Real conversations with leaders, creatives, and thinkers … freedom, innovation … what’s true
Episode 207: “The Red Trickle: Where Do Our Elections Go From Here?” with Paul Teller PhD
To put it mildly, the expected massive Republican Red Wave in the recent 2022 midterm elections didn’t materialize. Even though 75% of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track, the election gave us status quo. Virtually every Governor, Senator and House incumbent won reelection. Trump states elected Republican Senators and Biden states elected Democrats. And despite House Republicans getting six million more votes than Democrats (52.3% compared to 46.2%), these votes did not translate into a surge of seats for Republicans. With more and more districts tightly gerrymandered, Democrat incumbents hung on if only by narrow margins. So what happened? Was it the issues, the money, the candidates, local factors, or something else? Joining me to explore this question, and where we go from here, is Paul Teller PhD, the Executive Director of Advancing American Freedom who served in the Trump White House as Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, and then as Director of Strategic Affairs for Vice President Mike Pence. Paul was also Chief of Staff for Senator Ted Cruz. Issues and candidates matter, but how we vote now may matter much more. The COVID lockdowns in 2020 provided the pretext of crisis to radically change American elections to mail-in and early voting, and in ways that now vary wildly state-by-state. Election Day is a thing of the past. Mail in ballots start coming in months earlier. Returns are not counted for days and ballots are both cast and counted under radically different and often suspicious conditions. “The reason in-person voting was always so important was someone else checks you in,” explains Paul. “A different person gives you a ballot, maybe a different person shows you how to in insert your ballot. Just different eyeballs. And so there's less chance for fraud because there's so many different kind of checks in the system.” The Democrats—with overwhelming media and money advantages—have mastered the arts of massive and unprecedented early, mail-in, and absentee voting. Democrats have far more control of the election machinery and almost total control of the American media and Republicans don't. Still, Republicans seem bent on winning “hearts and minds” and on energizing their voters to show up on Election Day. But it is far easier to finesse and control the mail-in ballots than to “get out the vote.” Since the advent of massive ballot mail-in and collection drop-off processes, “votes” have become increasingly less valuable and “ballot collection” has become a key to Democrat party success. Case in point: In Pennsylvania, Oz drew 500,000 more voters to the polls on Election Day than Fetterman did. But Fetterman’s mail-in total exceeded 868,000, four times Oz’s mail-in total, netting a 655,000-vote difference in Fetterman’s favor. With boxes of ballots always seeming to show up at the last minute in close elections to push Democrat candidates into the win column, more and more American will likely never again trust our election results. There is an alternative. Same day voting. In person. With paper ballots. On a Sunday, or make it a national holiday. If Brazil can hold an election and on the same day get the results tabulated by 10 pm, we can too. Paul and I also talk about the great work Advancing American Freedom is doing and their Biden Accountably Tracker which monitors all the bills that Biden proposes, bills he signs, executive orders he issues, letters and directives the White House issues to the agencies, regulations they put out for comment and on and on … all the horribles of Biden’s bad policy choices. Elections matter.
Episode 206: “The Pro-Human Answer to Intolerance & Racism” with Bion Bartning
In this episode I’m joined by Bion Bartning, the founder of FAIR, the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism. An entrepreneur and investor, Bion also co-founded eos Products, a personal care brand best known today for its iconic egg-shaped lip balm.
Bion launched FAIR to address head-on the tribalism, identity culture and politics of division that are pitting Americans one against the other.
With innocuous terms like diversity, equity and inclusion, or arcane ones like critical race theory, a cynical and intolerant orthodoxy of division is being advocated and enforced throughout America.
It’s infected virtually every American institution: colleges, businesses, government, the media, museums and the arts, the military and most alarmingly, our children's K-12 schools.
In schools, “what’s called an “anti-racist” curriculum,” explains Bion, “is in every sense of the word, racist and is teaching children to see themselves fundamentally as defined by the color of their skin, by their immutable characteristics instead of seeing each other as unique individuals who are united by our shared humanity.”
What we must be doing instead is to share and teach what it means to be pro-human.
These so-called “anti-racist” ideologies have manipulated language in a way that makes it very difficult for normal people to oppose them. Suppose somebody comes in and says, "I'm bringing anti-racism to your institution," and they tell you anti-racism means ending racism, who could be opposed?
“Our approach is to reclaim the words, reclaim the language,” explains Bion.
“We're just insisting on what those words really mean to the vast majority of people. For example, the word equity means the quality of being fair and impartial.”
“And we're not going to give up on the word diversity. Diversity is a good thing and just because somebody's pushing conformity and calling it diversity doesn't mean that we give up on the word diversity.”
In just a year and half, FAIR a mostly volunteer organization, has grown into a national grassroots network of 1,000s of people with chapters in over 40 states.
With its compelling aim to promote a common culture based on fairness, understanding, and our common humanity, FAIR’s big tent has attracted people from across the political spectrum with diverse backgrounds, ancestries, ideologies to advance civil rights and liberties for all Americans.
“I think what most people need is to feel that they're part of a community,” explains Bion, pushing back against these toxic ideologies. “They need to feel that there are people backing them up, supporting them, who can help them with messaging and how to talk about how we are unique individuals with a shared common humanity. We call it being pro-human.”
adjective \ ‘prō-’hyü-men \
Advocating for one human race, individual civil rights and liberties, and compassionate opposition to racism and intolerance rooted in dignity and our common humanity.
The Foundation Against Intolerance and Racismis an idea whose time has come. Listen to Bion Bartning explain its work and then sign up to support the FAIR cause.
I know I will.
Episode 205: “Confronting the K-12 Racialist Star Chamber” with Sahar Tartak
Recently The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by my guest on this episode, Yale freshman Sahar Tartak.
Titled “My High School’s ‘Antiracist’ Agitprop”, she described how illiberal her supposedly liberal high school had become, and the ways she and other students were “berated, bullied and insulted” for voicing dissent towards the school’s race essentialist policies and programs.
The story goes like this.
In 2021 Great Neck North High School directed the student government to give $375 of student funds to a “racial equity” group to speak to the student body about “systemic racism.”
Sahar, then a Senior at Great Neck, was the student government’s treasurer, and felt they didn’t know enough about the organization and its mission to disburse the funds.
So she refused to sign the check.
The teachers who advise the student government berated, bullied and insulted her at their next meeting. They began by announcing that her social studies teacher would be present. Together, the three adults told her that the principal himself found my stance “appalling.” She had made them and the school “look bad,” they told her. One teacher said the situation gave her “hives.” Another said “If you’re not on board with systemic racism, I have trouble with that, girlfriend.”
The adults in the room were teachers who had the power to grade and affect her prospects of getting into college.
After that, there were a series of tense meetings between Sahar and the administration and her parents, resulting in stalemate.
Sahar, whose mother escaped revolutionary Iran, and grandfather escaped the Nazis, wouldn’t back down.
“The experience prompted me and a few like-minded others to look into our school’s curriculums. What we found was an arsenal of lopsidedly race-obsessed lesson plans.”
One was the American Psychological Association’s “Apology to People of Color” for its role in “Promoting, Perpetuating, and Failing to Challenge Racism.” Another asserted that America is a place where racism is “no better today than it was 200 years ago.”
So what does she do? She presents her findings in an audacious speech to the school board and receives a standing ovation - from other students parents, not the school board.
Episode 204: “The Climate Change Industrial Complex: Trillion $$$ Promises That It Can’t Keep” with Myron Ebell
In this episode I’m talking again with Myron Ebell, Director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Energy and Environment, one of our most effective advocates for Free Market Environmentalism. Myron led the successful decade-long fight to defeat cap-and-trade legislation and led the effort to convince President Trump to withdraw from the Paris climate treaty. The list of those in the “climate industry” who fear Myron’s effectiveness is long. The radical head of the Sierra Club has said he is “one of the biggest threats our planet has ever faced.”
But when you actually listen to Myron, you conclude that nothing could be further from the truth.
Some Takeaway From Our Conversation:
Inflation and an economy heading south are far and away the biggest issues that concern American voters. Climate change barely makes the list.
But instead of easing inflation, the falsely named Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) pours climate change subsidies onto the inflation bonfire. Inflation is not a natural disaster. It is a politician-made disaster brought about by massive Federal spending and tax subsidies.
The Inflation Reduction Act lavished massive spending on green energy and climate change. Almost $400 billion in subsidies for wind power, solar power, carbon capture and storage, credits for buying electric vehicles and a myriad of yet to be proven technologies.
But as we all know, in Washington you need to follow the money. Who are the lobbyists? Who benefits? Who is getting this money?
One of the biggest recipients is what Myron Ebell calls the “Climate Change Industrial Complex.”
The climate change industrial complex is thrilled with the Inflation Reduction Act. “The climate economy is about to explode,” crows Robinson Meyer writing in The Atlantic. “Many of the IRA’s most important provisions are “uncapped” tax credits. That means that as long as you meet their terms, the government will award them and theIRA’s total spending is likely to be more than $800 billion, double what the Congressional Budget Office projects.”
These wind and solar subsidies benefit already wealthy investors who want to have a guaranteed return on their investment and the federal tax credit is necessary to assure that. The Manchin-Schumer Permitting Bill, which failed by only one vote in the Senate, contained even more massive tax subsidies for transmission lines and vastly expand the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) authority over the electric grid.
It’s scheme was to allow the FERC to put climate goals ahead of electric reliability and affordability.
According to Myron, “The total costs of transmitting intermittent and unreliable electricity from locations where the wind blows or the sun shines to the distant places where most Americans live in order to achieve “net zero emissions” have been estimated at trillions of dollars.”
Green energy mandates and subsidies reduce real wages and real GDP by shifting resources from high-productivity uses such as fossil-fuel extraction toward low-productivity and unreliable green energy projects with unproven technologies.
But isn’t it all worth it if we “save the planet?” Perhaps, if wind and solar green energy could actually deliver the goods. But it can’t.
“People have no idea how stuff is made,” explains another The Bill Walton Show guest Mark Mills. “Wind turbines, electric cars, solar panels use far more copper than the products they replace, and no one in the world has any kind of plan to meet this explosion in demand.”
“Want 100 megawatts of electricity?” asks Mark.
“You could build a natural gas turbine which fits inside the footprint of a residential house. From wind? You’ll need 40 Washington Monument sized, wind turbines spread out over a hundred square miles.”
If we were to try to provide all the energy America needs using just wind and solar, the physical land area would have to occupy close to half the continental United States.
Myron again: “Wind and solar are a dead end. They cannot provide the power we need unless we want to go back to living lives where most of the work is done by human beings manual labor and draft animals like horses and mules.”
Europe is now waking up to these energy realities. Led by Angela Merkel, who says she has no regrets, Europe's energy system became so fragile as a result of their green energy policies that now with Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the sabotage of the gas pipelines, they are faced with a crisis of enormous proportions. It’s not just high energy prices. It's people freezing to death and entire industries closing down because they don't have enough energy to stay warm or to keep the plants operating.
German inflation, largely driven by skyrocketing energy prices, is running at 10.9%.
It gets worse. Europe now has to worry about food. “Modern agriculture, which is really machines plus energy plus fertilizer, and the fertilizer comes from natural gas and petroleum,” reminds Myron.
“The climate change industry’s Green New Deal is a back-to-the-dark-ages manifesto.”
Has anyone asked the American voters whether they want to pay this price of lower wages and slower growth and their tax dollars going to subsidize wealthy “green investors?”
Climate considerations are being used to justify projects that cannot be justified on the grounds of increased reliability or lower electric rates.
The case has not been made that the trillions of dollars going into green energy is “settled science.”
The present era is one of the coolest and least carbon-intensive periods of the last 600 million years. The warming that we've had since 1880 is mild and its impacts so far have been modest and mostly positive.
“The greening effect, the indirect effect of carbon dioxide, has undoubtedly increased food production due to higher CO2 levels.”
Republicans need to make this a politically toxic issue for the Democrats and their elitist and rsqa globalism over American prosperity.
Reeling back the Climate Change Industrial Complex should be a kitchen table pocketbook visceral issue: even though it sounds nice to be green, it's wrecking America.
“We were energy dominant and in 2020 and 2019, the United States was the world's largest producer of oil and natural gas combined.”
Wouldn’t this be a winning issue for Republicans in 2024?
“Yes. Well, of course,” reminds Myron, “that was the agenda pursued by Donald Trump when he ran for president and it's the one that he implemented when he was elected.”
Episode 203: “This is not a Nintendo Game” with Dr Stephen Bryen
“There is more respect to be won in the opinion of this world by a resolute and courageous liquidation of unsound positions than by the most stubborn pursuit of extravagant or unpromising objectives.” George F. Kennan, 1966
Americans may admire the valiant resistance of the Ukrainians to the Russian invasion and be proud that we have been able to support their defense. Yet now we have to ask: how does this war end?
Neither the leaders of Russia or Ukraine have espoused a goal that can restore peace in the area. Nor have any other suppliers of cash, military assistance and equipment - including the United States - articulated what an acceptable outcome might be.
At what point are the players in the conflict in Ukraine willing to stop fighting and enter into genuine negotiations to bring peace in Ukraine?
The primary concern of any American government must be the security interests of the American people. How is continuing to escalate the conflict in Ukraine serving American interests?
To learn more about what’s increasingly looking like madness, I’m talking again with the very wise Dr. Stephen Bryen, a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy and the Yorktown Institute. Dr Bryen has over 50 years national security experience with a long resume that includes serving as Senior Staff Director of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee and several stints in the Pentagon where he was known as the Yoda of the arms trade.
“How many Ukrainians have to die before we sort this thing out?” asks Stephen. “What's the end game here?”
Ukraine has never been of strategic importance to the United States. We have no treaties or agreements with Ukraine. The Ukrainians are now saying they need air defenses. Where are we going to get them? We would have to take them out of our inventory of active systems and move them to Ukraine.
The Biden Administration has been bent on regime change in Russia from day one. There were any number of things that could have been done to deter Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, but we did not do them.
“It’s clear, this is an American war, using the Ukrainians as proxies,” says Stephen.
And now the war is escalating beyond what most “official Washington” could have imagined. Putin has installed a new commander, whose nickname is “General Armageddon” for his ruthless annihilation of Syria. Ukraine’s President Zelensky has called for nuclear weapons.
“They're calling tactical nuclear weapons at 15 kilotons tactical. The bomb that destroyed Hiroshima was 11 kilotons,” reminds Stephen “Nuclear war is nuclear war. If we get into a nuclear war, the chance of global nuclear war is very high indeed.”
“This is not a Nintendo game. This is a deadly, serious, dangerous, globally dangerous situation, and we're not handling it responsibly.”
Strong and upsetting words. But true words. You won’t find Dr Stephen Bryen’s wisdom covered by the mainstream media. His is a voice that must be listened to.