Ed Straker explains why ethanol production should not be subsidized.
It’s a matter on which he sides with Ted Cruz against Donald Trump.
But he agrees with Trump on how to deal with illegal immigration.
He wishes he could merge the two candidates.
He writes at American Thinker:
Donald Trump attacked Ted Cruz for not supporting ethanol subsidies. He said in Iowa on Friday, “Oil companies give him a lot of money, so he’s for oil.”
The thing about oil and gas is, it doesn’t require big subsidies, because it’s the cheapest and most efficient form of fuel for cars. Ethanol, on the other hand, does require big government subsidies, because it is highly uneconomical. Ethanol is much more expensive than oil and gas and, gallon for gallon, produces much less energy than gasoline. That’s why the government has to hand over billions in subsidies to big agri-businesses to keep it going. And that’s also why the government has to force oil companies to blend ethanol in with their fuels. Because without government coercion, oil companies wouldn’t do it, and the price of gasoline would be substantially lower than it is now.
Additionally, ethanol actually acts as a corrosive on car engines. It slowly degrades car parts over time.
But the worst thing about ethanol is that not only does it require taxpayer subsidies, and not only does it raise the price of blended gas, but it also raises the price of many different kinds of foods. Ethanol is made with corn – a lot of it. And when a lot of corn production is diverted to ethanol, there is less corn available to use for food. Corn is heavily used as a sweetener in many food products. By raising the price of corn, the price of many different kinds of foods are raised.
That is what subsidizing ethanol gives us. That is what Donald Trump is for and Ted Cruz is against. Ted Cruz is starting to lead in some Iowa polls, and he’s doing it without this kind of pandering.
I think Donald Trump is fabulous when it comes to immigration and securing our borders, even better than Ted Cruz. But on economic issues, Donald Trump is no economic conservative. His tax plan would not lower taxes as much as Cruz’s and would take many taxpayers off the tax rolls entirely, giving them no incentives to vote against tax hikes on the rest of us.
If only we could take the immigration part of Trump and merge it with the rest of Cruz, we’d have the ideal candidate.
We wouldn’t go as far as to say “ideal”. But we agree with Cruz about ethanol, and with Trump about immigration – in particular, closing the borders to Muslim immigration for the duration of the war with Islam.
(Hat tip to our highly valued commenter, liz)
Obama’s “war on coal” is actually, of course, his “war on capitalism”.
Stephen Moore writes at Investor’s Business Daily:
At the very moment President Obama has decided to shutter America’s coal industry in favor of much more expensive and less efficient “renewable energy”, coal use is surging across the globe.
A new study by the prestigious National Academy of Sciences detects an unmistakable “coal renaissance” under way that shows this mineral of fossilized carbon has again become “the most important source of energy-related emissions on the global scale“.
Coal is expanding rapidly “not only in China and India but also across a broad range of developing countries — especially poor, fast-growing countries mainly in Asia”, the study finds.
Why is coal such a popular energy source now? The NAS study explains that many nations are attracted to “(relatively) low coal prices … to satisfy their energy needs”. It also finds “the share of coal in the energy mix indeed has grown faster for countries with higher economic growth”.
In sum, using coal is a stepping stone to prosperity. So much for it being a satanic energy source.
Hardly a day passes without evidence that coal is making a major comeback:
- Some 1,200 coal plants are planned across 59 countries, with about three-quarters in China and India, according to the World Resources Institute.
- Coal use around the world has grown about four times faster than renewables, according to the global energy monitoring publication BP Review of World Energy 2015.
- German coal “will remain a major, and probably the largest, fuel source for power generation for another decade and perhaps longer”, the Financial Times concludes.
- “The U.S. is dropping coal plants at an unprecedented rate, but still nowhere near as quickly as India is adding them,” Bloomberg Business reckons.
“By the end of this year, some 7.5% of the U.S. coal fleet will have disappeared … . But by 2020 India may have built about 2.5 times as much capacity as the U.S. is about to lose.”
Then, of course, there’s the world’s biggest coal addict by far — the People’s Republic of China. According to a 2014 report from Eric Lawson of Princeton University, a leading climate change apocalyptic on the left:
“The reality is that fossil fuels dominate China’s energy landscape, as they do in virtually every other country. And the focus on renewables also hides the fact that China’s reliance upon coal is predicted to keep growing.”
Lawson’s calculations of how coal use is growing in China are jaw-dropping. “From 2010 through 2013, (China) added half the coal generation of the entire U.S. At the peak, from 2005 through 2011, China added roughly two 600-megawatt coal plants a week for seven straight years. And according to U.S. government projections, China will add yet another U.S. worth of coal plants over the next 10 years, or the equivalent of a new 600-megawatt plant every 10 days for 10 years.”
All this underscores the foolishness and futility of the Obama climate-change regulations designed to drastically reduce coal production in the U.S.
The great excuse for the Left’s “war on coal” is that it’s burning adds CO2 to the atmosphere. And the Left has spread the dogma that CO2, the food of all green plants, is a pollutant, a “green house gas” which “causes global warming”.
But even assuming that to be true, as Stephen Moore apparently does …
As we use less [coal] and the rest of the world uses more, the impact on global temperatures will be very close to zero.
Coal production in the U.S. is much safer and less carbon-intensive (clean coal technologies have reduced pollutants by 30%) than coal from other nations. So Obama’s war on coal may make global warming worse.
Some might say this gesture by the Obama administration to cut off coal production in the U.S. is a useful first step to save the planet. Except this isn’t just a cheap sign of goodwill.
It’s a tremendously expensive gesture that will cost America hundreds of thousands of jobs, raise utility prices by as much as $1,000 per family and reduce GDP by as much half a percentage point a year when we are already barely growing. The poor will be hurt most.
What makes the Obama administration regulations doubly destructive is that the U.S. has more coal than any other nation.
With at least 300 years of supply at a value of trillions of dollars, we are truly the Saudi Arabia of coal.
To leave it in the ground would be like Obama telling Nebraska to stop growing corn, Idaho to stop growing potatoes and Silicon Valley to give up on the digital age.
Ironically, the president justifies his war on coal by arguing, “We must lead so that others will follow.” But outside of dreamland, the rest of the world has no intention of following Mr. Obama’s act of economic masochism.
Most nations value getting richer over getting greener — as well they should.
Given the sad state of our economy today, so should we.
The Catholic Church is now officially, doctrinally, the Universal Church of Jesus Marxist.
Or the Universal Church of Jesus and Karl.
Which name will it choose? It needs to choose one or the other, or something along the same lines, to describe itself accurately.
It has a Pope who embraces International Communism. Which requires world government. Perhaps Pope Francis sees the Vatican as the Communist capital of the world – rather than the UN, as other world-government campaigners do.
Although as yet he and his fellow performance artists, costumed in their gorgeous gowns and priceless bling, do not allow any of these labels, they are nevertheless accurate.
This is from PowerLine by John Hinderaker:
Pope Francis has become a deeply problematic figure, all the more so after his encyclical on global warming was leaked to an Italian publication. The letter, some 129 pages long, is directed to Catholic bishops, but Francis grandly says that it is intended for every person in the world. The letter has not yet been translated into English in its entirety, but portions of it have been run through Google Translator. Even from these bits, some conclusions are obvious.
First, the Pope has no idea what he is talking about. His letter is full of factual errors. For example:
Scientific consensus exists indicating firmly that we are in the presence of a worrisome warming of the climate system.
This is false. There has been no net global warming for something like 18 years, according to satellite data, the most reliable that we have.
In recent decades, that the heating was accompanied by the constant rise in the sea level….
Sea level has been rising for approximately 12,000 years, first dramatically as the Earth warmed rapidly at the end of the last Ice Age, and much more slowly in recent millennia. Currently, the rate of rise of sea level is not increasing.
…and is also hard not to relate it to the increase in extreme weather events, regardless of the fact that we can not attribute a cause scientifically determined to each particular phenomenon.
Wrong again. Extreme weather events are not increasing. This isn’t an opinion, it is a fact: there is no plausible empirical claim to the contrary. In fact, for what it is worth, the climate models that are the sole basis for warming hysteria predict fewer extreme weather events, not more, because the temperature differential between the equator and the poles will diminish.
It is true that there are other factors (such as volcanism, and the variations of the orbit of the Earth, the solar cycle), but numerous scientific studies indicate that most of the global warming of recent decades is due to the large concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other) issued mainly because of human activity.
Putting aside the fact that there hasn’t been any net warming during the last two decades, this is precisely the issue that is the subject of intense scientific debate–a debate that, it becomes increasingly clear, the realists are winning. For the Pope to wade into this controversy would be nearly inexplicable, absent some overriding motive.
That motive is, apparently, hostility toward free enterprise and the prosperity that it creates. Francis has manifested such hostility in previous statements, and it comes through again in his anti-global warming letter. Francis sounds like just another leftist: the solution to global warming is more state control to dictate how people live, and new international organizations to direct vast transfers of wealth and power.
The fact is that through human history, freedom has rarely been popular. That goes for the history of the papacy, too: John Paul II is the most notable exception in modern times. People offer various definitions of American exceptionalism. In my opinion, American exceptionalism resides chiefly in the fact that, for one brief shining moment, at least, a large majority of Americans really believed in freedom. I don’t think Pope Francis has much sympathy with that sentiment.
The Pope’s letter is full of concern for the poor, of course. But the poor would suffer most from any prohibition against efficient energy (i.e., fossil fuels). Francis’s suggestion that “rich” countries – that means us, how rich do you feel? – should subsidize the majority of the planet, apparently forever, is fatuous. … There is no prospect that leftist energy policies will help poor nations. The poor need, as much as anything, cheap energy, which frees resources for everything else. To deprive poor nations of cheap energy is to condemn them to long-lasting if not permanent poverty.
The Papal flag should be be changed to deepest red.
The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation is nominally a charitable institution.
We listed some of the “charities” it supports or has supported in our post The great good works and wonky dilemmas of William J. Clinton (April 18, 2015). The list includes a grant to China for its electricity grid, and a few to Ulrainian politicians to “modernize Ukraine”.
Apparently 15% of the hundreds of million that pour into the Foundation are dispersed to such good causes.
According to Wikipedia (see the entry on the Clinton Foundation):
Between 2009 and 2012, the Clinton Foundation raised more than $500 million dollars according to its IRS filings. 15% of that, or $75 million, was spent on charitable activities. More than $25 million was spent on travel expenses. Nearly $110 million went toward employee salaries and benefits.
Investigative reporting on who sends in the money and in return for what favors has been begun, astonishingly, by Left-biased media, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Reuters.
Now a report is needed on what is done with that money.
We don’t have the resources to find out. But even the sort of superficial research that’s within our capability turns up information that cries out for deeper, wider, professional exploration.
The very easily accessed Wikipedia entry on the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative is a window-display of curiosities.
We select a few of them.:
The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) is a non-partisan organization that convenes global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.
Each year, CGI hosts an Annual Meeting in September, scheduled to coincide with the U.N. General Assembly.
At the Annual Meeting, CGI members discuss major global issues, share ideas and knowledge about effective solutions, and form partnerships that enable them to enhance their work.
Each CGI member develops a Commitment to Action – a plan to take specific action to make the world a better place.
Commitments generally fit within one of CGI’s nine tracks:
The Built Environment
Education & Workforce Development
Solar and wind?
Girls & Women
By “Global Health” is meant what? The health of the globe, or the health of all the people on the globe?
A “commitment” to “approaches”?
Response & Resilience
Response to what? Whose resilience?
Commitments must be new, specific, and measurable, but beyond those three criteria, members have wide latitude to determine which actions to take. CGI then monitors the progress and success of these commitments throughout the year.
So there should be lots of reports on the progress and success of the “commitments”.
Funding pledged through commitments does not come through CGI, and is not donated to CGI. Rather, organizations commit to raise and distribute money on their own.
Since 2005, CGI members have made more than 2,300 Commitments to Action, which have improved the lives of over 400 million people in more than 180 countries.
Throughout the year, CGI helps its members – primarily corporations, NGOs, and government leaders – maximize their efforts to create positive change. CGI is not a grant-making organization. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. As of 2013, CGI members have made more than 2,300 commitments, which have improved the lives of over 400 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $73.5 billion.
So the CGI makes no grants. It does not itself disperse funds. It is for influence peddling. What it does is get powerful and/or celebrated people together once a year to “make commitments”. At the same time they make themselves more powerful and/or more celebrated. For which they reward Bill Clinton by making lavish donations to his Foundation?
In addition,it “helps” those people, “throughout the year”, to “maximize their efforts to create positive change”. When funded and implemented by others – not the Clinton Global Initiative – these “commitments” will be valued at $73.5 billion. Indeed, 2,300 such commitments have already “improved the lives of over 400 million people in more than 180 countries”.
Who are the 400 million people? How have their lives been improved? How do the improvements stem from the “commitments” made at the annual convention organized by the Clinton Global Initiative? .
On June 13 and 14 of 2013, President Clinton hosted the third meeting of CGI America in Chicago, an annual event focused on finding solutions that promote economic recovery in the United States. This working meeting purportedly brought together leaders from the business, foundation, NGO, and government sectors to develop solutions to increase employment, advance access to education and skills development, strengthen energy security, and promote an environment for business growth and innovation.
Were the effects noticed by the people of the United States? Were they noticeable at all?
Responding to increasing interest among business and governments around the world, President Clinton launched CGI International to supplement the Annual Meeting in New York with additional meetings in various regions of the globe.
In December 2008, President Clinton convened the first CGI International meeting in Hong Kong to address local, regional, and global challenges. The focus of the CGI meeting in Asia was on three main areas: education, energy and climate change, and public health. The two-day meeting attracted over 3,000 accredited delegates, a record number for a nongovernmental organization gathering in Asia.
One thing is certain. Bill Clinton is having a whale of a time being important at vast gatherings in many places round the world.
Prominent participants included … thought leaders such as … Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the UN.
We await the Little Red Book of the Thoughts of Ban Ki-moon.
Remember, all this costs the Clintons, the Clinton Foundation, and its Global Initiative nothing. How much the meetings gather in for the Clintons it would be interesting to know.
The CGI does give awards. To whom do they go? For what?
The Clinton Global Citizen Awards are a set of awards which have been given by the Clinton Global Initiative every year since 2007. The awards are given to individuals who, in the opinion of the Clinton Foundation, are “outstanding individuals who exemplify global citizenship through their vision and leadership“.
Past recipients of the award include Mexican business magnate and philanthropist Carlos Slim …
.. who is said to be the richest man in the world …
Moroccan entrepreneur Mohammad Abbad Andaloussi, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Afghan women’s rights activist Suraya Pakzad, and Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernández.
What did they do? Of what did the award consist? If money, how much? And does that money come from CGI itself, or from whom?
As you might expect, struggling against an alleged threat of “climate change” is central to this enormous, planet-wide, big-power enterprise presided over by Bill Clinton, the most important person in the world.
Building on his long term commitment to preserving the environment, President Clinton launched the Clinton Foundation’s Climate Initiative (CCI) in August 2006, with the mission of applying the Foundation’s business-oriented approach to fight against climate change in practical, measurable, and significant ways.”
Recognizing the opportunity to fight climate change in the world’s cities, CCI is working with 40 of the world’s largest cities to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions through a variety of large-scale programs, a purchasing alliance, and measurement tools to track progress and share best practices.
What best practices? We are told that part of this scheme to “help some large cities cut greenhouse gas emissions” is being carried out by “facilitating retrofitting of existing buildings”.
Insulating them against heat loss? Putting solar panels on their roofs? Who is paying?
Five large banks committed $1 billion each to help cities and building owners make energy-saving improvements aimed at lowering energy use and energy costs.
And what was the quid pro quo for the banks? We’d very much like to know.
And to be one of those lucky building owners – do you have to be a friend of the Clintons? Are you obliged to give a large donation to their Foundation?
At the 2007 Clinton Global Initiative, President Clinton announced the 1Sky campaign to accelerate bold federal policy on global warming. The 1Sky campaign supports at least an 80% reduction in climate pollution levels by 2050.
The CGI is going to “accelerate federal policy”? How? Is it perhaps relying on Hillary Clinton being president in 2017 for that?
On May 19, 2009, CCI announced the global Climate Positive Development Program where it will work with the U.S. Green Building Council to promote “climate positive” city growth.
Ah, the Clintons have their fingers in many pies and cookie jars. And they stir many pots.
Now we come to what may be an actual “good cause”, for which yet another initiative – the Clinton Development Initiative (CDI) – has been launched …
… to target the root causes of poverty in Africa and promote sustainable economic growth.
The initiative will invest $100 million over the next 10 years in projects that will improve food security, clean water and sanitation, and quality health care. Right now, these programs are focused in Rwanda and Malawi, but can potentially be expanded to other countries in the future.
What is the Clinton role in this?
Together with the governments of these two countries, CDI has had such successes as helping farmers access fertilizer, disease-resistant seeds, irrigation systems, advanced planting techniques and micro-credit. This assistance has led to a record harvest in eastern Rwanda. CDI has also helped Partners in Health build new health care facilities in Neno, Malawi. In 2007 and 2008, CHDI assisted in the training of thousands of farmers on advanced planting techniques, helped to strengthen the organization, operations and sales of Rwandan coffee manufacturers and Malawian cotton farmers and partnered with local governments in large-scale developments including irrigation, hospital and school projects.
Excellent work. But as far as we can make out, not a cent of Clinton money has been spent on it.
There are many more Initiatives. There are conferences, strategies, the convening of “national thought leaders” to “discuss ways in which individuals, communities, and corporations can contribute to the health of others“. Aims include, f0r instance, getting American children to consume fewer calories; “increasing the access of unbanked populations to starter bank accounts”; establishing a bus system in Rio de Janeiro whereby “four express corridors for articulated buses will connect the whole city”.
Who supplies the buses? Is the company that gets the contract duly grateful? Does it send a check to the Clinton Foundation to prove its gratitude? Or rather, of course, to suppport some good cause?
Still not a cent of Clinton money is said to have been given. We are assured, however, that 15% of $500 million has been spent on “charitable activities”.
If only someone would tell us how much on which.
What the Clintons want us to understand is that without them there are commitments that would not be made, advice that would not be given, thoughts that would not be thought, promotions that would not be promoted, strategies that would not be devised, buses that would not connect parts of cities, farmers that would not use advanced planting techniques.
All that must surely make us feel how small and petty are our efforts to expose the Clintons’ corruption and malfeasance – as petty and pointless as shooting peas at a monument. The Clintons are too big to fail.
For pity’s sake, stop fooling about and elect Hillary Clinton to the presidency so that the Clintons, re-installed in the White House with the furniture and china they stole from it when they had to leave it for a while, can get even richer, be as powerful as anyone could possible get, and do even more good to mankind.
It is against reason to oppose fracking. But the Left opposes it with passion. That is to say, the opulent elite who vote left and have political influence, oppose it with passion.
Of course, in the Great Divide between the politics of Reason and the politics of Romanticism, the Left is the Romantic side: the side of the emotions. Reason is its enemy.
So there should be no surprise that wealthy Democrats hate industrial progress. They find the landscapes of poverty too pretty to spoil.
Here’s the story.
We quote from The Liberal War on American Energy Independence, by Arthur Herman, in the February 2015 issue of Commentary.
Williamsport sits on the edge of the Marcellus Shale area, the second-largest natural-gas find in the world. It stretches across most of Pennsylvania and into New York, West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland. Most of it was inaccessible until a decade ago, when a combination of new extraction technologies—including hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” and horizontal drilling—opened up the shale to energy development.
Since 2002, fracking has generated in Pennsylvania more than 24,000 drilling jobs and some 200,000 other support jobs in trucking, construction, and infrastructure, according to the state’s Department of Labor and Industry. Wages in the gas field average $62,000 a year—$20,000 higher than the state average.
To Pennsylvania, fracking has brought in $4 billion in investment, including a steady flow of income to local landowners and local governments leasing mineral rights to their land. According to National Resources Economics, Inc., full development of the Marcellus Shale could bring another 211,000 jobs to this one state alone, not to mention other states on the formation, including New York.
But there will be no such jobs in the state of New York. In December, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a complete ban on the use of hydraulic fracturing. The cost of that move was already foreshadowed three years ago when I drove across the border from Pennsylvania into New York. The busy modern highway coming out of Williamsport, U.S. Route 15, shrinks down into a meandering, largely empty two-lane road. On the way to Ithaca, I passed through miles of a deserted rural landscape dotted with collapsing barns and tumble-down houses reminiscent of Appalachia.
The one thing that broke the dismal monotony were the signs, many painted by hand, that had sprouted up along the road and in the fields, all saying the same thing: Ron Paul for President. The state was then in its fifth year of a moratorium on fracking, and that moratorium had turned upstate New York’s rural residents into libertarians. Bitter ones, at that. They didn’t particularly care about Ron Paul’s views on Israel or the Federal Reserve. All they wanted was a chance to collect the lucrative fees a gas company would pay them to drill on their land; they would have voted for anyone who would help them make their land generate an income again for themselves and their families.
This sort of gain is precisely what the left’s war on fracking (which has scored its most significant victory so far with Cuomo’s permanent ban) aims to prevent. It is nothing less than a policy of selective immiseration.
Fracking — a technique that uses a mixture of chemicals, sand, and water to break apart deep formations of oil- and gas-rich shale rock and draw it to the surface — is the most important American industrial enterprise of the 21st century. It joins the automobile industry, aircraft and aerospace, the computer and the digital revolution, as one of America’s great successes in technological innovation, productivity, and entrepreneurial flair. Like other industrial revolutions, including the first in 18th-century Britain, the fracking revolution is bringing about enormous changes in how we live — and sharply altering the nation’s income-distribution curve.
The fracking revolution has also brought America’s oil and gas industry back to life. In 2000, fracking accounted for less than 3 percent of all oil and natural-gas production in the United States, which was then importing more than 60 percent of its oil. Today, fracking accounts for more than 40 percent, and that percentage is going steadily upward, as the U.S. replaces one country after another on the list of the world’s biggest oil and gas producers. Our oil imports from OPEC countries have shrunk by half.
Indeed, the production gushing from America’s shale oil and gas deposits — from Eagle Ford in Texas to the Marcellus Formation in Pennsylvania and the Bakken oil field in North Dakota — doesn’t just promise the long-elusive goal of energy independence. It points to an energy dominance and economic power that the United States hasn’t seen for 100 years, since the heyday of John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil.
The difference is that instead of that power being lodged in a single megacorporation or the Seven Sisters of the 1950s (Mobil, Shell Esso, etc.), the fracking revolution is being created by hundreds of smaller, more agile independents who are transforming the technology as fast as they are pumping the oil and natural gas out of the ground.
They are also pumping out jobs by the tens of thousands. It is no longer the case that good-paying blue-collar employment in America is on the verge of extinction. Fracking employs thousands of people in physically demanding jobs that require no college degree and pay, in many cases, six figures.
In North Dakota, where fracking has turned the Bakken Shale formation into the most productive oil patch in the country, an entry-level job hauling water and helping to move rigs and machinery averages $67,000 a year. A well specialist with a couple of years experience will be looking at a $100,000 salary, while a directional driller—the highest job a fracking employee can hold without a B.A.—earns close to $200,000.
Overall, the fracking boom has driven up North Dakota’s per capita income to $57,367 in 2012—the highest in the nation save for Washington D.C. The per capita figure has jumped 31 percent since 2008, the year after the fracking boom got under way, compared with 10 percent for frackless South Dakota.
The other beneficiaries are private landowners, many of them farmers. They have been able to lease out the mineral rights to their land for large sums; and if a well opens up, it quickly becomes a gusher of cash. In North Dakota, that has produced a series of so-called High Plains millionaires; for other landowners, leasing fees have become a lifeline for their farm or property.
Private-property rights, often of middle-income people, are the real drivers behind the fracking revolution, with county and state governments leasing rights on their lands not far behind. It’s one reason so many state capitals have been amenable to the fracking revolution: They’ve been prime beneficiaries.
Under the Obama administration, the number of oil- and gas-drilling leases on federal lands has fallen, and oil production on federal lands is at levels lower than in 2007. Nevertheless, America’s oil production jumped by 1 million barrels a day last year thanks to fracking—even as we’re bringing up more natural gas than at any time in our history.
In less than a decade, the boom has already changed the energy map, with the rise of states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, and North Dakota joining Texas, Oklahoma, and Alaska as major energy producers, and with many others poised to join the club, from Illinois and Wisconsin to Alabama and California.
Indeed, the fracking revolution is the one sector of the Obama economy that’s been steadily booming, creating more than 625,000 jobs in the shale-gas sector alone—a number estimated to grow to 870,000 in 2015. Its benefits also flow in trickle-down savings by lowering the cost of energy, particularly natural gas. Mercator Energy, a Colorado-based energy broker, has calculated it’s saving American families more than $32.5 billion in lower natural-gas bills for home heating and electricity.
It has also had a positive impact on U.S. manufacturing, especially petrochemical and plastics firms that have cashed in on lower natural-gas and oil prices and the increasingly abundant supply. From 2010 to 2012, energy-intensive manufacturers added 196,000 jobs as Rust Belt cities such as Lansing, Michigan, and Gary, Indiana, have been revived by cheaper, more abundant energy.
Wallace Tyner, an economist at Purdue University, estimates that between 2008 and 2035 the fracking revolution (oil and gas combined) will add an average of $473 billion per year to the U.S. economy. That’s roughly 3 percent of today’s GDP.
The most striking change, however, has been at the gas pump. Falling U.S. demand for imported oil (a drop of 40 percent since 2005) has lowered global prices overall, and has been a huge factor in oil’s 25 percent price plunge in 2014. Filling up the family car at $2.80 a gallon versus $3.80 a gallon is a great benefit to Americans, especially in low-income households. A strong case can be made that the shale revolution’s impact on natural-gas prices has been the equivalent of a poverty-relief program, since the nation’s poor on average spend four times more of their incomes on home energy than do the more affluent. On average, the drop in natural-gas prices has given low-income families an effective tax rebate of some $10 billion a year.
This is one of the most notable aspects of the fracking revolution. Unlike the computer and digital revolution, for example, which created an industry dominated by Ph.D.’s and college-trained engineers, this is an economic bonanza of particular meaning to those in the middle- and low-income brackets, with the potential to benefit many more.
Yet today’s liberal left is, virtually without exception, implacably opposed to fracking, from the national to the state to the local level. In the forefront have been environmental lobbying interests. In localities such as Ithaca, New York—the hub of the anti-fracking movement in New York State—liberal elites have banded together to prevent an economic transformation that would pad the wallets of their neighbors and upset the socioeconomic status quo.
Of all the national environmental groups, the Sierra Club probably has the mildest official position: that further fracking in the United States must stop until its overall impact on the environment has been studied more carefully. More typical is Greenpeace’s April 2012 joint statement on fracking (co-signed by the Water and Environment Alliance and Friends of the Earth Europe) that makes a fracking well seem not entirely different from a nuclear-waste dump.
That document asserts that “fracking is a high-risk activity that impacts human health and the wider environment”. It warns that natural-gas development through fracking “could cause contamination of surface and groundwater (including drinking water)” and pollutes both soil and air while it “disrupts the landscape and impacts upon rural and conservation areas”. Greenpeace also claims that fracking and its related activities produce smog, particulates, and toxic methane gas; cause workers to expose themselves to toxic chemicals used in the fracking process; increase “risks of earthquakes”; and lock local communities such as Lycoming County into a “boom and bust economy” that will run out when the oil and gas run out. Greenpeace and its allies insist that these places look to “tourism and agriculture instead”.
The document creates a dire picture, yet nearly every one of these claims is false. Since fracking operates thousands of feet below the aquifer, the risk to drinking water is nil; and there are no proven cases of water supplies becoming contaminated from fracking, despite the thousands of fracking wells drilled both in the United States and Canada. Yet the charge is repeated ad nauseam in anti-fracking ads, films, and pamphlets.
So is the charge that fracking exposes people, including workers, to dangerous chemicals. More than 99 percent of the fluid used to fracture rock in the operation is nothing more than water and sand mixed together. In fact, most of the statistical risks associated with fracking in terms of contact with dangerous chemicals (benzene is a favorite example, radioactive isotopes another, methane yet another) are no higher, and sometimes lower, than those associated with any other industrial job or outdoor activity, including driving a big-rig truck.
The charge that fracking can leak methane into drinking water stems from a Duke University study that examined a mere 68 water wells in a region of Pennsylvania and New York in which 20,000 water wells are drilled each year—and those who conducted the study never bothered to ask whether any methane concentrations existed before the fracking began (which turned out to be the case).
That fracking might cause earthquakes is another oft-repeated alarmist charge with no facts or evidence behind it. In certain conditions, deep underground injections of water and sand used in fracking can lead to detectable seismic activities, but so can favored green projects such as geothermal-energy exploration or sequestering carbon dioxide underground. None of these adds up to seismic rumblings any human being will notice, let alone an Irving Allen movie-style catastrophe. And given the fact that for years there have been thousands of fracking wells around the country that operate without any detectable seismic activity, the argument seems clearly driven more by the need to generate emotion than the imperative to weigh actual evidence.
But perhaps the oddest claim from groups such as Greenpeace is that increasing the use of natural gas will not reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The evidence is overwhelmingly the opposite. As natural gas continues to squeeze out coal as a cheap supply of energy, especially for power plants, the greenhouse-gas-emission index will inevitably head downward. In fact, since the shale boom, those emissions in the United States have been cut by almost 20 percent, a number that one would expect to make any environmental activist smile.
All of which suggests that the war on fracking is waged in defiance of facts. And that, in turn, suggests a particular agenda is at work in the anti-fracking camp. A hint of it appears in Greenpeace’s claim that local communities would be better off sticking to “sustainable agriculture and tourism”, meaning organic farming and microbreweries that cater to the tastes of affluent and sophisticated out-of-towners. The war on fracking is a war on economic growth, which the shale revolution has managed to sustain in the middle of the Obama recession, and a war on the upward mobility any industrial revolution like fracking triggers.
It is part of what the Manhattan Institute’s Fred Siegel has called the “liberal revolt against the masses,” and a good place to see it in action is in New York State.
In 2006, then-gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer made a campaign swing through the so-called Southern Tier of upstate New York. The Manhattanite expressed shock at a landscape that was “devastated,” as he put it, and was steadily being abandoned for lack of jobs and economic opportunity. “This is not the New York we dream of,” he said.
Much the same had been true of large portions of rural Pennsylvania. Fracking reversed the downward course there. But the moratorium Spitzer’s successor, Andrew Cuomo, placed on fracking in 2008 before locking it in permanently late last year has frozen those portions of the state in their relative poverty.
Local farmers have been furious over the de facto ban. They are frustrated that the valuable source of income that fracking would generate has been denied them — and that Albany and its liberal enablers are content to crush them under the twin burden of some of the highest property taxes in the country and a regulatory regime that, in Fred Siegel’s words, “makes it hard to eke out a living from small dairy herds.”.
Locals are furious, too, that the ban is denying blue-collar jobs that could help young people find work in a fracking site and could transform local standards of living. In 2012, the state’s health department determined that hydro-fracking could be done safely in the state and concluded that “significant adverse impacts on human health are not expected from routine HVHF (hydro-fracking) operations”. This was not what state officials wanted to hear, and the report was buried. When someone leaked it to the New York Times, the Department of Environmental Conservation’s spokesperson quickly disavowed it. Meanwhile, Cuomo’s acting health commissioner, Howard Zucker, served as front man for his boss’s permanent ban.
Ithaca is the center of New York’s anti-fracking hardliners. Their leader is Helen Slottje, who organized the Community Environmental Defense Fund to use local zoning regulations to keep fracking out of the surrounding county. She admits that many local people down the hill from Ithaca resent their efforts and think that she and her environmentalist militia are little more than thieves stealing money from their pockets.
But Slottje dismisses their worries, just as she angrily dismisses the charge that she’s a classic example of someone who opposes salutary change because she doesn’t want it in her own back yard. “If a serial killer knocks on your door,” she says, “it’s not NIMBYism to fight back.” She doesn’t bother to wonder whether her comparison of frackers to serial killers might be slightly exaggerated. She simply adds, “We’re not NIMBY, we’re NIABY. Not In Anyone’s Back Yard.”
She is joined in her activism by the Duncan Hines heiress Adelaide Gomer, whose anti-fracking Park Foundation is based in Ithaca and bankrolls much of the activism. “Hydro-fracking will turn our area into an industrial site,” she has proclaimed. After citing the usual charges about poisoning the aquifer, she also adds, “It will ruin the ambience, the beauty of the region.” The beauty of falling-down barns, rusted cars and farm equipment, and abandoned farmhouses may be lost on the locals, but it’s united the rich and influential in New York City. They want to keep things that way — and keep the “creepy advances of environment-trashing frackers” out of the state.
Gomer was able to mobilize demonstrations around the state to maintain the ban despite lobbying in Albany to overturn it, while celebrities such as Alec Baldwin, Robert de Niro, Yoko Ono, Debra Winger, Carrie Fisher, David Byrne, Jimmy Fallon, Martha Stewart, Lady Gaga, and the Beastie Boys signed an Artists Against Fracking petition. Like other Manhattanites, they have no reason to worry much about low land prices in the Southern Tier—but they do worry about development that would benefit the locals while possibly spoiling the view.
By cloaking their social snobbery in the clothes of the environmentalist movement, New York’s well-heeled have managed to forestall the kind of wealth transfer that fracking has brought to Pennsylvania. Indeed, some like Slottje are hoping to spread the same anti-fracking gospel back across the state line and stop Pennsylvania’s economic boom dead in its tracks. …
Anti-frackers also thought they had a shot at stopping the industry in Colorado. The state is one of the wellsprings of environmental activism, after all, with plenty of willing foot soldiers from campuses such as the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Denver. But Colorado also sits on one of the biggest shale fields in North America and is one of the top natural-gas states. In 2013, oil and gas contributed $30 billion to Colorado’s economy, in addition to thousands of jobs.
A serious effort to launch an anti-fracking initiative, which would have banned drilling within 2,000 feet of homes and hospitals and given local community councils effective veto power over fracking efforts, ran aground early in 2014. Colorado Democrats realized it could endanger the reelections of Governor John Hickenlooper and Senator Mark Udall. Fracking is popular with Colorado voters, especially working-class voters. They convinced the multimillionaire congressman Jared Polis to set aside his petition drive for the bill just as Hickenlooper and Udall suddenly turned squishy on the fracking issue, to the fury of local environmentalists. …
When regulatory agencies actually investigate the dire charges made against the industry, most of the charges evaporate under scrutiny. Remaining health and safety matters, such as waste disposal, turn out to be manageable with simple oversight. In the end, this means that the fight to ban fracking outright is steadily turning into a losing battle.
And when politicians and courts decide to quit the field, what’s left for the left? More protests, even civil disobedience. “We will resist this with our bodies, our hearts, and our minds,” one southern Illinois organic farmer told the website Green Progress. “We will block this, we will chain ourselves to trucks.” …
While the activists are lying in the road, fracking and its technologies are constantly evolving. Far from rejecting the environmentalists’ demands for more safety and for meeting community standards, companies are constantly adjusting to make their work as clean as possible. Many now employ reusable water for the hydro-fracking process, for example, while cutting back their use of toxic chemicals. Technologies for water-free fracking are already here and will become increasingly widespread in areas where water resources are scarce. That will be another body blow to fracking’s opponents, who like to claim it wastes water needed for human consumption or agriculture.
And we haven’t even begun to explore the possibilities of natural gas. While fracking has yielded record levels of oil production in the United States, those reserves-in-rock are limited. American natural-gas reserves are not. According to a recent Colorado School of Mines study, they amount to 2.3 quadrillion cubic feet of technically recoverable natural gas in the United States, enough to fuel our energy needs for decades — and the constant technological innovations of the industry will make extracting those reserves increasingly cost-efficient. …
Beyond that, there are methane hydrates — deep deposits of crystalline natural gas, embedded in large parts of the Arctic permafrost and ocean bottoms. Even when shale oil and gas have eventually run out, technologies to extract methane hydrates will be able to supply almost limitless energy — according to the U.S. Geological Survey, more than all previous discovered oil and gas put together, even while wind and solar are still trying to figure out how to generate power efficiently.
Progressives who believe themselves to be on the side of science and the little guy at the same time are in fact defying both. This is a battle between the partisans of a discredited ideology from the past and those who see the fast-advancing future.
We were reluctant to cut out any parts of the article, which is long but rewarding. Lean meat all the way through.
If you like the taste we’ve given you, read all of it here.
Fossil fuels are very, very, very good for the planet.
We quote Investor’s Business Daily:
We go to Alex Epstein, founder of the Center for Industrial Progress, who just this year wrote The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.
In the last 80 years, as CO2 emissions have most rapidly escalated, the annual rate of climate-related deaths worldwide fell by an incredible 98%. This means the incidence of death from climate is 50 times lower than it was 80 years ago … Once again, the leading experts we were told to rely on were 100% wrong. It’s not that they predicted disaster and got half a disaster — it’s that they predicted disaster and got dramatic improvement.
And yet again, we find that trusting the “leading experts” on global warming and climate change is a mistake. Trust the data, trust the evidence, trust reality — but be skeptical of experts who have a political agenda.
Whether the earth is getting a wee bit warmer, or a wee bit cooler, or staying much the same in this wee bit of time in which the present generations live, is of no importance. None. What is important is that a few thousand people are trying to undo our civilization, return the human race to the life of savages (“solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”, as Thomas Hobbes described it), or even wipe it off the face of the earth*. And all to preserve the planet, they say. For whom? For what? They are obsessed madmen, religious fanatics. (Yes, environmentalism is a religion.) And they are winning. They have the ear of Western governments. They command government agencies. Some of them – such as the despots of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – have immense power. Their word is law.
Of the tactics they use, the one that is working best for them and worst for their victims, is stopping Western technology spreading to the Third World, thus keeping poor countries poor, and allowing disease to kill millions upon millions, year after year.
Big Green activists say anything other than solar panels and bird-butchering wind turbines would not be “sustainable”. Like climate change, “sustainability” is infinitely elastic and malleable, making it a perfect weapon for anti-development activists. Whatever they support is sustainable. Whatever they oppose is unsustainable. To them, apparently, the diseases and death tolls are sustainable, just, ethical and moral. Whatever they advocate also complies with the “precautionary principle”. Whatever they disdain violates it. Worse, their perverse guideline always focuses on the risks of using technologies – but never on the risks of not using them. It spotlights risks that a technology – coal-fired power plants, biotech foods or DDT, for example – might cause, but ignores risks the technology would reduce or prevent.
We quote an article by Paul Driessen at Canada Free Press:
Fossil fuel and insurance company executives “could face personal liability for funding climate denialism and opposing policies to fight climate change”, Greenpeace recently warned several corporations. In a letter co-signed by WWF International and the Center for International Environmental Law, the Rainbow Warriors ($155 million in 2013 global income) suggested that legal action might be possible.
Meanwhile, the WWF ($927 million in 2013 global income) filed a formal complaint against Peabody Energy for “misleading readers” in advertisements that say coal-based electricity can improve lives in developing countries. The ads are not “decent, honest and veracious”, as required by Belgian law, the World Wildlife ethicists sniffed. Other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) make similar demands. …
They are demands which – we ardently hope – will rebound in their green faces.
In fact, the rebounding has begun.
India’s Intelligence Bureau recently identified Greenpeace as “a threat to national economic security”, noting that these and other groups have been “spawning” and funding internal protest movements and campaigns that have delayed or blocked numerous mines, electricity projects and other infrastructure programs vitally needed to create jobs and lift people out of poverty and disease. The anti-development NGOs are costing India’s economy 2-3% in lost GDP every year, the Bureau estimates.
The Indian government has now banned direct foreign funding of local campaign groups by foreign NGOs like Greenpeace, the WWF and US-based Center for Media and Democracy. India and other nations could do much more. Simply holding these über-wealthy nonprofit environmentalist corporations to the same ethical standards they demand of for-profit corporations could be a fascinating start.
Greenpeace, WWF and other Big Green campaigners constantly demand environmental and climate justice for poor families. They insist that for-profit corporations be socially responsible, honest, transparent, accountable, and liable for damages and injustices that the NGOs allege the companies have committed, by supposedly altering Earth’s climate and weather, for example.
Meanwhile, more than 300 million Indians (equal to the US population) still have no access to electricity, or only sporadic access. 700 million Africans likewise have no or only occasional access. Worldwide, almost 2.5 billion people (nearly a third of our Earth’s population) still lack electricity …
These energy-deprived people do not merely suffer abject poverty. They must burn wood and dung for heating and cooking, which results in debilitating lung diseases that kill a million people every year. They lack refrigeration, safe water and decent hospitals, resulting in virulent intestinal diseases that send almost two million people to their graves annually. The vast majority of these victims are women and children.
The energy deprivation is due in large part to unrelenting, aggressive, deceitful eco-activist campaigns against coal-fired power plants, natural gas-fueled turbines, and nuclear and hydroelectric facilities in India, Ghana, South Africa, Uganda and elsewhere. The Obama Administration joined Big Greeen in refusing to support loans for these critically needed projects, citing climate change and other claims.
As American University adjunct professor Caleb Rossiter asked in a recent Wall Street Journal article, “Where is the justice when the US discourages World Bank funding for electricity-generation projects in Africa that involve fossil fuels, and when the European Union places a ‘global warming’ tax on cargo flights importing perishable African goods?”
Where is the justice in Obama advisor John Holdren saying ultra-green elites in rich countries should define and dictate “ecologically feasible development” for poor countries? …
Imagine your life without abundant, reliable, affordable electricity and transportation fuels. Imagine living under conditions endured by impoverished, malnourished, diseased Indians and Africans whose life expectancy is 49 to 59 years. And then dare to object to their pleas and aspirations, especially on the basis of “dangerous manmade global warming” speculation and GIGO [garbage in, garbage out] computer models. …
Genetically engineered Golden Rice incorporates a gene from corn (maize) to make it rich in beta-carotene, which humans can convert to Vitamin A, to prevent blindness and save lives. The rice would be made available at no cost to poor farmers. Just two ounces a day would virtually end the childhood malnutrition, blindness and deaths. But Greenpeace and its “ethical” collaborators have battled Golden Rice for years, while eight million children died from Vitamin A deficiency since the rice was invented.
In Uganda malnourished people depend as heavily on Vitamin A-deficient bananas, as their Asian counterparts do on minimally nutritious rice. A new banana incorporates genes from wild bananas, to boost the fruit’s Vitamin A levels tenfold. But anti-biotechnology activists repeatedly pressure legislators not to approve biotech crops for sale.
Other crops are genetically engineered to resist insects, drought and diseases, reducing the need for pesticides and allowing farmers to grow more food on less land with less water. However, Big Green opposes them too, while millions die from malnutrition and starvation.
Sprayed in tiny amounts on walls of homes, DDT repels mosquitoes for six months or more. It kills any that land on the walls and irritates those it does not kill or repel, so they leave the house without biting anyone. No other chemical – at any price – can do all that. Where DDT and other insecticides are used, malaria cases and deaths plummet – by as much as 80 percent. Used this way, the chemical is safe for humans and animals, and malaria-carrying mosquitoes are far less likely to build immunities to DDT than to other pesticides, which are still used heavily in agriculture and do pose risks to humans.
But in another crime against humanity, Greenpeace, WWF and their ilk constantly battle DDT use – while half a billion people get malaria every year, making them unable to work for weeks on end, leaving millions with permanent brain damage, and killing a million people per year, mostly women and children.
India and other countries can fight back, by terminating the NGOs’ tax-exempt status, as Canada did with Greenpeace. They could hold the pressure groups to the same standards they demand of for-profit corporations: honesty, transparency, social responsibility, accountability and personal liability. They could excoriate the Big Green groups for their crimes against humanity – and penalize them for the malnutrition, disease, economic retractions and deaths they perpetrate or perpetuate.
* See our posts: The evil that Greenpeace does, January 16, 2010; The vast left-wing conspiracy, January 18, 2010; The blind cruelty of Greenpeace, January 20, 2010; Fresh wild raw uninhabited world, January 2, 2012.
How goes Obama’s “pivot” – or “tilt” – to the East?
The Washington Post reports that Defense Secretary Hagel is quietly busy seeing to it, with feeling:
Hagel, who has made five trips to the Far East in the past year, has sustained President Obama’s long-touted tilt toward Asia, even as he has been a nearly invisible player in the unending crises elsewhere that have eclipsed it.
By interest, history and temperament, Hagel appears to feel a sense of ownership in Asia.
A sense of ownership. What can that mean? Read on, and we may find out.
Despite the stalling of the Pacific trade agreement that is another cornerstone of Obama’s Asia “rebalance” …
What is being referenced here is Obama’s failure to reach a trade agreement with Japan. Notice that the Obamaspeak for “failing” is “stalling”. Implied is a temporary hitch soon to be overcome.
… Hagel can claim steady progress in the military’s role of building regional alliances and partnerships. But those gains risk being overtaken by China’s rapidly worsening relations with its neighbors and escalating belligerency from North Korea.
Yup, a little advance here a huge set-back there.
In a speech Saturday morning to the annual Shangri-La Dialogue, a regional defense conference he first attended as a senator more than a decade ago, Hagel criticized China’s “destabilizing, unilateral actions” in asserting its maritime claims against other countries in the region. [Some of his] aides said he purposely used language sharper than in previous public statements on the subject.
Purposely? Is sharp speaking usually done by him inadvertently? Obamarians feel uncomfortable speaking sharply to a foreign audience – other than Israel, of course.
So how sharply?
“We take no position on competing territorial claims,” Hagel said, repeating U.S. insistence that its interests are rooted in a desire to balance alliances with Asia’s smaller partners and a smooth relationship with China.
That sharply? Hang on – here it comes:
“But we firmly oppose any nation’s use of intimidation, coercion or the threat of force to assert these claims.”
How firmly? As firmly as Obama opposed intimidation, coercion and the actual use of force by Assad and Putin?
The report mentions that intimidation, coercion and the threat of force is ongoing:
New air skirmishes have erupted in recent weeks in the East China Sea with Japan and in contested South China Sea waters with Vietnam.
So how firm on the Obama scale is Mr Hagel? There must be a shadow or a ghost of firmness somewhere about. It was detected by a Chinese lady general in a “restatement” of a “defense commitment” to Japan. Wow!
In questions following Hagel’s remarks, a Chinese general testily asked the defense secretary to explain what she called his own “subtle threat of force” in restating the U.S. defense commitment to Japan even as he called for a negotiated settlement of contesting claims to East China Sea islands.
Watch out now for the assertion that the Obama position is clear. Whenever an Obama position is very faint, particularly uncertain, he or one of his servants will say that it is “clear”:
“America’s position is clear,” Hagel said. “These territorial disputes should be resolved through international law.”
International law. That clear? That firm? “International law” is a will-o-the-wisp, a fancy, a trick of the light, smoke and mirrors.
But at the same time, he said, the United States has treaty commitments to several countries in the region, including Japan, the Philippines and South Korea.
We like that “but”. There’s the sharpness, you see. “But” the US has treaty commitments. They may involve mention of military support! The big contrast to international law. Strong stuff, like the treaty commitment the US had to defending Ukraine’s independence. When Ukraine’s independence was threatened, when a chunk of its territory was seized by Russia, the US commitment held like cardboard in the rain.
But enough of ghostly saber rattling.
Those Eastern countries towards which Obama is tilting must be reminded of what Obama expects of them. What he expects of them is his policy towards them.
Returning to familiar themes, Hagel nudged South Korea and Japan toward greater defense cooperation that will allow a unified missile defense system against North Korea, which is suspected of preparing a fourth nuclear test. He called on China to play “a more active role” in using its influence on Pyongyang, urged Thailand’s military to restore democracy and praised Burma for ending military dictatorship.
And if they would only take those decisive steps, US partnership would prove a real boon.
If anything, Hagel indicated, “the Asia-Pacific’s shifting security landscape makes America’s partnerships and alliances indispensable as anchors for regional stability.” …
While budgets may be cut elsewhere, Hagel said, “both President Obama and I remain committed to ensuring that any reductions in U.S. defense spending do not come at the expense of America’s commitments in the Asia-Pacific,” where they have said 60 percent of U.S. air and naval assets will be based by 2020.
Although the administration has promised that resources saved by ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be used both for the Asia rebalance and for the new Middle East and African counterterrorism strategy that Obama outlined this past week in an address at the U.S. Military Academy, a senior defense official said little competition was involved.
What could he mean by “competition”. Could he mean (shudder!) a possibility of military opposition? None of that sort of thing? So what matters are the alliances in themselves, not any purpose beyond them. Do not even think it.
Asia, Hagel said in his speech, is an example of the stronger “global partnerships and alliances” Obama described this week as a cornerstone of his foreign and security policy. …
Now at last we are told why Hagel has “a sense of ownership in Asia”. Get ready to be impressed.
Hagel’s Vietnam experience is only part of his attachment to Asia, the senior defense official said. His father was a bomber tail-gunner in the Pacific in World War II. As president of the USO and a business executive who founded a lucrative cellphone network, Hagel traveled frequently to the region even before his election to the Senate in 1996.
And that adds up to –
“I’ve got this long history, this confluence with my background, my history,” said [an] official, describing what he said was Hagel’s thought process. “It’s what I’m good at, what I’m interested in.”
We won’t even dignify all that with a comment – the silliness speaks for itself.
What we have to understand is that Hagel is determined to succeed. You may find this hard to believe, but he is as determined to succeed in the Far East as Secretary of State John Kerry was determined to succeed in the Middle East. That determined.
[His] aides portray Hagel’s dedication to the Asia-Pacific and his determination to succeed here as equal to that of Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s highly publicized (but stalled) efforts to forge an Israeli-Palestinian peace, only with less media attention and more potential for long-term success.
More potential, eh? Efforts that will not “stall”? There’s optimism for you!
Meanwhile what is going on with the Far East in the real world?
Events so huge that they mark “a major alteration in the global balance of power”.
Charles Krauthammer writes (May 22, 2014) at the Washington Post:
It finally happened — the pivot to Asia. No, not the United States. It was Russia that turned East.
In Shanghai, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping signed a spectacular energy deal — $400 billion of Siberian natural gas to be exported to China over 30 years.
This is huge. By indelibly linking producer and consumer — the pipeline alone is a $70 billion infrastructure project — it deflates the post-Ukraine Western threat (mostly empty, but still very loud) to cut European imports of Russian gas. Putin has just defiantly demonstrated that he has other places to go.
The Russia-China deal also makes a mockery of U.S. boasts to have isolated Russia because of Ukraine. Not even Germany wants to risk a serious rupture with Russia (hence the absence of significant sanctions). And now Putin has just ostentatiously unveiled a signal 30-year energy partnership with the world’s second-largest economy. Some isolation.
The contrast with President Obama’s own vaunted pivot to Asia is embarrassing (to say nothing of the Keystone pipeline with Canada). He went to Japan last month also seeking a major trade agreement that would symbolize and cement a pivotal strategic alliance. He came home empty-handed.
Does the Obama foreign policy team even understand what is happening? For them, the Russia-China alliance is simply more retrograde, 19th-century, balance-of-power maneuvering by men of the past oblivious to the reality of a 21st century governed by law and norms. A place where, for example, one simply doesn’t annex a neighbor’s territory. Indeed, Obama scolds Russia and China for not living up to their obligations as major stakeholders in this new interdependent world.
The Chinese and Russians can only roll their eyes. These norms and rules mean nothing to them. Sure, they’ll join the World Trade Organization for the commercial advantages – then cheat like hell with cyberespionage and intellectual piracy. They see these alleged norms as forms of velvet-glove imperialism, clever extensions of a Western hegemony meant to keep Russia in its reduced post-Soviet condition and China contained by a dominant US military.
Obama cites modern rules; Russia and China, animated by resurgent nationalism, are governed by ancient maps. Putin refers to eastern and southern Ukraine by the old czarist term of “New Russia”. And China’s foreign minister justifies vast territorial claims that violate maritime law by citing traditional (“nine-dash”) maps that grant China dominion over the East and South China seas.
Which makes this alignment of the world’s two leading anti-Western powers all the more significant.
It marks a major alteration in the global balance of power. …
China and Russia together represent the core of a new coalition of anti-democratic autocracies challenging the Western-imposed, post-Cold War status quo.
Their enhanced partnership marks the first emergence of a global coalition against American hegemony since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Indeed, at this week’s Asian cooperation conference, Xi proposed a brand-new continental security system to include Russia and Iran (lest anyone mistake its anti-imperialist essence) and exclude America.
This is an open challenge to the post-Cold War, US-dominated world that Obama inherited and then weakened beyond imagining.
If carried through, it would mark the end of a quarter-century of unipolarity. And herald a return to a form of bipolarity — two global coalitions: one free, one not… [A] struggle … for dominion and domination.
To which Obama, who once proclaimed that “no one nation can or should try to dominate another nation,” is passive, perhaps even oblivious. His pivot to Asia remains a dead letter. Yet his withdrawal from the Middle East — where from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, from Libya to Syria, US influence is at its lowest ebb in 40 years — is a fait accompli.
The retreat is compounded by Obama’s proposed massive cuts in defense spending … even as Russia is rearming and China is creating a sophisticated military soon capable of denying America access to the waters of the Pacific Rim.
Decline is not a condition. Decline is a choice. In this case, Obama’s choice. And it’s the one area where he can be said to be succeeding splendidly.
Steven Hayward of PowerLine interviews Robert Bryce on Energy. The quantity consumed in America every day is staggering – don’t miss Bryce’s description of it – and can only be met by the use of fossil fuels. He also talks about the lies that the Sierra Club and Greenpeace tell, and pours justified scorn on wind power. He uses solar panels on his own roof, but states firmly that solar power can only provide an “infinitesimal” proportion of the energy America needs. He declares himself an optimist, excited by the fact that technologically “we are doing more with less”.
Anne Applebaum, one of a small but distinguished team of conservative columnists at the otherwise heavily left-leaning Washington Post, is also one of the most well-informed writers anywhere on Russia and East Europe.
Today she writes (in part):
Openly or subconsciously, since 1991, Western leaders have acted on the assumption that Russia is a flawed Western country. …
In the 1990s, many people thought Russian progress … simply required new policies: With the right economic reforms, Russians would sooner or later become like us. Others thought that if Russia joined the Council of Europe, and if we turned the G-7 into the G-8, then sooner or later Russia would absorb Western values. …
Still others thought that Russia’s forward progress required a certain kind of Western language, a better dialogue. When the relationship deteriorated, President Bush blamed President Clinton. President Obama blamed President Bush. … Back in 1999, the New York Times Magazine ran a cover story titled Who Lost Russia? Much discussed at the time, it argued that we’d lost Russia “because we pursued agendas that were hopelessly wrong for Russia” and given bad economic advice. In The Post last week, a former U.S. ambassador to Moscow, Jack Matlock, echoed President Putin and argued that the United States, by “treating Russia as the loser,” is responsible for the current crisis. …
[But] Russian politics have never been all about us. In truth, we’ve had very little influence on Russian internal politics since 1991, even when we’ve understood them. The most important changes — the massive transfer of oil and gas from the state to the oligarchs, the return to power of men formed by the KGB, the elimination of a free press and political opposition — took place against our advice. The most important military decisions — the invasions of Chechnya and Georgia — met with our protests. Though many appear to believe otherwise, the invasion of Crimea was not primarily intended to provoke the West, either.
Putin invaded Crimea because Putin needs a war. In a time of slower growth, and with a more restive middle class, he may need some more wars, too. …
But … the Crimean invasion might have a bigger effect on the West than even he intended. In many European capitals, the Crimean events have been a real jolt. For the first time, many are beginning to understand that … Russia is not a flawed Western power. Russia is an anti-Western power with a different, darker vision of global politics. …
For twenty years, nobody has thought about how to “contain” Russia. Now they will. … Strategic changes … should flow from our new understanding of Russia. We need to re-imagine NATO, to move its forces from Germany to the alliance’s eastern borders. We need to reexamine the presence of Russian money in international financial markets, given that so much “private” Russian money is in fact controlled by the state. We need to look again at our tax shelters and money-laundering laws, given that Russia uses corruption as a tool of foreign policy. Above all we need to examine the West’s energy strategy, given that Russia’s oil and gas assets are also used to manipulate European politics and politicians, and find ways to reduce [Europe’s energy] dependence [on Russia].
Obama is doing everything he can to make sure the Russian nuclear arsenal will be bigger and more technologically efficient than ours. He, and the Left in general, will not call Russia an enemy – but that’s what Russia is: the enemy of the West. Could it possibly be the case that Obama and the Left in general are on Russia’s side? Does the Left see an ally in any country or ideology that is against America?
Is Estonia next on Putin’s list for invasion and annexation? It is a member of NATO. Will Putin risk war with NATO? Or does he calculate that the US under Obama will not permit NATO to obey it’s own charter ( in particular Article 5) and defend any member state that is attacked?
The BBC reports:
Russia signaled concern on Wednesday at Estonia’s treatment of its large ethnic Russian minority, comparing language policy in the Baltic state with what it said was a call in Ukraine to prevent the use of Russian. Russia has defended its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula by arguing it has the right to protect Russian speakers outside its borders … “
(We took the quotation from this article – Why Obama Scares Me – by Mona Charen at Townhall.)