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Donald Trump’s Extract-Everything Energy Policy Dooms Us All

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Donald Trump’s Extract-Everything Energy Policy Dooms Us All

He laid out his dystopian world vision (and that of the generals he’s put in charge of what was once known as American “foreign policy”) in a December 18th address announcing the release of the administration’s new National Security Strategy (NSS) document. “Whether we like it or not,” he asserted, “we are engaged in a new era of competition.” The United States faces “rogue regimes” like Iran and North Korea and “rival powers, Russia and China, that seek to challenge American influence, values, and wealth.” In such an intensely competitive world, he added, “we will stand up for ourselves, and we will stand up for our country like we have never stood up before.… Our rivals are tough. They’re tenacious and committed to the long term. But so are we.”

To Trump and his generals, we’ve been plunged into a world that bears little relation to the one faced by the last two administrations, when great-power conflict was rarely the focus of attention and civilian society remained largely insulated from the pressures of the country’s never-ending wars. Today, they believe, the United States can no longer afford to distinguish between “the homeland” and foreign battle zones when girding for years of struggle to come. “To succeed,” the president concluded, “we must integrate every dimension of our national strength, and we must compete with every instrument of our national power.”

And that’s where, in the Trumpian worldview, energy enters the picture.

Energy Dominance

From the onset of his presidency, Donald Trump has made it clear that cheap and abundant domestic energy derived from fossil fuels was going to be the crucial factor in his total-mobilization approach to global engagement. In his view and that of his advisers, it’s the essential element in ensuring national economic vitality, military strength, and geopolitical clout, whatever damage it might cause to American life, the global environment, or even the future of human life on this planet. The exploitation and wielding of fossil fuels now sits at the very heart of the Trumpian definition of national security, as the recently released NSS makes all too clear.

“Access to domestic sources of clean, affordable, and reliable energy underpins a prosperous, secure, and powerful America for decades to come,” it states. “Unleashing these abundant energy resources—coal, natural gas, petroleum, renewables, and nuclear—stimulates the economy and builds a foundation for future growth.”

So, yes, the document does pay lip service to the role of renewables, though no one should take that seriously given, for instance, the president’s recent decision to place high tariffs on imported solar panels, an act likely to cripple the domestic solar-installation industry. What really matters to Trump are those domestic reserves of fossil fuels. Only by using them to gain energy self-sufficiency, or what he trumpets not just as “energy independence” but total “energy dominance,” can the United States avoid becoming beholden to foreign powers and so protect its sovereignty. That’s why he regularly hails the successes of the “shale revolution,” the use of fracking technology to extract oil and gas from deeply buried shale formations. As he sees it, fracking to the max makes America that much less dependent on foreign imports.

It follows then that the ability to supply fossil fuels to other countries will be a source of geopolitical advantage, a reality made painfully clear early in this century when Russia exploited its status as a major supplier of natural gas to Ukraine, Belarus, and other former Soviet republics to try to extract political concessions from them. Donald Trump absorbed that lesson and incorporated it into his strategic playbook.

“Our country is blessed with extraordinary energy abundance,” he declared at an “Unleashing American Energy Event” last June. “We are a top producer of petroleum and the number-one producer of natural gas.… With these incredible resources, my administration will seek not only American energy independence that we’ve been looking for so long, but American energy dominance. And we’re going to be an exporter.… We will be dominant. We will export American energy all over the world, all around the globe.”

Attaining Energy Dominance

In energy terms, what does dominant mean in practice? For President Trump and his cohorts, it means above all the “unleashing” of the country’s energy abundance by eliminating every imaginable regulatory impediment to the exploitation of domestic reserves of fossil fuels. After all, America possesses some of the largest reservoirs of oil, coal, and natural gas on the planet and, by applying every technological marvel at its disposal, can maximally extract those reserves to enhance national power.

“The truth is that we have near-limitless supplies of energy in our country,” he declared last June. All that stood in the way of exploiting them when he entered the Oval Office, he insisted, were environmental regulations imposed by the Obama administration. “We cannot have obstruction. Since my very first day in office, I have been moving at record pace to cancel these regulations and to eliminate the barriers to domestic energy production.” He then cited his approval of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, the cancellation of a moratorium on the leasing of federal lands for coal mining, the reversal of an Obama administration rule aimed at preventing methane leakage from natural gas production on federal lands, and the rollback of Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which (if implemented) would require sharp cuts in coal usage. And from the recent opening of the pristine Alaskan Arctic Refuge to that of those coastal waters to every kind of drilling, it’s never ended.

Never mind that the Paris agreement in no way intruded on American sovereignty. It only obligated its partners—at this point, every country on Earth except the United States—to enact its own greenhouse gas emissions reduction measures aimed at preventing global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above their pre-industrial levels. (That is the biggest increase scientists believe the planet can absorb without experiencing truly catastrophic impacts like a 10-foot rise in global sea levels). In the Obama years, in its own self-designed blueprint for achieving this goal, the United States promised, among other things, to implement the Clean Power Plan to minimize the consumption of coal, itself already a dying industry. This, of course, represented an unacceptable impediment to Trump’s extract-everything policy.

The final step in the president’s strategy to become a major exporter involves facilitating the transport of fossil fuels to the country’s coastal areas for shipment abroad. In this way, he would also turn the government into a major global salesman of fossil fuels (as it already is, for instance, of American weaponry). To do so, he would expedite the approval of permits for the export of LNG, or liquefied natural gas, and even for some new types of “lower emissions” coal plants. The Department of the Treasury, he revealed in that June talk of his, “will address barriers to the financing of highly efficient, overseas coal energy plants.” In addition, he claimed that the Ukrainians tell us “they need millions and millions of metric tons [of coal] right now. There are many other places that need it, too. And we want to sell it to them, and to everyone else all over the globe who need[s] it.” He also announced the approval of expanded LNG exports from a new facility at Lake Charles, Louisiana, and of a new oil pipeline to Mexico, meant to “further boost American energy exports, and that will go right under the [as yet unbuilt] wall.”

Such energy moves have generally been viewed as part of a pro-industry, anti-environmentalist agenda, which they certainly are, but each is also a component in an increasingly militarized strategy to enlist domestic energy in an epic struggle—at least in the minds of the president and his advisers—to ensure America’s global dominance.

Where All This Is Headed

Trump achieved many of these maximal-extraction objectives during his first year in office. Now, with fossil fuels uniquely imbedded in the country’s National Security Strategy, we have a clearer sense of what’s happening. First of all, along with the further funding of the US military (and of the “modernization” of the country’s nuclear arsenal), Donald Trump and his generals are making fossil fuels a crucial ingredient for bulking up our national security. In that way, they will turn anything (or any group) standing in the way of the extraction and exploitation of oil, coal, and natural gas into obstructers of the national interest and, quite literally, of American national security.

In other words, the expansion of the fossil-fuel industry and its exports has been transformed into a major component of American foreign and security policy. Of course, such developments and the exports that go with them do generate income and sustain some jobs, but in the Trumpian view they also boost the country’s geopolitical profile by encouraging foreign friends and partners to rely ever more heavily on us for their energy needs, rather than adversaries like Russia or Iran. “As a growing supplier of energy resources, technologies, and services around the world,” the NSS declares without a hint of irony, “the United States will help our allies and partners become more resilient against those that use energy to coerce.”

As the Trump administration moves forward on all this, the key battlefield will undoubtedly be the building and maintaining of energy infrastructure—the pipelines and railroads carrying oil, gas, and coal from the American interior to processing and export facilities on the coasts. Because so many of the country’s large cities and population centers are on the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, or the Gulf of Mexico, and because the country has long depended on imports for much of its petroleum supply, a surprising share of existing energy infrastructure—refineries, LNG facilities, pumping stations, and the like—is already located along those same coasts. Yet much of the energy supply Trump seeks to exploit—the shale fields of Texas and North Dakota, the coal fields of Nebraska—is located in the interior of the country. For his strategy to succeed, such resource zones must be connected far more effectively to coastal facilities via a mammoth web of new pipelines and other transport infrastructure. All of this will cost vast sums of money and lead to intense clashes with environmentalists, Native peoples, farmers, ranchers, and others whose lands and way of life will be severely degraded when that kind of construction takes place, and who can be expected to resist.

For Trump, the road ahead is clear: Do whatever it takes to install the infrastructure needed to deliver those fossil fuels abroad. Not surprisingly then, the National Security Strategy asserts that “we will streamline the Federal regulatory approval processes for energy infrastructure, from pipeline and export terminals to container shipments and gathering lines.” This is bound to provoke numerous conflicts with environmental groups and other inhabitants of what Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything, calls “Blockadia”—places like the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota, where thousands of Native people and their supporters camped out last year in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to block construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. Given the administration’s insistence on linking energy extraction to US security, don’t for a moment imagine that attempts to protest such moves won’t be met with harsh treatment from federal law enforcement agencies.

Building all of that infrastructure will also prove expensive, so expect President Trump to make pipeline construction integral to any infrastructure modernization bill he sends to Congress, thereby securing taxpayer dollars for the effort. Indeed, the inclusion of pipeline construction and other kinds of energy build-out in any future infrastructure initiative is already a major objective of influential business groups like the American Petroleum Institute and the US Chamber of Commerce. Rebuilding roads and bridges is fine, commented Thomas Donohue, the Chamber’s influential president, but “we’re also living in the midst of an energy renaissance, yet we don’t have the infrastructure to support it.” As a result, he added, we must “build the pipelines necessary to transport our abundant resources to market.” Given the influence such corporate interests have over this White House and congressional Republicans, it’s reasonable to assume that any bill on infrastructure revitalization will be, at least in part, energy focused.

And keep in mind that for President Trump, with his thoroughly fossil-fuelized view of the world, this is just the beginning. Issues that may be viewed by others as environmental or even land-conservation matters will be seen by him and his associates as so many obstacles to national security and greatness. Facing what will almost certainly be a series of unparalleled potential environmental disasters, those who oppose him will also have to contest his view of the world and the role fossil fuels should play in it.

Selling more of them to foreign buyers, while attempting to stifle the development of renewals (and thereby ceding those true job-creating sectors of the economy to other countries) may be good for giant oil and coal corporations, but it won’t win America any friends abroad at a moment when climate change is becoming a growing concern for ever more people on this planet. With prolonged droughts, increasingly severe storms and hurricanes, and killer heat waves affecting ever-larger swaths of the planet, with sea levels rising and extreme weather becoming the norm, the urge for progress on climate change is only growing stronger, as is the demand for climate-friendly renewables.

Donald Trump and his administration of climate-change deniers are quite literally living in the wrong century. The militarization of energy policy at this late date and the lodging of fossil fuels at the heart of national-security policy may seem appealing to them, but it’s an approach that’s obviously doomed. On arrival, it is, in fact, already the definition of obsolescence.

Unfortunately, given the circumstances of this planet at the moment, it also threatens to doom the rest of us. The further we look into the future, the more likely international leadership will fall on the shoulders of those who can effectively and efficiently deliver renewables, not those who can provide climate-poisoning fossil fuels. That being so, no one seeking global prestige would say at Davos or anywhere else that we are blessed with “a substantial ability to deliver the people of the globe a better quality of life through fossil fuels.”

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Trump’s aides have tried to tell him things look bad for November, but he’s not hearing it

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Trump’s aides have tried to tell him things look bad for November, but he’s not hearing it

 

Fox News / YouTube Exclusive Interview President Trump on Fox...
Fox News / YouTube

Republicans have been looking at some very gloom-and-doom polling for November, and trying to get Donald Trump to wrap his little mind around it. Here’s hoping it’s accurate:

The polling presented to White House officials, which was commissioned by the Republican National Committee, showed that Trump’s loyal supporters make up about one-quarter of the electorate. Another quarter is comprised of Republicans who like Trump’s policies but not the president himself and do not appear motivated to back GOP candidates. And roughly half of expected midterm voters are Democrats who are energized by their opposition to the president.

But while Trump has been told that the “red wave” he’s publicly predicted is unlikely to materialize, he prefers to listen to things other than polling presentations from aides:

Aides say Trump’s sober briefings from GOP officials are sometimes offset by the frequent conversations he has with a cadre of outside advisers who paint a sunnier picture of the electoral landscape and remind the president of his upset victory in 2016.

“A cadre of outside advisers” is a very polite way to say “boot-lickers and ass-kissers and sycophants.”

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Amber Guyger may have committed murder, but she shouldn’t lose her job over it

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Amber Guyger may have committed murder, but she shouldn’t lose her job over it

 

Fox Business / YouTube Trump to hold major rally for...
Fox Business / YouTube

Rep. Beto O’Rourke supports firing killer Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, and Sen. Ted Cruz sees a political opportunity. “I wish Beto O’Rourke and Democrats weren’t so quick to always blame the police officer,” Cruz said in an interview immediately after having described Botham Jean as having “found himself murdered” and having allowed for the possibility that Guyger actions were possibly “a horrifying and horrific misunderstanding” but that possibly “it may be something else.”

“That’s why we have a legal justice system to actually learn what the facts are and learn what happened,” Cruz said. That’s why “I don’t think we should jump to conclusions.”

Here’s the thing, Ted. Amber Guyger may or may not have intentionally murdered Botham Jean, but she definitely killed him while he was peaceably in his own apartment. Seeing her actions in the most favorable light, she went to the wrong apartment, failed to notice that she was not in her own apartment, and killed a man, then changed her story a couple times. Even if you think she does not deserve prison time over this—a big if, but go with me here—even if Amber Guyger does not belong in prison, there is some distance between prison and continued employment on the police force. There are intermediate positions between “she should be convicted of murder” and “she should continue on the public payroll carrying a gun to enforce laws and make arrests.” One of those positions is “perhaps this is not someone we can trust to protect public safety and enforce laws, even while the legal justice system sorts out what crimes she may have committed.”

There are basic competence issues here! Police officers have to be able to show up at the addresses they’re called to—wouldn’t a police officer who can’t tell when she’s in her own apartment be a liability when being called in a hurry to an unknown address where a crime was being committed? Even if you think Guyger would have been behaving reasonably for immediately killing an intruder in her own apartment, she wasn’t in her apartment, and we’re to believe—the sympathetic understanding of the situation is that—she couldn’t recognize that basic fact. Who cannot understand the idea that a person can be disqualified from holding a specific job for something short of criminal behavior?

But Ted Cruz knows what’s important: what white Republicans want to hear. And so “It may well be that two lives were destroyed that night.”

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Kavanaugh Wanted Voyeuristic Details About Bill Clinton’s Affair, See Here

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Kavanaugh Wanted Voyeuristic Details About Bill Clinton’s Affair, See Here

 

Wochit News / YouTube Senator Feinstein Urges FBI Probe Into...
Wochit News / YouTube

Alright, look, it is very hard to simply wave away Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. Whenever there is such a stark power imbalance in a tryst, it is almost inherently abusive. How does an intern say “no” to the president of the United States? On the other hand, Lewinsky was 23 years old, which is quite different than a teen that is 18 or 19 (still legal, but far more abusive), and she seemed at least able to calculate the pro’s and cons, then willingly participated – and never testified differently. Still, if a president is going to have an affair, and near all do (Obama, thank you for being the exception), it is far better to get together with a grown woman nearer the president’s age.

Having said all that, Kavanaugh’s memo to Kenneth Starr on how far to push the questioning of Bill Clinton is at least as equally foul, especially given that – for whatever problems Clinton’s affair had – Kavanaugh’s behavior cannot be excused at any age. Kavanaugh’s memo has just been released in its entirety, and it certainly holds nothing back, even having a voyeuristic element that makes one want to turn away. After all, the point is the inappropriate relationship, not the mechanics of the inappropriate relationship. But, the man who forced himself on a 15 year old girl sure wanted to know what went on between Clinton and a young woman.

If Monica Lewinsky says you inserted a cigar into her vagina while in the oval office, would she be lying?

If Monica Lewinsky says that in the Oval Office you inserted your fingers into her vagina and stimulated her to orgasm, would she be lying?

If Monica Lewinsky said you ejaculated into her mouth on two occasions in the Oval Office, would she be lying?

****

Okay, that is far too much for me, and the rest are at the link, should you want to learn more specifics. I am trying to figure out why a simple question like “If Monica Lewinsky says you and she engaged in sexual acts short of intercourse in the Oval Office, would she be lying?” would not accomplish the needed answer.

Notice my question covers absolutely everything they needed to elicit in the deposition, that he had an affair with Lewinsky, a 23 year old intern. No, Kavanaugh wanted the details, one is left to wonder why Kavanaugh needed such a specific description. Actually, I don’t wonder at all. It is meant to “dig” at Clinton, let him know the detail told to Starr, and perhaps that Kavanaugh might have been slightly “interested” in the details, maybe even a little jealous.

It is with the benefit of horrific hindsight that we know that the man so “offended” by Clinton “disgracing” the Oval Office is now credibly accused of a nightmarish attempted rape of the type that would scar a woman for decades. The victim in Kavanaugh’s attack was 15 at the time. Age differences between 15 year olds and 17 year olds matter greatly through adolescence, with similar power imbalances. When I hear about a 17 year old “boy” holding a girl down, covering her mouth, attempting to get her clothes off, laughing maniacally, while playing music loud to drown out her protests, well, this father of an 11 year old girl would never forgive such behavior, no parent would.

I don’t care that he was a minor at the time. Perhaps it would be different if he was 11, a mere child himself. But, no, 17 years old is way way way more than enough to know that the behavior is rape of the worst type, violent, and given that all rape is unacceptable, this pushes it so far over a line, it disgraces him personally far more than anything Bill Clinton did.

My god,  the reasons this man must have his confirmation pulled are really starting to pile up into a disgusting mess. There is the sudden payment of $200K in credit card debt, the daily emails from Kozinski …on and on.

One would have to work to find a politician or judge with the problems in his background. With each revelation, revolting to decent people everywhere, it becomes more difficult for even Republicans to push his confirmation ahead quickly.

I still think he gets on. But I’m not 99% anymore. I just know to a 99% degree how I would react around any 17 year old who might assault my daughter.

***MiciakZoom


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