The Sheer Madness of Today’s Left

"Madness! Madness . . . madness!"
— The Bridge on the River Kwai

With that exclamation, director David Lean ended his epic film about a dutiful but vainglorious British officer who sought to display to his Japanese captors superior British discipline and morale in a prisoner of war camp. As proof of British engineering superiority, he pursues his agendas by ordering his POWs to build for their Japanese captors a strategic bridge that otherwise they could not have built—only to try to destroy the efforts of fellow Allied soldiers sent to blow-up his masterpiece. For the delusional ideologue, reality must never intrude.

So it is now. When the rock of green and woke ideology hits the hard place of reality, sheer madness always results.

The world prices of oil and natural gas are skyrocketing. At the time of a major war in Ukraine, the Western democracies have framed the conflict as existential, with a Russia/Mordor on the attack against a declining West/Gondor. 

A subtext of the struggle is that the world’s illiberal regimes—fossil-fuel exporting Russia, Venezuela, Iran, and the various Middle Eastern autocracies—are getting richer by the day while destroying Mother Earth, as noble gas and oil importing green Western nations can scarcely afford to drive or heat their homes. 

Normally, the mad Left would not object terribly to the ensuing fuel price hikes. Remember, Joe Biden bragged on the campaign trail that he would end fossil fuels during his tenure. 

Obama’s soon-to-be Energy Secretary Steven Chu said during the 2008 campaign he wished to see American gas prices match those in Europe (i.e. $9-10 a gallon). And then President Obama himself did not disagree. He meekly added that such increases should be “gradual.” He had also warned that his cap-and-trade initiatives would necessarily “skyrocket” electricity prices—without suggesting that his off-guard brag was even a gaffe of unexpectedly telling the truth. 

So green orthodoxy dictates that the highest possible fossil fuel prices are good. Unaffordability will hasten the end of gas and oil, ensuring currently subsidized but uneconomical green energy as the only remaining alternative. 

But like most leftist top-down agendas, the details and consequences are usually hidden. After all, green wokeism usually exempts the lifestyles of its elite advocates. The Obamas currently are building a most un-green luxury Hawaiian beach mansion (their third such estate). And Al “Earth in the Balance” Gore got rich selling his failed cable outlet to a carbon-fueled Al Jazeera. 

Nonetheless exorbitant gas and heating prices are toxic politically to the middle class. Worse yet for the Left, we are currently in a Biden-created inflationary spiral, in the middle of a savage Ukrainian war, and facing a catastrophic Democratic wipeout in the upcoming November midterms. 

The result of green theory meeting cruel reality is sheer madness. As a good green, Joe Biden in one of his first acts sought to cancel the critical EastMed pipeline that is planned to feed over 10 billion cubic meters per year of natural gas into southern Europe. That clean burning fuel would enhance the suppliers, our allies Greece, Cyprus, and Israel. 

Yet Biden also dropped all sanctions against the Russian-German Nord Stream 2 pipeline, enriching Vladimir Putin with profits from global exports. Biden talked a good game, Corn Pop-style, to Putin—but acted in ways throughout 2021 that would appease Russia until it subsequently invaded Ukraine. 

What other than sheer madness is the logic of helping enemies like Putin and hurting our Mediterranean allies? 

When Biden entered office, the United States was the largest gas and oil producer in the world. Yet he immediately began jawboning the oil and gas industry about their fated doom on the horizon, pressuring lending agencies not to aid the American frackers, canceling pipelines, ending ANWR, and stopping all new federal gas and oil leases. 

So Biden achieved his goal of higher prices and less U.S. production. But now politics wars with green dogmatism. And madness once again ensues. As a result, Biden has variously in the past months begged, but been rebuffed by Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela to help out the Democratic cause by pumping their filthy, smelly, hot gas and oil, all of which we too have in abundance, but are too clean and too noble to tap. Finally, after trying to destroy the U.S. natural gas industry, he is on his knees begging it to export American supplies to fuel-starved green Europe—that has also mostly outlawed fracking.

Here in California, Governor Gavin Newsom has gone mad. He reigns over the most expensive gas and diesel prices in the history of the United States, at over $6 and $7 a gallon respectively in most parts of the state. 

Californians suffer under the highest gas taxes in the nation and are shutting down nuclear plants. They seek reductions in clean burning natural gas generators at a time of drought when hydroelectric production is constrained. 

So what does Newsom do? To fuel his state, and keep a shrinking middle class sustainable, does he tap California’s huge gas and oil reserves? They are the seventh largest of the 50 states and might bring down prices in a state that consumes more fossil fuels than any state but Texas.

No, that would be green heresy. So instead Newsom has proposed spending $11 billion in subsidies to drivers—at $400 per registered vehicle—so that the state’s drivers can buy more smelly, dirty gasoline and diesel fuel that they otherwise would not at the prohibitive, but secretly desirable, $6-7 a gallon price.

Post-reset Democratic orthodoxy now says Putin and the Russians are evil. That narrative fueled the Russian collusion hoax, the Alfa-Bank hoax, and the Hunter Biden Russian disinformation hoax. 

But what if sealing a new “Iran Deal” is critical before the midterms to show something—anything—of substance after a string of Biden foreign policy disasters? In other words, which agenda reveals the greatest clout: Biden’s demonization of Putin as a “killer,” “bully,” “war-criminal,” and “butcher” or positioning Putin as the suddenly needed Iranian Deal 2.0 fixer? 

That is a tough call between Joe’s foreign policy “accomplishments” and Putin slaughtering Ukrainians. But in the end, nonetheless, we have asked the Russians to adjudicate a new Iran deal that almost certainly will pave the way to an Iranian-fossil-fueled nuke. 

Remember that Obama in 2012 invited the Russians into the Middle East after a 40-year hiatus. Biden will trump that disaster by ensuring Putin becomes the nuclear protector of the old Obama vision of a Persian-Iran-Shiite-Syrian-Lebanon-Hezbollah-Axis from Tehran to the Mediterranean—likely to be protected by nuclear Russia as an apparent counterweight to U.S. allies in the Gulf and Israel.

Enraging Contradictions 

The southern border since late January 2021, for all intents and purposes, has ceased to exist. That is unless we are talking about Cuban and Russian refugees who seem to the Left to be too politically independent to embrace as victim constituents needing left-wing permanent government patronage. 

Yet the midterms loom. One of the most unpopular of Joe Biden’s initiatives is his welcoming of nearly 2 million impoverished, unvaccinated, unaudited, and untested illegal immigrants to cross the southern border. By any fair measure, Biden deliberately violated his oath of office by failing to enforce U.S. immigration laws. Political agendas outweighed his own promises to uphold the sanctity of federal law.

Yet he fears polls. Of all the Biden failures, the southern border and illegal immigration seem to infuriate Americans of all persuasions the most. 

So what to do? Spring is here. Warmer weather ushers in a huge new influx. Over 140,000 illegal immigrants entered in a cold February alone—at an annualized rate of nearly 1.7 million that will likely soar even higher over the summer.

The collapsing world economy and stagflation will send record numbers northward. They will simply walk illegally into U.S. sovereign territory anywhere the detested Trump wall remains (intentionally) unfinished. 

Homeland “Security” Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has shackled the border patrol and destroyed its morale, turning a once effective border deterrence force into agents of their own humiliation as they watch thousands simply walk past them. 

Adding insult to injury, Biden—in the fashion of his rush-to-judgment support of the faker Jussie Smollett—was quick to condemn his own federal employees as mounted criminals who “whipped” illegal aliens from their horses. 

There was clear evidence that the agents were trying to block entry, did not whip any illegal alien, and were using long reins to maneuver panicking horses. No matter: Biden shot off the cuff with, “I promise you, those people will pay. There will be an investigation underway now and there will be consequences. There will be consequences.”

Mayorkas then piled on against “those people” as weaponizing their horses.

So how is that circle squared? On the one hand, Biden must encourage more illegal aliens from the south, but he also must alter the optics of such a summertime flood of illegal immigrants on the eve of the midterms. 

Or in starker terms, how does one galvanize a border patrol that the president had promised will pay for their purported sins when he temporarily needs such good team players to pose as orderly accommodators of the new influx for a few months?

Answer? Mayorkas is calling for an emergency “DHS Volunteer Force” that will provide the appearance of “order” to an otherwise riotous mob-like scene at the border.

Stranger still, the Left is demanding an end to a “Title 42” provision—the public health order during the COVID-19 pandemic that allowed for a quicker deportation of illegal aliens right at the border. 

Yet, at the same time, federal health officials and many in the administration are warning that COVID-19 is not over. With his accustomed gloom and doom, Dr. Anthony Fauci warns that the new variants of the Omicron wave may threaten to send us into yet another cycle of pandemic social distancing, masking, and quarantining. 

Who wins this left-wing agenda war—the Faucites who want permanent COVID-19 emergency powers, or the coalition of the La Raza-istas, the hard Left, and labor-hungry employers who want millions more of illegal aliens—when their shared open border agendas spell catastrophe in seven months at the polls?

These contradictions that lead to insanity enrage Americans. They believe the fiascos of 2021-2022 were almost a case study how to destroy a great nation economically, materially, culturally, socially, politically, and militarily in just 14 months. 

Yet madness is predictable when the unchecked left-wing’s demand for limitless and endless power collides with a hated, but unremorseful ideological agenda utterly divorced from reality. Put simply, when ideologues demand power but cannot maintain it politically because they are cruel ideologues that destroy what they touch, expect more of their insanity to follow.

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004, and is the 2023 Giles O'Malley Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush, and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson is also a farmer (growing almonds on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author of the just released New York Times best seller, The End of Everything: How Wars Descend into Annihilation, published by Basic Books on May 7, 2024, as well as the recent  The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, The Case for Trump, and The Dying Citizen.

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