Energy Flotsam and Jetsam

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal story about the production difficulties of the Arizona supplier that Apple selected to make sapphire screens for the iPhone 6 was fascinating in its own right, but there was one little detail in the story that zipped by too quickly:

Mr. Squiller, the GT operations chief, told the bankruptcy court that GT lost three months of production to power outages and delays building the facility.

Whoa, show down there a moment: what’s this about power outages? I’d sure like to know more of the full story here. Was this simply bad engineering on site, or was there a problem with the local grid or the energy sources supplying the grid in that area? Grid stability is going to be a more serious issue going forward as we compel more and more “renewable” (meaning “less stable”) energy as part of the EPA’s mania to restructure the electricity sector through the Clean Air Act.

Meanwhile, two Googlers have written a worthy article for the IEEE Spectrum website (IEEE is the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) on “What Would It Really Take to Reverse Climate Change?”. The subtitle tells the story: “Today’s Renewable Technologies Won’t Save Us.”

I know one of the authors, Ross Koningstein, slightly, and kudos to him and his co-author David Fork for admitting forthrightly that Google’s RE<C (“renewable energy cheaper than coal”) initiative was largely a bust. I’m pretty sure we noted here at the time that Google had pulled the plug on this much-hyped project a couple years ago.

As I’ve been pointing out for more than six years, the mathematics of climate orthodoxy, which call for an 80 percent reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050 so at to stabilize CO2 levels at no more than 450 parts per million, essentially requires replacing the world’s entire hydrocarbon energy systems with zero-emission sources. In practical terms, it means the United States would have to roll back its oil, coal, and gas use to the amount last seen in 1910. This is looney tunes.  I’ve still not seen any credible plan to do this in the space of 40 years. (One narrow example: Roger Piekle Jr. has calculated that if you set out to replace the world’s existing coal fired power plants with nuclear power, you’d need to build one 800 MW nuclear plant per week, every week, for the next 40 years. And this would only displace coal, and not touch oil and natural gas. Ts is looney tunes. Anyone think the U.S. is going to build 400 new nuclear power plants—we have about 100 now—to replace our 500 coal-fired power plants?)

To their credit Koningstein and Fork reach much the same conclusion, though with different arithmetic than me:

Even if every renewable energy technology advanced as quickly as imagined and they were all applied globally, atmospheric CO2 levels wouldn’t just remain above 350 ppm; they would continue to rise exponentially due to continued fossil fuel use. So our best-case scenario, which was based on our most optimistic forecasts for renewable energy, would still result in severe climate change, with all its dire consequences: shifting climatic zones, freshwater shortages, eroding coasts, and ocean acidification, among others. Our reckoning showed that reversing the trend would require both radical technological advances in cheap zero-carbon energy, as well as a method of extracting CO2 from the atmosphere and sequestering the carbon.

Koningstein and Fork are equally realistic about the limitations of today’s renewable technologies:

Unfortunately, most of today’s clean generation sources can’t provide power that is both distributed and dispatchable. . . Across the board, we need solutions that don’t require subsidies or government regulations that penalize fossil fuel usage.

Even though Koningstein and Fork are writing from within the framework of climate orthodoxy, their call for the development of market-oriented disruptive energy technologies that don’t need government diktats is a refreshing departure from the totally unserious happy talk about wind and solar and banana peels and unicorn flop sweat we get from most of the climatistas. What I think they fail to appreciate, however, is that if such technologies do come about (say, cheap fusion), the bulk of the environmental establishment will oppose it, because it would be another triumph of capitalism. (See: Naomi Klein.)

Should Republicans Embrace the Obama Non-Enforcement Doctrine?

The Obama Non-Enforcement Doctrine holds that a president is not required to implement or enforce laws passed by Congress with which he disagrees. Obama’s use of the doctrine sets an interesting precedent for the next chief executive, who likely will be a Republican.

For example, a Republican could adopt the Obama Non-Enforcement Doctrine with regard to corporate income taxes by directing the IRS to cease all efforts to enforce those portions of the Internal Revenue Code relating to income taxes payable by corporations. This would be great public policy. My law school tax professor once remarked that there is no intellectually respectable argument for the corporate income tax, other than the fact that it employs an army of lawyers and accountants. Repealing, in effect, the corporate income tax would give the economy an enormous shot in the arm.

Or, if a Republican president didn’t want to go that far, he could stop enforcing those provisions of the tax code relating to taxation of repatriated profits. This is an area where the right policy is obvious, but Congress has failed to act. Without the tax on repatriated earnings, somewhere between $1 and $2 trillion would flow back into the American economy.

Environmental policy is another area where the Obama Non-Enforcement Doctrine could be applied. The Environmental Protection Agency, as now operated, probably does more harm than good. A Republican president could suspend enforcement of all federal environmental laws, thereby putting the EPA out of business, and remit all environmental regulation to the states and to private actions sounding in nuisance and trespass. This would result in a major improvement in the nation’s environmental policies. Or, if he preferred, the president could single out for non-enforcement some, but not all, environmental laws.

Under the Obama Non-Enforcement Doctrine, a president can’t enact new laws by decree, but he can exercise his discretion by not enforcing existing laws. This means that the doctrine is a one-way ratchet with an inherently libertarian bent. Given a little thought, conservatives could come up with a long list of laws that we would be better off without. Each one would be a candidate for the Obama Non-Enforcement Doctrine.

My guess is that if a Republican president applied Obama’s doctrine a couple of times, the Democrats would say “uncle.” There would be bipartisan support for a constitutional amendment to make it beyond dispute that the Obama Non-Enforcement Doctrine is defunct. That goal could be accomplished through a constitutional amendment requiring that the president “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” or some such language. But in the meantime, Republican presidents could use Obama’s precedent to good effect.


Ramirez’s take

You can tell that Investor’s Business Daily editorial page editor/editorial cartoonist Michael Ramirez has attended to President Obama’s many disavowals of the authority he wielded last night. In the cartoon below that is posted here, Ramirez dispenses with words entirely except the ones cut out of the opening of the Constitution and placed atop the head of the king for a crown. Hey, he’s only illustrating the point Obama made twenty-plus times over the past several years.


Go down, Barry

You’d never know that President Obama got clobbered in the midterm elections held — when was it now? — earlier this month, a few weeks ago. Last night Obama was buoyant — not like Mark’s Twain’s “Christian with four aces.” He was way beyond that. He was gleeful.

What what he so happy about? He’s not facing the voters again. He’s free at last and it’s time for payback. He’s giving it to us good and hard. He’s sticking it to us big time.

Today he jets off to Vegas to take care of business and begin the celebrations. The symmetry is perfect. The last time he took off for Vegas this excited, Ambassador Christopher Stevens and his three colleagues had just been murdered by Islamist terrorists. Obama had to get out of DC to pick up campaign cash and soak up the love.

The White House has posted the text of Obama’s immigration speech last night here. In the speech Obama assured us that he had the authority to act as the lawgiver, despite his own constitutional exegeses to the contrary some twenty-plus times over the past several years.

In case you missed it, Obama omitted any mention of his previous exegeses.

In its editorial this morning, however, the Wall Street Journal reports that the Office of Legal Counsel “made its justification public about an hour before the speech.” Talk about just in time manufacturing! (The rationale is “prosecutorial discretion.”)

Roll Call took up Obama’s previous exegeses with White House higher-ups speaking on background: “As for Obama’s many statements that he did not have the authority to significantly expand DACA, the answer from the White House was muddled.” Do tell! The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.

Listening to the speech last night, I thought, not for the first time, Obama thinks we’re really, really stupid. Jonathan Gruber could not be reached for comment.

It struck me most forcibly when he introduced his daughters into the discussion: “I’ve seen the courage of students who, except for the circumstances of their birth, are as American as Malia or Sasha…”

Here I think the speechwriters’ ear let the team down. “Amy Carter” would actually have sounded better in that sentence. Amy Carter could not be reached for comment either.

One nice touch: Obama’s discussion of the illegal alien girl who came to the United States speaking only Spanish. She learned to speak English by listening to PBS! In the trade, that’s what we call gilding the lilly.

We have to give Obama his due. The speech was carefully crafted to drive the likes of me ballistic. How to do it? Well, you go beyond the usual lies and deceptions and evasions and slyly insert the PBS reference. You give it some additional thought before inspiration strikes: let’s go with an evocative biblical allusion.

Obama explained: “Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger –- we were strangers once, too.” Yep, we were strangers once too, when we were in the land of Egypt. Thus the mitzvah.

As Tonto said to the Lone Ranger when they were surround by unfriendly, ah, Native Americans: What you mean “we,” kemosabe?

President Obama, let my people go!

I wish Obama would stick to the Wright sect of Christianity for nonbelieving progressives, or to the exposition of Islam for dummies.

I will concede, however, that the Torah portion was brilliant. The White House functionaries love it so much that they highlight it in their post on the speech. Go down, Barry!

Obama has come down from the mountain as the lawgiver with his immigration commandments, but he left out the part about not bearing false witness. It’s not part of his immigration package.

Anyway, Obama is obviously more Pharaoh than Moses. Obama’s immigration commandments have no higher authority than his own say-so. He’s Pharaoh a la Yul Brynner in the classic 1956 movie, issuing edicts with the force of law: “So let it be written. So let it be done.”

Thoughts from the ammo line

Ammo Grrrll has formulated a modest proposal that a certain person or persons unnamed STOP APOLOGIZING! She writes:

You may remember when The Lightbringer first got coronated, that he went on a world-wide Apology Tour, apologizing for any crime, real or imagined, that the Unexceptional Country he was elected to represent had committed. Can you name one country with which we have better, healthier relations now than before Obama took it upon himself to apologize on our behalf? This is a lesson learned in every gradeschool playground when confronted with bullies: Groveling never works. It only inflames and encourages them.

Fast forward to the other day when The Great Shirt Scare drove Ebola off the front pages. A genius scientist with the European Space Agency’s Rosetta Project achieved an almost impossible feat (after 10 years!) of landing a space probe on comet 67P. And at the jubilant presser he wore a shirt designed for him – by a close woman friend no less — which featured some cartoon cuties in something other than a burqa. And a few jealous, perpetually-enraged feminists, who couldn’t land a minnow using dynamite, lost what passes for their minds.

Then came the traditional groveling, tearful apology from the humiliated scientist, very possibly with his job hanging in the balance. He’ll probably be fired anyway; like the abrupt resignation of Larry Summers following Harvard faculty’s “no-confidence” vote. Let me repeat that groveling never works, never satisfies the slavering lynch mob.

So you may as well die on your feet as live on your knees. Here is what the young scientist should have said instead. You will recognize the third paragraph homage to The Awesome Bard because some battle cries can’t be improved upon:

I will wear this shirt every day until it falls off me in tatters. You will be able to smell me coming in time to flee in terror. If you feel ‘unsafe’ – a popular feminist weasel word – in the presence of cloth cartoon women, let me assure you that you are completely safe. They aren’t real and can’t hurt you, though they may invite invidious comparisons. You are much safer than the body politic that caves time and again to intolerant loudmouths like you.

Upon this silly harmless shirt, we shall make our stand. When my envious critic accomplishes what I have accomplished, then she can wear a prom dress with her bra on the outside, or a plaid flannel shirt and sweatpants, and I won’t say a mumblin’ word. Until that time, she can shut her piehole. Now and forever I will wear whatever I damn please.”

This story shall the good man teach his son.
From this day to the ending of the world
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers
Shall wear this shirt. Or any others.
And Pajama Boys on Mommy’s insurance to age 26
Shall think themselves accurs’d they lack this shirt so full of chicks.
And hold their cocoa and their puny manhoods while any speaks
That fought with us upon St. Crispins Day for science geeks.

Ammo Grrrll plans to order this shirt to wear to Chick-Fil-A on the way back from shooting at pictures of baby seals at the Tactical Range. If there were some other way to offend the sensibilities of these bullies, I would do that, too. Plastic bags? Carbs? A flag pin? An “I Heart Men” button? A rare steak, glass of bourbon and a Lucky Strike? John should run his Miss Universe contest photos every day. Throw in some cheerleaders. Heck, yeah!

I have had it with these tedious, humorless harridans speaking in my name for the last half century. As Obama advised his supporters, we need to “get in their faces,” albeit far enough back to avoid the perpetual flying spittle. So, let this be the moment when we begin to heal this sick culture, and we lower the ocean of bullshit. Enough! No more apologies to totalitarian harpies who hate individualism, free speech, differences of opinion and half the human race.

AMMO GRRRLL ADDS THIS NOTE: Mollie Hemingway has written a terrific screed expanding on many of these same points in Tuesday’s Federalist. Since my column is but once a week, it’s tough to be timely. However, I wrote this before I read her article, swearsies. Read hers too. She’s a wonderful writer.

Some consequences of Obama’s unlawful amnesty

There are no silver linings to President Obama’s unconstitutional nullification of our immigration laws. The affront to our system is too great.

But there are collateral effects, and not all of them are bad.

The political impact of Obama’s move is uncertain. However, it is likely, on balance, to be adverse to the Democrats for the reasons set forth by Jennifer Rubin.

Moreover, as Rubin also argues, Obama’s grant of amnesty is probably the end of the line for pro-illegal immigrant reform in the foreseeable future. Last year, the Senate, with significant Republican support, passed legislation that created a path for citizenship for illegal immigrants. That legislation also had considerable Republican support in the House. One could imagine it passing within, say, the next four to six years.

But a path to citizenship is off the table now. Republicans won’t permit it. In Rubin’s words:

From here on out all Republicans will be able to agree: The executive order is illegitimate, it must go away and border security must precede other issues. From Gov. Jeb Bush to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Republicans can speak with one voice.

None of this begins to compensate for the damage to our constitutional system that inheres in Obama’s lawless executive order. Nor does it compensate for the primary practical impact of the order, namely the wave of future illegal immigration it almost certainly will induce.

Solace will come only if conservatives are able to overturn Obama’s usurpation of power. I expect that in the coming days we’ll have much to say about the prospects of accomplishing this.

On Obama’s Illegal Usurpation, Jeff Sessions Speaks For Us

We will have more to say about President Obama’s unconstitutional nullification of the nation’s immigration laws in the days to come; likely, before the night is over. But for now, let’s quote Senator Jeff Sessions, who has been the hero on this issue for a long time. Better than anyone else, Sessions has drawn the connection between the open borders movement that is supported by business magnates and those who live in gated communities, and American workers who are already suffering, and whose wages will be driven down by mass immigration of low-skilled workers. Which is the whole point, if you are the Chamber of Commerce:

President Obama’s executive amnesty violates the laws Congress has passed in order to create and implement laws Congress has refused to pass. The President is providing an estimated 5 million illegal immigrants with social security numbers, photo IDs and work permits—allowing them to now take jobs directly from struggling Americans during a time of record immigration, low wages, and high joblessness.

This amnesty plan was rejected by the American people’s Congress. By refusing to carry out the laws of the United States in order to make his own, the President is endangering our entire Constitutional order.

We can’t say it too often: under Article II of the Constitution, the President’s most fundamental duty is to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Barack Obama has made a mockery of his oath of office. He is a scofflaw.

The President’s plan will apparently also allow many illegal immigrants to receive green cards and become legal permanent residents—meaning they can access almost all U.S. welfare programs, have lifetime work authorization, obtain citizenship, and sponsor foreign relatives to join them in the U.S.

I didn’t listen to Obama tonight–duty has its limits–but I’m pretty sure he didn’t mention welfare or chain immigration.

Law enforcement has warned this unprecedented amnesty will unleash a “tidal wave” of new illegal immigration flooding into American neighborhoods at taxpayers’ expense.

The President’s plan also calls for boosting foreign worker programs for IT companies that experts tell us displace U.S. workers and keep wages low.

The President’s unconstitutional action is a direct threat to our republican system of government and will have catastrophic consequences for the American people. It must be stopped. And the way to stop it is by using Congress’ power of the purse.

The House should send the Senate a government funding bill which ensures no funds can be spent for this unlawful purpose. If Reid’s Senate Democrats vote to surrender their own institution to an imperial dictate and block the measure, then the House should send a short-term funding measure so the new GOP majority can be sworn in and pass a funding bill with the needed language.

Congress has no higher duty than to protect the American people and our Constitution. The President’s action is a threat to every working person in this country—their jobs, wages, dreams, hopes and futures. For years, the American people have begged and pleaded for a lawful system of immigration that serves the nation and makes us proud—but the politicians have refused, refused, refused.

It is time to stand strong for the American people. It is time to champion the interests of those constantly neglected on the question of immigration: the men and women and children we represent—the citizens of this country to whom we owe our ultimate allegiance. Every American must ask their Senator where they stand.

That is, of course, the bottom line: to whom does our federal government owe its loyalty? To Americans who are struggling in the evolving world economy, made worse by the current administration’s inept economic policies? Or to citizens of Mexico, Honduras and other nations, who already have a home but–understandably!–would prefer to take their chances in the U.S.? It seems obvious to me that the President of the United States owes a fiduciary duty, not to human beings generally, wherever they may reside and of whatever country they already are citizens, but rather to Americans.

But that is not how Barack Obama sees it. Worse, he is willing to act in an obviously unconstitutional manner, not to benefit Americans, but to benefit citizens of other countries. It is hard to imagine a worse betrayal of his oath of office.