Wednesday, November 18, 2020

We'll Rue the Demise of Trump's Energy Doctrine


Joe Biden's election will be the death of a domestic energy revival that was good for the economy, great for energy consumers and a bold stroke in terms of national security. It wasn't by chance that you saw your price at the pump drop dramatically during the Trump years. That's just one of many benefits Americans enjoyed as a result of the Trump energy boom. On energy, Trump saw the stakes, global and domestic, clearly. Reversing his policy of "energy dominance" will be seen in time as a major mistake. 

I routinely see America's Green Media gleefully writing obituaries for evil oil and gas, as if the pie-in-the-sky transition to "100% renewables" is easy, feasible, affordable and a done deal. That's a misleading and dishonest fantasy. And reports of traditional energy's demise have been greatly exaggerated.

A look abroad suggests that the global struggle for energy dominance still hinges on fossil fuels, and that it's far from over. We see China making an even bigger move into Africa (though it's been quietly dabbling there for years, daring to operate where Western oil companies won't). The energy-rich Arctic has become a bigger bone of contention, with China surprising many observers by asserting itself there as well. Russia and China seem to be moving toward an energy detente that seems designed to sideline the US, if it doesn't sideline itself in the Biden eraRussia isn't giving up on its most potent revenue source and tool (read: weapon) of energy diplomacy. 

Explain all the Russian and Chinese energy plays if fossil fuels are a thing of the past. These countries apparently didn't get the memo about the imminent demise of traditional energy. What do they know that US pundits and media prognosticators don't?  

As Americans retreat to the self-punishing, scarcity-producing, cost-hiking policies of the Obama years, smarter countries are busily maneuvering for advantage and securing reliable energy supplies for the future -- and none of it has anything to do with building more wind farms or spreading more solar sprawl. China and Russia aren't acting as if the sun is setting on fossil fuels. On the contrary, they're scrambling during this Covid-induced lull to strengthen their energy position and corner the reliable energy market where they can -- while dreamy-eyed Americans gulp green Kool-Aid and return to taking our energy security for granted. 

Silly Americans; when will you ever learn?

Friday, August 21, 2020

Western Wildfires are Another Self-Inflicted Wound

It's wildfire season in the West again; time for a lot of typically-revisionist claptrap about why we're seeing fires of such unprecedented ferocity.  Of course, the sweeping and simplistic explanation for everything, “climate change,” conveniently gets most of the blame, as does Trump. But the root causes of the crisis, as I understand them, go much deeper than that.

It's a complicated question, worthy of book-length treatment, but the bottom line, from the point of view of someone who has been carefully watching the issue for more than 20 years, is that this is largely a man-made catastrophe. 

Western wildfires largely result from more than a century of lousy, short-sighted forest management, compounded by disease outbreaks that bureaucracy-bound Washington failed to address in a timely fashion. The idiots blaming Trump for a crisis many decades in the making are either misinformed or willfully stupid.

Then, conveniently for the bureaucrats and organized extremists who helped build this tinderbox trap, "climate change" came along as the intellectually-lazy, simpleton-satisfying, catch-all explanation for how we got here, further dooming any practical efforts to get a handle on the situation. Why try tackling the beetle blight problem, after all, if "climate change" is the root cause? You can't manage your way out of such an insurmountable problem; no steps short of overthrowing capitalism and reversing the industrial revolution will do!! Meaning, once again, that "analysis paralysis" and climate hysteria blocked any meaningful effort to fix our forests.

The lesson of the Western wildfire crisis, if you're looking for one, is that massive federal bureaucracies can't manage anything well, including (and maybe most of all) our far-flung Western lands, This should make Americans extremely wary of putting any additional power or authority in Washington's hands -- unless they want the bureaucrats mismanaging their healthcare (and the rest of your lives) the same way they historically mismanaged "federal lands." 

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Where's Tom Wolfe When We Need Him?

Just imagine the fun the late Tom Wolfe (author of "Radical Chic" and other pieces skewering the counterculture) would have had with the zany idea that looting Macy's and the Rolex Store constitutes a legitimate form of reparations for slavery. 

The days of looting the corner liquor store or food store, of running off with diapers and Mad Dog 2020, largely seem behind us in America. That's so 1967 or 1968 (or maybe 1992, in LA's case). Most of today's looters have developed much more refined -- dare I say "bourgeois" or even "capitalist"? -- tastes in the businesses they plunder, which is especially ironic given the Marxist slogans many of the new revolutionaries spew. 

How and when did our poor and downtrodden develop such expensive tastes in clothing and accessories? What does that say about the way we define "poverty" and "the underprivileged" today? Wolfe would have had such a ball tackling such questions. But we have no journalists today who can even see the ironies and absurdities, much less bring them to life in print.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

The Elephants in the Room

Democrats are too owned by unions to seriously "reform" anything, from public education to policing, because unions often are the hidebound, immovable crux of the problem and make meaningful change impossible.

All liberal "reform" efforts are window dressing unless they address the elephant in the room.

Now Occupied Colorado seems poised to unionize state workers, which will make state government unreformable!

Just what we need.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

America's "Emergency Powers" Emergency

An exaggerated "emergency," exploited and prolonged for political purposes.

Snitch lines that turn "neighbors" into informers.  

Government monitoring of alleged scofflaws, aimed at forcing compliance with capricious, arbitrary, unjustified dictates.

No, this isn't another post about the mass panic and growing tyranny unleashed by COVID-19. It's a protest against Colorado Springs Utilities Board's "emergency" water rules, which share striking similarities more clearly visible in hindsight. The COVID-19 crisis brought the potential misuse and abuse of "emergency powers" into clearer focus for many of us. But the temptations such arbitrary powers present to petty tyrants were there to see before Covid-19 engraved the invitation. 

These "emergency" water restrictions were put in place by the utilities board (on which I once served) late last year, in December, when lawn-watering rules were the last thing on most of our minds. That was also before we saw how the COVID19 "emergency" would be exploited by petty tyrants to flex their little muscles. But in retrospect, we can see a similar power play unfolding.

The COVID-19 threat is real enough, especially for the sick, the deceased, others who were or are directly effected. But no analogous water emergency looms in Colorado Springs -- not even close. It's a figment of the board's imagination, a manufactured "crisis" that conveniently gives members power to lord it over alleged water-wasters like a bunch of Karens (or "Gladys Kravitzes," if you prefer.)

Water is a reasonably scarce resource, obviously, depending on natural fluctuations. And we live in an arid zone -- the "Great American Desert," as it was known before reclamation projects made the desert hospitable. Water conservation makes sense, but so does water use, since there's only so much water we can store and the elaborate and costly water infrastructure we've built-out over the years to store and steward water -- the reservoirs and pipelines, pumping stations and water treatment facilities -- must be paid for. Charging utilities customers a reasonable sum for using water is how all that infrastructure (and the debt we accrue building and maintaining it) is funded, pointing to a glaring contradiction in how CSU treats water users.

Water use is what pays for the system, so why is the city-owned utility treating water users like villains, scofflaw's or bad neighbors? A tiered rate structure already helps ensure that heavy water users pay more. Going beyond that when not in the midst of a real or looming crisis strikes me as social engineering, not smart water management.

And these restrictions go far beyond the three-sprinkles-per-week rule -- by barring puddled water on your driveway, for instance, which makes hand-washing your car against the rules -- inviting a level of surveillance and intrusiveness by CSU that's unprecedented in the city's history.

Reported the Gazette:

"The rules will also prohibit residents from using water to clean sidewalks, driveways and patios, “except when cleaning with water is necessary for public health or safety reasons or when other cleaning methods are impractical or inappropriate.” Utilities customers will be barred from allowing water that’s meant for irrigation to pool on paved surfaces or accumulate in gutters and drains.

The regulations also advises against watering landscapes during high wind or precipitation events and recommend that hoses with nozzles be used to wash vehicles and that restaurants refrain from serving drinking water unless a patron requests it."

So why were these needlessly-restrictive rules in place? Apparently, just because a majority on the City Council/Utilities Board believed it could impose them without raising a public squawk. It's a sort of warm-up for the alleged water shortages we may face 50 years into the future -- a tool for conditioning and training CSU customers in anticipation of water shortages that may or may not arise, depending on a dozen, hard-to-predict variables.

My guess is that the impetus for this -- like the impetus for virtually everything Colorado Springs does as a city -- comes from the development community, which fears that the cost of tap fees might rise when the massive growth slated for areas like Banning Lewis Ranch begins to explode. Thus, established and existing residents are being forced to abide by water restrictions in order to accommodate the new growth the city's usual "Movers and Shakers" are banking on, literally and figuratively.

Perhaps we should go back and review these watering restrictions in light of what we now know about how real or manufactured "crises" are exploited by political leaders to advance secondary and tertiary agendas. We need to understand that any latitude we cede to petty tyrants in government will be exploited for maximum gain. We need to closely guard against granting any politicians "emergency" powers that aren't in response to an actual emergency.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

When Lab Rats Rebel

You all remember learning about Ivan Pavlov and his slobbering dog in school, right? You probably saw the film about pigeons who can be taught to play Beethoven's 5th (or was it Chopsticks?) if they're rewarded with a kernel of corn for pecking piano keys in the right order.

So, you’ll also recall that the process of programming animals to respond to rewards (or punishments) is called "conditioning." It's the same method your parents used on you to prevent you from becoming a little barbarian. Well, "conditioning" has a tendency to break down over time if the rewards or punishments aren't consistently administered. And that's what's happening out in the real world, despite the best efforts of our local autocrats to hold us down, keep us housebound, compel us to obey, mandate empty rituals. 

The conditioning is breaking down. The lab rats have grown restive and they are rebelling. People are shaking-off a politically-induced panic attack and cautiously going about their lives. The fog of fear is lifting; rational thought is creeping back in. People are starting to understand that risks can be managed but not completely ameliorated. And we're seeing mass civil disobedience of the sort that one would expect in a free society. 

And I, for one, think it's healthy, in spite of the calculated but manageable risks that escaped lab rats must take. I, for one, am relieved to see Americans yearning for freedom again.

I'm also more than a little ashamed that my city, Colorado Springs, is treating residents like kids by playing the rewards-and-punishment intimidation game. From Denver or Boulder or Fort Collins I would expect that. From the city of responsible adults, like "conservative" Colorado Springs, I expect a different and better, less controlling and condescending approach. 

I also think it's rather weak for the "strong Mayor" to push his poor parks director out there to play the heavy, instead of issuing the warnings himself. The "strong Mayor" is now primarily responsible for policymaking in the city, not the parks director. We need to hear the rationales for continued lockdowns coming directly from the source.

We diligently followed orders and flattened the curve. It's time to loosen the noose and let Colorado breath again. A free people won't be locked-down forever.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Just Following Orders May Cost Cops Public Support

Cops enjoy strong public support in this country and rightly so. They do important and often dangerous work. But I fear that support will begin to slide, perhaps steeply, unless police, their departments and their unions begin opposing the constitutionally-dubious COVID19 edicts of power-drunk state and local officials.

Americans have seen a lot of disturbing things during this crisis: things most of us never imagined we would see in a free country. But cringe-inducing photos and videos of local or state police cuffing soccer moms on playgrounds and evicting senior citizens from beach chairs have for me been the most jarring images of all. I know from social media surfing and discussions with friends that I’m not alone. Our “first responders” are in danger of losing the support of millions of Americans if they’re first to respond when it comes to trampling our civil liberties.

We’ve seen the bizarre spectacle of California cops chasing down paddle boarders and joggers at the beach, and enforcing the only-one-person-in-the-pool-rule. We read with disbelief about police "sting operations" against “illegal” manicurists and pedicurists. Police in Ohio busting Amish barn parties; Brighton, Colorado, cops cuffing a dad playing t-ball with his kids; it goes on and on, one ugly scene after another.

America is assuming the look and feel of a police state. But you can’t have a police state without willing police. Unless the police themselves take the lead in turning that around, by getting back on the side of the citizens and the Bill of Rights, the reservoir of goodwill they enjoy will start draining away. If the words “to serve and protect" come to mean "to persecute and punish," Americans who typically welcome a police presence may come to view them as arbitrary power personified.

I have to believe – I have to hopethat most of the officers involved in these incidents also find them abhorrent. I have to believe they question the legality and propriety of the orders they’re following.  But what if most cops don't harbor such doubts? What if a majority of them and their supervisors actually enjoy being part of this unprecedented power trip? The implications of that are ominous to contemplate.

“Just following orders” isn't an acceptable excuse. The 20th century’s greatest tyrannies and atrocities were enabled by a just-following-orders mentality. Our law enforcers are sworn to uphold The Constitution, not to robotically do the bidding of whomever signs their paychecks. Just as it look Nixon the anti-communist to "go the China," it must be the police who lead us away from the emerging police state, not just for our good but for their own.

Admittedly, it’s hard for the lone cop to take a stand against these edicts. That’s a tough thing to do in organizations that put a premium on hierarchy, discipline and following orders. Disobedience or dissent could derail their careers. Individual cops can't be expected to study the legality of every law they’re asked to enforce.

This is where police unions and associations need to be flexing more muscle, advocating for the cops within their ranks who won't be party to out-of-control politicos shredding the Bill of Rights. Unions and associations are in the good position to push back, and to give voice to those within their ranks who object to what they’re being asked to do. These unions are good at negotiating pay hikes and generous pensions. But they must be good for more than just that. They need to understand that it will cost them and their members public trust and support if they become complicit in the destruction of the laws they are sworn to uphold.

If the police and police unions don’t recognize this as an urgent potential problem, and if they don’t take the lead in arresting the creation of an emerging police state, by leading power-drunk elected officials in a more sober direction, America’s perception of those who "protect and serve" might never be the same again.