Politics & Policy

Hackin’ and frackin’, &c.

Sometime last week, my friend Kevin Williamson and I were talking about oil — black gold, Texas tea. (You know that song, right?) There is a new book called The Frackers. And a phrase popped into my head: hackin’ and frackin’. What has given this nation its dynamism recently is hackin’ and frackin’, computer technology and oil (and natural gas). Do you realize that the United States has passed Russia and Saudi Arabia as the top producer of oil and natural gas in all the world? This is a greatly underreported fact. A hugely significant fact.

Let me quote a bit from my recent National Review piece on Harold Hamm, the No. 1 oilman in the country:

Oil is supposed to be old news, yesterday’s energy. But it’s the hot new thing, spurring job creation and economic growth (such as we have them). Consider North Dakota alone: It has the lowest unemployment rate in America, and the fastest rate of economic growth. There are people in North Dakota from all 50 states, and many of them hadn’t worked for years, before the oil-and-gas “renaissance” arrived.

And then I go on to make the point about our overtaking Russia and Saudi Arabia. The Obama administration and the Left at large have been hostile to all things oil. Imagine if they were not. Imagine if we had the benefit of the Keystone pipeline and so on.

What Hamm told me is that we can have energy independence by 2020 if regulations get no worse. They don’t have to get better — they can stay the same, frozen. But they can’t get any worse.

I hope it happens (our energy independence, that is).

‐Above, I spoke of “hackin’ and frackin’” — a snappier phrase than “hackin’ and horizontal drillin’.” This is another point that Hamm makes: People like to talk about fracking. But this is an old technology, in that the first frack jobs were performed in the 1940s. Horizontal drilling is something newer, and that is responsible for the renaissance going on today.

By the way, who performed the first frack jobs? Erle P. Halliburton — a man whose name the Left tried to make mud, during the George W. Bush years. Halliburton was from Duncan, Okla. — same as a phenomenal woman, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick.

(Another Oklahoma foreign-policy thinker is Jim Woolsey — R. James Woolsey. He is from Tulsa. Oklahoma is almost as rich in foreign-policy expertise as it is in oil.)

‐The other day, I read an article — an Associated Press report — that began,

For nearly five years, Republicans have struggled to make a scandal stick to President Barack Obama’s White House. One by one, the controversies — with shorthand names such as Solyndra, Benghazi, and Fast and Furious — hit a fever pitch, then faded away.

A question: Do you think those scandals would have faded away if they related to a Republican administration, rather than a Democratic one? Do you think the mainstream media would have ridden them for all they were worth, and then some?

Perhaps it takes a right-wing paranoid to think that. Or perhaps it merely takes someone who has lived for a while — who is awake and smelling the coffee.

Here is an article about one of those left-wing Americans who hijacked planes to Cuba. This one is named William Potts. Now he wants to come home. The article is accompanied by a picture that shows him in Havana, holding a sign that says, “USA, My Racist Country.”

Call me hard-hearted, but I’m happy for him to stay in the Castros’ care. I’d rather have him there than here in racist, imperialist, ist ist ist Amerika. You know?

Last year, I wrote an article called “Aren’t They Cute? America and some special criminals.” Go here, if you like. The article relates to what we’re talking about.

‐Speaking of articles I’ve written (and forgive me for being on this jag): This dispatch from Bloomberg News reminded me of something I said in a report earlier this year. I wrote, “I think I have heard more about the KKK in two days at this conference than I have in many years.” Let me get back to that in a moment.

The dispatch I’ve linked to is about a new production of Aida, in Paris. The production has the tenor, Radamès, “tried by a kangaroo court of the Ku Klux Klan, complete with hoods and a burning cross.” I’ve discovered something in the last couple of decades: The Klan may be more famous abroad than it is here at home. The only time I hear about the Klan, really, is when I go abroad.

That report of mine — the one from which I’ve quoted — was from the Oslo Freedom Forum. It was called “Three Brave Lives,” and was published in the June 17 NR. The “brave lives” of the title are those of Chen Guangcheng, the Chinese legal activist (blind, by the way); Ali Ferzat, the Syrian cartoonist and dissident; and Berta Soler, the leader of Cuba’s Ladies in White.

Ferzat asked me, “How many members does the Ku Klux Klan have?” He then made a point about al-Qaeda in Syria. Berta Soler spoke of being beaten by Cuban state-security agents. They yell at her, “Nera!” (“Black woman!”) “Why are you protesting against us? You should be thankful to the revolution. If you went to America, you would be killed by the Ku Klux Klan.”

That’s what they tell ’em. That’s what they tell ’em. In reality, they’d probably see more of the Klan in French opera productions than in America.

‐A correspondent of mine from South Dakota wrote me about the recent blizzard there. His point (as I sum it up): “The rest of the country doesn’t know about this. It was terrible. The devastation to farms and ranches is horrific. Some attention should be paid, by our fellow Americans.”

Here is one article about this calamity in South Dakota.

‐Into my inbox came a little ad: “Every 60 Seconds a New Woman is Looking for a Discreet Affair Here.” (That “is” should be capitalized, by the way. No one does, for some reason. Take it from me, an editor of some years.) The ad exhorted, “Life is Short.” (There we go again, “is”-wise!) “Have an Affair.” You are urged to “Join the World’s Largest Dating Service with over 1 million women looking to have a Discreet Affair.”

Sweet culture we live in, huh? It is to be resisted with all the strength that can be summoned.

And by the way: Why should these affairs be “discreet”? It’s not like our culture especially frowns on them, is it?

‐Let’s have some language (or some more language, I should say). A reader writes,

I caught grief a couple of days ago from a client out here on the High Plains [Kansas] for saying that I “would just as lief” do something in particular. Growing up in Oklahoma, I heard both sides of my family use the phrase — both the Russian (Volgadeutsch) side and the Ozark hillbilly side. Do you come across this in any one particular part of the country?

I have never come across it, frankly. But I’ve done a little studying on it, and I like it a lot. “I’d just as lief go without dessert as have jello.”

I think that’s basically the usage.

‐A little music? For a review of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, with Pablo Heras-Casado, conductor, and Ian Bostridge, tenor, go here. (The program was Mendelssohn, Britten, and Shostakovich.)

‐I want to end by commenting on Tom Foley, who died in recent days. He was speaker of the House, you remember (Democrat). Late in his career, he lost a great deal of weight, which you may also remember. He was quite fat — and got trim.

Sitting next to him at dinner one night, I asked him to tell me about this. He was glad to. He went to a New York doctor, who said, “Oh, I can get you to lose the weight, all right. But you won’t keep it off. No one does.” Foley determined he would — and he did. He told me it was the thing in his life he was proudest of.

He also told some very good stories about politics, and told them really, really well. He did an excellent LBJ accent. Anyway, I’m glad I met him, and I’m glad you’ve joined me today, Impromptus-ites — see you later.


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