A Subtle Catastrophe

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

In the wake of the Afghanistan debacle, which could have been avoided with even a hint of Executive Branch foresight, President Biden needed a win. And how did he chase that much-needed win? He ordered some 80 million American citizens to get vaccinated. This he presented to the country in a condescending temper tantrum broadcast live for all to see. “Our patience is running thin,” he said. “Many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated.”

This is not what winning looks like. This looks like yet another President declaring his way to the policy outcomes he wants by executive order, Covid style.

It’s hard to imagine Biden offering a more tone-deaf response. Part of his six-pronged strategy, on the path to universal vaccinations seems clear enough to him and however many people advise him on a daily basis. That makes the difficulties with the plan, and there are difficulties down to the marrow with this ill-conceived mess, all the more incomprehensible.

The Biden plan rests on mutually exclusive premises. First, there is the implicit assertion that the vaccines work. Indeed, they work so well that we should force 80 million people to get vaccinated, whether they want to or not. This, of course, flies in the face of the other presupposition: that we need to vaccinate damn near everyone because people are simply not safe otherwise.

Aren’t those who voluntarily took a vaccine already protected? If not, the vaccines are not all that effective, and mandating them will not make them anymore so. If that’s not the objective, are we really protecting the anti-vaxxers from themselves? Since when is that an appropriate use of government power? Either way, forcing people to submit to a vaccine they don’t want as a condition of their continued employment doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

And then there are the details of the Biden plan, details that should make just about everyone uncomfortable, regardless of vaccination status. First, employers with 100 or more employees must mandate their employees be vaccinated or submit negative tests weekly. It doesn’t stop there. All federal employees are mandated, as are all contractors who do business with the federal government. Additionally, over 17 million health care workers make the list too.

Since when does the United States President have this kind of authority? There is literally nothing in the Constitution that enables anything even close to this sort of thing. The President is tasked with executing the laws passed by the Congress, not writing them himself, and there is nothing in Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution enabling Congress to mandate anything like this either.

Oddly, members of Congress, their staff, and employees of the federal court system are all exempted from the Biden plan. Then again, maybe this isn’t odd at all given who might be inclined to object. Better to win their favor with favors now than have them saying something about the dubious constitutionality of any of this nonsense later.

We are left with a sitting United States President who is willing to do just about anything to make it seem like he is in firm control of a difficult situation. Sadly, being firmly in control also means scolding 100 million Americans like a 19th-century schoolmarm. But maybe it’s the rest of us whose patience should be wearing thin. Where there were once meaningful limits on the exercise of federal power, we now lurch from red to blue, each team waiting its turn to inflict its vision on the other team and the entirety of the country in the bargain.

In the end, people get the government they deserve. So we get a President who either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about the constitutional constraints of his office. Either way, it’s unforgivable. But the red and blue teams will just put in their time until the next election, when we will do it all over again, proving we are all to blame to one degree or another.

So which is it? Are the vaccines effective? If so, why do we need to mandate them? Aren’t all those who elected to get vaccinated safe? Or are they somehow ineffective, in which case mandating them serves no purpose? And while we’re at it, how long will immunity last in the vaccinated? Vaccines are clearly effective in the short run, on that we seem to have near-universal agreement. But how will things look in the long term?

These are questions that Biden and his team should have asked before stepping into the deep end of the policy pool. Because they didn’t, we will be left with a quieter, more subtle catastrophe than we saw in Afghanistan, but it will be a catastrophe just the same.

*****

This article was published on September 11, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from AIER, American Institute for Economic Research.

Hail, Biden!: The President’s Toothless Caesarism

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

President Joe Biden demonstrated his commitment to “norms” last week by delivering a speech threatening governors, and all who oppose his will, with a unilateral edict requiring COVID-19 vaccinations.

As my colleague Fred Lucas reported, Biden “directed the Labor Department to develop an emergency regulation giving the Occupational Safety and Health Administration the authority to enforce a national vaccine mandate for larger employers.”

Here’s more from an editorial in The Wall Street Journal on what Biden did: “He’s forcing all private employers with more than 100 workers—two-thirds of the workforce—to require vaccinations or weekly testing. The non-compliant can be dunned $14,000 per violation.”

What authority does the executive branch have to create a national vaccine mandate and commandeer businesses to do it? Countless legislators and elected officials weighed in to note that Biden’s move had dubious constitutional validity.

“The federal government has no authority to force businesses in Texas and across the country to mandate their employees get vaccinated. American businesses are still recovering from this past year and a half. It is cruel and burdensome to impose this authoritarian mandate,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Friday in a public statement following Biden’s speech.

There is no doubt the executive edict will be challenged in court.

Even The Washington Post’s editorial board, typically a firm supporter of Biden and his policies, admitted that his order was likely to be challenged legally. But the Post effectively concluded that necessity in this case knows no law.

“Legally, Mr. Biden’s expansive use of executive power is sure to be challenged in the courts,” the Post’s editorial reads. “In normal times, we would not want to see such power used for less pressing needs. But the emergency is real.”

It should be noted that it’s not only the job of the Supreme Court to uphold the law. We should expect and demand more of our leaders, no matter what branch of government.

Government officials all have a duty and obligation to protect and defend the Constitution. But Biden already has demonstrated that isn’t his top priority, despite swearing to do so.

Remember, not long ago, Biden announced a national eviction moratorium through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention while initially conceding that it probably wasn’t legal.

“The bulk of the constitutional scholarship says that it’s not likely to pass constitutional muster,” Biden said at the time. “But there are several key scholars who think that it may, and it’s worth the effort.”

He then backtracked a bit from that shaky reasoning, but it still shows that this is a president who prioritizes expedient policy goals over the Constitution and the rule of law.

The Supreme Court struck down the moratorium on evictions, but it’s still damaging to have the president act as if constitutional fidelity matters only in regard to what the courts will let him get away with.

It’s hard not to see Biden’s most recent order on vaccines in a similar light, and it represents a further destructive slide into the imperial presidency.

Biden’s old boss, President Barack Obama, came up with infamous “pen and phone” presidential powers. That is, Obama decided that if the representatives of the American people are deadlocked in Congress, he had a pen to sign executive orders that sidestepped them and a phone to rally his supporters.

It seems that we are in an even more advanced stage of Caesarism, where this time Biden doesn’t even bother to say that he’s tired of waiting for Congress. It’s more like he’s assuming that the legislative branch, created to make the laws of our country, has been reduced to a meaningless rump institution.

Topping off Biden’s edict is another mortifying aspect of his speech Thursday evening from the White House: the abrasive and authoritarian tone.

“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin,” the president warned in a threatening manner, looking into the camera and addressing those who are not vaccinated.

Biden then aimed his sights at the duly elected governors who weren’t aboard with his policies.

“If they will not help, if those governors won’t help us beat the pandemic, I’ll use my power as president to get them out of the way,” Biden said, taking a shot at what remains of federalism in America.

If the president is so concerned about waves of unvaccinated Americans driving up the number of COVID-19 cases, why not do something about the now outrageously porous border that is well within federal authority to control?

So much for unity, moderation, or competence.

The president’s caustic speech on COVID-19 vaccinations is an interesting contrast to the flimsy and excuse-filled speeches he gave in the wake of his Afghanistan withdrawal debacle. As usual, Biden has harsher words for domestic opponents than our enemies abroad.

It’s hardly a combination that will bring the country together or project strength to the world.

At least with the original Caesarism, Rome achieved glorious victory over the Gauls.

What we currently are being subjected to with this administration is a curious mix of brutish, overbearing nannyism on one hand and helpless feebleness on the other.

*****

This article was published on September 13, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from The Daily Signal.

Burning Batteries Pose A Huge Risk To EV Mandates

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Editors’ Note: Progressives and the Green Industrial Complex are hell-bent on using your money (state subsidies) to force the public into “green energy” and particularly, electric cars. Instead of what occurred earlier at the turn of the 20th century when gasoline, kerosene, steam, and electric cars competed openly and fairly with each other, our elites want to cram their choices down our throats. But like every other decision, one must be aware of the trade-offs. One trade-off is that EV vehicles are not better for the environment. Another is the electrical grid is not prepared to support the widespread use of EVs. It appears that conversion to EVs favors China in many important ways. And now two other related issues:  The problem of intense and toxic fires and much higher overall insurance cost. Before you get bribed into using an EV, perhaps you should familiarize yourself with the negative trade-offs. Could it be the central planners don’t know any more about the environment than they did about Afghanistan, crime, inflation, and Covid? When the market makes a choice, trade-offs cannot be ignored as they play a key role in cost and consumer choice. Consumers voluntarily make choices and producers voluntarily comply with their wishes. What works can be maintained and that which does not work fails in the voluntary marketplace. This allowance for failure guides the market to correct and cost-effective conclusions. When the government makes the choice, it is one size fits all, backed by state subsidies and coercion. And as for failure, if recent history proves anything, it is that our elites that run our institutions are never held accountable for anything they do.

 

After a Volkswagen Golf (not an electric vehicle) caught fire in the underground car park in Eku-Platz, Germany, the city’s civil engineering department closed the car park for five months. Damages (all eventually paid for by insurance) amounted to 195,000 euros. As a condition for the reopening, however, the insurance company forbade the use of the underground garage by hybrid and electric vehicles.

There were several reasons. Lithium batteries can only be cooled with extinguishing water and continue to burn for several days. The car park’s ceiling is not high enough to pull out burning vehicles with heavy equipment. This means that every other vehicle in the car park, as well as the entire building, remains at risk of a fire or explosion that could have disastrous results. Yet as the fire protection report admitted, nobody had even considered the magnitude of the fire risk from lithium-ion batteries prior to the Golf fire.

The fire risk from electric vehicles is not just a German parking garage problem. Nearly a year ago the National Transportation Safety Board acknowledged that at least half of the nation’s fire departments are not equipped to put out battery-powered car (EV) fires. The NTSB too agreed that lithium-ion batteries burn with extraordinary ferocity; battery fires also release emissions of extremely toxic fluoride gas.

Last November Reuters reported that worldwide acceptance of EVs, despite government mandates and subsidies, is being threatened by a global string of fires from overheated batteries. The article included a list of recalls by major auto manufacturers and what their investigations found.

Hyundai recalled at least 74,000 Kona EVs, after 16 of them caught fire over a 2-year period, to upgrade their battery management systems. Of the first 23,000, Hyundai found 800 vehicles with battery defects requiring replacement of modules said the have a significant risk of an electrical short circuit.

Ford Motor Co. recalled 20,500 European Kuga plug-in hybrid EVs and suspended sales. Ford offered to replace the entire battery pack, identifying the root cause as a battery cell contamination in its supplier’s production process. The setback delayed the U.S. debut of the Escape SUV.

BMW’s recall was limited to about 4,500 plug-in hybrid EVs, admitting that debris may have entered the battery cells during production, which could lead to short-circuiting and a “thermal event.” BMW also recallefficd 26,000 other plug-in hybrids over potential battery problems.

In response to a petition filed pursuant to a class action lawsuit, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration recently probed potential defects in certain Tesla vehicles that could result in non-crash fires. The plaintiffs claim that Tesla limited the battery range of older vehicles via a software update to avoid a costly recall to fix alleged defective batteries.

Capping the list is General Motors, which initially recalled nearly 70,000 Chevy Bolt EVs over fire risks, with the fix limiting battery charges (and thus mileage) to 90 percent capacity. The NHTSA has also investigated why three Bolts caught fire while parked. GM says the problem was traced to a torn anode tab and a folded separator, both of which could occur at the same time and create conditions that could lead to a short in affected cells.

In August, GM announced a second recall of 73,000 more Bolt EVs (every Bolt ever made) to replace new battery modules; the fix could cost GM $1.8 billion. Moreover, GM has decided to idle Bolt production “due to the impact of the global chip shortage.” Meanwhile, GM has recommended that Bolt owners park their vehicles outside and limit battery charges to 90 percent or lower, at least until replacement batteries are ready and service appointments are scheduled.

The problem with this mandate is obvious. Those whose in-home EV charging stations are in their garages cannot exactly park their EVs outside and charge the vehicle at the same time. The same goes for EV chargers now located in underground garages. Moreover, the fixes typically reduce battery charging by at least 10 percent, further shortening the vehicle’s range.

One supposes that some EV owners could just move their charging stations outside, but who leaves a vehicle out in winter cold or summer heat when they have a perfectly good garage? Yet who wants to risk burning down the house to avoid scraping the windshield or putting their tushes on a hot car seat?

Earlier this year Value Penguin reported that auto insurance for EVs is on average about 23 percent more expensive than for an equivalent internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle. This is despite the fact that the average EV is driven far fewer miles a year than ICE vehicles. In California, home to 40 percent of U.S. EVs, drivers average just 5,000 miles per year behind the EV’s steering wheel. For many, the EV is the second (or third) car. But will insurance companies also raise rates for EV owners with in-garage charging stations?

In the Golden State, embattled Governor Gavin Newsom a year ago issued an executive order that would ban the sale of ICE vehicles buy 2035, with enforcement left to state agencies. One problem with this mandate is that the California Air Resources Board may be able to implement rulemaking to ban ICE sales, but CARB has no authority over vehicle registration and no authority to set registration fees to make ICE vehicles more expensive.

President Joe Biden, too, has talked tough about a nationwide mandate for EVs, but he, too, may be in deep trouble with voters over a number of other issues. As more and more people learn that their EVs pose a fire risk by manufacturers telling them to park their EVs outside, it seems quite possible that voters will soon sour on any politician who mandates inconvenient outdoor charging to avoid the risk of setting their homes on fire.

*****

This article was published on September 10, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from CFACT, the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow.

Bombs Away !! A Razor Thin Congressional Democrat Majority Is About to Transform and Break America and Must Be Stopped: Here’s How

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

The U.S. House and Senate Democrats are attempting to ram through 10,000 pages of transformational legislation with a Senate reconciliation vote (50 + VP) and a House vote that has a 5 vote Democrat majority (smallest in past century). THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO MANDATE FOR THIS. It is our belief that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer know their majorities are at great risk in November 2022 and with the disastrous record of President Biden thus far (Afghanistan, foreign policy, Covid, southern border, inflation, economy, energy, etc., etc.), they are desperate to cement their goal of permanent Democrat power with an entitlement state that cannot be reversed and irrevocably alters America and our individual sovereignty. Enormous increases in federal debt, crushing  tax burdens for all citizens, severe inflation beyond what is now occurring and economic stagnation are just some of the very predictable near and long term results. This progressive, socialistic legislation will cement this Democrat dream. It is the centerpiece of a Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez socialist conquest of America. IT MUST BE STOPPED.

The TAKE ACTION box below addresses this assault on Americans in greater detail. Be assured that the majority of U.S. citizens do not want this legislation. Please refer to the paragraphs in the TAKE ACTION link below. How can we stop this assault on American families, their values, individual liberty, citizenship, energy, small business, and future opportunity and economic growth for future generations? We must inform our U.S. Representatives and Senators that it is absolutely unacceptable to do this. We suggest the following themes in short emails easily sent (please cut and paste the messages below) to legislators from the TAKE ACTION link below. The email portals and phone numbers for the Arizona U.S. Representatives and Senators Sinema and Kelly (up for reelection in 2022) are there. It takes only a few minutes to inform them how you, your families, your neighbors and so many you know are against this perverse effort to transform America. Please do not hesitate – we are moving toward this cliff very quickly. Senator Sinema may (??) stay strong and not vote for it. Senator Manchin from West Virginia has said no to this but he has caved in the past – he should be contacted and strongly reminded his state is a deep red state and his constituents are vehemently against this. Senator Kelly is facing election in 14 months – his vulnerability is essential to point out. All U.S. Representatives face election every two years – make it clear that they are all at significant risk.

Here are four suggested messages for each of the following groups – 1. Senators Sinema and Manchin, 2. Senator Kelly, 3. AZ Democrat Representatives (5) and 4. AZ Republican Representatives (4). Please move on this – repetitively and forcefully make your voices heard and felt as often as possible. If this disaster is foisted on the nation, there is little chance to turn it back – entitlements are never removed. Ergo – BOMBS AWAY. Let it rip and do not relent in informing  them until this assault on every American and our great Republic is stopped.

(1) Senator Sinema (or Manchin),

Dear Senator Sinema (or Manchin),

I ask that you reject the pending legislation in the Senate that is moving toward a reconciliation vote (50 + the Vice-President). It is not a true reconciliation process but rather transformational legislation that has absolutely no bipartisan support and intended to produce one-party rule in America, truly an un-American legislative goal. As we move through the Covid pandemic of the past 18 months and recover the nation’s economy and some semblance of normal American life, passing this legislation will not benefit the nation, your constituents or our children’s future. Intellectual honesty demands that it be rejectedif this ‘budget’ reconciliation bill becomes law, every current issue or crisis in America will be worsened (debt, energy, strong inflation, immigration, taxes, healthcare, etc.) and the blame will be on the party that forced it into being – you and your party.

You have publicly stated your objections to this attempt to transform America with a single party vote with its huge expansion of the federal government, vastly more crushing debt and taxes on all, yes all, citizens. You are in an historic moment and I implore you to vote no on this legislation. You represent Arizonans (or West Virginians) but your vote greatly impacts all American citizens. The majority of your constituents are polling strongly against this legislation and its intended purpose. Please stay strong and vote no on what is clearly Bernie Sander’s vision of  America’s future.

(2) Senator Kelly:

Dear Senator Kelly,

You are at an historic moment in this nation’s history. As a new freshman Senator with an impending election, you have the ability to determine the outcome of the reconciliation bill being pushed through the Senate. Arizonans know that it is not a true reconciliation process but rather transformational legislation that has absolutely no bipartisan support and intended to produce one-party rule in America, truly an un-American legislative goal. As we move through the Covid pandemic of the past 18 months and recover the nation’s economy and some semblance of normal American life, passing this legislation will not benefit the nation, your constituents or our children’s future. Intellectual honesty demands that it be rejected – if this ‘budget’ bill becomes law, every current issue and crisis in America will be worsened (massive debt, energy, strong inflation, immigration, crushing taxes, healthcare, etc.) and the blame will be on the party that forced it into being – you and your party.

November 2022 is less than 14 months away. This legislation will determine the outcome of next year’s election despite multiple issues of great distress for the American people. I implore you to reject Senator Schumer’s (and Senator Bernie Sander’s) legislative attempt to transform America to one-party rule and vote no on what should never be passed without bipartisan support for all constituents of our Republic.

(3) Democrat U.S. Representatives (AZ):

Dear Representative …..,

As an Arizonan and American, I implore you to vote no on the pending 10,000 page (yes, 10,000 pages!) legislation in the U.S. House that will be subjected to a Senate reconciliation vote (50 + the Vice President) to pass. You know very well, as Speaker Pelosi does, that it is not a true reconciliation process but rather transformational legislation that has absolutely no bipartisan support and intended to produce one-party rule in America, truly an un-American legislative goal. As we move through the Covid pandemic of the past 18 months and recover the nation’s economy and some semblance of normal American life, passing this legislation will not benefit the nation, your constituents or our children’s future. Intellectual honesty demands that it be rejected – if this ‘budget’ bill becomes law, every current issue and crisis in America will be worsened (massive debt, energy, strong inflation, immigration, crushing taxes, healthcare, etc.) and the blame will be on the party that forced it into being – you and your party.

November 2022 is less than 14 months away. This legislation will determine the outcome of next year’s election despite multiple issues of great distress for the American people. I implore you to reject Speaker Pelosi’s and Senator Schumer’s (and Senator Bernie Sander’s) legislative attempt to transform America to one-party rule and vote no on what should never be passed without bipartisan support for all constituents of our Republic.

(4) Republican U.S. Representatives (AZ):

Dear Representative …..,

We know that the 10,000 page House bill that will be treated as a reconciliation bill in the Senate (50 + the Vice President) will get absolutely no Republican votes. I thank you for that. Arizonans know that it is not a true reconciliation process but rather transformational legislation that has absolutely no bipartisan support and intended to produce one-party rule in America, truly an un-American legislative goal. As we move through the Covid pandemic of the past 18 months and recover the nation’s economy and some semblance of normal American life, passing this legislation will not benefit the nation, your constituents or our children’s future.

I humbly implore you to publicly and forcefully call this egregious legislative attempt what it is – an attempt by a leftist dominated Democrat Party desperate to transform the nation to a progressive, socialist ruling class and one-party dominance. It is un-American, it is wrong and it is against everything this Republic with its founding principles is about.

The battle is now joined, the polling is not with the Democrats and despite your minority status, it is time to shout out the truth loud and clear to the public, to every U.S. House and Senate member and to the media – this is a Bernie Sander’s socialist assault on the nation and its citizens that will diminish our liberty, our people and our children’s future. Stand strong, be loud and clear and please influence every Democrat House member who is not radical – if this process becomes law, it will be disastrous  for their party and for each of them in 14 very short months but with incalculable and permanent damage to our nation and its future.

Phony Math: Democrats $3.5 Trillion Spending Bill Is Actually More Like $5 Trillion

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

True accounting shows many programs expire in 3 years, nearly doubling actual costs

Politicians are notorious for fudging numbers to keep from being held accountable by the people who hired them—us!

John Steele Gordon, a business and economic historian, gives a good reminder in The Wall Street Journal about these accounting gimmicks happening today over the so-called “reconciliation bill”.

“Congressional rules require that spending bills project their cost over 10 years. But the $3.5 trillion “social infrastructure” bill now before Congress calls for several of its most expensive programs (such as Medicare expansion) to lapse after three years. But everyone knows that such programs, once enacted, are politically untouchable and will be made permanent. The actual projected cost of the bill is probably north of $5 trillion.” 

The Committee For A Responsible Budget also gives more context:

“To fit $5 trillion to $5.5 trillion worth of spending and tax breaks into a $3.5 trillion budget, background documents to reporters explain that “the duration of each program’s enactment will be determined based on scoring and Committee input.”  In other words, tax credits and spending programs will be set to expire at some point before the end of the decade, in the hope that future lawmakers will extend these programs. While some provisions could also be scaled down or otherwise adjusted, these premature expirations appear to be a key source of cost reduction.

This budget gimmick, which would obscure the true cost of the legislation and put program beneficiaries at risk, was rightly criticized in 2017 when used for some of the 2017 tax cuts. It would be unwise and irresponsible to use arbitrary expirations and sunsets to obscure the true cost of this legislation.”

It’s easy to lose sense of how massive something is when we’re discussing such huge numbers. But the National Taxpayers Union divided up this and calculated it, saying the “spending amounts to $24,252 per U.S. taxpayer ($3.5 trillion divided by 144.3 million taxpayers in 2018, the latest year for which IRS data is available).”

I’ll do a rough calculation here and do the calculation for the $5 trillion divided by 144.3 million taxpayers—that amounts to $34,650 per taxpayer. And that’s on top of the enormous burden we already have.

The Web site USDebtClock.org has a running tally of our existing national debt, here’s a depressing snapshot from today:

We can’t afford to keep squandering our future—that’s how empires collapse.

*****

This article was published on September 14, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from the Independent Women’s Forum

More Than Half of U.S. States Vow to Fight Biden’s Vaccine Mandate

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Twenty-seven Republican governors or attorneys general have vowed to fight the latest executive order issued by President Joe Biden mandating that over 80 million private employees receive COVID vaccinations or undergo weekly testing, or their employer will be fined.

The executive order directs the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to require private businesses with more than 100 employees mandate that their workers receive both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine or undergo weekly testing. Noncompliance would result in fines of $14,000 per violation.

The governors who’ve expressed opposition include those from Arizona, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Republican attorneys general from states with Democratic governors who also vowed to fight include Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron and Louisiana AG Jeff Landry.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, with whom Biden has sparred over mask mandates and vaccine passports, said Florida would fight back.

“When you have a president like Biden issuing unconstitutional edicts against the American people, we have a responsibility to stand up for the Constitution and to fight back, and we are doing that in the state of Florida,” he said. “This is a president who has acknowledged in the past he does not have the authority to force this on anybody, and this order would result potentially in millions of Americans losing their jobs.”

Texas, which is already embroiled in several lawsuits with the Biden administration, vowed to sue. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said after hearing Biden’s announcement that “Texas is already working to halt this power grab” and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Texas would be suing the Biden administration “very soon.”

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said, “OSHA cannot dictate personal health care decisions for Missourians. Missouri is not under an OSHA state plan, and Parson will not allow state employees to be used to enforce this unconstitutional action.”

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster vowed to fight Biden, saying, “The American Dream has turned into a nightmare under President Biden and the radical Democrats. They have declared war against capitalism, thumbed their noses at the Constitution, and empowered our enemies abroad. Rest assured, we will fight them to the gates of hell to protect the liberty and livelihood of every South Carolinian.”

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said, “Governors don’t report to Joe Biden. Governors don’t report to the federal government, the states created the federal government, and Joe Biden has stepped out of his reach,” Ducey said. “These mandates are outrageous. They will never stand up in court. We must and will push back.”

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita indicated he was working with a group of AGs to file a lawsuit. “My team and I, along with other like-minded attorneys general, are reviewing all legal action on how to stand against these authoritarian actions by the Biden administration,” he said in a statement.

The Republican National Committee also announced it was suing “to protect Americans and their liberties” if the proposed rule change were to go into effect.

In response to Republican pushback, White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond, a former Democratic congressman from Louisiana, told CNN the White House expected the opposition.

He said, “… those governors that stand in the way, I think, it was very clear from the president’s tone today that he will run over them. And it is important. It’s not for political purposes. It’s to save the lives of American people. And so, we won’t let one or two individuals stand in the way. We will always err on the side of protecting the American people.”

*****

This article was published on September 14, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from The Center Square.

The Death of the Global Cop

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

America’s foreign policy drowns at the water’s edge.

What follows is what I consider the main practical consideration for understanding the international predicament of the United States today. This analysis is largely drawn from my handbook, A Student’s Guide to International Relations, and my forthcoming book on the teachings of John Quincy Adams.

Here and now, more than usual, a nation’s relation with others flows less from choices about policy than it does from the character of its people and ruling class. Scarcely any foreign policy is possible for a people who hate one another. All but the most basic functions are beyond being supported by a population—of ever lower intellectual and moral capacity—that has lost confidence in its leaders. Today’s U.S. ruling class is thoroughly corrupt and absorbed in domestic revolution. No serious statesmen would display their own country’s internal divisions as does the U.S. by flying the LGBT flag. It is not reasonable to expect foreigners to take seriously American statesmen who do not take seriously their own country’s unity and interests.

Having witnessed the abandon with which the ruling class abstracted from reality to weaponize U.S. relations with Russia, it is impossible to imagine that it would refrain from doing the same with any other matter that it deemed convenient. U.S. relations with China depend on various Chinese interests’ outright purchase of practical allegiance up and down and throughout America’s political and social hierarchy. The opera buffa with regard to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline shouts that U.S. words and deeds are thin cover for actions actually driven by coincidences of U.S. and German personal interests. In that regard, the coziness between the U.S. and European ruling class simply reflects what concerns both equally, namely fighting off populist pressures against increasingly intolerable mal-government.

*****

Continue reading this article published  August 11, 2021 at The American Mind.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Masks, and the Deadly Falsehoods Surrounding Them

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

In a terse essay titled “Science and Dictatorship,” Albert Einstein warned that “Science can flourish only in an atmosphere of free speech.” And on his deathbed, Einstein cautioned, “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted in important affairs.”

With reckless disregard for both of those principles, powerful government officials and big tech executives have corrupted or suppressed the central scientific facts about face masks. The impacts of this extend far beyond the issue of masks and have caused widespread harm and countless deaths.

Despite the fog of contradictory claims and changing government guidelines, dozens of scientific journals have published consistent data that establish these facts:

  • Covid-19 is mainly spread by microscopic aerosols generated by breathing, talking, sneezing, and coughing. The vast bulk of these infectious aerosols easily penetrate common masks because 90% of the aerosols are less than 1/17th the size of pores in the finest surgical masks, and less than 1/80th the size of pores in the finest cloth masks.
  • Aerosols are light enough to stay airborne for minutes or hours, and hence, they also travel freely through gaps around the edges of cloth and surgical masks.
  • Governments enacted mask mandates based on the false assumption that C-19 is mainly transmitted by large droplets generated by coughing, sneezing, and spittle. These droplets are bigger than the pore sizes of most masks and only remain airborne for a few seconds after they are emitted.
  • For more than a year, the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention denied and downplayed the threat of aerosol transmission while issuing guidelines that don’t amply prevent it. This enabled C-19 to decimate the most vulnerable members of society, like those in hospitals and nursing homes.
  • The CDC and WHO quietly admitted in the spring of 2021 that aerosols pose a major threat of transmission but have still not adequately updated their guidelines to reflect this reality. This has allowed countless preventable deaths to continue.
  • The risk of aerosol transmission can be greatly reduced by disinfecting air with ultraviolent (UV) light, which is part of the energy spectrum emitted by the sun. This simple and safe technology neutralizes airborne microbes and has been successfully used to control the spread of contagious respiratory diseases for more than 80 years.
  • Randomized controlled trials—which are the “gold standard” for clinical research—have repeatedly measured the effects of masks on preventing the spread of contagious respiratory diseases. These trials have found inconsistent benefits from N95 masks in healthcare settings and no statistically significant benefits from any type of mask in community settings.
  • The only randomized controlled trial that evaluated cloth masks found that mandating them causes significant disease transmission in high-risk healthcare settings.
  • Observational studies—which are a weaker form of evidence than randomized controlled trials—find that masking schoolchildren provides negligible or no benefits.
  • Lab studies—which are the weakest form of clinical evidence—don’t support the notion that surgical or cloth masks reduce the transmission of Covid-19.
  • Masks of all types have negative impacts on some people, including headaches, difficulty breathing, increased cardio-pulmonary stress during exercise, marked discomfort, and weakened social bonds.
  • Because humans create carbon dioxide as they breathe, the CO2 concentration of the air they exhale is about 100 times higher than in fresh air. Masks restrict airflow and thus cause the wearers to rebreathe some of the air they exhale.
  • The average CO2 concentrations inhaled by people wearing N95 masks range from 2.6 to 7.0 times OSHA’s work shift limit for CO2. These levels cause headaches and chest pains in some people.
  • The average CO2 concentrations inhaled by people wearing cloth and surgical masks range from 2 to 3 times the government CO2 limits for classrooms in many countries. These levels may impair certain high-level brain functions like initiative, strategic thinking, and complex decision-making.

The leaders of big tech corporations like Facebook, Twitter, and Google/YouTube have empowered government officials who misled the public about every matter above and others. Together, they continue to do so by engaging in actions that resemble common disinformation tactics. These include but are not limited to cherry-picking, censorship, muddying the waterscitation bluffsnon-sequiturs, half-truths, and outright falsehoods.

Summary

With remarkable consistency, the comprehensive facts detailed above prove that:

  • governments enacted mask mandates based on the false assumption that Covid-19 is mainly transmitted by large droplets that are bigger than the pore sizes of most masks and only remain airborne for a few seconds.
  • Covid-19 is mainly spread by microscopic aerosols that remain airborne for minutes or hours, easily penetrate common masks, and travel freely through gaps around their edges.
  • the CDC and WHO minimized the threat of aerosol transmission for more than a year while issuing guidelines that left people vulnerable to this mortal danger.
  • the CDC and WHO finally admitted that aerosols pose a major threat of transmission but tried to cover their tracks and failed to adequately update their guidelines—thus allowing countless preventable deaths to continue to this day.
  • UV disinfection systems are highly effective at killing airborne viruses and have been successfully used to control the spread of contagious respiratory diseases for more than 80 years.
  • the strongest and most relevant studies have found inconsistent benefits from N95 masks in healthcare settings and no statistically significant benefits from any type of mask in community settings.
  • the CDC is scraping the bottom of the scientific barrel by cherry picking and distorting low-quality and unrealistic studies to support the claim that masks control the spread of C-19.
  • masks of all types, and especially N95s, cause headaches, difficulty breathing, increased cardio-pulmonary stress during exercise, marked discomfort, and weakened social bonds.
  • the average CO2 concentrations inhaled by people wearing masks are far above what many governments permit for indoor settings, and this may impair certain high-level brain functions like initiative, strategic thinking, and complex decision-making.
  • Google/YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are acting as a megaphone of the deadly falsehoods propagated by the CDC and WHO while silencing their critics.

*****

Read the entire article published September 13, 2021 at Just Facts. Seize The Data.

Bank of Japan Ends its Massive QE that Started When Abenomics Became Economic Religion of Japan

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

One of the largest central banks ends QE. End of an era for Japan: Large-scale money printing was one of the three official legs of Abenomics.

In terms of the absolute mountain of assets the Bank of Japan purchased over the years, it is one of the top three QE monsters, along with the Fed and the ECB. In relationship to GDP, the BoJ’s total assets are #2, behind the tiny Swiss National Bank, which runs the unique racket of using the overhyped strength of the Swiss franc to print large amounts of it and buy securities denominated in foreign currencies, including large amounts of US stocks; but it’s not buying securities denominated in Swiss francs.

Total assets on the BoJ’s balance sheet generally decline every third month as large amounts of long-term bonds mature and are redeemed, which is when the BoJ gets its money back, and the bonds come off the balance sheet. For this reason, we look at the three-month moving average of the increases in total assets.

As of its balance sheet through August 31, the three-month moving average of total assets increased by an average of only ¥690 billion ($6.3 billion) per month, the smallest increase since 2012, before Abenomics became the economic religion of the land. This marks the end of Abenomics QE:

The BoJ’s blistering QE binge started with “Abenomics,” the economic religion imposed on the land in 2013 under Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister from September 2012 to September 2020. One of the three official legs of Abenomics was massive amounts of money printing. It culminated with the huge burst in the spring of 2020. But all that is now history.

While the Fed has set the stage to begin tapering its asset purchases later this year, and while the ECB is ogling the Fed for inspiration, the Bank of Japan, without making a lot of hoopla, has already cut its asset purchases to the bone.

*****

Continue reading this article, published September 7, 2021 at Wolf Street.

The Future of American Cars Is Not All-Electric

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Environmental elites like to cast their creeds as unshakeable and their doctrines as inevitable. Take these three: The Earth is only getting hotter, human survival depends upon radical lifestyle changes, and governments are taking action on the climate whether we like it or not.

Or this: America will slowly phase out all oil, natural gas, and coal energy for wind turbines and solar panels—and, for a handful of brave dissidents, nuclear power plants. In this carbon-free future, everyone will drive an electric car powered by alternative energy sources. There’s no room for alternatives or debate, only submission to the wisdom of the climatistas. It’s the inexorable march of progress—right?

Don’t be so sure.

Not Enough “Green” Electricity

In August, the Biden administration announced its goal to have zero-emission electric vehicles (EVs) account for 50 percent of all cars sold by 2030, mirroring “green” California’s decision a year ago to phase out gasoline-powered cars by 2035.

EVs currently make up about 2.5 percent of the U.S. automobile market and are rapidly growing, with Tesla leading the pack. With nowhere to go but up, one would think that a government mandate would be a godsend for car manufacturers. So why is Toyota—maker of the famous hybrid Prius and the world’s largest car manufacturer—lobbying against the plan?

Left-wing observers have explained away the company’s lobbying campaign as an effort to stall stiff competition from full-electric vehicle manufacturers. Toyota’s hybrids use both gasoline and electricity, and Toyota has been slow to break into the full-electric vehicle market. After all, company spokesmen say the manufacturer wholeheartedly believes in an all-electric future.

There’s a simpler explanation: There isn’t enough “green” electricity to power that vision.

The average EV consumes 30 kilowatt-hours (kw/h) to travel 100 miles, which Pew Charitable Trusts notes is “the same amount of electricity an average American home uses each day to run appliances, computers, lights and heating and air conditioning.” That is extra electricity required from the grid—not produced by your traditional fuel-burning car—that must be produced from another resource. But from which energy source?

The U.S. electric grid gets 86 percent of its power from sources deemed unacceptable to the environmental Left: natural gas (40 percent), coal (19 percent), hydropower from dams (7.3 percent), and—horror of horrors—nuclear energy (20 percent). The widely acclaimed alternatives—wind (8.4 percent), solar (2.3 percent), and geothermal (0.4 percent)—make up just 11.1 percent of the country’s electricity generation.

Even if eco-activists got past their revulsion for nuclear energy, that still leaves the nation with a huge electricity deficit that wind turbines and solar panels hooked up to lithium batteries simply cannot fill. Not only would mining the tons of metals and minerals required to build them by the thousands create a genuine ecological disaster and possibly a “permanent” lithium shortage by 2025, it would doom the electric grid almost the minute the sun dips or the wind stops blowing.

“Green” Energy’s Gas Problem

Unlike natural gas, solar and wind generate power intermittently, not continuously, so they need to be backed up by a reliable energy source—almost invariably natural gas. Every wind turbine and solar panel built means pumping more natural gas to ensure a steady supply of electricity. In an honest world, we’d call wind and solar “supplemental” sources, not “alternatives.”

Little wonder that so many Big Oil companies are rapidly becoming Big Gas producers while boasting about their commitments to fighting climate change—global warming is great for business. “Climapocalypse” rhetoric from professional activists creates a powerful incentive for government regulation by “selfless” politicians, whose legislation is favorably shaped by well-funded industry lobbyists.

What Toyota and other sober minds see is a twofold problem: the Biden administration’s proposal to convert traditional cars to EVs to stop global warming is effectively a proposal to massively expand nationwide electricity production—an unlikely outcome made impossible when “green energy” mandates are added to the mix. That’s a bet that they’re not willing to take, especially when eco-activists are now demanding bans on low-carbon natural gas.

A Dim Future

But as RealClearEnergy editor Jude Clemente points out, even if environmental fundamentalists got their way, oil will continue to be critical to fueling airplanes, heavy trucks, petrochemicals, and even the production of wind and solar technologies—with no viable alternative in sight. What will change is the average American’s access to cheap and abundant electricity.

We already have an example in Germany, writes Clemente, where climate change policies have made electricity a “luxury good” for citizens of the industrial powerhouse–turned–Green Man of Europe and a cold snap in February left some 30,000 solar panels and wind turbines frozen over and utterly worthless for the shivering Germans who rely on them.

In December 2020, Tesla CEO Elon Musk warned the world that “electricity consumption will double if the world’s car fleets are electrified.” If all that extra electricity must come from so-called alternatives, we’re in for a nightmare. Francis Menton has calculated the cost of powering just California’s power needs with solar panels (the state’s strategy to meet its EV mandate) at his blog, Manhattan Contrarion:

If 180 days per year have less production than usage, and the average shortfall of production on each of those days is 300 GWH, then you will need 54,000 GWH worth of batteries (180 x 300). At $200 per KWH, that will run you around $10+ trillion. This would be about triple the annual GDP of the state of California [emphasis added].

None of this is to claim EVs have no place on America’s future highways. As Edward Ring writes in American Greatness, electric motors have much to recommend them, such as a simpler design and better horsepower than internal combustion engines, lower maintenance requirements, and longer lifespans. Electric cars will undoubtedly continue to make up some portion of the vehicle fleet for the foreseeable future, even if their growth may leave the U.S. more dependent on foreign energy supplies and not prove to be as much of a spur to innovation as experts once believed, according to my colleague Michael Watson.

Rather, we shouldn’t allow the Left to warp our decisions about the future of the nation’s electric grid with their blind ideology disguised as science—there’s too much at stake.

*****

This article was published on September 9, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from Capital Research Center.