Can 10 months really make a real difference in America? Not normally.
But weld together a hard-left socialist agenda with the control of the White House and Congress onto the combined forces of progressive woke media, Silicon Valley, the corporate boardrooms, the entertainment industry, academia, and the Wall Street borg—all in the age of instant and intrusive communications—and it’s no wonder a country, even a nation as resilient as the United States, can descend quite quickly in ways that make America almost unrecognizable.
In other words, 40 weeks of relentless Bidenism finally permeates most of the nation.
Fuel Prices, Inflation, and Border Chaos
Out in the California foothills and Central Valley, relatively “cheap” propane now has more than doubled to a rate of $3.91 a gallon.
At about the same time that I got the propane bill, I filled up the truck with diesel fuel. It was $4.87 a gallon with a credit card, up in price almost $2 a gallon from over a year ago. I thought myself lucky since the week prior in Palo Alto it was about $5.29 a gallon.
I spoke not long ago in Bakersfield to an oil man. He described impending California new rules on the horizon concerning almost every aspect of horizontal drilling and fracking—as part of his own larger fears that the entire industry is shrinking even as demands and profits soar, and consumers need more natural gas and gasoline than ever.
Has anyone ever heard of liberal Americans deliberately not pumping oil and gas, but still needing so much more output that they beg the illiberal Saudis and Russians to bail us out? At other times in our history, we have suffered plenty of fossil fuel scarcities due to war, embargoes, and declining reserves. But never has America deliberately created shortages amid a sea of our own gas and oil.
What has been the reaction from those who slashed natural gas and oil production by cancelling new federal leases and pipelines, and oil fields in Alaska, or warned frackers that new regulations and taxes were just the prerequisites to a rapid phase out of their existence altogether—on the pathway to a wind and solar nirvana?
When asked if the United States would at least increase (e.g., restore previous levels of) oil production, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm laughed, “That is hilarious.”
To whom is that comical? The guy with an older model pickup doing daily landscape work for his wealthy clients? The waitress who drives 20 miles to work? The broke student who commutes to campus?
I drove today along a rural avenue next to my farm. Both sides of the street were littered—far more than usually so—with trash. They were not just the usual garbage bags and tires, but washers, dryers, refrigerators, car seats, furniture—and mattresses of all shapes and sizes. It was an intensification of the now old story of rural California as an open dumping ground of refuse.
I stopped to inspect the flotsam and jetsam. The dumpers are careful to glean out their personal addresses. They rarely leave traceable material. But all the magazines, newspapers, and printed material were in Spanish. Note there are no green regulators out here who patrol rural avenues to stop the pollution and desecration of the natural landscape; in the hierarchy of wokeness, illegal immigration trumps the environment.
So, I assumed, as is the case when I find people in the actual act of dumping their garbage and refuse on my property (like last week), that they are likely illegally here (no English). And the current clutter may represent recent spikes in crossings from a nonexistent border and redirects of illegal aliens from Texas. (If 2 million illegal entrants will cross the current fiscal year, and if they are being bused or dispersed by the Biden Administration throughout the United States, then small communities of recent immigrants will likely feel the surge).
The reaction? The Biden Administration is planning to settle “claims” of “wrong” treatment lodged by those who feel that after crossing illegally into the United States, and continuing to reside illegally in America, that they are entitled to $450,000 per family. Otherwise, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas preened of the nonexistent border that it “is no less secure than before.”
“No less secure” means 2 million will cross this year?
When acting White House deputy press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked why the Biden Administration would lavish nearly a half a million dollars on illegal aliens who broke federal law, but not upon legal immigrants who obey America’s laws, she seemed bewildered at any criticism of rewarding only the unlawful: “Why would we be giving people who are coming here the right way money?”
Ms. Jean-Pierre gave a rare unguarded summation of the essence of woke progressivism: If we are going to give free stuff to Americans, those who do things the “right way” deserve nothing; those who do things the wrong way certainly do. Asymmetrical application of the law is the hallmark of wokeism.
I have been looking at new cars at the large regional car dealers. Whereas a year ago there were 200 or so new ones on lots to inspect, now there are not more than 10 or so—mostly subcompacts with prices upon inquiry well over the sticker MSRP figure. Almost overnight the lots have changed from premium new car marts into vast used car dealerships, but with a twist: today’s used cars sell at last year’s new car prices.
Wood is now a bit cheaper than three months ago, but still about triple the price of a year ago. I talked to a Mexican American contractor I know not long ago at Home Depot who was sorting and sifting through a small pile of what was left of overpriced 2’x6’s. “Just the junk left. It’s all junk,” he said.
When pressed about these disruptions in the supply chain, empty shelves, scarce inventories, delayed or cancelled shipments, and soaring prices, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki snarked, “The tragedy of the treadmill that’s delayed.”
Yes: cars, lumber, food—all the irrelevant treadmill trinkets that people don’t need.
After disappearing in the midst of the crisis due to his paternity leave, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg returned to weigh in with:
I think there have always been two kinds of Christmas shoppers. There is the ones who have all their list completed by Halloween, and then there’s people like me who show up at the mall on Christmas Eve . . . . [I]f you’re in that latter bucket, obviously there’s going to be more challenges.
Yes, that’s it, Pete. The bucket of self-employed handymen who make their living repairing roofs will just have to plan ahead better and quit waiting to fix eaves and gutters on Christmas Eve.
Farmers are not procrastinating but they still aren’t always being paid. Some hear their almond containers are stuck at Asian ports abroad, rotting for lack of longshoreman—and months after shipping the grower is getting nothing for his crop. Other payments freeze because California crops can’t get onto ships to cross the Pacific from Los Angeles or Long Beach. Growers are not whining about late-arriving Pelotons.
I’ve been looking at house prices too, again partly out of curiosity, partly because a family member is looking for a home. Homes in a development in October 2020 that were outrageously priced at $850,000 for a 2,400 square foot home near the central California coast are now listed between $1.3-4 million!
Interest may be about 2-3 percent, and so monthly mortgage costs don’t fully or immediately reflect the burdensome sale prices. Nonetheless, who could afford the $15,000-20,000 minimum property tax, the soaring insurance, the exorbitant cost to landscape the dirt lot in the backyard—and with a price increase on what we used to call a “middle-class home” of some $400,000 plus in just a year? Translated, the house went up over $1,000 a day, from unaffordable to a sick joke.
Medical bills are skyrocketing. A daughter’s health insurance deductible is $5,0000—per person in a five-person family. This year almost every family member’s bill will exceed that deductible. Of such spiraling prices, White House chief of staff Ron Klain reweeted former Obama advisor and Harvard professor Jason Furman’s shrug about the soaring inflation, “Most of the economic problems we’re facing (inflation, supply chains, etc.) are high class problems.”
Ron and Jason are right: Rent, a ruptured appendix, and mammograms are just the “high class problems” stuff of America.
The country is rapidly retribalizing—the most toxic and sickest of all of Joe Biden disastrous gifts to America over the last 10 months. The Biden fixation with race reverberates throughout the intelligence agencies, the bureaucracy, the Pentagon, and the White House, as left-wing furies are unleashed shrieking and searching for mythical “white rage” and “white supremacy.” The Left’s new message is that of Bull Connor and Lester Maddox to the core: you are what you look like. Your race defines you and everyone who looks like you—and as well all those who don’t look like you. Individuals don’t exist; the tribe tolerates no exceptions, no traitors to their racial allegiances.
When I go into local large national discount retail stores, I notice that in the early morning hours one group of Americans shops. And by 10 a.m. they are replaced by quite another. Another strange new development: someone of your own race, a total stranger, will abruptly greet you with enthusiasm, as if some new tie, some previously unrecognized bond, now exists between you at a time when apparently the “color of your skin” fixation is supposedly the new normal.
Critical race theory’s legacy will entail the complete destruction of the message of Martin Luther King, Jr. When asked about the consequences of mandating the teaching of critical race theory racism to “combat” racism in Virginia, and the statewide pushback against Democratic candidates who endorsed such retrograde tribalism, Deputy Press Secretary Jean-Pierre scoffed, “Great countries are honest, right? They have to be honest with themselves about the history, which is good and the bad. And our kids should be proud to be Americans after learning that history.”
Yes, of course, that explains the Democratic implosion in Virginia: Those poor dishonest Virginians who were previously deluding themselves that their country was only half good!
The electoral anger in New Jersey and Virginia, but also throughout the country, reflects not just the chaos of the Biden first year, but the way in which the nearly 10 months of disasters have so rapidly damaged millions of American lives. The Biden team’s smug responses to the messes they made remind us that socialists care little for the millions of broken eggs necessary to cook a vast toxic omelet.
Does the Biden socialist cadre who engineered these self-induced calamities have any clue about the damage they have done to America? Or do they believe the chaos is tolerable collateral destruction to achieve an otherwise unattainable socialist paradise?
Or do they assume that their own wealth, power, and influence will provide them exemption from the baleful, concrete consequences of their own abstract ideologies?
Will trickle-down Bidenism always harm someone else, someone poorer, someone less important, someone culturally repugnant to them—like Joe Biden’s dregs and chumps, Barack Obama’s clingers, and Hillary Clinton’s deplorables and irredeemables?
Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal.