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The Chicago Way; Fascism; & Fear
In his Editor’s Column this week, Michael Walsh gives us a lesson in the Chicago way of politics:
In the movie The Untouchables, written by David Mamet and directed by Brian De Palma, a streetwise Irish cop named Malone tries to educate a starry-eyed fed named Eliot Ness in the ways of Chicago justice when up against an implacable, deadly opponent like Al Capone. The scene has become justly famous for this line: "He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. THAT'S the Chicago way! And that's how you get Capone."
But for our purposes here, what even more important is the exchange between Sean Connery and Kevin Costner that immediately precedes it:
Ness: I want to get Capone! I don't know how to get him.
Malone: [talking privately in a church] You said you wanted to know how to get Capone. Do you really wanna get him? You see what I'm saying, what are you prepared to do?
Ness: Everything within the law.
Malone: And *then* what are you prepared to do? If you open the ball on these people Mr. Ness you must be prepared to go all the way. Because they won't give up the fight, until one of you is dead.
Well, that's the question, isn't it? In a battle between good and evil, with the law having gone over to the side of evil—as it had in the gangland Chicago of the 1920s and '30s—what are the good guys prepared to do? With the country-as-founded now being shot out from underneath us on a near-daily basis, how do concerned citizens fight back?
The electoral system? Since the election of George W. Bush in 2000, there have been at least three presidential votes in which the losing side has contested the outcome; Bush's hanging chads, Hillary Clinton's baseless charge of "Russian collusion" against Donald Trump in 2016, and the chaos of 2020 that installed longtime hack politician Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. in the Oval Office. Of these, the two most recent are best viewed in tandem. The Left was taken by surprise by Trump's Electoral College victory (the only kind that counts) and, starting the day after the vote, launched its plan to make sure they'd never be robbed by what they thought was a fixed fight again.
Richard Fernandez contributed a piece about the cracks that are forming in the woke political alliance.
The little-noted but principal effect of the ongoing world crisis has been to challenge woke-progressive political agendas throughout the world. As Roger Cohen recently wrote in the New York Times, a crisis has derailed the Great Reset:
The Covid-19 pandemic, invasion of Ukraine, trend toward autocracy and economic inequalities challenge the World Economic Forum’s relevance.... The scramble in Europe for new sources of energy to replace Russian oil and gas, in societies under acute economic pressures, does not always favor expensive renewables or the conversion to 'environmental capitalism' that so many business leaders in Davos have publicly embraced.
The End of History vacation cruise has been suddenly canceled. The expanding scope of the war in Ukraine will force Joe Biden to either let go of his Woke agenda or risk losing the conflict. Until recently there seemed hope he could hang on to both, but when China indirectly joined the fray Washington's calculus was upset. Beijing's offer to broker a negotiated settlement to the war in Ukraine, has both divided the West and threatened to extend Russia's ability to hold out. China has become the arsenal of autocracy, allowing the Kremlin to prolong the war.
This Chinese strategic challenge should not be confused with Russia's inability to inflict tactical attrition. Tactically, Russia may be weak and is losing men and equipment at an unsustainable rate. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, "Russia suffered more combat deaths in Ukraine in the first year of the war than in all of its wars since World War II combined." Moreover the Kremlin is going broke. Russia will run out of money in 2024, one oligarch warned. But Russia and China may figure they can "outsuffer" the West if by that they can make the New World Order unaffordable in domestic political terms.
The warning signs that so alarmed Roger Cohen are flashing everywhere. Polls show that limiting economic damage due to the war has become a greater priority to Americans in 2023 than it was in 2022. According to a new survey, some 58 percent of Germans fear their country could be drawn into the war, while 69 percent believe the economy will deteriorate further. Politico summarized both trends by noting that:
Biden will host German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the White House... in what will be, on the surface, another display of Western unity with Ukraine as it repels Russia’s punishing invasion... The show of solidarity comes against a backdrop of growing strain as the trans-Atlantic alliance works to remain in lockstep while grappling with the fact that the war has no end in sight.
Perhaps nowhere are the strains between the new reality and the Woke agenda more evident than in the matter of "climate change." David Gelles at the NYT writes, "beyond the enormous human suffering and catastrophic damage inflicted on Ukraine, its people and its cities, one of the war’s most profound impacts has been on global energy markets, and by extension, on the global fight against climate change... coal has had a resurgence, subduing hopes for meeting goals to rein in greenhouse gas emissions."
The strain of higher energy prices is heightening tensions between the rich and poor voters. As Scientific American notes, "Russia’s war in Ukraine has altered global energy markets, accelerating the green transition in wealthy parts of Europe and forcing poorer countries to fall back on dirtier fuels like coal." News that wealthy Australians are buying solar panels while the poor struggle to pay their power bills sums up the class effect of Green policies that Joel Kotkin called a "neo-feudal war on the people."
"Can't afford the gas prices? Buy a Tesla!" works about as well as an electoral slogan as "Let them eat cake!"
Elizabeth Nickson wrote about the elite war on Flyover Country.
The tsunami of lies that issued from leadership during the Covid hoax has created a hypervigilant populace which flares into suspicion given any excuse. The balloons, the unpopular Ukraine war, government-caused inflation, the parade of food production facilities bursting afire, the unacknowledged excess deaths, have contributed to an almost universal mistrust of anyone official. And then came East Palestine.
The Norfolk Southern railroad was carrying vinyl chloride which when ignited, turns into dioxin, the great-grandmother of all toxins Within days, it spread across the 75,000 family farms of Ohio, across the Nebraska wheat fields into the underground aquifers and has killed, so far, 45,000 fish. Birds fell out of the sky, and most think that anyone pregnant in the vicinity is at extreme risk. The fire released the largest plume of dioxin in history.
The government tried to blame the fire chief of a town of 5,000 for lighting the chemicals. That is not how it works in rural America. The Department of Interior through its various agencies micro-manages every watercourse, farm, range and forest. Whoever gave that order was at the top of the food chain: the governor, advised by Interior by the Office of the President. Every single interest was consulted and signed off in a prescribed chain of decisions, before the train car was drained of vinyl chloride and the fire was lit.
The following is a concision of populist opinion, observations, and theory:
Even the Wall Street Journal is expressing “concerns” about food production in the region after the Norfolk Southern crash. That, of course, is nothing compared to the anguish in the village itself, where people are developing all manner of symptoms, wheezing, coughing, throats closing up, migraines, seizures. The EPA finally demanded the railroad test for dioxin. On its website, the agency warns that even a small amount of backyard burning of vinyl chloride and dioxin released from burning is dangerous.
Nor did it help that Norfolk Southern initially offered each resident a mere $1,000. Researchers like Erin Brockovich have pointed out that the Camp Lejeune vinyl chloride pollution was 10 percent of the scale of East Palestine, damaged one million people, and insurers were paying out for decades.
In January, the Biden administration released a ‘blueprint’ for the decarbonization of the transportation sector. Transportation issues more carbon dioxide than any other sector, so must be contained. As usual with environmental “blueprints,” the language is vague and faux-compassionate.
Under the leadership of President Biden, EPA is working with our federal partners to aggressively reduce pollution that is harming people and our planet – while saving families money at the same time,” said U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan. “At EPA, our priority is to protect public health, especially in overburdened communities, while advancing the President’s ambitious climate agenda. This Blueprint is a step forward in delivering on those goals and accelerating the transition to a clean transportation future.
Consider the incompetence in not knowing that vinyl chloride when ignited turns into dioxin. Consider that those are the people who will be "reimagining" transportation, people so hapless that they cannot contain the most toxic chemical man has ever created. Or was it incompetence? Suspicion is building that the accident was deliberate in order to clear the region for Intel moving into Ohio, so that water now used by residents and farms, can be reassigned to the factories. Norfolk Southern is owned by hedge funds, Vanguard and BlackRock, who own Intel.
That this suspected collaboration is an almost perfect case study of an Agenda 2030 move has not escaped notice. "Climate change" panic provides the impetus to draw down activity in the heartland. This conveniently sequesters resources for multinationals with no allegiance to place or people.
And, with a nod towards another Nickson pice, Peter Smith wrote about our governing class’s taste for fascism.
Reading Elizabeth Nickson’s gripping Pipeline article about the derring-dos of Celtic warriors who conquered the Canadian wastelands set me thinking. I bet they would have been mere wimps without politicians at the helm. Henry Ford would have been helpless without Theodore Roosevelt. James Watt, Thomas Edison, Guglielmo Marconi, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Steve Jobs, et al; you name them, vassals all in the thrall of the politicians of their day. Rodney Stark (in The Triumph of Christianity) attributes the rise of peerless western values, and the free and prosperous countries which those values nurtured, to Christianity; while glaringly neglecting the primary role of politicians. Remiss of him.
I’m being a touch ironic, to save you guessing. Any way you slice it, politicians are largely irrelevant to progress. At best they’re an adornment. And, most typically, an encumbrance. However, being full of ruthless ambition, even if empty of talent, they yearn to be center stage. There are exceptions. Calvin Coolidge “determined that the world would do better if he involved himself less,” according to Amity Shlaes (in The Forgotten Man). Unfortunately, self-effacement is uncommon. Thus, politicians remain ever alert for opportunities to trip the light fantastic. Wars can be a godsend. Look at Zelensky.
Covid too was an opportunity of a political lifetime. Milk it for all its worth was the raison d’etre of the political class. Go hang balance, perspective, reason, common sense, any questioning of the received wisdom of public health gurus and Dr Fauci. Even Trump succumbed to Fauci fandom at one point.
It’s a safe bet even now that numerous political leaders secretly crave the return of the "halcyon days" of lockdowns, masks, and compulsory jabs. When then-N.Y. governor Andrew Cuomo could woo the adoring media daily and dream of the White House, all the while condemning elderly people to their deaths in nursing homes. When Dan Andrews, the premier of the Australian state of Victoria, could gain popular support for “saving us” while being a complete authoritarian thug. Alas, the virus lost its virulence. More correctly, its lack of virulence could no longer be disguised.
Never mind, all was not lost among the political class. Acting on "climate change" is an ever headline-giving gift; saving the world no less, while robbing people of reliable and affordable power. An even bigger lark than confected Covid hysteria.
Rich Trzupek wrote about fear.
On March 4, 1933 newly elected President of the United States Franklin Delano Roosevelt made this famous declaration during his inaugural address: “…let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself; nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror.” FDR had his faults, as all leaders do, but uttering those words to a nation terrified by hopelessness and dread was a shining moment in his career.
On February 20, 2023 The Pipeline's editor Michael Walsh wrote this: “…democracy does not "die in darkness." It dies in chaos, brought on by fear, engendered by uncertainty and birthed of instability…” While I’m not willing to suggest that Walsh's eloquence should move him to seek elected office, or to be regularly photographed grinning with a fancy cigarette holder clenched in his teeth, I do believe that his declaration is every bit as profound as Roosevelt’s was ninety years prior.
In 1933 Americans were terrified by enormous economic upheaval few citizens understood. The disaster seemed unsolvable to most. In 2023 Americans are terrified by rapid advances in technologies and the sciences that – to many – seem to create problems as equally dangerous and apparently unsolvable as the Great Depression did in 1933.
This writer is not an expert on all technologies and all of science. We’ve advanced way to far for anyone to lay claim to being a modern-day Da Vinci. That said, this writer is an expert on the complex intersection of chemistry, environmental protection, risk evaluation, and public policy. In that world Walsh’s description holds true: all rational parts of that equation are dying in chaos, brought on by fear, engendered by uncertainty, and birthed of instability. Moreover, I firmly believe that is the case in many, likely most, other areas of scientific discipline when they intersect with public policy or popular trends. In this era of mass, instantaneous communication, nothing is guaranteed to attract more attention than communicating fear.
Consider how many people routinely purchase indoor “air purifiers” that are designed to remove air contaminants from indoor air by generating the most widely regulated air pollutant in America: ozone. Ozone is basically oxygen on steroids; three oxygen atoms bonded together rather than the usual two. The extra atom gives ozone some unique properties, among which is its ability to react with a variety of air contaminants and remove them from the air we breathe. So far so good, except for the fact that ozone is itself a highly regulated air contaminant. Reducing ozone in the air we breathe has been the focus of EPA and environmental group efforts for over fifty years.
The EPA has reduced the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone three times since the original Clean Air Act was promulgated. Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama all reduced the ozone standard, largely in response to environmental group claims that the preceding standard was not sufficiently protective of human health. There are mountains of regulations designed to reduced ozone formation. Vehicles have catalytic convertors largely to reduce ozone formation. If you live in an urban area, you pay for low vapor pressure gasoline in the summer months to reduce ozone formation. The push to reduce ozone formation affects the price we pay for electricity, natural gas, consumer goods, and a host of other areas.
Liberals have toyed with the ludicrous idea of banning natural gas-fired appliances, but none seems moved to grab this incredibly low-hanging fruit: Americans are routinely purchasing air-pollution generators in the name of improving air quality! It’s the sort of exploitation of fear and ignorance that would have amazed even Orwell.
And, finally, Tom Finnerty blogged about the energy crisis at the heart of South Africa’s political crisis. As he notes, the situation in South Africa mirrors the Leftist vision have for all of the nation’s of the west, “Except none of them would want to live there.”
Thanks for reading, and keep a look out for upcoming pieces by John O’Sullivan, Peter Smith, and Jenny Kennedy. All this and more this week at The Pipeline!