done, can the American experience, which is to enjoy a lifestyle many times greater than that enjoyed by most of the rest of the people on earth, be justified? And if so, why?

These are tough questions. Unequivocal, simple answers to these questions do not exist. But the conventional answer that motivates America’s elites must nonetheless be challenged, because until it is, they will cloak their consolidation of power and their elimination of America’s middle class in the moral imperatives of saving the planet and eliminating racism.

It may seem illogical to suppose the “systemic racism” canard is more easily disposed of, but that’s only because racism, by design, is the ongoing obsession in American media and politics. Despite this well-engineered obsession, resolute opposition to “anti-racist” racism is growing because it is an obvious lie. Racism, from all sources, still exists. But systemic racism against nonwhites, from every angle you look at it in modern American society, simply does not exist. Politicians, journalists, and academics need to find the courage to explain the facts and turn the tide. It can be done.

Saving the planet, on the other hand, is a moral imperative with ongoing urgency.

This urgency may be divided into two broad categories. The first is the traditional concerns of environmentalists, to preserve wildlife and wilderness, and reduce or eliminate sources of pollution. While environmentalists, especially in the United States, often go way too far in addressing these traditional concerns, these are genuine moral imperatives that must be balanced against the economic needs of civilization. This is an important but manageable debate.

The second, new concern of environmentalists, however, is the “climate emergency.” Grossly overblown, hyped for reasons that are transparently opportunistic, fraught with potential for tyranny and punitively expensive, the “climate emergency,” more than anything else, is the moral justification for destroying the American middle class.

In the name of saving the climate, federal and certain state authorities are restricting fossil fuel development, despite the fact that fossil fuels—coal, oil, and gas—still produce 85 percent of worldwide energy, with nuclear and hydropower making up another 11 percent. If energy production is going to double, which at a minimum it must, how on earth will that be accomplished without fossil fuel? It is impossible.

And the planners who are suppressing fossil fuel development worldwide know it. By creating shortages and raising prices for everything, they intend to reduce median rates of consumption in America to a fraction of what it is today, and render a middle-class lifestyle completely out of reach to the average American.

In doing so, they’ll amass even more wealth for themselves.

The Better Way Forward

There is another path. By focusing on the most likely predictions instead of the most catastrophic, nations can focus on climate resiliency—something which is a good idea anyway—while continuing to develop clean fossil fuel and also continuing to develop leapfrog technologies such as nuclear fusion. The environmental benefit of this approach is tangible and profound: with energy comes prosperity, with prosperity comes lower birthrates. With energy, inviting urban centers are possible, and urbanization takes pressure off wilderness. In both cases, with abundant energy, people voluntarily choose to limit their family size and move to cities.

A moral case for fossil fuels can outweigh the supposedly moral case against fossil fuel. Americans have to be willing to fight that fight, along with every other tyrannical edict attendant to the “climate emergency,” starting with the restrictions on urban expansion and single-family homes.

With adherence to the principles and culture that made America great—competition, private ownership, rule of law, minimizing corruption, and rewarding innovation—America’s middle class can survive and grow. But feudalism is a viable alternative, especially lucrative to the multinational corporations and globalist billionaires who will never call it by that name, hiding instead behind a moral masquerade.

Background from Joel Kotkin Modern Politics Seen as Classes Power Game

See also Unmasking Biden’s Climate Shakedown

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Biden Turns Gift into Train Wreck

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Ben Shapiro comes to the same conclusion but with a different metaphor in his article Biden Sets Everything on Fire at Town Hall.  He does provide a photo of the feckless Conductor.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

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Joe Biden is the luckiest man to ever assume the presidency.

He succeeded an unpopular figure. He was inaugurated just two weeks after the dramatic storming of the U.S. Capitol by extremist Donald Trump supporters seeking to stop the certification of the 2020 election, which was also the beginning of the year after widespread race riots. He inherited COVID-19 vaccines and a vaccine rollout plan, and could rightly expect to ride the tsunami of natural economic recovery that was predicted for the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic; he inherited a series of historic Middle Eastern peace deals.

In other words, President Biden had it easy. All he had to do was nothing. He could expect a new era of good feelings emerging from a tumultuous time. He could expect a booming economy, a more peaceful Middle East, a solution to the pandemic. All he had to do was calm the waters.

This, after all, was what Americans voted for: not a transformational figure or a figure of radical change but a stodgy, supposedly empathetic grandfather figure who could barely be bothered to leave his basement for the entirety of the presidential campaign. Normalcy could be restored by installing a nearly inanimate object as president.

Instead, Biden has served as a facade for the most radical administration in modern American history.
And America is already paying the price.

In his first few months in office, Biden rammed through a $1.9 trillion spending package that completely rewrote the bargain between individuals and the state, shifting the incentive structure for people to go back to work. He simultaneously proposed another $4 trillion in spending — to go along with the annual $4 trillion budget. The result: skyrocketing inflation in commodities, along with dramatic labor shortages resulting in an April shortfall of three-quarters of a million new jobs.

Simultaneously, he downplayed the efficacy of a vaccine he insisted was the key to ending the pandemic. His Food and Drug Administration pressed pause on a highly successful vaccine based on six cases of blood clots; his Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rewrote its school reopening guidelines, apparently with input from the teachers unions. He wore a mask publicly despite being vaccinated, despite being outdoors, despite being indoors with others who had been vaccinated — and declared such activity “patriotic.” The result: widespread vaccine hesitancy and a tremendously uneven national reopening, with red states going back to normal and blue states continuing nonsensical shutdowns.

He ramped up the rhetoric with regard to racial polarization, injecting the terms “anti-racist” and “equity” into every element of federal policy, supplanting meritocracy and individual rights with equality of outcome and outright discrimination. The result: undercutting police forces nationally, resulting in a continuing crime wave in America’s biggest cities.

And he abandoned the Trump administration’s Middle East policy, refunding the Palestinians with money that will obviously go to terrorist groups and defy the Taylor Force Act; making concessions to the Iranian terror regime; and pressuring Israel. The result: riots in Jerusalem, chaos on the Temple Mount and an increase in regional Iranian aggression.

We’re only four months into Biden’s presidency. He’s going for broke: He wants his legacy, and if that legacy comes at the cost of the economy, the polis and international stability, so be it. If the conflagration we’ve seen thus far is any indicator, Biden won’t leave a lot standing when he’s done.

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The True Cost of Imaginary Money

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Lionel Shriver explains in his Spectator article The true cost of make-believe money

Biden commands trillions in the way previous presidents have commanded billions

I like Bill Maher. He’s a rare practicing left-wing comic who’s actually funny. But last week, his routine on cryptocurrency hit eerie harmonics.

That monologue was broadcast in the same week Joe Biden promoted the third of his gargantuan spending programs, bringing his first 100 days’ total discretionary spending proposals to $6 trillion. (Context: total US GDP is $21 trillion.) This lavish largesse would be slathered atop the annual (and growing) nondiscretionary budget of nearly $5 trillion, against $3.5 trillion in tax revenue.

Let’s tweak Maher’s routine, then:

‘I fully understand that our financial system isn’t perfect, but at least, or so I’ve imagined, it’s real. But the American dollar increasingly resembles Easter bunny cartoon cash. I’ve read articles about Modern Monetary Theory. I’ve had it explained to me. I still don’t get it, and neither do you.

‘Dollars are now made up out of thin air and comparable with Monopoly money. We thought we knew that money had to originate from and be generated by something real, somewhere. Modern Monetary Theory says, “No, it doesn’t”… Or as another analyst put it, “Quantitative easing is an open Ponzi scheme”. The Federal Reserve is like having an imaginary best friend who’s also a banker.

‘Our problem here is at root not economic but psychological. People who have been raised in a virtual world are starting to believe they can really live in it. Much of warfare is a video game now; why not base our economy the same way? The conjuring of “borrowed” money from ether, only to have that debt swallowed by a central bank and disappear, is literally a game.

‘Do I need to spell this out? There is something inherently not credible about the Fed creating not just hundreds of billions, but trillions in wealth, with nothing ever actually being accomplished, and no actual product made or service rendered. It’s like Tinkerbell’s light. Its power source is based solely on enough infantilized citizens believing in it.’

Somehow that monologue isn’t as funny in the second version.

While Maher decries the electricity squandered on crypto ‘mining’, at least the color of the Fed’s money is genuinely green. Tap a few keys, and voilà: trillions from pennies on the energy bill. So in the past year, the Fed effortlessly increased the world’s supply of dollars by 26 percent and is on track for a similar surge in 2021.

But is drastic monetary expansion truly without cost?

I’ve made Maher’s Tinkerbell analogy myself, but to explain how traditional currency functions. I noted in an essay accompanying my novel The Mandibles, about America’s 2029 economic apocalypse: ‘Currency is a belief system. It maintains its value the way Tinkerbell is kept aloft by children believing in fairies in Peter Pan.’

In the novel, a fictional economics professor pontificates: ‘Money is emotional. Because all value is subjective, money is worth what people feel it’s worth. They accept it in exchange for goods and services because they have faith in it. Economics is closer to religion than science. Without millions of individual citizens believing in a currency, money is colored paper. Likewise, creditors have to believe that if they extend a loan to the US government they’ll get their money back or they don’t make the loan in the first place.

So confidence isn’t a side issue. It’s the only issue.’

My confidence is going wobbly. Biden commands trillions the way previous presidents have commanded billions, while the public is so dazzled by zeros that they don’t know the difference.

I’ve my quibbles with the particulars. Spending in inconceivable quantity courts waste and fraud. Biden’s American Families Plan casts so many freebies upon the waters as to constitute a de facto universal basic income, and government dependency doesn’t seem characteristic of a good life. Pandemic-relief unemployment supplements (which many Democrats would make permanent) are so generous that small businesses can’t find employees willing to work even for two to three times the minimum wage. Biden is effectively reversing Clinton-era welfare reforms, which moved so many poor Americans from state benefits to self-respecting employment. Financing all these goodies by hiking corporate taxes is popular, but only because few people realize that every-one pays corporate taxes through lower pension-fund returns, job losses from corporate flight, lower wages and higher prices.

But it’s the bigger picture that unnerves me. Zero interest rates have installed an accelerating debt loop. Governments, companies and individuals borrow because money is free. Central banks won’t raise interest rates, lest the cost of servicing all this burgeoning debt bankrupt the debtors. Governments, companies and individuals borrow still more because money is free. The Federal Reserve has already announced it won’t raise interest rates even if inflation climbs, while refusing to cite what level inflation would have to hit before reconsidering. I’ve plotted this story before. It doesn’t end well.

Background on Modern (Magical) Money Theory see MMT: Magical Money Theory

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