Bookworm Beat 6/19/2017: Special Counsels, Fracking and More

A roll up for today to fill the void of Ms. BWR’s absence.  The picture comes from People’s Cube and their latest magazine offering

Comey, Trump, the Justice Dept. and Special Counsel

Victor Davis Hanson, writing at American Greatness, gives an excellent summation of the progressive jihad aimed at toppling President Trump:

In every single week of the Trump presidency, the investigators and attorneys of FBI Director James Comey or, subsequently, of special counsel Robert Mueller, have leaked information that President Donald Trump was under investigation for either colluding with the Russians or obstructing justice—allegations so far without any substantiating evidence.

In the case of Comey, we now know that his office or sympathetic third-parties leaked to the press false stories that Trump was under FBI investigation at precisely the time that the careerist Comey was privately reassuring the president himself that he was in fact not being investigated.

 The appointment of Mueller was a concession to opposition demands that Trump appoint a Lawrence Walsh-type Special Prosecutor. The Comey-Mueller investigations and leaks occur simultaneously with House Intelligence member Adam Schiff’s passive-aggressive and often pompous announcements of evidence of Russian collusion—including raising the specter of a Grand Jury investigation—that are never followed by any evidence.

Since January 2017, the Congress ceased being a legislative body. It is now a Star-chamber court determined to decapitate the presidency.

Never in the history of the republic have there been so many legislative and political simultaneous efforts to 1) sabotage the Electoral College, 2) sue to overturn the presidential vote in key swing states, 3) boycott the Inauguration, 4) systematically block presidential appointments, 5) surveille, unmask, and leak classified or privileged information about the elected president, 6) nullify federal law at the state and local level, 7) sue to remove the president by invoking the Emoluments Clause, 8) declare Trump unfit under the 25th Amendments, 9) demand recusals from his top aides, 10) cherry-pick sympathetic judges to block presidential executive orders, 11) have a prior administration’s residual appointees subvert their successor, and 12) promise impending impeachment.

 And that is only the political effort to remove the president. . . .

Prof. Hanson suggests that Trump must counter this, at least indirectly.  He must get Congress to pass health and tax reform, he needs to get the economy growing over three percent, and lastly, he must go on the offensive, holding the members of the prior administration responsible for their corrupt acts in office as well as pursuing leakers with a vengeance.  Amen.

Andy McCarthy looks at the “scandal” now enveloping the Trump Administration and the role played by his Justice Dept.  Trump may be his own worst enemy, apparently believing “that fires are best doused with gasoline,” but his Justice Dept. is not far behind.  Well worth the read.

In the USA Today, UT Law Prof. Glenn Reynolds explains why the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, is hopelessly conflicted as to James Comey and any investigation of the Obstruction of Justice charge.  Either Mueller needs to resign or a second special counsel to take over any and all investigation of the obstruction charge.

Fracking & The Petrochemical Industry

Fracking has led to a revolution in the energy industry.  It opened up vast reserves of oil and natural gas in the U.S.  Saudi Arabia and OPEC declared war on American fracking in 2014.  But in a Nietzscheian truism, they only succeeded in making the American fracking industry stronger and more efficient, to the point that Saudi Arabian and OPEC domination of the world’s oil and gas markets are now a thing of the past.   That alone is wonderful news, but the benefits of the fracking revolution ripple outwards in many direction.  Low cost oil and gas are the lifeblood of all manufacturing, but none more so than the petrochemical manufacturing industry, where the US now expects to see a massive increase in investment and jobs.  This from The Science and Environmental Policy Project (h/t Powerline):

Until a few years ago Europe and America paid more or less the same amount for their petrochemical feedstock — the US had a slight advantage but not so great after transport and other costs had been factored in. (Middle East plants, sited right by the oilfields, did have such a price advantage but lacked scale.)

This is no longer the case thanks to the fundamental changes across the Atlantic. The Marcellus field, which spreads over several states and is just one of many in the US, produces 15 billion cubic feet of gas a day which is almost twice the UK’s entire consumption. But the result is that US prices have disconnected from the rest of the world and the subsequent feedstock prices have given American chemical plants so vast a price advantage that, on paper at least, there’s no way Europe can compete. It is staring down the barrel of bankruptcy, not now, but in a few short years, unless it can find some way to get its raw­ material costs down to American levels.

Thus far, the effect has been muted — and the European industry has had a little time — because the US petrochemical industry was originally not built for indigenous US gas and oil supplies but instead located near ports and configured to process supplies of oil from the Middle East.

But this is changing fast. There has been virtually no big petrochemical investment in Europe in the past decade whereas in the US since 2010 some $85 billion of petrochemicals projects have been completed or are under construction. Spending on chemical capacity to 2022 will exceed $124 billion, according to the American Chemistry Council, creating 485,000 jobs during construction and more than 500,000 permanent jobs, adding between $80 billion and $120 billion in economic output. After years where chemical capacity has run neck and neck with Europe, the American industry is about to dwarf it.

I do wish the Europeans well in the Paris Agreement, as they insure that their energy costs rise and fracking is treated there with disfavor.  And likewise, I wish Saudi Arabia (break even point (BEP) $95.80 bbl), Iran (BEP $70.40 bbl) and Russia (BEP $84.90 bbl) well as their golden geese fail.  Brent Crude was trading Friday at $47.31 bbl.  Couldn’t happen to a nicer group of autocracies.

Don’t feel too sorry for them though.  It has been generally true that nations which receive most of their government funding from exploitation of a natural resource have governments that tend toward autocracies.  That is understandable, as there is no need for such governments to rely on the people to fund them, and thus no need to be responsive to the people.  I look forward to seeing how the mad mullahs of Iran, the oligarchs of Russia, and the Saudi royal family in Arabia, all wielding power over nations that produce little or nothing of commercial value besides oil, cope with their changed circumstance.

Climate Alarmists and the Myth of Affordable Renewable Energy

Several events of note.  We can start with the macro level and a global look at modern renewable energy, virtually all of which can only survive on government mandates and subsidies.

This from WUWT, commenting upon 2017 edition of the REN21 Renewables Global Status Report.  It shows that, since 2005, $2.5 trillion dollars of the world’s wealth has been “invested” in creating and establishing “modern renewable energy” – i.e., wind, solar, ethanol and geothermal.  Yet with all that money tossed at it, wind and solar are still only providing 1% of global energy usage.  When you add in geothermal and ethanol, you get up to 10.6% of the world’s energy consumption.  But in a fascinating juxtaposition, the REN21 Report shows “traditional biomass” as still providing almost as much energy as these heavily subsidized “modern renewables.”  Traditional biomass, free but for the gathering, refers to twigs, cow patties and the like.

Second, Australia has gone whole hog into renewables and punished traditional sectors.  The results have been problematic to say the least.  Peta Credlin, writing in Australia’s Daily Telegraph, counts the ways:

The biggest deniers in the whole climate change debate are those who think we can have affordable power, lower emissions and a reliable network.

We can’t. . . .

There’s no doubt that any policy that lowers Australia’s CO2 emissions will increase the cost of power and any move away from baseload capacity will make our network more unreliable.

Forget the movie, this is the real “inconvenient truth” that climate change zealots have never wanted to acknowledge. . . .

Do read the whole article for the specifics.  Hat Tip to WUWT, who also include this chart showing how renewables are now starting to really drive up the cost of energy in Australia:

At the micro level, there is this gem from Canada, where the Calgary Herald reports that TransAlta Corp. has decommissioned Canada’s oldest windfarm  and is sending all the towers to the scrapyard.  The Herald also reports:

“TransAlta is very interested in repowering this site. Unfortunately, right now, it’s not economically feasible,” Wayne Oliver, operations supervisor for TransAlta’s wind operations in Pincher Creek and Fort Macleod, said in an interview.

“We’re anxiously waiting to see what incentives might come from our new government. . . . Alberta is an open market and the wholesale price when it’s windy is quite low, so there’s just not the return on investment in today’s situation. So, if there is an incentive, we’d jump all over that.”

Pigs.  Troughs.

Lastly, to add, no group of people use apocalyptic language more than the climate hustlers.  Pulling out of the Paris Accords will “doom the planet,” etc. etc.  Thus I’m not surprised to find that the Bernie Bro who shot Steve Scalise and attempted to massacre Congressional Republicans several days ago described himself as a “climate activist.”  Indeed, the Bernie Bro is the only would be assassin in American history of the past century who seems motivated by mainstream politics, and climate activisim was one part of that for him.  As Russ Douthat opines in today’s NYT:  “So Hodgkinson’s seeming normalcy, his angry but relatively mainstream Democratic views, might be a warning sign for the future of our politics.”  Indeed, they might, both in and out of the world of apocalyptic climate change alarmism.

The UN Seeks To Make Cultural Appropriation Illegal

It is hard to imagine anything more threatening to human advancement, nor more Marxist in orientation, than trying to balkanize the world by criminalizing “cultural appropriation.” And yet:

Indigenous advocates from around the world are calling on a UN committee to ban the appropriation of Indigenous cultures — and to do it quickly.

Delegates from 189 countries, including Canada, are in Geneva this week as part of a specialized international committee within the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a United Nations agency.

Since it began in 2001, the committee has been working on creating and finishing three pieces of international law that would expand intellectual-property regulations to protect things like Indigenous designs, dances, words and traditional medicines.

The meeting takes place as concern grows worldwide about the rights of cultures to control their own materials. . . .

Writes Tom Knighton at PJM:

What is often termed “cultural appropriation” is actually appreciation. In the vast majority of cases, it’s meant as a compliment. Sure, wearing a Plains Indian headdress for Coachella may not be respectful, but it’s not intentionally insulting. After all, they look pretty badass.

Demanding that certain activities and items be off-limits pending the results of a blood test is racism of the worst kind. This movement is despicable, but idiot ideas like enforcing a worldwide ban allow us to have some fun mocking it.

The EU Erases Judaism & Christianity From European History

European (and American) history are so completely intertwined with Christianity and Judaism over the better part of the last two millenium that one cannot be understood without an understanding of the other.  But the atheists and socialists (I repeat myself) in the EU see it differently.  The EU, at significant cost, recently opened the House of European History in Brussels.  Wrote one visitor:

The overview of European history that is presented from the second floor upward is both typically modern and emphatically French and socialist. The French Revolution seems to be the birthplace of Europe; there is little room for anything that may have preceded it. The Napoleonic Code and the philosophy of Karl Marx receive a prominent place, while slavery and colonialism are highlighted as the darker sides of European culture. . . .

[T]he most remarkable thing about the House is that, as far as its account is concerned, it is as if religion does not exist. In fact, it never existed and never impacted the history of the continent. On none of the many floors is any attention paid to the Reformation as the great divide between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, to religious wars between confessions, or the quest for freedom of religion that was at the heart of the Dutch Revolt. If one did not know that the Roman Catholic Church existed, one would not find it out in the permanent exposition of European history that the European Parliament seeks to present to every European (at that European’s expense). No longer is European secularism fighting the Christian religion; it simply ignores every religious aspect in life altogether. . . .

. . . The impact of all this is not relegated to the past. Its greatest cost is in the present. When God and religion are no longer mentioned as part of public life, the technocrats can lay claim to control, and the European discourse is governed by experts in the fields of money and power. Instead of God, the European institutions of Brussels take center stage. . . .

I could not agree more with the author’s conclusion.  And to add, much of history since 1792 has been a battle between Karl Marx and the French Revolution (including atheism) on one side against Adam Smith and the American Revolution (including religion) on the other.  The battle lines are clearly drawn, just far too many people don’t understand the existential stakes.

Pass The Popcorn Flavored Ice Cream

Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream is owned by two very obnoxious social justice activists.  Thus it is heartwarming to see a report that “scores of dairy farm workers and activists marched Saturday on a Ben & Jerry’s factory to push for better pay and living conditions on farms that provide milk for the ice cream maker . . .”