Specters & Shadows; Demand & Supply
Michael Walsh’s weekly column is on the specter haunting America and a shadow president who might possibly beat it back.
Rather than being ashamed of their explicit anti-Americanism, the modern Democrats have doubled down on betting against the U.S.A. Their shambolic, cognitively crippled president shuffles through one executive order after another, signing anything his handlers in the exiled Obama administration up in Kalorama shove under his nose….
The midterms are still eight months away but Real America is crying out for succor right now. Gasoline, home heating oil, electricity, natural gas—the prices continue to soar, already past the point of recent plausibility and heading into economic terra incognita. Millions of illegal aliens pour across the nearly erased southern border. A befuddled Joe Biden threatens to sleepwalk us into an armed conflict with the ghost of the old Soviet Union in the form of Vladimir Putin's Russia, and disinformation is rife on both sides of the conflict in the Ukraine. In a parliamentary system, Biden's government would have fallen right after the debacle in Afghanistan—but barring a miracle we've got another three years to suffer.
For just over a year, Americans have watched with admirable patience as their economy collapsed, their legal system was perverted to serve the interests of a few, their nation's military degraded, and their freedom of speech subverted via the government's fascistic and unconstitutional co-opting of the social media sites. Meanwhile, woke corporations and a thoroughly compromised media crack down on the commercial and personal privacy of anybody that runs afoul of the New Normal while manic Greens demand a return to the days of three-masted schooners and windmills. Such relentless cultural and economic sabotage would be considered an act of war if done by anyone else—but here it goes by the fellow-traveler names of "dissent," "patriotism," and "progressivism."
For a time, it seemed as if Donald Trump might be the answer. Deeply flawed personally, Trump had everything break his way in 2016, including the good fortune of running against the most repellant figure in the Democrat Party at that time, Hillary Clinton. But with Covid-19 weaponized against him, first in a Chinese lab, then by the CDC and a bona fide madman named Anthony Fauci, Trump was unable to overcome his provoked overreaction to the phantom Covid menace, the unconstitutional changes made to swing state electoral systems, a senescent Biden, and his own inability to control his mouth, and shamefully lost in 2020.
As we learned in the back alleys of Berlin and Moscow during the Cold War, the way to fight shadows is with other shadows; America could do worse if we had some semblance of the British shadow-cabinet system. British election campaigns are short, and the transition time between governments brief, because the voters already know who would take over if and when the current government falls….
We don't have shadow cabinets, but we do have two shadow presidents. One is Trump, who is making noises about running again, largely on a platform of grievance and revenge for his loss in 2020. Whether this would be enough to boost him back into the White House is questionable; while he may have received more than 70 million votes, the fact still remains that even more people voted against him. He lost the 2020 election as he had won the 2016 election: narrowly. But Trump will be 78 years old in 2024, one year younger than the tottering Biden is now.
The other is Florida governor Ron DeSantis. Smart, pugnacious, and unflappable, DeSantis has emerged as the chief thorn in Joe Biden and the Left's side. After his narrow win over a guy who was later found dead drunk in a Miami Beach hotel room he was sharing with a gay porn producer who had overdosed on crystal meth, DeSantis has cemented his hold on the former swing state, turning it solid red. Unlike Trump, who at the moment is powerless, the squeaky-clean DeSantis upstages Biden and the Democrats on a regular basis; his canny and unflappable handling of the "pandemic" has given rise to a new nickname for the Sunshine State: the Free State of Florida….
It's widely thought that if Trump declares, DeSantis will wait his turn in 2028. But why should he spend four years on ice behind a lightning rod with no further political future? Polls already show him creeping up on Trump and a smashing re-election victory will only gain him more prominence. Lots can happen in three years, especially when his possible primary opponent is getting on in years. After Biden, will America want another geriatric president? Or will the voters prefer a guy 32 years younger, with nothing but upside?
Rich Trzupek patiently explains to ignorant liberals that most important of market forces: Demand.
So President Biden said that he was releasing 60 million barrels of oil from the strategic reserve to combat high gas prices, but we would no longer import Russian crude, which would supposedly have a negative effect on gas prices. For those who understand how energy markets actually work, those were two remarkably ignorant, or intentionally deceptive, statements. Releasing an amount of crude equivalent to three days' domestic usage, and cutting off a supplier that – at best – supplied less than 2 percent of crude to America’s refineries aren’t going to do much of anything to reduce gas prices.
The basic problem is that liberals don’t understand the concept of demand. They get subsidies, pay-offs, endless and mostly pointless rules – except for voting, of course, shouldn’t be any actual requirements to do that – tax breaks, cutting off supplies from out-of-favor suppliers, and a host of other things that they can control. They can’t control demand….
When President Mean Tweets was in office, America was a net energy exporter for the first time since the Truman administration. Oil was around $40 a barrel and natural gas was dirt cheap. We had done what then-candidate Barack Obama declared we couldn’t do when he ran for President in 2008: we drilled our way to $2 dollar per gallon gas.
A side benefit of this new-found energy independence was that it really hurt Vladimir Putin, whose country depends heavily on petrochemical revenue. Orange Man’s energy policies and his complete refusal to give into the environmental lobby kept prices low -- and that kept the Kremlin scrambling for rubles. Under Trump, the U.S. imported zero barrels of Russian crude until the final three months of his term. In those last three months Russian crude imports averaged around 62,000 barrels per day, about 0.3 percent of daily domestic usage.
Along comes President Biden and all of the sudden imports of Russian crude jump up substantially, sometime approaching or exceeding 500,000 barrels per day. Up until the prez put in the ban, Russian crude accounted for about 1.7 percent of daily usage on average. That’s not huge, but one cannot help but wonder why that happened. If Putin is the devil incarnate, why would Biden allow us to buy five times more Russian crude than Trump ever did?
Could it have something to do with a president who stopped new leases to drill on federal lands, shut down the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office, etc? What nobody in the Biden administration seems to understand is that the price of gas has nothing to do with the supply of crude oil at the moment. It’s about projected availability in the future vs projected demand.
Tom Finnerty and Joan Sammon wrote about how the Biden Administration’s energy blunders have come back to bite them — and hard — in the present conflict in Ukraine.
For two years we at The Pipeline have argued that petroleum products, the life's blood of the modern world, are going to be produced somewhere, and that it would be best if they were produced by us and our allies rather than by nations such as Russia, Saudia Arabia, Iran, or Venezuela. Keeping oil and gas production at home ensures that that life's blood keeps flowing, and that we aren't as affected by the whims of a Vladimir Putin or an Ayatollah Khomeini as their subjects are.
It prevents us from having to depend on the political stability of the oft-unstable Strait of Hormuz or Russian borderlands which have been fought over for a millennium. And it empowers us to ensure that our resource sector is both abiding by reasonable environmental standards and free of the human rights abuses so common in nations like those mentioned above.
Russia's war in Ukraine has demonstrated the utter necessity of this position, making it so obvious that anyone with half-a-brain could see it. So, of course, the Biden administration is headed in the opposite direction. On Tuesday, bowing to bi-partisan pressure, Washington announced a ban on oil imports from Russia. This decision in itself is commendable -- the West's addiction to Russian oil has helped fund Putin's war effort, and it would be silly for us to condemn the shelling of Ukrainian cities while essentially paying for the shells. Unsurprisingly, gasoline prices skyrocketed in response, hitting record highs this week, records which will probably be eclipsed in the coming days, with some predicting that we will see averages of 6 dollars per gallon before too long.
The correct response from the White House would be to back off its war on domestic oil and gas production, revisit the Keystone XL pipeline and get back to issuing oil and gas leases on federal land. Yes, it would take months for the first drops of this new product to enter circulation, but the knowledge that it is coming would exert downward pressure on the market, bringing down prices in the near-term while insulating us against shocks further down the road.
Spoiler alert: Their actual response doesn’t look anything like that.
And here’s Sammon:
While responding to reporters about Russia’s incursion into Ukraine two weeks ago, President Biden committed that his administration was using every tool at its disposal to protect American businesses and consumers from rising prices at the gas pump. “I will do everything in my power to limit the pain that the American people are feeling at the gas pump.”
This would’ve been spectacularly good news for every American and the larger economy were it actually true. But as one considers the U.S.’s current energy policy, implemented when Biden took office, it is clear that Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine will end up delivering precisely what the Biden administration itself has been working so furiously to achieve over the last year: higher domestic energy prices. Putin has inadvertently become the scapegoat and gift the Biden administration desperately needs to explain away increasing domestic energy prices that began at least eight months before Putin ever stepped foot on the stage in Ukraine.
When the Biden Administration took office, it unleashed a dangerous “Mandate and Moratorium” strategy, a green jihad of sorts against the U.S. energy sector. The strategy was simple-- create supply constraints for domestic oil and gas producers by dismantling distribution systems, tightening regulations, and suspending leases and permits, therefore impacting future drilling activity. Co-conspirators like Black Rock’s, Larry Fink, then jumped in by urging institutional divestment from the oil and gas sector and wielding a pseudo-sophisticated set of investments standards known as environment, social and governance (ESG). The strategy was topped off with the complicity of social media and tech’s intolerance for a diversity of ideas, ensuring Americans couldn’t discuss the flawed energy policy, let alone dissent from it.
Biden’s anti-oil strategy has necessarily created a dangerous dependence on foreign producers, such as Russia. Higher prices for oil and gas, in the Biden narrative, deliver greater price parity with alternative energy sources like wind and solar, a "reality" toward which this administration demands American consumers must move. To the administration, economic "pain at the pump" has been its objective since taking office and is considered a positive turn of events. National security, food security, and economic security were never part of their calculus.
Sammon also responded to the Biden Administration’s ridiculous attempts to shift the blame for rising energy prices to ‘greedy’ oil and gas companies.
John O’Sullivan is hopeful that Russia’s actions might be causing people to wake up to the inanity of these policies.
In my article last Friday I defined the most important issue of the day as follows: “how energy policy can be intelligently designed to enable us to provide cheap and reliable energy to the populations of Western countries while reducing our reliance on oil and gas from Russia in the aftermath of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.”
My guess that this claim is also the opinion of a comfortable majority in most Western countries. Others might argue that securing an early and just peace in (and for) Ukraine is more important. Greta Thunberg would probably counter-claim that reaching Net-Zero by yesterday should be our lodestar. But the shock to the system delivered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has converted people to the necessity of getting energy policy right for strategic and economic reasons as much as for environmental ones.
Confirmation of this was not long in coming. Almost simultaneously with The Pipeline’s publication, the Epoch Times reporting from Capitol Hill on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, quoted its chairman, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, as saying that “the recent action taken by Democratic commissioners [on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] served to elevate environmental considerations above American energy reliability, security, and independence.”
Manchin remarks were noteworthy on several grounds. He was attacking his own party’s appointees on the regulatory commission. He was challenging what has been until now the Green orthodoxy that grips both the Democrats and elite opinion generally. And since he is both the “swing vote” in a narrowly divided U.S. Senate and chairman of the committee wielding “oversight” authority of energy regulation, he has more practical power to change how that regulatory power is exercised than any other government official except the President of the United States—and perhaps more than him as well….
Vladimir Putin has burst the dam that held back the fears of people everywhere across Europe and the West that the costs of climate change policy were rising out of sight even before the invasion of Ukraine added new costs to rebuild Europe’s and NATO’s defenses.
Minds are now changing in the most surprising of places. Both the German and Belgian governments are having second thoughts about their abandonment of nuclear power. European energy independence—regarded as a strategic irrelevance since 1989, is now back on the agenda.
On a lighter note, here is our very own acclimatised beauty, Jenny Kennedy, trying to understand inflation.
That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading, and keep an eye on The Pipeline.