Power & Market
Biden Declares "MAGA Republicans" Enemies of the State
Last night Joe Biden was propped up behind the presidential seal in front of historic Independence Hall and gave the most provocative and divisive speech in modern American history. With the site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence cloaked in an ominous blood red, Biden sputtered his way through an attack on “insurrectionists” he labeled as threatening American democracy, political norms, and the rule of law.
The optics of the event were likely the idea of a proud Biden staffer, fresh off receiving a $10,000 subsidy to their student loan debt, leaning into the “Dark Brandon” aesthetic that has become popular among regime loyalists on Twitter. To Americans outside of this Very Online echo chamber, the imagery drew connotations of sinister authoritarian regimes ranging as Nazi Germany, the Empire of Star Wars, or the fascist regime of V for Vendetta.
The substance of the speech supported these comparisons. It was the display of a weak regime projecting strength at a time of mass unpopularity and rising polling numbers of political opponents in pivotal midterm elections.
None of this is a surprise.
As I noted after the chaotic 2020 election, the federal government faced a threat it has not seen in over a hundred years. Concerns over the integrity of the 2020 election struck at the core of the institution’s democratic legitimacy. The result was a Biden inauguration fortified with thousands of national guard members that the Democrat Party didn’t trust with ammunition.
The path the Biden administration took could have gone one of two ways. The regime could have fallen back on the power of moderation, restoring the isolated Washington uniparty by staffing the executive branch with prominent Republicans who always preferred the Clintons and Bidens over Trump—even if the smart ones refused to say so explicitly—while pursuing a standard policy agenda of foreign intervention, reckless spending, and fortifying the supremacy of the federal government over state control. These policies would have continued American decline but could have served to lull Americans to pre-Trump apathy by reminding them that federal elections have no real consequences for Washington.
Instead, the Biden regime doubled down on the excesses of the Obama era, attacking hot-button issues such as gun rights, tying state funding to public school promotion of child mutilation and sterilization, and leveraging their control over large corporations to censor political opponents and mandate covid vaccinations of employees. Along the way, they secured funding to increase, arm, and expand the scope of federal agencies—an Imperial Guard for Washington elites to remind red states who is truly in charge.
From the golf courses of Mar-a-Lago, the specter of Donald Trump continues to animate Capitol Hill. C-SPAN hearings over January 6 have been coordinated for prime-time viewing, while his supporters have been subjected to federal prosecution, solitary confinement, and financial ruin.
These concerns may be justified. Outside of Washington, “MAGA Republicans” have found success, particularly in the high-profile senate and governor races.
In Arizona, Blake Masters and Kari Lake conquered John McCain’s former state running on a platform against the 2020 election and the anarcho-tyranny of Biden-era policies while being viciously attacked by both the corporate press and establishment Republicans. In Ohio, Peter Theil–backed J.D. Vance leaned into opposition to American financing of the Ukrainian government while overcoming two more traditional Republican candidates. In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis has secured the position as the only Republican with the popularity that rivals Trump by translating Trump-style rhetoric into aggressive state policy, with a particular focus on attacking the public health tyranny of the soon-to-debate Dr. Fauci.
A common theme of this new class of Republicans has been their explicit calls to stand against the “regime,” railing against Washington’s “administrative state,” and their interest in the intellectual works of “dissident right-wing thinkers.” They have been supported by a vocal group of MAGA House members, such as Marjorie Taylor Green, Matt Gaetz, Thomas Massie, and Lauren Boebert, who have seized on the overzealousness of the Biden administration to normalize calls to defund the FBI and other cherished Washington institutions.
The primary success of a potential new class of MAGA Senators has created new pressures for Mitch McConnell. Long established as the kingpin of beltway Republican politics, his criticism of the “quality” of candidates has earned him strong public rebukes from Florida Senator Rick Scott—a political figure with both the ambition and financial resources to threaten McConnell.
All of this is creating a unique moment in American history.
The overreach of the Biden administration has led to the dropping of the executive mask. No longer is there any pretense of governing all Americans—the notion of liberal persuasion is dead. Brute force and the abolishment of governing norms—such as the facade of a politically independent Supreme Court, state control of elections, or the role of the filibuster in the Senate—are now accepted by mainstream Democrats as necessary to usher in a modern version of reconstruction on the parts of America that still fly Trump flags.
Meanwhile, the most vocal anti-Trump Republicans have faced brutal defeats electorally but still have a home in the comfortable confines of Washington. While Liz Cheney’s blowout primary defeat means she will be giving up the pretense of representing Wyoming, she has been welcomed to the friendly confines of AEI. The View or CBS News are willing to welcome various former Trump administration figures so long as they engage in the public ritual of condemning their previous boss. The impact of these decisions, however, is declining interest in traditional conservative think tanks, respect for corporate media, and the legacy of formerly prominent Republican legislators and dynasties.
The regime’s most powerful tool—a federal uniparty that fights on Sunday News Shows but works together and socializes in the real world—is fraying fast.
Republican Congressional offices are being flooded with calls and emails attacking once noncontroversial issues such as foreign aid, the FBI, and the security of elections. While the wiliest of Washington creatures know how to pretend to sympathize with these concerns, the more mediocre ones flounder—with numerous Republican incumbents now forced to move their office from Capitol Hill to K Street.
The real question will be what comes after 2022. While the sulfur and brimstone tones spewing from Joe Biden may spark news cycles, economic distress continues to dominate the concerns of voting Americans. At the same time, Hispanic Americans, many of which are alarmed about the cultural radicalism of the modern Democratic Party, are undermining the assumptions of the “demographics are destiny” framework that has dictated so much of the Left’s political strategy in the recent decades.
Attempts to smear new-Republican Hispanics as the new “white nationalists” is surprisingly having little impact.
While Joe Biden mocks “brave, right-wing Americans” that cling to the notion that their AR-15 can protect them from the F-15s he controls, the mentally declining commander-in-chief should pay more attention to his government’s failures in Afghanistan. The Afghan military surrendered billions of dollars in high-tech military supplies to Taliban forces not because they were out-armed but because the incompetent and kleptomaniac “liberal” regime America installed lacked the true support of the people and was not a cause many saw dying for.
Likewise, the collapse of military enlistment in the American military reflects the sincere and growing disillusionment with Washington itself. While state propaganda may be trying to make the military appeal to America’s growing transgender population, they don’t seem up to the task of replacing young, white working-class men the modern class of generals dismisses as privileged.
As Murray Rothbard noted in Anatomy of the State, the state needs more than guns and bureaucrats to thrive. It needs the implicit consent of the people.
Thanks to Joe Biden, and his friends in both political parties, instead tens of millions of Americans are growing increasingly comfortable considering themselves enemies of the state.
Bribing Seniors to Volunteer
Donating time and/or resources is a virtuous activity. Parishioners volunteer for church. Parents help with their kids’ school functions. Citizens clean up parks.
Some state and/or local governments have monetized this by offering volunteering seniors a break on their property taxes. While total elimination of this odious tax is the ultimate goal, any reduction of it in the interim will do.
There are a few problems with such carve-outs though.
One thing that enables us to volunteer is our prosperity. Despite declarations by some politicos, things are shaky right now. In addition to the eyewatering price of gas, tanking stock markets, and other residual effects of government lockdowns, we’re experiencing continued labor shortages.
These discounts exacerbate that problem.
In a recent interview, one councilwoman here in San Antonio asserted that their plan is aimed at those “already” volunteering. “They may as well get credit,” she said. The official policy proposal implies otherwise.
Citing “isolation and loneliness” studies, it points to the benefits of getting seniors out of the house, how it can stem cognitive decline, among other negative effects associated with aging.
As a consequence, they’re lured away from the private sector, where seniors like my father feel they “still have more to give.”
Regardless of property tax credits’ respective sizes, seniors could still possibly lose their home, just like the rest of us, if they’re unable to pay the balance. Thousands are already more than two years late ponying up to the taxman.
It’s distinctly possible that municipalities that seek to be an “’employer of choice’” fail to see this link. It points to an underlying concern: the disconnectedness that exists between governments and citizens.
When the vast majority of staff and elected representatives favor a more active government, it’s no surprise to see official documents tout that tax “revenues performed well,” even though they weren’t earned. Respect for individuals and independent wealth-creators takes a backseat.
They can dictate “the maximum number of participants and … reduction (they) can receive,” protecting their own “so as to not adversely impact … operations.”
The media add to this chorus by characterizing exemption savings to taxpayers as what the “city loses.”
Property tax systems essentially amount to little more than social engineering tools. If programs like these “work well,” governments reserve the power to determine “other populations that may be vulnerable.”
As public appraisers themselves point out, property taxes are also an instrument for cronyism, given the inequitable favoritism shown to commercial property.
The only time politicians extend such favor to homeowners is when their respective states compel them to. Ironically, sometimes it’s the state itself that permits levying this tax in the first place.
Cracking that nut is another task altogether.
For the time being, to paraphrase Chris Rock, just because a municipality can do it, doesn’t mean it should. Alas, we keep getting the Will Smith smackdown. Political openings do however, occasionally present themselves.
Politicians like to say that their “vote is based on the needs of (their) constituents.” Too often that’s used to justify taking from some to give to others. Paid sick leave laws come to mind.
When they extend this “belie(f) in representative government” to pleas they’re hearing for “property tax relief,” voters should pounce.
These flexible principles, and any newfound religion (from “meaningless” savings of a 5% exemption, to wanting to “(go) big”), should be exploited to abolish this antiquated tax scheme for good.
People are more generous when they’re more prosperous. Government bribes need not apply.
Biden: A Proxy War with Russia Is Not Enough. We Must Also Seek War with China
If you need any more evidence that U.S. foreign policy is completely out of control, look no further than Commander-in-Chief Biden’s latest pronouncements regarding Taiwan – which is not a country.
That’s right. Not according to the United Nations or the United States government.
In fact, it is acknowledged by both that Taiwan is part of China.
Still, since its decision in the 1940s to begin seriously intervening on the side of the corrupt but nominally republican government of Chiang Kai-Shekin his decade-long struggle for power against Mao and his communist peasant guerillas, it has been U.S. policy to prevent the conclusion of the war by communist Beijing reunifying Taiwan with the mainland.
From Eisenhower to Clinton, any saber-rattling by Beijing was met with the same response: a U.S. carrier sailing through the narrow waterway separating the island(s) from the mainland.
After it recognized Beijing’s legitimacy in the 1970s, the U.S. ripped up its prior defense guarantee to the island, replacing it with security assurances akin to those received by Ukraine via the Budapest Memorandum. Officially, the U.S. position was “strategic ambiguity.” That is, it would not say one way or the other whether or not it would intervene militarily in the event of a mainland attempt to retake the island.
The tactic, maintained through six administrations and four decades, has now been thrown out the window.
After hinting this past year that he favored military intervention, Biden has now declared openly that the U.S. would militarily intervene in the event of an attack by Beijing
This amounts to a de facto preemptive declaration of war on China whenever Taipei decides.
While one is tempted to say the Senate ought to be consulted and their assent given, so mad for war is Washington these days the administration would no doubt get it.
The strategy of moving to contain China, a slow creep these past years, is now being escalated dramatically.
Other economic news announced by the White House the same day as Biden’s unilateral decree gives one to understand the Biden administration will not be risking Congress’ interference in U.S. grand strategy – which apparently amounts to needlessly escalating the single most dangerous point of transitional friction between great powers in the world.
Seeing the need to economically as well as military contain China, the Obama administration worked hard to negotiate the TPP: the largest free trade zone in the world for the next century, with the rules written largely by Washington, it could be used to constrain Beijing’s growing economic might.
When then-President Donald Trump tore up the TPP, China hawks were incredulous: after all, how could someone who wanted to get tough with China do something so obviously counterproductive?
As Thomas Freidman at the New York Times fumed at the time: why go it alone when you could gang up on Beijing?
But no matter.
With the announcement of the new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework the China hawks and geo-economic strategists have gotten the beginnings of what they wanted. With the war in Ukraine as a backdrop, they will no doubt feel confident they can get the rest.
Most troubling in all of this is whether or not it is even Joe Biden, Jake Sullivan & Co. making these decisions at all. Remember, Obama admitted to being led by the hand, while Trump was beaten into line by Russiagate and a thousand lies and leaks from the departments of State, Defense, and the National Security apparatus. How much of this was Biden being sat down and told what was happening?
Afterall, as the Wall Street Journal broke this fall: Joe Biden was informed upon taking office that the U.S. military had inserted special operators into Taiwan as Trump was leaving office.
It may very well be, as Stephen Walt wrote in his book The Hell of Good Intentions: American Foreign Policy and the Decline of U.S. Primacy, “when it comes to foreign policy, the President is less decider than presider.”
But whether it is Biden or the deep state, the future looks deeply troubling.
Blame the FDA
One of the biggest issues this last week is countless parents struggling to find formula for their infants. The blame game started and the fingers are pointing. People are slinging accusations at everything from mothers who are not nursing to Biden feeding illegal immigrant infants before united states children.
But what is the real issue? The FDA!
In mid-February the FDA shutdown Abbott Laboratories (Which also happens to be the company’s largest U.S. formula manufacturing plant) due to fears of it being the source of a bacterial infection that killed two infants. However, these fears were unfounded and the factory was cleared of any wrongdoing. Yet, almost three months later the plant is still shut down. Why? That answer isn’t as clear from the FDA.
Like any “good” government agency, the FDA put the blame back on the manufacturer: “That plant needed to be shut down,” Former FDA Associate Commissioner Peter Pitts said on Thursday.
Despite this statement and not finding any wrongdoing, he doesn’t go into details about why it needed to be shut down and why it has taken three months to get it back up and running, nor was any warning about massive future shortages given to parents.
So tough luck the FDA says for mothers who can’t nurse, single fathers, infants with allergies, gastrointestinal issues, or metabolic disorders. As parents franticly search for food for their infants and search hours online for other solutions.
Just like their covid strategy, the FDA didn’t have one here. leading to countless stressed-out parents struggling to once again feed their children.
As Tho Bishop points out:
“The costs of the FDA bureaucracy is a far greater public health risk than any of the advantages that it claims to provide. It’s past time to scrap the agency altogether.”
Indeed. Just another fine example of what happens when the government intervenes in the market. It’s time to abolish the FDA and sow salt the earth where all the buildings stood.
Biden’s Disastrous European Tour
Previewing President Biden’s trip to Europe last week, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that, “the president is traveling to Europe to make sure we stay united.”
That sure didn’t go as planned. This may have been the most disastrous – and dangerous – Presidential overseas trip ever.
The US and its NATO allies have repeatedly proclaimed that “protecting Ukraine’s democracy” has never been about threatening Russia. Holding out NATO membership and sending billions of dollars in military equipment to Ukraine, starting under Trump, was not threatening Russia. CIA training camps in eastern Ukraine, where paramilitaries were trained on US weapons systems, was not about threatening Russia.
But at every stop, President Biden seemed to undermine the narrative his own Administration had carefully crafted. First up, warning that Russia might use chemical weapons in Ukraine, Biden promised it would "trigger a response in kind," meaning the US would use chemical weapons as well. That would be a serious war crime.
National Security Advisor Sullivan had to be brought to explain that the US has "no intention" of using chemical weapons.
Later, speaking to the 82nd Airborne in Poland, President Biden told them that US troops would soon be in Ukraine. He said to the troops, “you’re going to see — you’re going to see women, young people standing — standing the middle of — in front of a … tank, just saying, ‘I’m not leaving. I’m holding my ground.’”
A White House spokesman had to clarify that, “the president has been clear we are not sending US troops to Ukraine and there is no change in that position.”
Clear? Well, not really. He had just said the opposite to our own troops!
Then, at the end of Biden’s final speech in Poland, the President inadvertently told the truth: the US involvement in Ukraine is all about “regime change” for Russia. Speaking of Russian President Putin, he told the audience, near the border of Ukraine, "for God‘s sake, this man cannot remain in power."
The President’s disaster control team immediately mobilized in the person of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who offered this pained interpretation of Biden’s clear statement, "I think the president, the White House, made the point last night that, quite simply, President Putin cannot be empowered to wage war or engage in aggression against Ukraine or anyone else."
No, that’s not what he said. The president has a leading Constitutional role in the formation of US foreign policy, and he said in a public speech that “regime change” in Russia is US policy. Any attempt by his staffers to try to explain it away looks terrible: either the President has no idea what he’s saying so we should not take seriously what is essentially a declaration of war on Russia, or the President took the opportunity on the border with Ukraine to essentially declare war on Russia.
Presidents Reagan, Ford, and Bush Jr. were all known for their gaffes. Some were funny and some were serious. But none of them declared war on a nuclear-armed adversary in that adversary’s own backyard and then afterward had to send out staff to explain that the president didn’t mean what he just said.
Interestingly, Biden saved his most hawkish and bombastic statements for this final speech in Poland, at which none of the more cautious NATO partners like Germany and France were present. So much for “unity” being the prime purpose of the trip.
There is a real problem in the Biden Administration and the sooner we face it the better.
Biden's Cuban Missile Crisis
Joe Biden's perverse legacy, if that term even applies anymore, may well be determined in the coming weeks by his handling of events in Ukraine. He can improve it by showing restraint against the relentless neoconservative chorus. One wonders what the results of a pure popular vote on the question of going to war with Russia over Ukraine would be, versus a vote solely within the DC beltway.
Note: Biden was silent on the recent imposition of emergency martial law by the Trudeau government in Ottawa (a few hundred miles from Washington, DC), but has plenty to say about Kiev (4,881 distant miles). This is not coincidental. As journalist Glenn Greenwald puts it, we are required by Western propaganda to denounce actions by Vladimir Putin (such as freezing the bank assets of political opponent Alexei Navalny) while cheering the same actions taken by the Canadian government against money donated to truckers. Crackdowns in "democracies" are subject to a more enlightened standard:
[W]hen these weapons are wielded by Western governments, the precise opposite framework is imposed: describing them as despotic is no longer obligatory but virtually prohibited. That tyranny exists only in Western adversaries but never in the West itself is treated as a permanent axiom of international affairs, as if Western democracies are divinely shielded from the temptations of genuine repression. Indeed, to suggest that a Western democracy has descended to the same level of authoritarian repression as the West's official enemies is to assert a proposition deemed intrinsically absurd or even vaguely treasonous.1
Much of today's Western rhetoric about the former USSR employs this language of treason, accusing war skeptics of siding with Putin. American politicians and media often veer into outright Russophobia, sometimes with a not-subtle racial animus. This flows in large part from the 2016 election of Donald Trump, which somehow had to be the result of Russian interference and not Hillary Clinton's shortcomings. It was remarkable to see so many politicians and pundits risk resurrecting a Cold War with a nuclear power simply to hurt Trump politically. But it worked: they got rid of Trump, and now the Cold War is back.
At this writing, Putin has declared the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent and autonomous from Ukraine. Russian forces have entered Ukraine and launched missiles; deaths and injuries are reported. Those troops reportedly have control over the Chernobyl power plant. Ludwig von Mises's birthplace, today called Lviv, is threatened.
In response, Biden today announced retaliatory sanctions against Russia and promised severe economic consequences for Putin's actions. Military and aerospace technology will be blocked, while Russian banks will be shut off from international markets. US and EU officials also have considered the more severe option of removing the country from the SWIFT system of international payments, which would cut off foreign-currency purchases of oil, gas, and other Russian exports.
Still, Biden has shown restraint. Let's hope he keeps to this commitment made earlier today:
"Our forces are not and will not be engaged in the conflict," he said. "Our forces are not going to Europe to fight in Ukraine but defend [sic] our NATO allies and reassure those allies in the east."
There will be plenty of voices in Biden's ear demanding more, much more. The subcurrent to Biden's election in 2020 was the return of neoconservatism with a vengeance. Many of the worst foreign policy hawks, from David Frum to Max Boot to Bill Kristol, have found their home in the Democratic Party. The GOP, for its part, is scrambling to outdo the Democrats in their bellicosity for Putin in a nauseatingly transparent effort to make Biden look weak for the upcoming midterm elections. Hence the sorry spectacle of former Trump national security advisor John Bolton—among the worst war promoters in modern history—solemnly lecturing us on MSNBC about Biden's failure to have placed US troops in Ukraine weeks ago. Unless Putin's foray is short lived, rest assured that Congress, the Pentagon, the spy agencies, Biden's cabinet, and his own party leaders (mindful of polls) will call for US military strikes. Some will call for American troops to defend Ukraine on the ground.
President John F. Kennedy faced similar pressures in his brief years as president. Regardless of one's views on Camelot, Kennedy was a New England liberal and idealist—not a neoconservative. He sincerely abhorred the possible use of nuclear weapons in a conflict with the Soviets. He communicated clandestinely with Nikita Khrushchev to avoid just such a conflict and managed to bring the US back from the brink of an ugly tank standoff in Berlin during 1961—stating, to the chagrin of the Cold Warriors, that the Berlin Wall was "a hell of a lot better than a war."
Kennedy similarly resisted calls by the Pentagon, CIA, and Joint Chiefs for the US to back a puppet government in Laos. He was reasonably firm in his opposition to escalations in Vietnam, denying repeated Pentagon requests for thousands of ground troops. Time and again he imagined his reelection in 1964 would free him politically to remove America completely from Southeast Asia.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, the pressure on Kennedy to use nuclear missiles against that tiny, impoverished country was intense. Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, CIA deputy Richard Helms, the Joint Chiefs, and one particularly bloodthirsty general named Curtis "Bombs Away" LeMay all pressed hard for action. They considered JFK's Cuban blockade disastrously weak. One CIA operative called his failure to launch a nuclear strike "treasonous." LeMay compared it to appeasement in Munich. And of course his own vice president, Lyndon Johnson, was never an ally when it counted. Kennedy's only firm and trusted confidant throughout all of it was his own brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy.
Like Trump, JFK faced almost mutinous attacks and subterfuge from within: by his own cabinet, administrative agencies, military commanders, and especially the CIA.
Biden is no JFK. It is clear Biden does not possess an iota of Jack Kennedy's intelligence, courage, nerve, vigor, or idealism. He is a lifetime political grifter and partisan hack who parasitically attached himself to the DC establishment. That such a nonentity could even sniff the US Senate, much less become president, is an indictment of our system. But at the moment he is, or appears to be, the voice of reason against the John Boltons of the world.
- 1. Glenn Greenwald, "The Neoliberal War on Dissent in the West," Glenn Greenwald, Feb. 21, 2022, https://greenwald.substack.com.
Biden’s White Elephant: Subsidizing Charging Station Buildout for EVs
Finding the most appropriate title for this Federal boondoggle was difficult, because of the number of government projects that waste taxpayer funds. History tells us that the private sector is a more efficient allocator of capital. From the factsheet:
Electrification is an opportunity to support “good-paying union jobs across American supply chains…” So good paying non-union jobs don’t count? Biden wants to spend $5 billion of your money to build out charging stations. Notably, they want to make sure that 40% of the funds for charging stations are spent on installations in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. There are hints that installation of the network will be done by a unionized workforce.
On the surface, this looks great. With charging stations everywhere, you don’t have to worry that your EV only goes a short distance before needing a recharge. Biden’s plan also includes billions to source raw materials for battery makers. One of the materials happens to be cobalt. Hmm.
A minor issue with the plan is that battery technology is evolving so that cobalt for example, is being phased out. In fact, cobalt is being phased out of the entire EV powertrain but if you work for the government putting together a boondoggle, it is not relevant.
What about that range anxiety thing that is preventing everyone from buying EV’s? Again, technology has this nasty habit of evolving. Each year, the range per charge of EV’s will improve. By 2030, you will likely be able to go 1,000 miles per charge in a host of vehicles. That is like having an ICE car getting 25 mpg with a 40-gallon gas tank. A private company called Our Next Energy has already tested a new battery pack in a Tesla. They got 750 miles out of it before it needed recharging. Tesla Model S Goes 752 Miles with a Startup's Prototype Battery (caranddriver.com) By the time Biden’s plan is done, you will be able to buy cars that recharge at the same speed it takes to fill up a gas tank. I don’t know anybody who has a gasoline pump in their home or apartment building, but “coil switching” technology and other refinements to the EV drive and charging system allow the vehicle to be plugged into a common 115V outlet. So, if you live in a single-family home and have an electrical outlet in the garage, your vehicle will always be fully charged first thing in the morning. And installing outlets in apartment garages would be a nice marketing point for the rental office.
The Biden plan is designed as if gas stations are going to just quit selling gasoline and diesel when EV’s take over and hope to keep their service stations over selling Slim Jims and Doritos. Somehow, I don’t think that’s how it will play out. https://electrek.co/2022/01/16/bp-claims-ev-charging-stations-on-the-cusp-of-being-more-profitable-than-gas-pumps/
Service stations will swap out gas pumps for EV chargers, people will be charging at home and in the garages of their apartments, and a bunch of EV charging companies that went public are already building out charging networks. And as range per charge keeps increasing (OK, with diminishing increases in the “out years”), we may have overbuilding of charging stations even without our taxpayer dollars being spent in the next 4 years on chargers which themselves will become fossils within the following few years as charging technology itself improves.
Other than the above, Biden’s plan is fantastic. I feel warm and fuzzy already. Don’t you?
Behind Closed Doors
Despite all that can be said about the Consumer Price Inflation (CPI) calculation, a reading of 7.5% is relatively high compared to the last 40 years. On Monday the Federal Reserve will have a closed door meeting “held under expedited procedures” for:
Review and determination by the Board of Governors of the advance and discount rates to be charged by the Federal Reserve Banks.
It sounds like an emergency meeting but the Fed regularly schedules these meetings to deliberate ways of intervening in the economy. Perhaps it was speculation over an emergency rate hike which prompted Fed officials to remark that there is no intention for an emergency rate announcement. Bloomberg reports St. Louis Fed President James Bullard:
…said the Fed isn’t “in that mode” of emergency rate hikes, noting that there is little need to surprise markets now given the tightening they are pricing in already.
Barring any surprises, there will likely be no rate hike for another month, allowing time to consider a few ideas of interest, and for lack of a better word, absurdities with this system.
The Fed and mainstream media claim that supply issues and bottlenecks related to reopening the economy are to blame for the increase in prices. Just last month, Powell reiterated:
Supply and demand imbalances related to the pandemic and [to] the reopening of the economy have continued to contribute to elevated levels of inflation. In particular, bottlenecks and supply constraints are limiting how quickly production can respond to higher demand in the near term.
Putting the blame on reopening the economy and bottlenecks indicates no signs of slowing down. It’s only funny for so long, until one realizes how empty these words are. We’re supposed to believe that reopening an economy takes 3 years and not 3 days. Nonetheless, this is supposedly the cause for the increase in prices of fruits, vegetables, quarter chicken legs, lumber, and gasoline.
Even if they discuss bottlenecks during closed door meetings, using top secret data, it’s still a system prone to calculation problems and corruption. The goal of blaming everything else, except the Fed’s easy money policies, on the increase in prices knows no bounds.
Yet narratives aren’t enough. A research component is required to lend further credibility. Recently the St. Louis Fed published a paper titled: Global Supply Chain Disruptions and Inflation During the COVID-19 Pandemic. The abstract opens by stating:
We investigate the role supply chain disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic played in U.S. producer price index (PPI) inflation.
The conclusion is that foreign supply chain issues lead to bottlenecks and higher prices domestically. They were uncertain as to whether it was temporary or permanent, but had conviction vaccines would play a vital role:
The unequal distribution of vaccines in emerging countries, the rise of new variants, and disruptions in shipping could add some additional pressure on supply chains, creating pessimism about inflation disappearing in the near future.
How these research reports, narratives and policy decisions get the greenlight is known to less people than fingers on your hands. Adding insult to injury, even if they were correct about the cause of our price increases, nowhere have they explained why increasing interest rates would make matters any better. If bottlenecks and reopenings are the cause of (price) inflation, then raising rates is the cure!
For all we know, they could be laughing behind closed doors because in all honesty, being a central banker is phenomenal work, if you can get it; the power, acclaim, salary, security and near immunity is something the masses will never know, but for which the masses pay dearly. Of all the absurdities mentioned above, never forget that under a free market system, there would be no central bank. Even better, all the “economists” who write research papers exploring bottlenecks using linear regression models would quickly find it no longer pays to be an economist.
Brown as a Guide to Breyer’s Seat
With Associate Justice Stephen Breyer’s impending retirement from the Supreme Court, President Biden jumped at the chance to deliver on his 2020 pledge to nominate its first Female Black Justice. And he defended the seeming affirmative action pick by saying “The person I will nominate will be someone with extraordinary qualifications, character, experience and integrity. And that person will be the first Black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court.” However, as reported by ABC, a new poll found that “just over three-quarters of Americans (76%) want Biden to consider ‘all possible nominees.’”
The disjunction between what Biden clearly felt would be widely applauded and initial polling seems to indicate a great deal of skepticism that who is being sought is the best qualified justice for defending the Constitution as the highest law of the land against attacks, including those frequent assaults proposed by his own party.
An interesting angle on this comes from 2003 and 2005, when California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown, a Black woman, was nominated to the D.C. Court of Appeals. She was widely attacked by Democrats as both an “extremist” and “out of the mainstream,” two of their favorite epithets used against judges they wish to obstruct. Barack Obama offered a good example, asserting that “in almost every legal decision that she has made and every political speech that she has given, Justice Brown has shown she is not simply a judge with very strong political views, she is a political activist who happens to be a judge.” Her nomination was opposed, and then filibustered, until a special inter-party deal bought her eventual release from Senate purgatory to join that court.
Particularly interesting about the attacks against Judge Brown was how much her words, so intensely attacked by Democrats, reflected America’s founders. Over and over, her “extreme” statements echoed those whose ideas shaped our country and our Constitution.
I collected some of Justice Brown’s pilloried statements and compared it to like statements from our founders, many of which came from my Lines of Liberty book. Given the lack of evidence that Democrats are any less adamantly opposed to our founders’ ideals now than when they smeared her, it can be instructive to remember some of them.
JRB: “Where government advances--and it advances relentlessly--freedom is imperiled...When did government cease to be a necessary evil and become a goody bag to solve our private problems?”
Thomas Paine: “Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.”
George Mason: “Every society, all government, and every kind of civil compact therefore, is or ought to be, calculated for the general good and safety of the community. Every power, every authority vested in particular men is, or ought to be, ultimately directed at this sole end; and whenever any power or authority whatever extends further...than is in its nature necessary for these purposes, it may be called government, but it is in fact oppression.”
Thomas Jefferson: “What more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people?...a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.”
JRB: “Where government moves in, community retreats, civil society disintegrates and our ability to control our own destiny atrophies.”
Thomas Paine: “Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices...The first is a patron, the last a punisher.”
Thomas Jefferson: “The right of self-government does not comprehend the government of others.”
George Washington: “It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty on the supposition that he may abuse it.”
JRB: “All perspectives are not equal...there are ideas worth defending to the death... Freedom is not free. And it will never be the lasting legacy of the lazy or the indifferent.”
James Wilson: “Government...should be formed to secure and enlarge the exercise of the natural rights of its members; and every government, which has not this in view, as its principal object, is not a government of the legitimate kind.”
George Mason: “No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by…frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.”
Benjamin Franklin: “Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature.”
JRB: “In his…all too famous dissent in Lochner, Justice Holmes wrote that the ‘constitution is not intended to embody a particular economic theory, whether of paternalism and the organic relation of the citizen to the State or of laissez faire’...he was simply wrong.”
Thomas Jefferson: “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others.”
George Washington: “Liberty will find itself...where the Government...[will] maintain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and property.”
James Madison: “The real measure of the powers meant to be granted to Congress by the Constitution is to be sought in the specifications... not...with a latitude that, under the name or means for carrying into execution a limited Government, would transform it into a Government without limits.”
JRB: “Collectivism was (and is) fundamentally incompatible with the vision that undergirded this country’s founding. The New Deal, however, inoculated the federal Constitution with a kind of underground collectivist mentality. The Constitution itself was transmuted into a significantly different document.”
Patrick Henry: “Liberty ought to be the direct end of your government.”
Thomas Jefferson: “The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen in his person and property and in their management.”
Samuel Adams: “It is the greatest absurdity to suppose it in the power of one, or any number of men, at the entering into society, to renounce their essential rights, or the means of preserving those rights.”
JRB: “At its founding and throughout its early history, this regime revered private property ...The Founders viewed the right of property as ‘the guardian of every other right.’”
John Adams: “Property must be secured, or liberty cannot exist.”
James Madison: “The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate...The protection of these faculties is the first object of government.”
George Mason: “Frequent interference with private property and contracts...must disgust the best and wisest part of the community, occasion a general depravity of manners, bring the legislature into contempt.”
JRB: “Protection of private property was a major casualty of the Revolution of 1937...Rights were reordered and property acquired a second class status. If the right asserted was economic, the court held the Legislature could do anything it pleased...Something new, called economic rights, began to supplant the old property rights...With the advent of ‘economic rights,’ the original meaning of rights was effectively destroyed. These new ‘rights’ imposed obligations, not limits, on the state. It thus became government’s job not to protect property but, rather, to regulate and distribute it.”
James Madison: “In a just and free government...the rights both of property and of persons ought to be effectually guarded.”
John Adams: “The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If ‘Thou shalt not covet’ and “Thou shalt not steal’ were not commandments of heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.”
Thomas Jefferson: “It [is]...ridiculous to suppose that a man had less rights in himself than one of his neighbors, or indeed all of them put together. This would be slavery, and not that liberty which the bill of rights has made inviolable, and for the preservation of which our government has been charged.”
JRB: “Once again a majority of this court has proved that ‘if enough people get together and act in concert, they can take everything and not pay for it.’ But theft is theft. Theft is theft even when the government approves of the thievery...The right to express one’s individuality and essential human dignity through the free use of property is just as important as the right to do so through speech, the press, or the free exercise of religion.”
Thomas Jefferson: “To take from one...in order to spare to others...is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association--the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.”
John Adams: “Each individual of the society has a right to be protected by it in the enjoyment of his life, liberty, and property...no part of the property of any individual can, with justice, be taken from him, or applied to public uses, without his own consent.”
John Dickinson: “We cannot be HAPPY, without being FREE...we cannot be free, without being secure in our property...we cannot be secure in our property, if, without our consent, others may, as by right, take it away.”
JRB: “Government acts as a siphon, extracting wealth, creating privilege and power, and redistributing it.”
John Dickinson: “The single question is whether [government] can legally take money out of our pockets, without our consent. If they can, our boasted liberty is but ‘sound and nothing else.’”
Thomas Paine: “We still feel the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry, and grasping at the spoil of the multitude. Invention is continually exercised to furnish new pretenses for revenue and taxation. It watches property as its prey and permits none to escape without a tribute.”
George Washington: “[Government] has no more right to put their hands into my pockets, without my consent, than I have to put my hands into yours.”
JRB: “The Constitution, once the fixed chart for our aspirations, has been demoted.”
Alexander Hamilton: “The courts of justice are to be considered as the bulwarks of a limited Constitution against legislative encroachments.”
Thomas Jefferson: “No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him.”
James Madison: “Laws are unconstitutional which infringe on the rights of the community... government should be disarmed of powers which trench upon those particular rights.”
JRB: “The courts overcame…limitations on their powers with ridiculous ease. How?...finding constitutional rights which are nowhere mentioned in the Constitution. By taking a few words which are in the Constitution like ‘due process’ and ‘equal protection’ and imbuing them with elaborate and highly implausible etymologies; and by enunciating standards of constitutional review which are not standards at all but rather policy vetoes, i.e., strict scrutiny and the compelling state interest standard.”
Alexander Hamilton: “The complete independence of the courts of justice is peculiarly essential in a limited Constitution...which contains certain specified exceptions to the legislative authority...Limitations of this kind can be preserved in practice no other way than through the medium of courts of justice, whose duty it must be to declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the Constitution void. Without this, all the reservations of particular rights or privileges would amount to nothing...No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution can be valid. To deny this would be to affirm...that men acting by virtue of powers may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid...whenever a particular statute contravenes the Constitution, it will be the duty of the judicial tribunals to adhere to the latter...to guard the Constitution and the rights of individuals.”
James Madison: “The powers of the federal government are enumerated...it has legislative powers on defined and limited objects, beyond which it cannot extend its jurisdiction.”
Thomas Jefferson: “Our legislators are not sufficiently apprised of the rightful limits of their power: that their true office is to declare and enforce only our natural rights and duties and to take none of them from us.”
JRB: “We are heirs to a mind-numbing bureaucracy…arbitrary, capricious, and discriminatory. What other outcome is possible in a society in which no adult can wake up, go about their business, and return to their homes without breaking several laws?”
Benjamin Franklin: “In free governments, the rulers are the servants and the people their superiors and sovereigns.”
Thomas Paine: “When I contemplate the natural dignity of man…I become irritated at the attempt to govern mankind by force and fraud, as if they were all knaves and fools.”
Thomas Jefferson: “Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our own will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law,’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.”
JRB: “Curiously, in the current dialectic, the right to keep and bear arms--a right expressly guaranteed by the Bill of Rights--is deemed less fundamental than implicit protections the court purports to find in the penumbras of other express provisions. But surely, the right to preserve one’s life is at least as fundamental as the right to preserve one’s privacy.”
Samuel Adams: “Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: first, a right to life; secondly, to liberty; thirdly to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can.”
James Wilson: “The defense of one’s self, justly called the primary law of nature, is not, nor can it be, abrogated by any regulation.”
James Dickinson: “For WHO ARE A FREE PEOPLE? Not those, over whom government is reasonable and equitably exercised, but those, who live under a government so constitutionally checked and controlled, that proper provision is made against its being otherwise exercised.”
JRB: “If we are committed to a rule of law that applies equally to ‘minorities as well as majorities, to the poor as well as the rich,’ we cannot countenance standards that permit and encourage discriminatory enforcement.”
Benjamin Franklin: “An equal dispensation of protection, rights, privileges, and advantages, is what every part is entitled to, and ought to enjoy.”
James Madison: “It would be the interest of the majority in every community to despoil and enslave the minority of individuals...re-establishing, under another name and a more specious form, force as the measure of right.”
Thomas Jefferson: “The minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate would be oppression.”
JRB: “Liberty was sacrificed for the common good, and eventually calcified into the tyranny of the State above all.”
George Washington: “It has always been my creed that we should not be left as an awful monument to prove, ‘that Mankind, under the most favorable circumstances, are unequal to the task of Governing themselves, and therefore made for a Master.’”
James Madison: “If Congress can employ money indefinitely...the powers of Congress would subvert the very foundation, the very nature of the limited government established by the people of America.”
Thomas Jefferson: “A sound spirit of legislation...banishing all arbitrary and unnecessary restraint on individual action, shall leave us free to do whatever does not violate the equal rights of another.”
John Adams: “The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.”
Janice Rogers Brown’s “extremism” was the same extremism that led to the founding of America as the home of liberty. The only real differences were that they began “the land of the free” and she was trying to preserve it; that they were establishing precedents of individual rights and liberty never before seen and she was trying to maintain them, as enshrined in our founding documents. In particular, she echoed their dedication to protecting citizens’ rights from government abuse as the primary purpose of the Constitution.
It is clear that those who painted Janice Rogers Brown as an extremist were only correct insofar as those who first sought out and fought for Americans’ liberty were extremists. But such “extremism” poses no threat to modern Americans or their rights. It only threatens those who would sacrifice our liberty to lesser ends under the guise of a “living Constitution” that only evolves away from it.
Given Democrats’ antipathy to Judge Brown because she echoed America’s founders so closely, perhaps similarly comparing the views of whoever President Biden nominates to fill Justice Breyer’s seat to our founders’ views might be a very useful measure of their competence and trustworthiness to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies,” which is part of the Justices’ oath. If there is an abyss between them, such a nominee cannot offer the “true faith and allegiance” they swear to.
Bipartisanship: US House Races MASSIVE Ukraine Weapons Transfer to the Floor!
In Washington the global US military empire is a bipartisan affair. With a trillion dollar yearly military budget, there are plenty of opportunities for both the position and the opposition parties to thrust snouts deeply into the trough.
While Ron Paul was in Congress and GW Bush was president, we did a good deal to craft a bipartisan antiwar coalition in opposition to the Iraq war and other Bush-ite neocon misadventures. Then Obama was elected and pursued the same policies of global military empire - but with a better smile - and our coalition disintegrated. Suddenly the Democrats (with a couple of exceptions) were uninterested in the antiwar issue.
Such is the case now, when Obama's great "success" - the US-led coup in Ukraine - is back in the headlines. Now Obama's second fiddle is "in charge" of things and those under him who pull the levers are determined to solidify their "great achievement" of peeling Ukraine away from its neighbor and dropping that basket-case into the lap of Brussels and Washington. So for the past five weeks they have been ginning up the idea that Russia is about to invade Ukraine - even when Ukraine's own defense secretary is practically laughing at Washington's breathless assertions.
Said Ukrainian Defense Secretary Alexey Danilov:
As of today, we don’t see any grounds for statements about a full-scale offensive on our territory. It’s even physically impossible... Maybe, [seeing Russian troops] is an oddity to our foreign partners who finally saw that there are Russian forces and they move a certain way.
It must be comical for Russia to sit back and watch the US Keystone Kops at the helm of foreign policy blunder and bluster, with Biden's press secretary insisting that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is "imminent" even as the Ukrainians - who are in a position to know and also in a position to benefit if it was true - pour cold water on the Biden war-fear-porn.
But when it comes to Fed-generated counterfeit money, Congress is always ready to sprinkle plenty around to their favorite causes - usually war and corporatism.
That is why House Democrats are desperately trying to ram through a massive "free weapons" bill for Ukraine before the current lapdog media-driven "RUSSIA INVASION" propaganda dies down.
Just as Big Pharma is rushing to put a new omicron variant vaccine on the market before their Covid gravy train dies out, Washington's Democratic warmongers (with plenty of Republican fellow travelers) are rushing to send half a billion dollars in weapons to Ukraine before the casual MSM consumer learns (they're always last to know) that the whole "Russia is about to invade Ukraine" cook-up is another lie.
US military aid overseas is corporate welfare for US Beltway weapons manufacturers who in turn kick back millions to fund pro-war politicians and more millions to fund pro-war "think tanks" who warn us that there are Reds under every bed and that we need to spend moar moar moar!
As The Intercept reports, Pelosi is worried that the "RUSSIA IS INVADING" panic will wear off too soon, so she is "looking to skip marking up the bill and move it straight to the House floor, setting up the possibility of a vote as soon as early next week."
Angry to be left out of the fleecing of America for foreign interests frenzy, Republicans are racing to offer more of our money to protect the borders of corrupt Ukraine (while foreign invaders are given the red carpet treatment on our borders):
Republicans have offered their own measures. Earlier this month in the House, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the lead Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced the Guaranteeing Ukrainian Autonomy by Reinforcing its Defense Act, a companion bill to a measure sponsored by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Jim Risch, R-Idaho. The bill would give Ukraine $450 million from the State Department’s FMF account and impose sanctions related to the Nord Stream 2 project immediately, without waiting for an escalation as in the Democrats’ bill.
Only $450 million? Come on Republicans! Surely you can do better to flush our money down the foreign policy toilet! Slackers!
As the great Pat Buchanan once said, "Our two parties have become nothing but two wings of the same bird of prey."
Indeed, Mr. Buchanan. Indeed!
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