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  • "But waste was of the essence of the scheme." Joe Lancaster wonders: Do We Really Need 100 Different Federal Programs To Fund Broadband? Do I need to say that Betteridge's Law of Headlines applies?

    President Joe Biden's bipartisan infrastructure bill apportioned $1.2 trillion for such projects as roads, bridges, and airports. But it also designated $65 billion "to help ensure that every American has access to reliable high-speed internet" by funding broadband expansion. This included a $45 billion "Internet for All" program, under which Biden pledged to expand broadband access to all Americans by 2030.

    But this was not the first tranche of federal funds dedicated to expanding internet access: The 2009 stimulus bill allocated more than $7 billion toward broadband grants for rural areas, and expenditures have grown since. A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) shows that the return on that investment has been underwhelming.

    The report, titled "Broadband: National Strategy Needed to Guide Federal Efforts to Reduce Digital Divide," was released on Tuesday. Based on Biden's pledge of getting to universal broadband access by the end of the decade, the GAO studied the government's current broadband programs and expenditures, looking for shortcomings or areas of improvement.

    What it found was a jumbled mess.

    Not for the first time, our headline quotes the Robert Frost poem Pod of the Milkweed.

    Of course, our state's senators have been cheerleaders for "broadband expansion". I.e., shoving more taxpayer money to the bureaucracy that has proven itself incompetent at spending the billions it previously got.

  • Annals of Do-Somethingism. Charles C. W. Cooke looks at John Cornyn and the Limits of ‘Do Something’ Politics. And, of course, the pressure to Do Something™ this week is …

    Senator John Cornyn of Texas is “feeling the pressure” to pass gun-control legislation “after years of congressional failure to get a bill done,” according to Politico. As part of a self-described “coalition of the rational,” Cornyn intends to use his “unique position” in the Republican caucus to . . . well, actually, that part’s not clear. What is clear — what seems really to matter here — is that Cornyn wants to do something: “If the Senate can’t come up with a legislative response after the killings in Uvalde, Texas, Cornyn said, ‘it will be embarrassing.’”

    Will it, though? Why? Per Politico’s report, there doesn’t seem to be any particular “legislative response” that Cornyn believes will help. He just wants to avoid “the narrative that we can’t get things done.” What things? Who knows? At various points, Politico describes the coveted outcome as a “gun safety deal”; “a bill”; “the votes on guns”; “a successful gun vote”; a “bipartisan agreement”; “the plan”; “gun policy reforms”; “gun-talks”; “progress around gun safety”; “proposals”; “an agreement”; a “package”; “a deal with Democrats on an issue as elusive as guns”; “guns legislation”; and “any guns agreement.” And then it notes that, when pushed, “Cornyn declined to say” what he’d accept. Undeterred, the outlet briefly describes what other people might hope to achieve, and then moves on to a long discussion of what really matters here: the likelihood that “clinching a deal with Democrats” will help Cornyn succeed Mitch McConnell “as Senate GOP leader.”

    This has been Episode 1528 of our continuing series, "Why Even GOP Politicians are Useless Tools."

    Bonus link: a Quote Investigator column for the quip "Don’t Just Do Something; Stand There".

  • Lock her up. Douglas Schoen ("senior adviser to Bill Clinton’s 1996 campaign, a White House adviser (1994-2000) and an adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2000 U.S. Senate campaign") and Andrew Stein ("a Democrat, served as New York City Council president, 1986-94") suggest we examine Hillary’s Role in the Russia Smear.

    The acquittal of former Hillary Clinton lawyer Michael Sussmann—charged with lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation while acting on behalf of her 2016 campaign—leaves major questions unanswered about Mrs. Clinton’s role in her campaign’s effort to tie Donald Trump to Russia. It also provides new evidence that she personally directed the effort.

    In July 2016, John Brennan, then director of the Central Intelligence Agency, briefed President Obama that Mrs. Clinton gave “approval” for a “proposal from one of her foreign policy advisors to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up scandal and claiming interference by the Russian security service,” according to Mr. Brennan’s notes from the meeting, which were obtained by Fox News.

    During Mr. Sussmann’s trial, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, testified that he and other top aides decided to feed the press a story in October 2016 about the now-disproven allegations of secret ties between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank. Importantly, Mr. Mook said that Mrs. Clinton was aware of, and approved of, this plan. “We discussed it with Hillary,” Mr. Mook testified. “She agreed with the decision.”

    Fun fact: "The Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee paid $12.4 million, $5.6 million of which came from the campaign, to Perkins Coie, Mr. Sussmann’s law firm, to pay Fusion GPS for this opposition research on Trump." It is unlikely this could have happened without direct and explicit approval from Hillary.

    And the funny thing is, if she'd spent the money on those pesky battleground states instead, she might have won.

  • We're going full Gordon Gekko today. Julius Krein takes a bold stand: Corporations aren't greedy enough. Skipping down to where he fleshes out that claim:

    The most intriguing and potentially alarming trends are visible in the oil market. In December 2019, before Covid, global oil consumption was about 100 million barrels per day, and the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude hovered around $50-$60 per barrel. At that time, the US operating rig count was around 800 (around 2,000 globally), according to Baker Hughes. After the pandemic hit, in 2020, global oil demand fell to about 90 million barrels per day, prices collapsed and briefly went negative, and the US rig count hit a low of around 250. Oil demand recovered about half the lost ground in 2021 and is expected to return to 2019 levels of 100 million barrels per day this year. In December of 2021, WTI spot prices were around $75, rose significantly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and currently sit around $110. Yet the US rig count is still around 700 (of 1,600 globally). The last time oil prices were above $100, before the crash of 2014, the rig count was over 1,800 (3,600 globally).

    This trajectory is difficult to square with inflation accounts based on excessive demand. Oil demand has still not exceeded pre-pandemic levels; it is supply that has lagged. Meanwhile, far from being “too greedy”, companies seem to not be greedy enough — at least in the conventional sense of maximising profits. Instead of reinvesting their earnings in drilling new wells, even at profitable oil prices, companies have returned cash to shareholders.

    It's a thorny problem, summed later up in Klein's article: "If anyone is too 'greedy', in other words, it is not corporations but shareholders." If corporate management are effectively responding to demands from their shareholder/employers…?

    You won't (however) see Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders castigate shareholders for their greed.

Last Modified 2024-01-17 9:50 AM EDT