Join Jim and Greg as they cheer the failure of the Neera Tanden nomination for the Office of Management and Budget. They also welcome strong vaccination numbers in Texas, which makes Gov. Abbott’s decision to open the state 100 percent a pretty safe move. They also welcome the notion of allowing people to make their own decisions. And they cringe as the number of newborns in the U.S. after nine months of the pandemic were disturbingly low.

Deep (Freeze) in the Heart of Texas

 

The recent dramatic events in Texas are an early warning sign of the disasters that are likely to occur if the Biden administration continues its relentless effort to demonize the use of fossil fuels in the effort to combat climate change.

Assessing whether the climate is really changing requires looking at two numbers. The first is mean global temperatures across time. While that figure is increasing overall, it shows a complex up-down pattern that cannot be explained solely by the steady increase in carbon dioxide emissions. The higher the mean temperatures, the worse the supposed problem.

The second measure, though often neglected, is every bit as important: the variance in temperatures, whether measured in days, seasons, or years. A lower variance over a relevant time period means less stress on the power grid and other systems, even when the mean temperature increases. The general trend is that the variance in the temperature has gone down over time. Even today, for example, a large fraction of the record high temperatures in the United States took place in the 1930s—when carbon dioxide levels were far lower than they are today—with only three record highs after 2000.

Join Jim and Greg as they applaud Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for speaking the truth that schools should be open and there’s only one reason why they aren’t. They also shake their heads as a brutal cold snap causes power system failures and rotating blackouts through Texas – and the lessons that should be learned. And they take a bite out of Bill Gates for wanting all “wealthy nations” to switch to synthetic beef.

 

‘The More Electric Vehicles We Build, the Worse CO2 Gets’

 

Even though Toyota Motor Company will soon start selling their own versions of electric cars, Akio Toyoda, president of the company, isn’t thrilled with the EV rage and had two important points to make about electric vehicles (EVs).

The first point is that EVs are too expensive for most people to afford. His company’s marketing model is based on affordable cars, so he knows what he’s talking about. He called EVs “a flower on a high summit” that would not penetrate the market much further than they already have. EVs sold now in the US depend heavily on government subsidies. Tesla and other EV stocks are grossly overpriced since their likely earnings will never catch up. He doesn’t see the price of EVs coming down much since cost-cutting technology has already reached its limit for the standard EV. It would seem he sees promises of an EV for $25,000 as being empty.

Biden’s Unlawful Re-entry into Climate Accord

 

On January 20, beneath an imposing array of solar panels, President Biden issued an executive order declaring that the United States would rejoin the Paris agreement on climate change. The order stated in full: “I, Joseph R. Biden Jr., president of the United States of America, having seen and considered the Paris Agreement, done at Paris on December 12, 2015, do hereby accept the said agreement and every article and clause thereof on behalf of the United States of America.”

This executive order raises issues of huge constitutional import. Does the president of the United States have the constitutional power to “accept” the Paris agreement by unilateral action? The correct answer is a decided no. The Paris agreement should be understood first and foremost as a treaty. As such, it should be governed by Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the Constitution, which requires treaty ratification by two-thirds of the senators present. President Obama knew that he did not have the votes in the Republican-controlled Senate to ratify the treaty in 2016—hence the initial entry into the agreement via executive order.

The simple question here is whether the obligation to secure Senate approval can be avoided by rebranding the treaty as an “agreement,” as was done in Obama’s and Biden’s executive orders.

Join Jim and Greg as they credit National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar for documenting how President Biden has started far more to the left than he promised during the campaign. They also get a kick out of AOC allies targeting a a new Super PAC at defeating Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema after they refused to kill the legislative filibuster in the Senate. And they have fun with a column from a far left San Francisco teacher, who claims Bernie Sanders demonstrated white privilege with the coat and mittens he wore to the inauguration.

Join Jim and Greg as they welcome New York officials getting closer to the truth about nursing home deaths from COVID and how much Gov. Cuomo tried to cover up the numbers. They also hammer John Kerry and the Biden administration for smugly insisting that lots of energy industry workers will lose jobs but the green energy jobs will be even better. And while admitting limited knowledge of Wall Street, they discuss the GameStop trading chaos and the interesting political reaction to it.

Biden Goes Deep Green

 

It is amazing the difference that four years can make in environmental policy. On January 24, 2017, at the outset of his presidency, Donald Trump issued an executive order that salvaged the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) from the Obama administration’s planned obstructionism. Obama had sought to upset the string of administrative approvals that the project obtained at both the federal and state levels. DAPL runs about 1,100 miles from the Bakken and Three Forks oil fields in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois, where it is able to carry, far below ground, about 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day. Trump’s action allowed Congress to vote on whether to grant the last federal easement needed for the pipeline to proceed.

DAPL is now in service, even as litigation to shut it down continues. Environmental groups continue to allege attenuated theories of adverse effects under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Their efforts are consistent with the common practice among environmentalists of paying inordinate attention to highly remote contingencies while completely ignoring the large and immediate safety and efficiency advantages of getting crude oil to both domestic and foreign markets via DAPL. More concretely, the chances that any crude oil shipped by DAPL will escape in sufficient quantities to damage the fishing or water rights of the Standing Rock Sioux have always been infinitesimal, which is why the pipeline operations have caused no such harm for the past three years. The overall soundness of the pipeline grid will become truly dire if DAPL is shut down while Keystone is left incomplete.

For the moment, however, the immediate threat is to the Keystone pipeline. On January 20, President Biden issued an executive order aimed at “Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.” One component of his major order was to revoke the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline started some twelve years ago, but since that time it has been beset with legal challenges, including one in May 2020 in which a Montana judge yanked the pipeline’s permit on the grounds that the Army Corps of Engineers had not consulted sufficiently with the US Fish and Wildlife Service on the alleged risks that the pipeline posed to endangered species and their habitat. Such orders overlook the benefits from that pipeline, which include its ability to ship up to 830,000 barrels per day of crude oil from the Alberta sands to American refineries along the Gulf Coast.

Join Jim and Greg as they expose the insanity of Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen, who says the National Guard could be a threat to Biden since many of them probably voted for Trump. They also pummel Joe Biden for yet another nomination based solely on identity politics rather than competence. And they also condemn Biden for planning to kill the Keystone XL Pipeline, despite many good reasons for the project to continue.

Join Jim and Greg as they applaud Politico editors for defending their decision to have Ben Shapiro as a guest author and not caving to the liberal outrage in the newsroom. They also tell Joe Biden that this is the worst possible time to pursue a $15 per hour minimum wage, since it would kill even more jobs and probably more businesses. And they fume as a major study concludes lockdown policies did not help to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Join Jim and Greg, even though there are no good martinis today. They wince as Joe Biden taps radical lefty Xavier Becerra to run the Department of Health and Human Services. They also walk through the thoroughly unsurprising allegations that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo runs a toxic work environment. And they fume as the Chicago Teachers’ Union says returning to in-person instruction is due to racism, sexism, and misogyny while national unions convince Joe Biden to demand $100 billion to reopen elementary schools.

There may be no good martinis today but we’re still having a lot of fun! Join Jim and Greg as they groan over Biden’s choice of John Kerry to be a special envoy on climate change and Biden making the progressive climate agenda a major priority. They also tear apart the push for compulsory voting in the U.S. and why not caring about politics should remain one of our cherished rights. And they unload on Pennsylvania for implementing an arbitrary ban on alcohol sales in bars and restaurants on Wednesday.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Wayne Franklin, professor of English at the University of Connecticut and definitive biographer of the American literary figure James Fenimore Cooper. As we celebrate Native American Heritage Month, Prof. Franklin reviews Cooper’s background and major works, especially the “Leatherstocking Tales,” including The Last of the Mohicans, which are distinguished for their enlightened and sympathetic portrayal of the disappearing tribes. Franklin discusses why these books, set in upstate New York in the middle of the 18th century, and their memorable protagonists have captivated generations of readers for over a century, and why Cooper deserves more contemporary study and appreciation. They also explore Cooper’s lessons about the importance of constitutionalism, liberty, self-government, and civic knowledge as the basis for the rule of law in our republic. Prof. Franklin concludes with a reading from The Last of the Mohicans.

Stories of the Week: In Europe, despite a COVID-19 surge that has prompted closures of restaurants, theaters, and gyms, schools remain open. Are there lessons for the U.S.? Some prominent names have been floated to serve as the next U.S. Secretary of Education – among them, Eduardo Padron, president emeritus of Miami Dade College; Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers; and Lily Eskelsen García, former president of the National Education Association – but would they accept?

An Overambitious Climate Plan for Biden

 

President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team has made it clear that climate change will be a top policy priority for his incoming administration. In crafting its policies, the Biden administration may heavily rely upon a blueprint already created by former Obama administration officials and environmental experts. Known as the Climate 21 Project, the exhaustive transition memo seeks “to hit the ground running and effectively prioritize [Biden’s] climate response from Day One,” after which it hopes to implement major institutional changes within the first hundred days of the Biden presidency. The project’s recommendations involve eleven executive branch agencies, including the Departments of Energy, Interior, and Transportation, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, all of which are now actively involved in environmental policy. But the breadth of the Project 21 initiative is evident by its inclusion of State, Treasury, and Justice, too.

The project makes a grim assessment of the (unnamed) Trump administration. In speaking of the Environmental Protection Agency, it notes, without identifying any particulars, that it “has experienced a prolonged, systematic assault to disable effective capacities, demoralize its highly expert and dedicated staff, undercut its own legal authorities, and betray the EPA’s core mission to protect human health and the environment.” To reverse these trends, the Climate 21 Project is determined to shift the EPA’s focus “to climate change and clean energy,” an effort centered “around a deep decarbonization strategy.” The memo adds that the Interior Department must directly seize on “climate mitigation opportunities . . . in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from fossil resources owned by the public and tribes, boosting renewable energy production on public lands and waters, [and] enhancing carbon sequestration on public lands.”

The project’s seventeen-person steering committee consists of many Obama administration officials and environmental activists. Its co-chairs are Christy Goldfuss, formerly a managing director at the White House Council of Environmental Quality and now the head of Energy and Environmental Policy at the Center for American Progress, and Tim Profeta, Director of Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. The committee contains no mainstream Republicans or market-oriented economists. Its orientation is captured by the repeated use of the words “crisis” or crises,” which appear fifteen times in its report’s summary alone, usually joined with the word “climate.”

Arizona’s Secret Green New Deal

 

The Solana Arizona thermal collection plant, near Gila Bend, AZ.
On October 29, almost out of the public eye, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) gave final approval to a dreadful regulation, mandating all energy in the state be produced with zero carbon emissions by 2050. Arizona has its own mini-Green New Deal!

The consequences will be devastating to Arizona’s economic competitiveness. A mere 15% mandate imposed in 2007 had a $1 billion impact on ratepayers and that was low-hanging fruit. Voters in 2018 soundly defeated a proposal similar to the Commission’s.

Join Jim and Greg as they see plenty of votes lined up to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. They also dig further into Joe Biden’s energy plan and see just how quickly he wants to wipe out fossil fuels. And they wince as Biden literally forgets who he’s running against.

Join Jim and Greg as they discuss how the final debate was much more pleasant to watch and far more substantive than the first one. They also dissect Joe Biden’s many lies in the debate – from saying he never promised to ban fracking to suggesting that the Hunter Biden laptop story is just Russian disinformation to inexplicably contending no one lost their private health insurance plans because of Obamacare. And they appreciate many lefties revealing just how little they know about immigration policy by misunderstanding and mocking Trump’s reference to “coyotes” smuggling kids across the border.

Join Jim and Greg for three good martinis! First, they credit NBC for actually reporting that a big reason for huge forest fires is poor government management and a refusal to diligently thin out forests to contain future fires. They’re also thrilled to see polling showing 80 percent of Saudis expecting normalization of relations with Israel and 71 percent expecting it whether the Palestinians pursue a peace deal or not. And they’re glad to see a majority of Americans approving the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett and a huge majority opposing court packing.

Join hosts Joe Selvaggi and Pioneer Institute’s Mary Connaughton, and guest, former Mass. Secretary of Transportation Jim Aloisi, as they discuss the I90 Allston Multimodal Project, its long-term benefits, and their concerns for the metro west commuters and communities during the project’s decade-long construction.

Interview guest: