Interesting Items 07/11

Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information.  Enjoy –

In this issue –

1.  Energy
2.  Protests
3.  Twitter
4.  Newsom
5.  Vacating
6.  Halifax
7.  Aspen
8.  Vegan

1.  Energy.  The democrat war on fossil fuel continued last week on several fronts, all of them infuriating.  The regime reaction to the SCOTUS throwing out the Clean Power Plan by O’Bama and then Harris – Xiden regulators was (as usual) to double down on the ploy.  Last week, among other things, they sent a warning round across the Permian Basin, and announced shutdown of all new leases for offshore exploration.  It appears that the EPA and its fellow travelers in the other Executive departments are simply going to keep doing what they have been doing, only more so, issuing rules and regulations that they know on day one that will never successfully make it through the federal courts.  But in doing so, they completely stop all investment in future energy simply by injecting sufficient uncertainty into the ability of the producers to explore and drill here in the US that the producers will stop doing it.  When the rule gets tossed 5 – 10 years from now, they will have purchased that 5 – 10 years of putting the industry into stasis and will happily write the next rule or regulation to do the same thing.  Nice trick, that.  In some ways, they tried doing this with the Clean Power Plan, which the Trump EPA withdrew before the West Virginia lawsuit made it to the SCOTUS.  Happily, neither the courts nor the Trump Justice Department bailed out of the lawsuit, allowing SCOTUS to actually hear the case. 

  • The EPA’s response to the Clean Power Plan last week was to announce that they were in the process of finding oil and natural gas exploration in the Permian Basin (TX, NM) in non-attainment status under EPA ozone regulations.  If they make such a declaration (and I fully expect them to do so), this will be a direct assault on production from the largest, most productive oil field in the US.  This same technique can also be used as a backdoor attack on coal-fired power plants, providing a workaround aimed at the Clean Power Plan opinion.  Today, the Permian produces 43% of US daily oil production and has 40% of its active rigs.  Note that this attack comes after Energy Secretary Granholm asked the domestic industry to increase production.  Gonna be difficult to increase production when you are in the process of being shut down by the very vermin demanding you produce more from the largest national field.
  • In response, Governor Abbott, up for reelection in Nov, wrote a fairly pointed letter to Biden, asking him to intervene in the EPA process, citing skyrocketing prices at the pump.  The letter promised actions by Texas if the EPA non-attainment finding was not reversed by July 29.  I had always thought that the states standing up to the feds would be over firearms.  Looks like that meeting engagement is going to happen over the war on fossil fuel.  And by meeting engagement, I do mean Gettysburg for the Biden administration, with them playing the part of General Lee in the upcoming festivities. 
  • The WH released a plan Friday that proposed no more than 10 lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico, an option for a single lease sale in the northern portion of Cook Inlet, Alaska, and no lease sales for Atlantic or Pacific planning areas 2023 – 2028.  While not final, any area not on the list will be off limits for oil and natural gas exploration during the period.  Difficult to increase production and control costs if you aren’t allowed to explore anywhere. 

2.  Protests.  Meanwhile, in the rest of the world, anti-green protests are breaking out all over, with Netherlands the latest flash point.  Green policies are in the midst of destroying the economy of Sri Lanka and Pakistan.  In Sri Lanka, we already have starvation as crops are failing due to new green rules and regulations on farming.  In response, the protests there forced its President and Prime Minister to resign.  In the Netherlands, the protests are by farmers, fishermen, truckers, aimed at government mandated shutdowns of farms to save the planet.  The government passed a law to cut nitrogen and CO2 emissions 50% by 2030, stating that not all farmers could continue in their businesses.  Note the inclusion of the newly created problem of nitrogen pollution.  As an aside, difficult to pollute with nitrogen as it already comprises 70% of the atmosphere.  Nitrogen derivatives are another thing entirely.  The revolt is percolating pretty good, with farmers spreading manure in front of government buildings, keeping employees out of them, and police shooting at people driving tractors through checkpoints.  I’m sure this is going to end well (/sarc).  The anti-green revolt is building, and it is worldwide.  We hope these protesters have more success than the Canadian truckers did. 

3.  Twitter.  Negotiations between Elon Musk and his investment and Twitter went back into the public sphere last week with release of a letter to the Twitter Board also sent to the SEC.  In the letter, Musk complained that Twitter did not comply with its contractual obligations in the purchase agreement, and as such, the purchase was not going to conclude.  Apparently, the tidal wave of data from Twitter to Musk was at best larded up with garbage data.  It is not outside the realm of possibility that the data was completely accurate, and Twitter actually has no idea about the size or composition of their subscriber base.  The second one would be much more dangerous for Twitter management and ownership, as all their SEC filings, business, and investment model are based on a specific, verifiable user base.  If that user base simply doesn’t exist as they have been claiming since 2013, they by definition have committed securities fraud.  The Twitter board responded by threatening to take Musk to court to force him to complete the purchase at the $44 billion offer.  Musk, working several steps ahead of the Twitter board, did his best Br’er Rabbit imitation with a tweet this morning about getting the Twitter Board and executives on record in front of a court to defend their numbers and business model.  The next move is up to the Twitter Board.  Buy popcorn. 

4.  Newsom.  Early jockeying for 2024 is underway, with Cali governor, Gavin Newsom, running the first attack ad buy.  He ran it in Florida going after Ron DeSantis for not running what Newsom referred to as a free state.  He went further, inviting unhappy Floridians to move to Cali where they could be free.  The ad was nicely crafted, aimed at suburban white women unhappy with the Dobbs abortion ruling.  Governor Hairgel (as he is referred to in some quarters) has some real persuasion skills and will be a formidable candidate.  If you count votes, he will pick up all democrats.  Whether he can turn them out or not remains to be seen.  Assuming Trump doesn’t run (and I hope he doesn’t), this will be the first presidential election in perhaps 20 years where issues will trump personalities.  Given the economic sucking chest wound on the body politic that Cali has become over the last 30 years, all led by a veto-proof democrat majority, I expect Newsom and his media enablers to do everything humanly possible to change the subject.  DeSantis responded to the ad by pointing out Californians are leaving the state and the rest of the nation is not moving in.  Florida is the second preferred destination for Cali refugees.  I am not showing the ad because I like the guy.  Rather, it is because one must know one’s enemy, and I fear he will be a player in 2024.

5.  Vacating.  The SCOTUS opinion vacating NY’s gun law in Bruen was not the only positive firearms opinion out of them this session.  Of course, NY responded poorly to Bruen.  Rather than figuring out what they did wrong and making an attempt to do it right, they went into full Hold My Beer mode, passing and signing legislation last week that all but made firearms ownership and use outside the home illegal statewide, hardly the best response to Bruen.  The new legislation even invalidated all the goodies gifted the gun owning power elite in NY, reprising the old Animal House line “You f&^%ed up, you trusted us.”  More on that later.  In light of Bruen, the SCOTUS sent back magazine, assault weapons ban, and open carry ban back to lower courts to reconsider in light of Bruen.  The magazine limits (more than 10 rounds) in CA and NJ, MD’s assault weapons ban, and HI’s ban on open carry.  I expect the states and the Cliinton, O’Bama and Biden judges to try mightily, and ultimately unsuccessfully, to uphold their bans, likely responding like NY did last week. 

6.  Halifax.  This week’s installment of Get Woke, Go Broke comes courtesy of Halifax Bank in Great Britain.  Halifax has been around a long time with a worldwide business and a wide array of products and services.  Wokesters in the PR department started the fight last week with a tweet celebrating employee nametags with personal pronouns.  The post was entitled “pronouns matter.”  Reaction from the bank’s 118,000 followers was swift and expectedly ugly.  Halifax’s reaction was equally swift, and remarkably stupid.  A named 20-something member of its social media team responded some 20 minutes later, saying “If you disagree with our values, you’re welcome to close your account.”  Customers responded to this with the functional equivalent of “Your terms are acceptable” and started pulling savings, banking, credit card, insurance, and loan business from the bank.  Think of it as a social media run on a bank.  Halifax was propped up by £30 billion bailout loan during the 2008 crash.  This is what is happening with increasing frequency as businesses hire and promote wokesters in their HR, social media, and other positions.  In this case, it is going to be very, very costly to the overall business.  As it should. 

7.  Aspen.  The Aspen Times got themselves in trouble a few months ago publishing a story suggesting one of the local billionaires was in league with Putin.  The billionaire filed suit against the paper for defamation.  The paper is currently trying to settle the suit.  Meanwhile, the paper was sold to a family group that owns several dozen small papers in rural areas.  The problem for Aspen-ites (and Aspen Times employees) is that much of the family are (Gasp!) Republicans.  The new owners ordered newspaper staff to not comment on the pending litigation while settlement talks are ongoing.  This is a normal position for any entity locked in a lawsuit.  The wokesters on the staff refused.  One was quickly fired.  Another quit.  Here’s where things get interesting.  A group of local progressives (and there a LOT of them in Aspen) who control the town got together and sent a letter to the new owners demanding (among other things) that they rehire the staff, publish content withheld during the negotiations, and promise that they would follow the demands of the letter writers regardless of where that path may lead.  Signatories included all five county commissioners, current mayor, former mayor, numerous city councilmen, and the democrat congressional candidate for the district Aspen is located in.  All democrats.  Aspen itself is 70% democrat.  They gave the paper two weeks to comply.  Threats included pulling ads and notices from the paper, encouraging local businesses to do the same, refusing interviews, and / or calling for a boycott of the paper.  When a private group threatens this sort of stuff, it is what we have come to know and love from what passes for political process from democrats these days.  When sitting government officials (county commissioners, mayors, city council members, congressional candidates) do this sort of thing, using the power of government aimed at an independent media entity, it is the very definition of fascism – private ownership and government control.  While they may win this round, I expect the lawsuit against them should they do anything other than run their mouths in public, be very, very expensive for Aspen at large and for them individually.  Note that in this, the left once again chooses threats and intimidation over any attempt to publicly make their case. 

8.  Vegan.  In the saddest story of the week, a 39-year-old Florida mother was convicted of starving her 18-month-old to death on a strict diet of fruit, veggies and mother’s milk.  The kid weighed 17 pounds, about 2/3 his normal weight when he passed away in his sleep.  His other siblings, all under age 11 were all suffering malnutrition.  The kid had stopped eating for at least a week and was having difficulty sleeping at night.  Mom and Dad chose not to take him to the Doc.  The mother was convicted of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter, child abuse, and two counts of child neglect.  The father is scheduled for trial on the same charges.  One must never get into the business of believing your own propaganda.  Sadly, this couple did. 

More later –

– AG

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