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Archive for June 15th, 2010

…in fact, he’s counting on it.

That can be the only explanation for a speech that didn’t fail to disappoint this evening.  Maybe his regular teleprompter was on vacation. Or maybe yet more talk about action simply fails to satisfy.  Or maybe linguistic slight of hand isn’t convincing on this subject when his advisors forget to tell him to take off his golf glove.  It’s so hard to say.

“Good evening. As we speak, our nation faces a multitude of challenges. At home, our top priority is to recover and rebuild from a recession that has touched the lives of nearly every American. Abroad, our brave men and women in uniform are taking the fight to al-Qaida wherever it exists.”

 Of course the recession is nothing compared to the economic effect of insane borrowing to create more government jobs, and the incalculable damage that will be wrought by the burdens of Health Care “Reform”, and Cap and Tax.  And I haven’t figured out why its ok for you to play golf while those brave men and women fight, and even come home in boxes, but not when your predecessor did it.  Why is that, Mr. President?

“And tonight, I’ve returned from a trip to the Gulf Coast to speak with you about the battle we’re waging against an oil spill that is assaulting our shores and our citizens.”

You can try to ascribe a motive to it, but it remains a natural phenomenon.

“On April 20th, an explosion ripped through BP Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, about 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana. Eleven workers lost their lives. Seventeen others were injured. And soon, nearly a mile beneath the surface of the ocean, oil began spewing into the water.

Because there’s never been a leak this size at this depth, stopping it has tested the limits of human technology. That’s why, just after the rig sank, I assembled a team of our nation’s best scientists and engineers to tackle this challenge, a team led by Dr. Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and our nation’s secretary of energy. Scientists at our national labs and experts from academia and other oil companies have also provided ideas and advice.”

A plug for the expertocracy.  Lovely.  Are we naming names so they can be tossed under the bus later, or am I supposed to be reassured that a physicist turned politician is trying to determine how to stop a leaking oil well a mile beneath the sea?

As a result of these efforts, we’ve directed BP to mobilize additional equipment and technology. And in the coming weeks and days, these efforts should capture up to 90 percent of the oil leaking out of the well. This is until the company finishes drilling a relief well later in the summer that’s expected to stop the leak completely.

Which I’m sure BP resisted right up until The Government™ stepped in and told it to do something that might help mitigate a public relations nightmare for them.  Of course, this does nothing to explain why you turned down offers of help from other governments who made sincere offers to mobilize their own specialized resources designed to do just that days and weeks ago.  And why is BP drilling a relief well, anyway?  Is there something that you have likely been told that would make your tough talk seem all the more foolish and staged?

“Already, this oil spill is the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced. And unlike an earthquake or a hurricane, it’s not a single event that does its damage in a matter of minutes or days. The millions of gallons of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico are more like an epidemic, one that we will be fighting for months and even years.”

Made much worse than it had to be, not just by Federal inaction, which was considerable, but also by a failure to approve state mitigation and prevention efforts in a timely fashion.  Never has “We’re from the government, and we’re here to help” sounded so much like a cruel joke.

But make no mistake: We will fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long it takes. We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused. And we will do whatever’s necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover from this tragedy.

Make no mistake.  I knew this speech would be good for at least one “make no mistake”, your now infamous preface to saying something insincere or condescending.  As for making BP, there is that whole dealio with, um, you know…the law, which already makes BP’s obligations in this matter perfectly clear, with or without general tough talk from you.  And as for the rest, why start now?  Over 60 days, Mr. President.  That’s a lot of golf and fund raising.

“Tonight, I’d like to lay out for you what our battle plan is going forward: what we’re doing to clean up the oil, what we’re doing to help our neighbors in the gulf, and what we’re doing to make sure that a catastrophe like this never happens again.”

If you’re doing what you can, then we should resign ourselves to black beaches and dead marine life for the foreseeable future.  And preventing any further offshore drilling isn’t an answer either.

“First, the clean-up.

From the very beginning of this crisis, the federal government has been in charge of the largest environmental clean-up effort in our nation’s history, an effort led by Admiral Thad Allen, who has almost 40 years of experience responding to disasters. We now have nearly 30,000 personnel who are working across four states to contain and clean up the oil. Thousands of ships and other vessels are responding in the gulf. And I’ve authorized the deployment of over 17,000 National Guard members along the coast. These servicemen and women are ready to help stop the oil from coming ashore, they’re ready to help clean the beaches, train response workers, or even help with processing claims, and I urge the governors in the affected states to activate these troops as soon as possible.

Because of our efforts, millions of gallons of oil have already been removed from the water through burning, skimming, and other collection methods. Over 5.5 million feet of boom has been laid across the water to block and absorb the approaching oil. We’ve approved the construction of new barrier islands in Louisiana to try to stop the oil before it reaches the shore, and we’re working with Alabama, Mississippi and Florida to implement creative approaches to their unique coastlines.”

Why did the approvals take so long?  The EPA is an executive agency.  You could have cut a lot of red tape with one of those executive orders you’re so fond of.

“As the clean-up continues, we will offer whatever additional resources and assistance our coastal states may need.

Now, a mobilization of this speed and magnitude will never be perfect, and new challenges will always arise. I saw and heard evidence of that during this trip. So if something isn’t working, we want to hear about it. If there are problems in the operation, we will fix them.

But we have to recognize that, despite our best efforts, oil has already caused damage to our coastline and its wildlife. And sadly, no matter how effective our response is, there will be more oil and more damage before this siege is done.”

You didn’t really think that looking over BP’s shoulder and screaming “plug the hole” while the stain grew unabated was really going to prevent damage to the coastline, did you?

“That’s why the second thing we’re focused on is the recovery and restoration of the Gulf Coast.

You know, for generations, men and women who call this region home have made their living from the water. That living is now in jeopardy. I’ve talked to shrimpers and fishermen who don’t know how they’re going to support their families this year. I’ve seen empty docks and restaurants with fewer customers, even in areas where the beaches are not yet affected.”

At least you didn’t whine about doing it in the rain this time.  I guess the focus group analysis that said “pussy” stung a bit.

“I’ve talked to owners of shops and hotels who wonder when the tourists might start coming back. The sadness and the anger they feel is not just about the money they’ve lost; it’s about a wrenching anxiety that their way of life may be lost.”

No thanks to you and your merry band of incompetents.

“I refuse to let that happen. Tomorrow, I will meet with the chairman of BP and inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company’s recklessness.”

I don’t recall any details that support the claim of recklessness.

“And this fund will not be controlled by BP. In order to ensure that all legitimate claims are paid out in a fair and timely manner, the account must and will be administered by an independent third party.”

Law, meet non-practicing lawyer.  Non-practicing lawyer, meet law.  I know, you read about these kinds of things in law school, and therefore must think them to be quite extraordinary, but it really isn’t a new concept, Mr. President.

“Beyond compensating the people of the gulf in the short term, it’s also clear we need a long-term plan to restore the unique beauty and bounty of this region. The oil spill represents just the latest blow to a place that’s already suffered multiple economic disasters and decades of environmental degradation that has led to disappearing wetlands and habitats.

And the region still hasn’t recovered from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. That’s why we must make a commitment to the Gulf Coast that goes beyond responding to the crisis of the moment.”

Aaaaannnnddd the implied dig at your predecessor.  Brilliant. 

“I make that commitment tonight.

Earlier, I asked Ray Mabus, the secretary of the Navy, who’s also a former governor of Mississippi and a son of the Gulf Coast, to develop a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan as soon as possible. The plan will be designed by states, local communities, tribes, fishermen, businesses, conservationists, and other gulf residents. And BP will pay for the impact this spill has had on the region.”

Which is what the law requires.

“The third part of our response plan is the steps we’re taking to ensure that a disaster like this does not happen again.

A few months ago, I approved a proposal to consider new, limited offshore drilling under the assurance that it would be absolutely safe, that the proper technology would be in place and the necessary precautions would be taken.

That obviously was not the case in the Deepwater Horizon rig, and I want to know why. The American people deserve to know why. The families I met with last week who lost their loved ones in the explosion, these families deserve to know why.”

Nothing is absolutely safe, Mr. President, and only fool believes otherwise.  As for what was and was not the case, I suggest that you consider the declaration without facts you made after the arrest of your buddy Skip Gates.  Your certainty in the lack of facts there left you with egg on your face, and since the Deepwater Horizon had only recently received a government award for its operations, it sounds a lot like you throwing a bunch of dead oil workers under your famous death bus.

“And so I’ve established a national commission to understand the causes of this disaster and offer recommendations on what additional safety and environmental standards we need to put in place. Already I’ve issued a six-month moratorium on deep-water drilling.”

Because gasoline isn’t expensive enough.  We know.  We heard you the first time.

“I know this creates difficulty for the people who work on these rigs, but for the sake of their safety and for the sake of the entire region, we need to know the facts before we allow deep-water drilling to continue.”

Because there is no disaster, no harm that can’t be made worse by government determined to pass inane tax bills masquerading as energy bills, and who would gleefully use an accident to make that a reality.

“And while I urge the commission to complete its work as quickly as possible, I expect them to do that work thoroughly and impartially.”

Because if the hatchetjob is too quick, people might ask questions.

“Now, one place we’ve already begun to take action is at the agency in charge of regulating drilling and issuing permits, known as the Minerals Management Service.

Over the last decade, this agency has become emblematic of a failed philosophy that views all regulation with hostility, a philosophy that says corporations should be allowed to play by their own rules and police themselves.”

After all, there is no aspect of life that cannot be made more costly and burdensome with regulation.

“At this agency, industry insiders were put in charge of industry oversight. Oil companies showered regulators with gifts and favors and were essentially allowed to conduct their own safety inspections and write their own regulations.”

Probably because prize-winning physicists know so much more about about the oil business, and can therefore craft regulations that achieve their stated goal while imposing the lease onerous burdens and costs on an industry that affects every aspect of daily life.

“And when Ken Salazar became my secretary of the interior, one of his very first acts was to clean up the worst of the corruption at this agency. But it’s now clear that the problem there ran much deeper and the pace of reform was just too slow.

And so Secretary Salazar and I are bringing in new leadership at the agency: Michael Bromwich, who was a tough federal prosecutor and inspector general. And his charge over the next few months is to build an organization that acts as the oil industry’s watchdog, not its partner.”

Yay!!!!  Another Harvard Lawyer!!!  Whatever did we do without Harvard Lawyers to tell us how we’ve been doing it wrong?

“So one of the lessons we’ve learned from this spill is that we need better regulations, better safety standards, and better enforcement when it comes to offshore drilling. But a larger lesson is that, no matter how much we improve our regulation of the industry, drilling for oil these days entails greater risk.”

More than it should, actually.  but that’s what happens when The Government™ won’t let us drill closer to shore, or in much of our on land oil reserves.

“After all, oil is a finite resource. We consume more than 20 percent of the world’s oil, but have less than 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves. And that’s part of the reason oil companies are drilling a mile beneath the surface of the ocean: because we’re running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water.”

No, we aren’t, as the USGS and MMS data show.  Seeing as they are part of your “team”, you really shouldn’t be saying things that are so easily proved wrong.

“For decades, we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered. For decades, we’ve talked and talked about the need to end America’s century-long addiction to fossil fuels. And for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires.”

And for decades, or technology has improved, allowing us to access more and more previously unrecoverable oil.

“Time and again, the path forward has been blocked, not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor.”

The only path that is being blocked is the path that says The Government™ gets to spend millions in taxpayer dollars developing “green” technologies of its choosing, once again deciding who will win and who will lose in an industry, and using the power of the public purse to make it so.  What is astonishing is that you really don’t expect us to see this for the incredible opportunity for graft and corruption that it is.

“The consequences of our inaction are now in plain sight. Countries like China are investing in clean-energy jobs and industries that should be right here in America. Each day, we send nearly $1 billion of our wealth to foreign countries for their oil. And today, as we look to the gulf, we see an entire way of life being threatened by a menacing cloud of black crude.”

Of course, the Chinese are also buying hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil, and the fact that they are clearly jockeying for blue water supremacy in the Pacific shouldn’t be cause for concern.  I’m sure our military aircraft will be powered by solar panels in the future.

“We cannot consign our children to this future. The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean-energy future is now. Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash America’s innovation and seize control of our own destiny.”

I agree.  Inexpensive, domestically controlled and produced energy will be vital to our future.  And we have those resources, but have been prevented for decades by conservationists and environmental wackjobs from making use of the incredible bounty that we sit atop.

“This is not some distant vision for America. The transition away from fossil fuels is going to take some time. But over the last year- and-a-half, we’ve already taken unprecedented action to jump-start the clean-energy industry.”

The transition from fossil fuels will take as long as it takes us to get to $7 a gallon gasoline.  Then the blackouts and prohibitive energy costs, and higher food prices can combine to winnow away the most vulnerable of us.  I’ll miss Granny, and the poor folks down the street, but the savings to Medicare and Medicaid should be tremendous!

And there’s the “unprecedented”.  I dare you to step in front of a microphone and NOT use this word when you are applying it to yourself or your administration, Mr. President.  If you could do that even just once, that would be unprecedented.

“As we speak, old factories are reopening to produce wind turbines, people are going back to work installing energy-efficient windows, and small businesses are making solar panels. Consumers are buying more efficient cars and trucks, and families are making their homes more energy-efficient. Scientists and researchers are discovering clean-energy technologies that someday will lead to entire new industries.

Each of us has a part to play in a new future that will benefit all of us. As we recover from this recession, the transition to clean energy has the potential to grow our economy and create millions of jobs, but only if we accelerate that transition, only if we seize the moment, and only if we rally together and act as one nation: workers and entrepreneurs, scientists and citizens, the public and private sectors.”

The public sector makes a dandy leech.  Not such a good innovator or wealth creator.

“You know, when I was a candidate for this office, I laid out a set of principles that would move our country towards energy independence. Last year, the House of Representatives acted on these principles by passing a strong and comprehensive energy and climate bill, a bill that finally makes clean energy the profitable kind of energy for America’s businesses.”

Demonstrating once again that there is a difficult gulf between the government declaring something, and it actually being reality.

“Now, there are costs associated with this transition, and there are some who believe that we can’t afford those costs right now. I say we can’t afford not to change how we produce and use energy, because the long-term costs to our economy, our national security, and our environment are far greater.”

Because making the most of our resources at the same time, rather than clinging to silly notions that solar panels alone will save us is just crazy.

“So I’m happy to look at other ideas and approaches from either party, as long as they seriously tackle our addiction to fossil fuels. Some have suggested raising efficiency standards in our buildings, like we did in our cars and trucks. Some believe we should set standards to ensure that more of our electricity comes from wind and solar power. Others wonder why the energy industry only spends a fraction of what the high-tech industry does on research and development, and want to rapidly boost our investments in such research and development.”

How dare we be “addicted” to our cars, air travel, shipping goods and food to stores where we can buy them, rather than having to grow them ourselves, and having heat and air conditioning.  How silly of us.

“All of these approaches have merit and deserve a fair hearing in the months ahead. But the one approach I will not accept is inaction. The one answer I will not settle for is the idea that this challenge is somehow too big and too difficult to meet.”

Yes, because fair hearings are important.  Unless I don’t want to hear it.  I won, you know.

And inaction is not acceptable.  I couldn’t stay in the Oval Office and do my job.  I heard about the spill, and I decided that inaction wouldn’t be good.  You’d be surprised how much better I felt after sinking some tough putts.

“You know, the same thing was said about our ability to produce enough planes and tanks in World War II. The same thing was said about our ability to harness the science and technology to land a man safely on the surface of the moon.”

No, it wasn’t.  Instead, they rolled up the sleeves, sharpened their pencils, got their slide rules clicking, and brought the P-51 Mustang from the drawing board to flight in less than a year.  We cranked out Liberty Ships and yards of ammunition, and we did it without bitching, whining, blaming other people, or doubting ourselves.  It wasn’t easy, but it was never impossible.  But it also wasn’t done by saying “Screw Petroleum.  I want a ray gun.” either.  But thanks for reminding us of the American Exceptionalism that you have been so eager to talk down at every opportunity.

“And yet, time and again, we have refused to settle for the paltry limits of conventional wisdom.”

Just conventional politicians. Like taxes and stupidity, they too, will always be with us.

“Instead, what has defined us as a nation since our founding is the capacity to shape our destiny, our determination to fight for the America we want for our children. Even if we’re unsure exactly what that looks like, even if we don’t yet precisely know how we’re going to get there, we know we’ll get there.”

I don’t want the same future you want for my children.  I don’t want them to settle for second best, a fading star in a world that hates and despises us.

“It’s a faith in the future that sustains us as a people. It is that same faith that sustains our neighbors in the gulf right now.

Each year, at the beginning of shrimping season, the region’s fishermen take part in a tradition that was brought to America long ago by fishing immigrants from Europe. It’s called “The Blessing of the Fleet,” and today it’s a celebration where clergy from different religions gather to say a prayer for the safety and success of the men and women who will soon head out to sea, some for weeks at a time.

The ceremony goes on in good times and in bad. It took place after Katrina, and it took place a few weeks ago, at the beginning of the most difficult season these fishermen have ever faced.

And still, they came and they prayed.

For as a priest and former fisherman once said of the tradition, “The blessing is not that God has promised to remove all obstacles and dangers. The blessing is that He is with us always,” a blessing that’s granted “even in the midst of the storm.””

Of course, hearing from the President who still hasn’t chosen a church more than a year into his presidency, but considered God a partner in the effort to ram through health care reform brings a grin to my face.

“The oil spill is not the last crisis America will face. This nation has known hard times before, and we will surely know them again. What sees us through — what has always seen us through — is our strength, our resilience, and our unyielding faith that something better awaits us if we summon the courage to reach for it.”

No, the biggest crisis we face is your continuing presidency.  But it is evidence that prayers are answered.  Jimmy Carter can sleep better knowing that he is no longer the worst President in recent memory.

“Tonight, we pray for that courage, we pray for the people of the gulf, and we pray that a hand may guide us through the storm towards a brighter day.”

I pray that someone in your administration can actually step up, and start doing what you should have been doing all along.

“Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.”

If only I could believe that you meant it.

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One Man, One Vote.

The bedrock of our republic?  Notsomuch.

Arthur Furano voted early — five days before Election Day. And he voted often, flipping the lever six times for his favorite candidate.

Furano cast multiple votes on the instructions of a federal judge and the U.S. Department of Justice as part of a new election system crafted to help boost Hispanic representation.

Voters in Port Chester, 25 miles northeast of New York City, are electing village trustees for the first time since the federal government alleged in 2006 that the existing election system was unfair. The election ends Tuesday and results are expected late Tuesday.

Although the village of about 30,000 residents is nearly half Hispanic, no Latino had ever been elected to any of the six trustee seats, which until now were chosen in a conventional at-large election. Most voters were white, and white candidates always won. [emphasis mine].

Federal Judge Stephen Robinson said that violated the Voting Rights Act, and he approved a remedy suggested by village officials: a system called cumulative voting, in which residents get six votes each to apportion as they wish among the candidates. He rejected a government proposal to break the village into six districts, including one that took in heavily Hispanic areas.

Brilliant!  Now when people don’t bother to show up to vote, we’ll still make sure that “they” have representation, because the government they couldn’t bother to elect still must look like them. 

When do we change the motto to reflect truth in advertising?

How will it be sold to us?

“From One, Many.”  Bringing Balkanization to our shores.

H/t to DPUD.

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