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Here’s one rule we try to follow. You probably should distrust anybody who draws quick and dirty partisan conclusions in the hours after a national disaster. You see this happen all the time. People on TV, for example, telling you the gun lobby is somehow responsible for the latest school shooting, even as the ambulances are still arriving or how climate change caused those tornadoes at a trailer park in Indiana. Bill Nye the Science Guy blaming your pickup truck for extreme weather.
These are not people who are speaking in good faith. They’re not trying to solve problems. They’re not even interested in what actually happened. They’re lying, they’re unscrupulous, and they will say anything if they think it’ll make them more powerful. So it’s best to ignore them.
On the other hand, and this is also true over time, it is possible to draw legitimate connections between decisions that politicians make and the catastrophes that follow. The rising gas prices, for example. The price of gas in America now qualifies as a catastrophe. That’s true. No matter how you feel about carbon emissions, you still probably assumed you’d be able to afford to drive to work every day or take a vacation with your kids this summer or buy dinner in a restaurant once in a while. But now you can’t, and gas prices are the reason you can’t. Nothing makes the country poorer faster than rising energy prices.
So how did this happen? Well, we’re going to let you decide. We’re going to play you a tape from a campaign event during the last Democratic presidential primaries in New Hampshire. This video was shot in 2019 at a moment when not a single person in the country really believed that Joe Biden had any chance to win his party’s nomination. So because they gave him no chance, not a lot of people were paying attention when Biden was asked whether he would continue to take donations from the oil and gas industry. Here’s how he responded:
JOE BIDEN: Kiddo, I want you to just take a look, okay? You don’t have to agree, but I want you to look in my eyes. I guarantee you – I guarantee you – we’re going to end fossil fuel and I am not going to cooperate, okay?
“We’re going to end fossil fuel.” End Fossil fuel, the basis of the entire American economy? How are we going to do that and why? Biden didn’t explain and again, because no one believed he was actually going to win. No one thought to ask. The assumption then was that Biden was only running for president because he was old and sad and didn’t know what else to do with his retirement. It’s not like he was going to get anywhere. So, Biden kept saying this, not noticed by many. As president, he pledged “no more drilling, including offshore, no ability for the oil industry to continue to drill, period.”
Well, then something unexpected happened. Bernie Sanders so terrified the Democratic Party’s top donors that they gave the nomination to senile old Joe Biden, and then Biden became president. And then as president, he immediately started doing exactly what he had promised he would do. Biden stopped issuing new permits for oil and gas leases. He canceled federal drilling permits and pipelines. Then, just a month ago, the administration canceled three oil and gas leases in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico and then eliminated more than a million acres of potential drilling sites.
Then to cap it off, you may have noticed Joe Biden imposed an oil embargo on Russia, which is one of the world’s biggest energy producers because democracy or something. So what happened next? Well, gas went to over $5 a gallon. Inflation exploded. India and China got a whole lot more cheap Russian oil to keep their economies humming. And then the ruble got even stronger than it was before the war in Ukraine. So everyone got rich except us. We got poorer. Those are the facts.
Now, what would you conclude from those facts? Well, you might start to think that Joe Biden had something to do with rising gas prices, because when you restrict the supply of something, when you have less of something, it costs more like oil, for example. Now, this is a principle known to elite professional economists as supply and demand. Less drilling gives you more expensive gasoline.
You might conclude that, but you would be wrong. In fact, if you believe that you’re an idiot, you probably still think Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election. You’re naive, you’re credulous. You’re a sap. The truth is much more obvious. Gas prices are high right now because Vladimir Putin made them high. How did Putin do that?
Simple. From his lair in a torture chamber deep beneath Lubyanka prison in Moscow, surrounded by empty vodka bottles and the severed heads of his enemies, Putin signed an executive order raising the price of unleaded gasoline and diesel fuel in the United States. And also, while he was added of cauliflower and Wheat Thins and dimensional lumber and plywood and plumbing parts and fish tacos as well as a whole bunch of other things you buy, in fact, of everything you buy. Vladimir Putin single-handedly caused inflation, high gas prices. He did this on purpose just as he got his orange accomplice elected president, of the United States five years ago. Putin did that.
Why did he do it? As if you even needed to ask. Putin did this because he hates our freedoms. That’s why the freedoms that Joe Biden gave us that Putin wants to take away, as Joe Biden himself wrote in a letter today, scolding the oil companies for not selling more oil. “We’re living with the economic challenges that Vladimir Putin’s actions have created for American families,” he said. It’s that darn Putin again.
But Biden’s got a plan to fight the Slavic cask gas crunch. He’s going to impose a new tax on energy that way. Gas prices will drop because when you make something cost more, actually it’s cheaper to buy. Does that make sense? Joe Kernen may be the one sane person left on CNBC. Here was his assessment of this:
BRIAN SULLIVAN, CNBC: Here’s the final two lines of the letter. “Vladimir Putin’s Price Hike” — with price hike are both capitalized, I’m not sure why, but “Vladimir Putin’s Price Hike” — all caps — “are driving up costs for consumers. I appreciate your immediate attention to this issue and your efforts to mitigate the economic challenges that Vladimir Putin’s actions have created for American families.” So, Putin is mentioned five times I think. There’s your last paragraph. We’ll see how the oil and gas companies respond.
JOE KERNEN: This is pure demagoguery, it’s not going to help the issue, it’s getting your eye off the real problems….I lived through the Carter years. Every day I get a stronger sense of deja vu.
Oh, Jimmy Carter, another great Democratic leader undone by the Russians in his case, Leonid Brezhnev. In 1980. It turns out, Jimmy Carter did roughly what Joe Biden wants to do. He imposed an excise tax of 70% on the value of oil sales in excess of $12.80. So what happened next?
Well, we know, because it was studied, the Congressional Research Service found that that tax had the effect of crippling domestic oil production by between 1.2 and 8%. Our reliance on foreign oil, meanwhile, went up by as much as 13%. That doesn’t really make sense if the point of the tax was only to prevent “price gouging.” How did this happen?
Well, in 2018, a paper in the journal Economic Policy answered that question. The Journal found that increased taxes on oil have the effect of discouraging oil producers to take risks on oil production. And those risks are actually high. At the Tax Foundation, they found that “Energy was the most volatile sector of the stock market in the 2010s. So when the pandemic arrived, more than 100 oil companies went bankrupt and the major producers actively rolled back their operations. “So those are risky investments, whether you agree with them or not. If you make them even riskier, production will decline even more. That seems like the obvious conclusion. And when production declines, prices get higher.
And that seems to be, according to some people, what’s happening. The CEO of Chevron, Mike Wirth, whatever you think of Chevron, knows a lot about oil. Just predict that we’re quoting. “I personally don’t believe there will be a new petroleum refinery ever built in this country again. What we’ve seen over the last two years are shutdowns. We’ve seen refineries close. We’ve seen units come down. We’ve seen refineries being repurposed to become bio refineries. We can burn food in our cars. And we live in a world where the policy, the stated policy of the US government is to reduce demand for the products that refiners produce.”
So when you don’t allow people to produce something, what they once produce becomes scarce and therefore highly expensive. And if you depend on it every day, you’re screwed. That’s what they’re saying. But of course, that sounds like Russian disinformation. Sounds like something Putin himself wrote.
And indeed, that’s what it is. What’s really happening, according to our energy secretary, is this:
JENNIFER GRANHOLM, US ENERGY SECRETARY: Our oil and gas producers have a responsibility, we’re on a war footing. The price of oil, the price of gas is precipitating the high cost, the high percentage of inflation around the world and so he’s asking upon our domestic and international producers to produce more. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused the price of gas in the United States to go up $1.70 a gallon since the invasion occurred. Ultimately, the solution to make us energy secure, to make the Baltic states energy secure, to make the entire world energy secure is to move to clean energy. No country has ever been held hostage to access to the sun or to access to the wind.
Oh. Now you may be asking yourself, why would you put someone like that who’s never had a real job and achieve precisely nothing in her life and actually doesn’t know anything about anything? Why would you put her in a key position like Secretary of Energy? Because she knows the science as she just told you. Sun, wind are the most reliable forms of energy. It’s not like clouds could block the sun or the wind might stop blowing. That’s insane.
And don’t think about nuclear power ramping up domestic energy production. That’s what Putin wants you to do. So to keep our democracy safe, we can’t do anything that helps Putin. We should tell you that. I know White House officials agree with this, logical as it seems, according to Bloomberg, “Biden officials privately expressed concern that rather than dissuade the Kremlin as intended, sanctions have instead exacerbated inflation, worsened food insecurity, and pushed ordinary Russians, punished more than Putin or his allies.” Now, you might be tempted to agree with those Biden officials. If you look at this chart showing that the value of the ruble, as we told you, as measured against the dollar, is skyrocketing. So we’ve helped Putin with the sanctions. Biden promised we would, quote, reduce the ruble to rubble. Cutting Russia off from the rest of the world. Maybe that’s why food is so expensive.
Sorry you were repeating Russian disinformation. And yet Jen Psaki said it straight on that months ago. Turns out food is expensive because the meat conglomerates are greedy. They’re greedy. They’re so greedy they don’t want to sell their products. Watch this:
JEN PSAKI: I think that the president thinks the way people across the country, American families digest inflation is by price increases. And if you look at industry to industry, it’s a little different. So, for example, the president, the secretary of agriculture, have both spoken to what we’ve seen as the greed of meat conglomerates. That is an area when where people go to the grocery store and they’re trying to buy a pound of meat. 2 pounds of meat. 10 pounds of meat. It is the prices are higher. That is in his view and the view of our secretary of Agriculture, because, of course, you could call it corporate greed short.
Yeah. So let’s get someone who couldn’t find a sparkplug on a lawnmower to explain economics to us. Oh, it’s greed again. Not a defense of corporate America, which is indeed greedy and dark, that’s for sure. But the idea that prices are going up simply because of greed may leave a few links out of the chain.
But Elizabeth Warren buys it completely. Watch this
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: We live in an America where there’s a lot more concentration in certain industries. Look at the oil industry and look at meat industry. Look at groceries. Generally, that what’s happened is these companies have said, you know, we’ll pass along cost. But while we’re at it and everyone’s talking about rising costs, let’s just add an extra big dollop of cost increases to expand our profits.
If we’re going to get lectured all the time, can we please get a lecture from someone with an IQ over 100 with some kind of track record of doing something useful over the course of her entire 70 years on the planet? Just for once? Can we get an impressive person to shout at us? No, we can’t.
What’s interesting is that greed, of course, is causing all this greed that Putin decreed the companies adopt. But it’s also true that trucks full of food are being turned away at the U.S.-Canada border so meat can’t get to processing plants. Why is this happening? Well, it’s happening because of COVID vaccine mandates, which are still being enforced by the Biden administration. And they require unvaccinated drivers to quarantine for 14 days because it’s so dangerous. And a lot of drivers can’t do that. And by the way, if they did, the contents of their trucks would spoil.
So you might think that might have something to do with the supply chain issues that are making it impossible for you to fill your grocery cart. We’re not going to hear that in the media. You know why? Because, like, Big Meat and like Big Oil, like Vladimir Putin himself, according to Joe Biden, the media aren’t giving him a fair shake.
PRESIDENT BIDEN: There’s a lot of major things we’ve done, but what we haven’t done is we haven’t been able to communicate it in a way that is another way
JIMMY KIMMEL: Well see that’s perfect, you haven’t been able to communicate it.
BIDEN: Look how the press has changed. Look how the press is changed.
KIMMEL: It has changed. Oh, listen I get it.
BIDEN: Oh, I know you get it. You overstand it. You don’t just understand it. You overstand it, but here’s the deal. One of the things is that it’s very difficult now to have an, even with notable exceptions, even if they’re really good reporters, they have to get a number of clicks on the nightly news, so instead of asking a question anyway, it’s just everything gets, gets sensationalized in ways, but I’m convinced we can get through this. We have to get through it and one of the things – look.
KIMMEL: I’m going to take a break and then we’ll talk a little bit more.
BIDEN: I don’t blame you.
I can’t complete a sentence, but the reason I can’t communicate is because the media aren’t sympathetic enough. They’re not really on my side. They haven’t helped me at all. And you know why? Because they just want to get clicks on the nightly news, which is now some sort of website.
Well, look, we could go on, but the theme is really simple. Nothing is Joe Biden’s fault – not gas prices, not media prices, meat prices, not the media’s coverage of inflation. None of it. You know whose fault it is? It is Vladimir Putin’s fault. According to Sandy Cortez, actually, you can blame White supremacists, too, and that may be exactly the same as Putin. That’s the reason, White supremacy, that we only have 12 years to live. Watch this.
AOC: The climate crisis is a crisis born of injustice and it is a crisis born of the pursuit of profit at any and all human and ecological cost. Which means that we must recognize in legislation that the trampling of indigenous rights is a cause of climate change. The trampling of racial justice is a cause of climate change because we are allowing people and we are allowing ourselves to make sure we are allowing folks to deny ourselves human rights.
So the descendant of conquistadors is once again lecturing you about racism. Who cares? Sandy Cortez. It’s easy to mock her. On the other hand, open your mind. Larry Summers just told us that January 6 caused inflation. He once ran Harvard. He’s a very smart man, despite his repulsive table manners. So the idea that your racism is making the planet warmer isn’t actually that far out is plausible. We can’t say – we’re not scientists.
The one thing we can say for sure at this point is that the people who screwed everything up are in no way responsible for what they did legally or morally. In fact, they’re blameless. So we can tell you that with confidence, because the one thing we know for sure is that Vladimir Putin did it.
Shut up, traitor. He did.