A different, darker vision 5

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.)

Drought and the environmentalists 4

Green is so yesterday 1

The Europeans made nearly a $100 billion wrong bet on renewable energy, and their economies and citizens have taken a big hit. Now they’ve awakened to their mistakes.

We confess to enjoying more than a little Schadenfreude over this report.

It comes from Investor’s Business Daily:

The media aren’t paying much attention, but in recent weeks Europe has decided to run, not walk, as fast as it can away from the economic menace of green energy.

That’s right, the same Europeans who used to chastise us for not signing the Kyoto climate change treaty, not passing a carbon tax and dooming the planet to catastrophic global warming.

In Brussels last month, European leaders agreed to scrap per-nation caps on carbon emissions. The EU countries — France, Germany, Italy and Spain — had promised a 40% reduction in emissions by 2030 (and 80% by 2050!). Now those caps won’t apply to individual nations.

Brussels calls this new policy “flexibility”.  Right. More like “never mind”, and here’s why: The new German economic minister, Sigmar Gabriel, says green energy mandates have become such an albatross around the neck of industry that they could lead to a “deindustrialization” of Germany.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said earlier this year that overreliance on renewable energy could cause “a problem in terms of energy supply” — and she’s always described herself as a green politician and a champion of these programs.

A good example that of how politicians, preoccupied with riding the winds of popularity, fail to think things through.

But green dreams have collided with cold economic reality.

Of course they have. The only question was how long it would take.

Green programs aren’t creating green jobs but green unemployment at intolerable double-digit rates.

The quip in economically exhausted Europe these days is that before we save the planet, we have to save ourselves.

Now European leaders are admitting quietly that they want to get into the game of fracking and other new drilling technologies that have caused an explosion of oil and gas production in the U.S. …

If Europe wants to remain competitive, these nations must tap the fountain of abundant and cheap shale gas and oil. … European leaders now realize a major factor behind the economic woes in euroland is that electric power costs are two to three times more expensive than in the U.S.

Consider the price of natural gas in the U.S. vs. other nations in the chart below. U.S. prices are about three to four times lower.

… Few American politicians get it. President Obama talked in his State of the Union speech about doubling renewable energy output over the coming years. … these are exactly the goals the Europeans are abandoning. Why chase the losers?

Why not try a different approach to energy policy? Get rid of all taxpayer subsidies for energy — oil, gas, wind and solar power, biofuels, electric-battery-operated cars and others — and create a true level playing field where every energy source competes on efficiency and cost rather than political/corporate favoritism?

We guess that will not happen while Obama is president. He remains green in judgment.

Of Gore and Blood 2

… and how well the world can do without them.

This is from Global Research, January 19, 2014, by Andrew McKillop:

Think of Al Gore and his associates like David Blood as the Bernie Madoff of the environmental movement. They created a market which has been disintegrating from day one, including a total collapse of the Chicago Climate Exchange, but not before the principle players cashed in their shares and abandoned that ship.

It’s an epic story of modern day high priests and sooth sayers, political hubris and pseudo-scientific largess on a scale never before seen in history.

But their story is far from over. Get ready for the epic climbdown.

For Al Gore and his investor fund partner David Blood, their current thrust is more like dancing in the dark than out of the box thinking, due to “warmists” and “peakists” now having to fight on several fronts at the same time. Writing in the Wall Street Journal and similar outlets several times in 2013, they soldiered forward with the claim that “fossil carbon assets” are headed for a bust, and “green energy” can only soar. Along with Britain’s Lord Stern, the former World Bank chief economist and author of the Stern Report on “fighting” global warming, they say all fossil fuels are so dangerous for the world’s climate they must be completely phased out by 2050 or before.

Investing in these fossil carbon assets is therefore, they say, a guaranteed disaster.

Gore and Blood however know well through operating their climate-energy hedge fund, Generation Investment Management, that the “carbon finance” business, especially emissions credits and related financial assets, has already suffered a bust. The world’s only mandatory credits trading scheme – in Europe – is struggling to keep itself afloat. Reasons why Europe’s ETS [Emissions Trading System] is now on political life support, and may be scrapped, include massive over-issue of credits by European governments and the European central authorities, outright fraud and re-issue of already used credits, uncertainty concerning the future value of credits, and other factors such as the intrinsic worthlessness of “hot air credits”.

In a winter during which Niagara Falls partly froze over, for only the second or third time in more than 100 years, the whine that global warming is alive, well, and menacing, becomes difficult to gurgle with a straight face, but it has been so profitable to proponents like Gore that we can understand why they are loath to invent a new Doom Thing. Their twin fight against climate-damaging and rapidly depleting oil, gas and coal reserves also has major real world logic problems.

Massive over-issue of ETS tradable paper was operated not only to make warmists happy, but also to please the carbon market maker banks and climate hedge funds, who rapidly broke any link between this asset creation binge and its real world base or “underlying asset” – of actual European CO2 emissions – which have heavily declined in most EU countries since 2008, except by supreme irony in Green Germany, presently constrained to rapidly increase its coal-fired power production. …

The morph of the ETS system from potentially or possibly useful, to dysfunctional and totally perverse, took no more than about 6 or 7 years from its start in 2005. Today’s credit prices are so low they are no incentive to not emit CO2 …

Global warming, about 7 years ago, was certainly the next big thing. At the time, the No Limits warmist stance was that CO2 emissions – unless we completely stop them – will cause planetary disaster by sometime in the 2045-2099 period, so tailpipe or smokestack emissions must be taxed to extinction. …

Lord Stern claims the “surplus and unusable” financial assets of fossil energy stocks and resources held by major corporations total about two-thirds of all present corporate fossil energy stocks and their declared fossil energy resources, representing several trillion dollars  of worthless “stranded value”. The argument by Gore, Blood and Stern goes on to claim investors have made a fundamental error by failing to understand there is not a calculable risk of global fossil fuel reserves becoming worthless – but an absolute certainty. Investors have made a fundamental investing error by only treating it as a risk and they will pay the consequences as the industries they invested in collapse, possibly in less than 10 years time. …  

Gore and Blood say that investors are foolishly delaying the inevitable move away from, and total abandonment of all fossil fuels. … Lord Stern’s theory of “stranded assets” … was “pure warmist” – global temperatures will radically grow.

Science has already backed off from that kind of assertion. [Even the latest IPCC report]  says 10-year warming is presently at 0.09 degC, meaning that warming of 2 degC will need well over 200 years.

For Stern, Gore and Blood the timeframe is vastly shorter, and they regularly cite the IEA’s carbon-conscious-calculator, which in fact directly draws on the Stern Report of 2006, and claims that two-thirds of all global fossil fuel reserves “will never be used”. Because they must never be used …

Why should they perform an “epic climbdown” (which we’d be delighted to see them do, but expect them to avoid somehow or other)? Because they could not be more wrong about fossil fuels, according to this October 2013 report in Scientific American:

Fossil fuels continued to dominate the global energy sector in 2012 …

Coal, natural gas and oil accounted for 87 percent of the world’s primary energy consumption last year …

Coal is expected to surpass oil as the most consumed primary energy source in the world … China alone accounted for more than half the world’s total coal consumption, mostly for electric power generation.

But natural gas is also seeing significant gains, both in the United States and in countries like Japan, which are shifting their energy portfolios away from nuclear power. …

For the first time in 2012, global gas production exceeded 3 billion metric tons, marking the third consecutive year of both rising production and consumption, according to the report. With the exception of 2009, when the Great Recession resulted in lower energy demand for all fuels, natural gas use has been steadily rising since 1970, according to the report.

Oil, too, has seen a surge in production in the United States … even though globally, oil use accounted for a slightly smaller share of total energy consumption, from 33.4 to 33.1 percent. In 2012, the United States produced oil at record levels and is expected to overtake Russia this year as the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas combined, according to the report.

Consequently, the [United States] is importing decreasing amounts of these two fossil fuels, while using rising levels of its natural gas for power generation …

Although oil may be losing some share of the world’s total primary energy consumption, it is still expected to be the dominant fuel for transportation globally and will continue to grow in absolute numbers going forward. The United States, for example, increased oil production by 13.9 percent last year, its highest recorded increase ever …

And even though natural gas, biofuels and electric vehicles are growing in popularity in many isolated parts around the world, the world’s growing appetite for transportation fuels will likely keep oil as a dominant primary energy resource for the foreseeable future.

Posted under Climate, Commentary, Energy, Environmentalism, Germany, United States by Jillian Becker on Friday, January 31, 2014

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Reality heaps coals of fire on Green heads 6

Obama wants wind, sun, and algae to provide the energy needed by the nation. He hates coal. Coal mines are being closed, or operating under ever more onerous regulations and restrictions.

But – as Steven Hayward of PowerLine reports , quoting various sources -

If you draw back a bit and take a look around the world, what you find is that the fastest growing source of energy continues to be: Coal.

China approved the construction of more than 100 million tonnes of new coal production capacity in 2013 – six times more than a year earlier and equal to 10 percent of U.S. annual usage – flying in the face of plans to tackle choking air pollution. The scale of the increase, which only includes major mines, reflects Beijing’s aim to put 860 million tonnes of new coal production capacity into operation over the five years to 2015, more than the entire annual output of India.

Germany too is mining more coal. Much more.

Some windless and cloudy days last month rendered Germany almost entirely dependent on old-fashioned fossil fuels and nuclear to provide their electricity …

Germany’s wind and solar power production came to an almost complete standstill in early December. More than 23,000 wind turbines stood still. One million photovoltaic systems stopped work nearly completely. For a whole week coal, nuclear and gas power plants had to generate an estimated 95 percent of Germany’s electricity supply.

But what will happen when Germany shuts down all its nukes because they fear a tsunami from the North Sea? They’re going to build more coal plants:

Germany’s energy transition has also been a transition to coal: Despite multi-billion subsidies for renewable energy sources, power generation from brown coal (lignite) has climbed to its highest level in Germany since 1990. It is especially coal-fired power plants that are replacing the eight nuclear power plants that were shutdown, while less CO2-intensive, but more expensive gas-fired power plants are currently barely competitive. Energy expert Patrick Graichen speaks of Germany’s “energy transition paradox”: the development of solar and wind farms, yet rising carbon dioxide-emissions.

Europe as a whole is turning, or returning, to coal.

Europe’s appetite for cheaper electricity is reviving mines that produce the dirtiest type of coal  

Across the continent’s mining belt, from Germany to Poland and the Czech Republic, utilities …  are expanding open-pit mines that produce lignite. The moist, brown form of the fossil fuel packs less energy and more carbon than more frequently burned hard coal.

The projects go against the grain of European Union rules limiting emissions and pushing cleaner energy. Alarmed at power prices [that are] about double U.S. levels, policy makers are allowing the expansion of coal mines that were scaled back in the past two decades …

And in the US, coal – loved or hated – still fuels the nation:

Coal remains the biggest source of fuel for generating electricity in the U.S. and coal exports are growing fast. Demand is being stoked by the rise of power-hungry middle classes in emerging economies, led by China and India. By the end of this decade, coal is expected to surpass oil as the world’s dominant fuel source

The moral of the story is, as Steven Hayward says: “Reality intrudes on green dreams.”

Or, in the words of another familiar but too often ignored aphorism: “You can’t buck the market.”

The burning of the green 1

Energy and employment 0

This video and the text are from The Foundry of the Heritage Foundation:

“The North Dakota Miracle.”

That’s what it’s been dubbed by many. The recent boom of the Bakken oil fields — made possible by a perfect storm of sensible state regulations, the often maligned fracking process, and the fact that most drilling is taking place on private lands — has produced a whirlwind of economic growth in a formerly sleepy corner of northwest North Dakota. …

During our short, 3-minute video, you will hear from the people themselves about the impact the boom has had on their families and their community. But the most striking takeaway for many who watch may well be the stark contrast between an electric local economy and the more familiar picture around the rest of the country still saddled with high unemployment and a sputtering economy. Dakota is only one of many states that is beginning to reap the economic benefits of fracking and other advances in drilling technology to harvest previously inaccessible oil deposits.

That is, of course, if the federal government does not disrupt the whole process.

Posted under Commentary, Economics, Energy, United States, Videos by Jillian Becker on Thursday, February 14, 2013

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Getting rid of Mother 1

First, there is the UN resolution  called “Agenda 21″. It’s a plan – among Greens, Marxists, world-government enthusiasts and similar ideologues such as animal rights champions, specimens of which may be viewed weekdays in Turtle Bay – to put an end to single family homes. (Family housing is  ”non-sustainable” according to the authors.) Adults will live singly in small compact  - ie  cramped – units, with uniform provision of all the needs the Agenda bureaucrats allow you: a single bed, limited storage for approved clothes and a few other licensed things; facilities for washing and excreting (though the water supply, like heating and lighting, will be  tightly controlled), a table or desk, a chair, TV, personal computer maybe (but monitored and sometimes censored) … Communal space  for bicycles but not for private cars.

Anyway, that’s our visualization of the plan, based on what we know of Agenda 21 and observation of our City Council’s housing developments going up along the railway track near the station. Readers can torment their own imaginations with their personal take on the collectivization program.

For more about it, put “Agenda 21″ into our search slot. Also go here to read  how New York is implementing Agenda 21′s  ”micro-apartment” or “stack ‘em and pack ‘em” housing policy.

But to come to the point: The sole occupier of a micro-apartment will be the Single Adult (defined as over 18 or perhaps younger). Copious copulation will be promoted with free condoms et cetera, but reproduction will be discouraged. If children are conceived, the unfortunate “mother” will be advised and helped to have an abortion. Indeed, the child she has conceived can be got rid of at any time up to some days, weeks, months, or even years after it is born (length of time in which killing will be permitted – or ordered – is yet to be determined). If the “mother” persists in giving birth to a child and keeping it alive, the state will take it over – though just when is no doubt a question being studied at vast expense by a panel of idiots even as we speak – and raise it with other children, none being advantaged over the others by any special treatment. (Stop that hugging and kissing!)

In the unlikely circumstance that the state will need more children than have been born,  in vitro babies transplanted into synthetic “wombs” will be scheduled.

Plainly, mothering will simply not be needed. Mothers will be redundant to requirement. Fathers too, for that matter.

What to do about marriage? Fortunately (for the Agenda) it is a dying institution. There was hope that the practice of getting married would have died out completely in our town by the time our local micro-apartment blocks were ready for occupation, but those who hoped are now reconciled to disappointment on that score.

What happened to “save”  the institution was the legalization of gay marriage.

For a story about an opponent of same-sex marriage being brought round to accepting it because to him any marriage is better than none, see an opinion piece by Kathleen Parker here in the Washington Post. Such views are not those of the Agenda, but can be accommodated because  …

After some hesitation, and a lot of sotto voce grumbling, the Agenda planners suddenly came down unanimously in favor of gay marriage on the grounds that such marriages are by their nature barren.

Again no mothers, you see. So all’s well.

“No mothers here” is the policy. “Scrap Mom” is the pithy slogan. You’ll see it soon on T-shirts.

The time will come when the word “mother” will be used only as an insult. Not surprisingly, the necessary attitude to this campaign, the Abolition of Mother, is preponderant among those who use the word “mother” as half a noun, the other half being an obscenity, and who apply it indiscriminately to any of the twenty-three genders now officially listed in the Handbook of Political Correctness. (No kidding with that number, by the way.)

Next, with the homemaking mothering woman abolished, there is the question of what to do with women - of whatever gender. The popular answer to that question, among Agenda 21 fans – is:  put them in the Army. They can be sent abroad. They can be put in harm’s way. They can do what men – of whatever gender – are doing. And do it of course for equal pay – for as long as there will be wages rather than money-rationing equal for all regardless of occupation, or none.

In some states, the phasing out of families is already well underway. (As Victor Davis Hanson points out in an article we quoted yesterday: “California now has an enormous number of single-person households, childless couples, and one-child families.”) In Europe only very uncool persons have kids. And Muslims.

Will the Agenda 21 bureaucrats get round to discouraging Muslims from marrying and reproducing? Or will they shirk it? We wait with a not entirely innocent curiosity to find out. Of course Muslims  will have to be moved eventually into micro-apartments – with the addition of a prayer mat and an arrow pointing to Mecca – if the great objective is to be achieved.

The great objective? A world of orphans.

And not too many of them. Humans – the Agenda people teach us – are bad for the earth. And Gaia is a jealous goddess.

California choice: salad bowl not melting pot 2

It is a thing passing strange that many – a big majority –  of the successful Silicon Valley billionaires, who achieved what they did precisely because their inventiveness and enterprise were nurtured by capitalism and freedom, vote for socialism with its restrictions and regulations, its discouragement of individual effort, its confiscation of wealth by punitive taxation, its infertility for innovation. The same could be said of the elites of the east coast, and wherever else the children of Liberty have grown to despise her.

How explain the cognitive dissonance?

Victor Davis Hanson explores the contradictions that are writ so large in California. He writes at PJ Media:

We keep trying to understand the enigma of California, mostly why it still breathes for a while longer, given the efforts to destroy the sources of its success. Let’s try to navigate through its sociology and politics to grasp why something that should not survive is surviving quite well — at least in some places.

The old blue/red war for California is over. Conservatives lost. Liberals won — by a combination of flooding the state with government-supplied stuff, and welcoming millions in while showing the exit to others. The only mystery is … how high will taxes go, how many will leave, how happy will the majority be at their departure?

California has changed not due to race but due to culture, most prominently because the recent generation of immigrants from Latin America did not — as in the past, for the most part — come legally in manageable numbers and integrate under the host’s assimilationist paradigm.

Which is to say, the melting-pot, that worked so well for a few hundred years.

Instead, in the last three decades huge arrivals of illegal aliens from Mexico and Latin America saw Democrats as the party of multiculturalism, separatism, entitlements, open borders, non-enforcement of immigration laws, and eventually plentiful state employment.

Given the numbers, the multicultural paradigm of the salad bowl that focused on “diversity” rather than unity, and the massive new government assistance, how could the old American tonic of assimilation, intermarriage, and integration keep up with the new influxes? It could not. …

There were, of course, other parallel demographic developments. Hundreds of thousands of the working and upper-middle class, mostly from the interior of the state, have fled — maybe four million in all over the last thirty years, taking with them $1 trillion in capital and income-producing education and expertise. Apparently, they tired of high taxes, poor schools, crime, and the culture of serial blame-gaming and victimhood. In this reverse Dust Bowl migration, a barren no-tax Nevada or humid Texas was a bargain.

Their California is long gone … and a Stockton, Fresno, or Visalia misses their presence, because they had skills, education, and were net pluses to the California economy.

Add in a hip, youth, and gay influx to the Bay Area, Silicon Valley, and coastal Los Angeles that saw California as a sort of upscale, metrosexual lifestyle … and California now has an enormous number of single-person households, childless couples, and one-child families. Without the lifetime obligation to raise $1 million in capital to pay for bringing up and educating two kids from birth to 21 …  the non-traditional classes have plenty of disposable income for entertainment, housing, and high taxes. …

Finally, there is our huge affluent public work force. It is the new aristocracy; landing a job with the state is like hitting the lottery. Californians have discovered that, in today’s low/non-interest economy, a $70,000 salary with defined benefit public pension for life is far better than having the income from a lifetime savings of $3 million. …

And with money came political clout. To freeze the pension contribution of a highway patrolman is a mortal sin; but no one worries much about the private security’s guard minimum wage and zero retirement, whose nightly duties are often just as dangerous. The former is sacrosanct; the latter a mere loser.

The result of 30 years of illegal immigration, the reigning culture of the coastal childless households, the exodus of the overtaxed, and the rule of public employees is not just Democratic, but hyper-liberal supermajorities in the legislature. In the most naturally wealthy state in the union with a rich endowment from prior generations, California is serially broke — the master now of its own fate. It has the highest menu of income, sales, and gas taxes in the nation, and about the worst infrastructure, business climate, and public education. Is the latter fact despite or because of the former?

How, then, does California continue? Read on, but in a nutshell, natural and inherited wealth are so great on the coast that a destructive state government must work overtime to ruin what others wrought. …

Somehow, in just thirty years we created obstacles to public learning that produce results approaching the two-century horrific legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. About half the resources of the California State University system are devoted to remedial schooling for underperforming high school students (well over half who enter take remediation courses; half don’t graduate even in six years; and well over half have sizable financial aid). … The majority of the once-vaunted upper-tier University of California campuses now resemble second-tier CSU of old. Yet I think a Fresno State graduate of 1965 was far better educated than a UC Irvine or UC Santa Cruz student of today.

The state’s wealthiest and best-prepared students are perhaps only well-taught at its elite schools — the two UC campuses at Berkeley and UCLA, Stanford, Caltech, USC, Pepperdine, or Santa Clara — while the poorer but still serious students increasingly enroll in the new private online and tech schools that sprout up around failed CSU campuses. …

The coastal elites unite politically with the interior poor …  Along the coast, elites have harvested well California’s natural and acquired wealth. I’ll again just toss out a few brands; you can imagine the lucre and jobs that are generated from Santa Rosa to San Diego: Apple, Chevron, Disney, DreamWorks, Facebook, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Hollywood, Napa Valley, Oracle, PG&E, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Wells Fargo, the ports of Los Angeles, San Diego, and Oakland.

So let us not speak of California decline, but of California’s decline and another California boom — one of 6% unemployment and another of 16%, one of $100,000 per capita income and another of $15,000, one of cottages sold on the first day on the market in Newport and another of vacant McMansions molding away in Stockton.

Success continues on the coast and is managed by very wealthy and mostly liberal residents of the sprawl that surrounds Los Angeles and San Francisco. For the five million or so who are enriched in enterprise zones like these — and there are thousands more spin-off and smaller such companies — life is pretty good if you keep your household small, inherited a house, or make enough money to buy something at about $500 to $1,000 dollars a square foot. In Selma, new 1800 sq. foot homes sell for $140,000; in Palo Alto, dollhouses go for $1.5 million. …

Coastal folk seem to view high taxes like Mafia protection money, but in the sense of psychological satisfaction and freedom from guilt. For now, sales, gas, and income taxes are not so high as to matter to those who voted for them, at least in view of the social and political advantages of coastal living: the beautiful weather, the Pacific panorama, the hip culture …

To the extent that “they” (i.e. you, reader) exist, the distant others are nebulous, rarely thought-about souls. Perhaps they really do enjoy polluting the planet as they generate the electricity, pipe in the natural gas and oil, refine the fuels, grow the food, and cut and haul the lumber that gives a Palo Alto or Santa Barbara the stuff to go on …

One of the questions I always hear from strangers: “Why doesn’t everyone leave?” The answer is simple: for the coastal overdogs there is nowhere else where the money is as good and the weather and scenery are as enjoyable. [But] yes, the middle-class small farmers, hardware-store owners, company retirees, and electricians are leaving in droves.

The Latino population, I would imagine, would be in revolt over the elitist nature of California politics. Of course, thousands of second-generation Latinos have become public employees, from teachers to DMV clerks, and understandably so vote a straight Democrat-public union ticket. But millions are not working for the state, and they suffer dramatically from the ruling Bay Area left-wing political agenda of regulations, green quackery, and legal gymnastics. It is not just that the foreign national illegally entered the U.S. from Oaxaca, but entered the most complex, over-regulated, over-taxed, and over-lawyered state in the nation — hence the disconnects.

Take energy. California may have reserves of 35 billion barrels of oil in its newly discovered shale formations, and even more natural gas — the best way to provide clean electricity and, perhaps soon, transportation energy for the state. Tens of thousands of young Latino immigrants — given that agriculture is increasingly mechanizing, construction is flat, and the state is broke — could be making high wages from Salinas to Paso Robles, and along the I-5 corridor, if fracking and horizontal drilling took off. Even more jobs could accrue in subsidiary construction and trucking. And for a cynic, billions of dollars in state energy taxes from gas and oil revenue would ensure that the state’s generous handouts would be funded for a generation. Did someone forget that the California boom of the 1930s and 1940s was fueled by cheap, in-state oil?

More importantly, our power companies have the highest energy bills in the nation, given all sorts of green and redistributionist mandates. The costs fall most heavily on the cold winter/hot summer interior residents, who are the poorest in the state. Those who insist that the utilities invest in costly alternate energy and other green fantasies live mostly in 65-70 degree coastal weather year-round and enjoy low power bills.

Yet the liberal coastal political lock-hold on the state continues.

No one in San Joaquin or Tranquility cares about a baitfish in the delta, but they do vote nonetheless for the elites who divert water from farms, put the poor farm worker out of work, and feel good about saving the smelt in the process. …

How then does the California coalition work, and in some sense work so well?

The coastal elite offers an agenda for more welfare funding, scholarships, class warfare, public unions, diversity, affirmative action, open borders, and amnesty, and in response the interior voter signs off on everything from gay marriage, solar and wind subsidies, gun restrictions, mass transit schemes, and the entire progressive tax-and-spend agenda. Most of this coalition never much sees one another.

The young Mountain View programmer keeps clear of Woodlake. He even has only a vague idea of what life is like for those who live in nearby Redwood City and make his arugula salad at the hip pasta bar in Palo Alto. In turn, the Redwood City dishwasher has an equally murky sense that the wealthy kid who works at Google does not wish to deport his uncle — and so the two become unspoken political partners of sorts. One of the state’s wealthiest cities, a gated Atherton, is juxtaposed to one of its most Latinate communities, Redwood City. But they might as well be Mercury and Pluto. Or should we applaud that the owner of the manor and his grass cutter vote identically — and against the interests of the guy who sold and serviced the Honda lawn mower? …

The liberal aristocracy is as class-bound as the old Republican blue-stockings, but saved from populist ostracism by what I have called the “hip” exemption — liberalism’s new veneer that allows one to be both consumer and critic of the Westernized good life, to praise the people and to stay as far away from them as possible. 

California is a tired idea.

Is America a tired idea? Are Americans becoming tired of the idea on which America was founded  - liberty itself?  Do they really want a different America, a country more like socialist Europe? Or are they just blind to where their votes are taking them?

Greens with red faces 1

Big Green is losing some of its politburo members, and the High Priest of the Church of Gaia is sort of beating his breast in remorse.

This is from PowerLine by Steven Hayward:

The defectors from the True Church of Green Religion (i.e., environmentalism) are starting to line up faster than defectors from Soviet Communism in the late 1980s and early 1990s. A few weeks ago, the reliably green British journalist Mark Lynas issued a mea culpa about his longtime opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Here’s Lynas, from his lecture at the Oxford Farming Conference on January 3:

“I want to start with some apologies. For the record, here and upfront, I apologise for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonising an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment. As an environmentalist, and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counter-productive path. I now regret it completely.”

Everyone may have “a right” to the foods they want, but the question is how do they get them? Not a question that even now these dreamy kids are raising.

Mark Lynas goes on:

“So I guess you’ll be wondering – what happened between 1995 and now that made me not only change my mind but come here and admit it? Well, the answer is fairly simple: I discovered science, and in the process I hope I became a better environmentalist.”

Ah-hah!

Steven Hayward has more to tell:

This week another icon of modern environmentalism defected from the party line: James Lovelock, the inventor of the famous “Gaia hypothesis” beloved of environmentalists and fruit-juice drinkers everywhere. The proximate cause of his defection is his quite proper reaction against the wind power fanatics who are desecrating the English countryside. But as you’ll see his critique goes beyond contesting the wind-breaking nuttery of the greens. Here’s the relevant part of what Lovelock wrote a few days ago:

“I am James Lovelock, scientist and author, known as the originator of Gaia theory, a view of the Earth that sees it as a self-regulating entity that keeps the surface environment always fit for life… I am an environmentalist and founder member of the Greens but I bow my head in shame at the thought that our original good intentions should have been so misunderstood and misapplied. We never intended a fundamentalist Green movement that rejected all energy sources other than renewable, nor did we expect the Greens to cast aside our priceless ecological heritage because of their failure to understand that the needs of the Earth are not separable from human needs. We need take care that the spinning windmills do not become like the statues on Easter Island, monuments of a failed civilisation.

How long now before the Green cult fades away?

Four years at least. Obama plans  to lavish more borrowed money on it. More lethal windmills. More bankrupt solar panel makers. More rises in energy charges.

And eventually – more beaten breasts?

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