Tuesday Edition

The U.S. is really cranking out the crude oil. Plus: What journalists and protesters have in common.


1. Biden’s Fossil Fuel Reality

President Biden talks a big game about his commitment to clean and renewable energy, but does he walk the walk? (Energy Central)

The latest: Yesterday, the Biden admin finalized a rule cracking down on emissions of methane, a common byproduct of oil production. 

  • The Department of Energy also recently finalized a rule barring the use of fossil fuels in federal buildings.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm: “The Biden-Harris Administration is practicing what we preach. Just as we are helping households and businesses across the nation save money by saving energy, we are doing the same in our own federal buildings.”

This is “practicing what we preach”? Interior Department data from January showed Biden has approved almost 50% more oil and gas drilling permits than Donald Trump did in his first three years.

  • In the first three years of the Biden administration, the top five publicly traded oil companies—BP, Shell, Exxon, Chevron, and TotalEnergies—saw their profits skyrocket to $410 billion, doubling from the same period under Donald Trump's presidency, according to Reuters data.

Last month, the Energy Information Administration revealed the U.S. is now producing more crude oil than any country, ever.

Reuters reporter Printz Matgulis: “The counter-intuitive fossil fuel boom under Biden reflects an awkward truth for his supporters and detractors alike ahead of the November elections, proving that what happens in globally interconnected markets like oil and gas is often well outside the immediate control of the person in the White House.”

Bubba’s Two Cents: Biden and the GOP are both fine with pretending the president’s oil production record sucks. Staying quiet about the fossil fuel boom allows Biden to retain his climate change warrior status with the Democratic base. For their part, Republicans can continue to attack Biden as a destroyer of the domestic oil and gas industry.

2. Tax Dollars for College Protests

The controversial pro-Palestine campus protests in the U.S. have led to increased scrutiny over the amount of taxpayer money flowing to universities. (Fox Business)

A new Fox News analysis found that in fiscal year 2023 more than $7 billion in taxpayer funds have been allocated to universities where anti-Israel protests occurred.

  • Columbia University: $1.2 billion

  • University of Pennsylvania: $955.6 million

  • Yale University: $776.8 million

  • New York University: $805.5 million

  • Cornell University: $736.3 million

  • University of Texas at Austin: $645.6 million

  • Harvard University: $676.1 million

  • UC Berkeley: $451.4 million

  • Princeton University: $403 million

  • Brown University: $173.7 million

  • George Washington University: $200 million

  • Dartmouth College: $133 million

Since 2018, $45 billion in federal contracts, grants and tax breaks has gone to just 10 schools: the eight Ivy League colleges plus Northwestern and Stanford.

National Review senior writer David Harsanyi on the incentives that arise when you subsidize colleges: “You can inject all the class-war emotions you like into this debate, but the rules of economics are clear. Bailouts disincentivize schools from acting responsibly and incentivize some students to keep chasing degrees that will do them very little good.”

Related: Tuition has skyrocketed, universities have become hostile to conservative views and a majority of Americans now think a college degree isn’t worth the hassle.

Bubba’s Two Cents: Let's frame this issue in business terms. Taxpayers help fund universities as an investment to create productive citizens. Recent protests have shown Americans how that investment is going, and a lot of them don’t feel like they’re getting their money’s worth.

3. The 0.5%

Americans are increasingly clustering into like-minded groups, and it might have an effect on the upcoming election. (Axios)

The 2024 presidential election is likely to be decided by 6% of swing voters in six swing states: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

  • Toss-up ratings: These states are identified as toss-ups by the Cook Political Report, a highly respected electoral analysis site.

  • Voter impact: Despite there being about 244 million eligible voters in the U.S., 99.5% are unlikely to influence the election outcome.

  • Party strongholds: Cook rates 43 other states as solidly/likely Republican or Democratic, leaving few genuinely competitive states.

Political strategist Doug Sosnik on why the electoral map is pretty much locked in: “Education now transcends race as the best predictor of voting. … People are increasingly choosing to live around others who share their values and beliefs, which has led to a homogenization of how communities vote."

Is America splitting into two teams?

  • According to a new Rasmussen Reports poll, a whopping 41% of likely U.S. voters say the U.S. is likely to experience a second civil war sometime in the next five years.

  • Today, over 85% of married couples share the same political views, up from 60% in 1965.

  • The percentage of Republicans who view the Democratic Party very unfavorably increased from 21% in 1994 to 62% in 2022.

  • Over the same period, the share of Democrats viewing the Republican Party very unfavorably rose from 17% in 1994 to 54% in 2022.

Bubba’s Two Cents: A largely overlooked consequence of American polarization is that politics has become much more predictable and boring.

4. What Journalists and Protesters Have in Common

As trust in media wanes, many newsrooms are struggling with how to handle young activist employees. (Semafor)

In a new interview with Semafor, New York Times executive editor Joe Kahn says The Times is recommitting to the principles of objective journalism and doesn’t see its job as catering to younger progressives on staff.

  • “The newsroom is not a safe space,” he told Semafor’s Ben Smith.

Kahn on how the Trump presidency led to young journalists turning into activists: “I think it went too far. It was overly simplistic. I think the big push that you’re seeing us make and reestablish our norms and emphasize independent journalism and build a more resilient culture comes out of some of the excesses of that period.”

Where’s this sudden bout of self-reflection coming from? 

  • In only a few years, The Times has undergone a string of newsroom revolts over Gaza, the hiring of conservatives, a Tom Cotton op-ed and more.

It’s not just the NYT: 

Bubba’s Two Cents: One thing to note here is how many of the issues sparking staff revolts in newsrooms parallel the protest movements on college campuses (Gaza, Black Lives Matter, anti-Trump). There’s a lot of overlap between elite colleges and elite newsrooms, and that’s why we’re seeing these similarities in subject matter and tactics. But a big downside of letting activists take over your newsroom is it’s probably going to make Americans a lot less trusting of your work.

5. Two Differences Between Dems and the GOP

Top House Democrat Hakeem Jeffries’ recent “60 Minutes” gives us a glimpse into how differently Democrats and the GOP approach immigration and the economy. (CBS News)

“60 Minutes” correspondent Norah O’Donnell: “Why don't voters believe [that the economy has improved under President Biden? Is that a communication problem?”

Jeffries: “Voters understand that more needs to be done. That there are challenges that remain. We understand we have to lower costs. We have to end price gouging. We have to grow the middle class. We have to keep our communities safe. We have to solve the problems and challenges at the border. We're on the right side of those issues, and we just have to make sure we make that case in a compelling, a clear and a comprehensive way to the American people.”

Bubba’s Two Cents: What you’ve got here is a perfect demonstration of how the GOP and Democrats look at immigration and the economy from fundamentally different perspectives. Jeffries’ response to problems with the economy is to blame corporations (price gouging). When talking about the border, he says nothing about stopping the flow of migrants, but instead references “problems and challenges” in the abstract.

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