President Barack Obama, facing political heat and plummeting poll numbers inevitably generated by rapidly rising gasoline and energy prices, is calling for a one-third reduction in oil imports over the next decade. How will this potentially laudable — but likely farcical — goal be accomplished?
By boosting domestic energy production, offering incentives to increase the use of biofuels and natural gas, and making cars and trucks more fuel-efficient.
According to the AP and Fox:
Obama long has said the U.S. needs to reduce its dependency on oil — particularly from overseas sources — for financial, security and environmental reasons. In his State of the Union address in January, he set a goal of having 80 percent of U.S. energy come from clean sources like wind, solar and nuclear by 2035.
But what about domestic oil production?
The administration says it still sees vast opportunities to expand on domestic oil and gas production. An Interior Department report released ahead of Obama’s speech Wednesday said more than two-thirds of offshore leases in the Gulf of Mexico are sitting idle, neither producing oil and gas nor being actively explored by the companies who hold the leases. The department said those leases could potentially hold more than 11 billion barrels of oil and 50 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
And what about nuclear energy?
Officials said Obama also would reaffirm his support for nuclear power, which has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks after an earthquake and tsunami in Japan severely damaged a nuclear power plant there.
One might initially be tempted to see this as an admission of past failings and the adoption of new, rational policies to lower energy prices for Americans, but it is no such thing. In Clintonian fashion, it depends on what the meaning of “boost” is, but this is primarily one of the oldest cons in the book: bait-and-switch.
Mr. Obama, as I’ve previously argued in these pages, is provably a socialist, but a particularly American kind: a stealth socialist. Stealth socialism is a matter of tactics. Stealth socialists, recognizing that an open Marxist agenda will never fly with the American people, adopt a patient, long-term strategy whereby they attain the same goals but through misrepresentation, misdirection, lies, and bait-and-switch. These are, coincidentally, the tactics of the con man. Having been a community organizer, Mr. Obama is particularly adept at these tactics and with the use of the primary vehicle for their implementation: rhetoric.
In Radical-In-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism, Stanley Kurtz carefully and convincingly documents stealth socialism and Mr. Obama’s full immersion in it. Stealth socialists are careful never to allow themselves to be known as socialists, which is certainly Mr. Obama’s practice. Mr. Kurtz does what the media would not do in 2008, and still scrupulously avoids: he investigates and reports on Mr. Obama’s associations, motivations, and the truth of his policies.
Bait-and-switch, for those not familiar with the con man’s lexicon, is promising one thing but steering people into accepting another. A classic example is the appliance store that advertises an attractive microwave oven for $20, but when customers stream into the store, explains that the last of the $20 ovens (if such ovens ever existed) was just sold, and further explains that there are some wonderful $60 dollar ovens that are just as good. Having expended time, effort, and money, many people will be disposed to being steered to the more expensive product, which was the store’s dishonest intention all along.
The most egregious example of this execrable con is ObamaCare.
Misrepresentation? Mr. Obama promised a health care utopia that would not only insure tens of millions of the currently uninsured at no additional cost, but would improve health care in every way while costing less and simultaneously lowering the deficit. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen! Come on down to the BHO Discount Appliance Emporium for $20 health care with a $30 rebate! But act now! It’s going fast!
Misdirection? Large parts of the $20 health care oven don’t take effect until after the 2012 election cycle, and funding is frantically juggled into the future when the real economic bad news finally catches up and everyone is left with a far more expensive product, inferior to the product it replaced. The idea was that by imposing as much of ObamaCare as possible on the public for as long as possible, enough of the public would come to feel that they had too much invested to turn down the switch. This is the bait — the building of such huge bureaucracies and such addiction in huge constituencies that it would be virtually impossible to shut the bureaucrats down and to wean the addicts off the drug, thus cementing the switch. The entire system is designed to fail, and to fail obviously, because the final goal — intended all along — is a single payer system and maximum control over the health and the very lives of Americans. This is classic stealth socialism.
Fortunately, economic reality has already begun to catch up with Mr. Obama, and even he and many members of his party and his supporters have had to admit the misdirection and misrepresentation. As Nancy Pelosi forecast, the bill was passed, and people have been finding out what’s in it. But to her surprise, they’re not taking the bait. The switch has been prematurely exposed by more than a thousand waivers (and counting), bad budget news, and exploding deficits. Even Democrats who voted for ObamaCare have had no choice but to admit the truth. Democrats such as former Indiana Senator Evan Bayh admitted that ObamaCare doesn’t address rising health care costs:
The real issue that was not addressed, Laura, that you’ve raised now, and I think appropriately, is the cost, the cost to both the government and to your listeners. We need to take steps now to get the costs of health care under control. That was not dealt with really in an aggressive way in this legislation. I think it now needs to be.
Now comes Mr. Obama with his newest con, as always, using stealth socialist bait-and-switch tactics. He suggested that young people have a “responsibility” to buy fuel-efficient cars. To save the planet? Not quite. To provide a market for the manufacturers who make them, manufacturers such as GM, which makes the Chevy Volt. In a free market, if there is no demand for a product, no rational manufacturer will build it. But this is the new Obama age of green, socialist technology and government-owned auto companies, where the intentions of bureaucrats must drive demand. Mr. Obama added:
There are no quick fixes. And we will keep on being a victim to shifts in the oil market until we finally get serious about a long-term policy for a secure, affordable energy future.
Mr. Obama denied that he had any hand in higher gas prices, and argued that any claim that his administration had shut down oil production “doesn’t track with reality.” There are a great many Gulf Coast (where production is down some 360,000 barrels of oil per day), Alaskan, and other American oil companies and workers whose reality is quite obviously on a different track — a high-speed rail to unemployment and bankruptcy.
In this case, the bait is the promise of reasonable fuel prices, more American jobs, and economic prosperity. The switch is virtually everything he has proposed. Keep in mind that Mr. Obama’s first instinct is to handle every situation by making a speech about it. He seems to believe that whatever he says in a televised teleprompter reading is reality because he said it, and the public should be thanking him — not only for making the reading, but for the policies expressed, regardless of whether they are true or ever come to fruition. In the case of energy policy and much else, all that remains for the public is eloquent-sounding but ephemeral rhetoric.
Despite what Mr. Obama says, he knows that he has many supporting, stealthy resources to work his will. He can, with no fanfare or publicity, produce executive orders at odds with his rhetoric. His ever-expanding legion of bureaucrats will do everything possible to make end-runs around Congress and to prevent the implementation of his feigned intentions, particularly in the areas of energy and the environment. And failing those options, legions of environmentalists and animal-rights groups will file lawsuits to obstruct anything they might not like, relying on willing and helpful judges in the federal judiciary. To date, they have even opposed and litigated the very foundations of Mr. Obama’s brave new world of green energy, including on- and offshore windmills and even a solar plant in the Mojave Desert.
As a public service, an exposition/translation of Mr. Obama’s obviously intended switches:
(1) Reducing oil imports by one-third within 10 years
This could be done today, but the problem remains: what replaces it? Mr. Obama claims that America has only about 2% of the world’s oil reserves, but he is lying by means of cherry-picked statistics. To date, Mr. Obama has indulged only in magical thinking about current green technologies that absolutely cannot make up the deficit, or potential future technologies that will almost certainly always be future technologies. Without a plan to replace that oil with a substitute that is, this very day, completely viable in application and cost, reducing imports will only further cripple the economy.
(2) “Clean technology” comprising 80% of U.S. energy needs by 2035
Unicorn horns and fairy dust don’t conjure nonexistent technologies into being. Wind, solar, and similar technologies will produce only a marginal percentage of American energy needs, and only if they are fully exploited. Mr. Obama has shown no sign of doing that. The experience of other nations in subsidizing “green” jobs has proved an economic disaster, as countries like Spain have lost at least two jobs — often more — in the rest of the economy for each “green” job created. Replacing any significant portion of America’s current energy sources would take unprecedented scientific breakthroughs, stratospheric governmental and individual cash outlays, and wholesale changes in every facet of American life, particularly if imposed on a timetable picked out of a hat.
(3) “Incentives” for increased biofuel production
Ethanol has been a disaster. Gasoline is ubiquitous because it can be economically produced and because it contains substantial energy. Ethanol contains substantially less energy than gasoline, so it produces less engine power and reduced mileage. It adds complexity to the supply chain, which will raise the cost of the fuel, and it arguably takes more energy to produce a gallon of the stuff than it actually contains. In addition, it adds alcohol to the fuel, which absorbs moisture, and because it is an effective solvent, damages plastics and fiberglass and melts various rubber and plastic gaskets and seals. It is also corrosive, long-term, to automotive engines. Ethanol production has reduced the world corn supply, contributing to food shortages around the world and increased food prices in America. Of course, “incentives” mean that dollars, which must be borrowed, are being used to provide the aforementioned dubious benefits. Other biofuels promise to be no different, and potentially, worse, and all in the name of being “not” gasoline.
(4) “Support” for nuclear energy
It is very easy to express support for nuclear energy or universal hot tubs, but any politician — and particularly Mr. Obama — must be judged on what they do. To date, Mr. Obama has done nothing to allow or even to encourage additional nuclear capacity and has entirely shut down the Nevada Yucca Mountain radioactive waste storage facility intended to provide a safe national depository, which has been under development for decades. Unless and until all of the permits and authorities necessary to build new power plants are issued and construction begins, Mr. Obama’s support amounts to nothing more than rhetoric read from a teleprompter.
(5) Increased fuel efficiency for newly manufactured vehicles
It’s easy to mandate increased efficiency, and Mr. Obama has already done that. It’s much harder, and much more expensive, to produce the engineering necessary to match fanciful numbers pulled out of a hat. With current technology and the technologies that might reasonably be developed in the foreseeable future, significant increases in fuel efficiency will require much smaller, lighter, and more aerodynamic vehicles, all of which means far less passenger capacity and a much higher highway death rate.
(6) Being “serious about a long-term policy for a secure, affordable, energy future”
Being serious would acknowledge two simple facts: (1) Absent virtually inconceivable scientific breakthroughs, the only way to provide sufficient affordable energy supplies into the foreseeable future is through oil, coal, and nuclear energy development. (2) Mr. Obama has expressed his ardent desire to make energy costs “necessarily skyrocket” by artificially driving up the cost of oil products and by destroying the domestic coal industry. Absent the realization that unless we drill for oil wherever it is cost-effective (No, Mr. Obama, oil companies aren’t sitting on productive leases), dig coal, and build new power plants, new refineries, and new nuclear plants, America will continue to be reliant on hostile nations for a significant portion of our energy supplies.
Only significantly increased American production and development can possibly reduce our reliance on foreign suppliers, yet Mr. Obama wants to give Brazil our technologies and assistance so that he can spend money we don’t have to buy the fruits of our technologies and assistance from Brazil. This makes no national security or economic sense, yet it is in line with virtually all of Mr. Obama’s other energy policies and actions. If a Manchurian Candidate bent on destroying the nation assumed the presidency, how would their energy policies differ from Mr. Obama’s?
The only reasonable explanation is that his actions directly reflect the desires and plans that he and such “lightworkers” as Secretary of Energy Chu have long made public. In May of 2009, Mr. Obama said:
We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times … and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK.
They fully intend to reduce the supply of affordable energy so drastically that Americans will be forced to abandon their vehicles, to abandon air conditioning, to heat their homes in winter to only Scrooge-like levels, and to accept the transportation, comfort, and survival alternatives they deem fit to mandate. Mr. Obama maintains the White House thermostat on “Sahara Desert,” but of course, this is not in conflict with his desires for the rest of America. This, like the eventual forced acceptance of ObamaCare, is the ultimate big switch.
That most of America does not have access to public transportation, that most of America does not and cannot live within walking distance of their employment, and that their lunatic high-speed rail proposals would serve only a tiny portion of the population at ridiculous expense and at a great and perpetual financial loss seem to concern them not at all. The horrendously destructive effect of their ruinous policies on the economy is also apparently not a concern.
The con is on and the bait has been set. America’s redemption lies in enough of the American public understanding that they are being conned, and in their willingness to reject the switch. In this case, hope exists only if sufficient Americans realize that Mr. Obama has violated the con man’s prime directive: pull off the con and flee before the marks know what hit them. Stealth socialists are unable to flee. They must stick around to force their will on the marks and to ensure that they are never able to throw off government intrusion and control. Even so, Americans will have one chance in 2012 to limit and perhaps reverse the damage, one chance to redeem American prosperity and true international leadership and prestige. Buying the cons of con men and stealth socialists leads only to ruin.