WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED FROM THE LAST DEBATE?
The short answer: Not a lot. I doubt that any votes have been changed, and most people’s minds are made up. Of course, CNN says Biden won, and Fox says Trump won. I did get more out of the exchange mainly because the discussion was more understandable with just one person talking vs. with the first debate when three people were talking at the same time.
Nevertheless, there were a few important points that did make it to the surface, but just barely. You had to be fairly sophisticated politically to catch them. It went over most people’s heads, though. They were still appalled with another Trump lie about coyotes dragging children across the border. (True story)
The first point was the discussion of fracking. This is a technique for releasing gas and oil from shale rock. Millions of years ago, organisms from microscopic life, plants, and a few dinosaurs were buried deep in the earth’s crust. It formed a layer of rock with embedded organic material that, under pressure, was transformed into gas and oil in tiny droplets trapped in shale. We owe the technique to the Civil War when Colonel Edward Roberts noted that when artillery was detonated near wells, they started to produce more. Now a shaft is drilled into the shale up to 3000 meters down. Then a horizontal shaft is drilled. It is through this horizontal shaft that the shale is infused with pressurized water, sand, and chemicals. We have employed this technique commercially since the 1940s. It was not widely used until recently when the recovery to cost numbers made sense economically. The controversy comes in because the recovered chemical water mixture is toxic and can contaminate drinking water wells. Also, there is a risk of generating earthquakes and releasing the greenhouse gas, methane, during the drilling process.
Both Biden and Harris have spoken out against fracking on many occasions documented on tape. Biden has denied this until the last debate when he has reversed his position and supports it now, presumably because he wants the votes of Texas, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania, who depend on this technique, and makes us the world’s top producer of gas and oil. But the crucial line from Biden that nullifies all that fracking talk is that he “will transition the country away from oil,” and 2035 is not that far off! If we indeed transition away from oil in the next 15 years, this will have devastating consequences on the economy, not only in the three main producers of oil, Texas, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania but the entire country. Renewable energy cannot replace fossil fuels. It currently supplies less than 10% of the needed energy, and prospects to increase that are not very good. Germany has tried to do so for 12 years and has gotten to 54%, at the tremendous expense of $1.3 Trillion initially plus thirty-eight Billion yearly, and still buys wood from us to make up the difference. Germans pay three times more for electricity than we do. If in 15 years oil will be relegated to the trash bin, we shall need our bicycles, and the voters of those oil and gas producing states should re-evaluate their position on Biden.
The race issue backfired on Biden with the attempt at a joke, “Abraham Lincoln here is one of the most racist presidents we’ve had in modern history.” It gave Trump the chance to bring out the difference between him and Biden on the race issue. Trump has been very supportive of the black population. Trump generated massive cash infusions for black institutions of higher learning to the tune of 1 billion for minority-serving institutions. The low black unemployment rates did not hurt either. Trump made Biden admit that his 1994 Crime Bill during the Clinton administration and sponsored by Biden was a mistake. It overly criminalized Black Americans. One of the more egregious policies that came from that was, the longer incarceration times of “crack cocaine” possession than powder cocaine. Blacks preferred “crack” and that put thousands of young black men in prison for a long time. Trump pushed the question by pointing out that Biden and Obama were in charge for eight years and did nothing to rectify “this mistake.” Biden’s excuse was that the Republican Congress kept him from fixing it. Not so fast, Joe! Congress was Democrat-run from 2009 to 2011. Biden had three years and did absolutely nothing!
I am surprised that the Hunter Biden scandal has not reached deafening proportions. When the entire family is accused of being involved in “shakedown operations” against several countries just like the “Gambino crime family” in New York, inquiring minds want to know. The Biden answer, “Hunter did nothing unethical.” That is not reassuring especially coming from an old politician. We deserve more. The mass media does not talk about it, claiming it is unsubstantiated. NPR has come out saying that it was a waste of time to do so. It is not Hunter I am concerned about. I would hate to see another impeachment if it turns out that Joe was involved in peddling influence. The country does not deserve or need it! When the FBI is investigating Hunter’s laptop for money laundering, when two of his business partners are in jail, when at least two whistleblowers are out testifying to the veracity of the emails, it needs to be addressed, and addressed before the election. The media needs to do its job!
Immigration was a Trump “trump.” When Biden brought up the cages that housed the migrant children, he shamed Biden because it was Biden and Obama that built those cages. “ Who built the cages?” Trump said several times. The problem turns out to be a lot more complicated and sad. The children in the cages are going to stay in the USA, the promised land. When the parents, who were not successful in getting into the U.S. or sent the children by themselves, are found, and some 480 of 540 parents have been found, they refuse to take them back because they think their children will have a better life here. That was the plan! If all migrants with children will be admitted without resistance, the resultant human wave will drown us.
Covid-19 was a wash, I thought. Biden claimed unnecessary deaths that Trump answered with Biden’s early accusations that Trump was hysterically racist in closing our borders. Which is it? Was he hysterically racist, or did he not act soon enough? We have mixed messages here on multiple levels. The “science” said don’t wear masks, then did, a 180˚ to now wear masks. The “science” said, “we will have no problems in the U.S.,” then there were problems. The Governors were given the task to handle each state as each state had different issues and problems. The bottom line is that we are about the same as the rest of the world, despite all the theories of delay and keeping the virus’ virulence secret. So far, no country can claim a definitively “better way.” I cannot see that different approaches have yielded spectacular results anywhere. Our outcome data still show us to be better than most, but not as good as some. The whole of Europe’s death numbers as of October 23, 2020, is 257,522, to ours that is reported at 229,317. To get a more accurate perspective, I refer you to the Johns Hopkins website and look at deaths per 100,000. But the big picture is still not much different. Who did what, when, where, and how didn’t have much impact, with some glaring exceptions that can be pointed out in most countries.
We have ten days to go! I am anxious to get it over and done with! (don’t mind my ending with a preposition). In Churchill’s words, “That is the kind of nonsense, up with which I shall not put!”