Posts Tagged ‘Gulf Oil Spill’
October 27th, 2010 at 10:01 pm
Obama’s Intellectual Shortcomings Revealed
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For reasons surpassing understanding, the White House seems to have decided that the immediate run-up to a catastrophic mid-term election is the time for a series of insider press portraits of an asphyxiating presidency. The latest such installment comes in a profile of White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs in the new issue of GQ. Buried among many gems in the piece is this new nugget about President Obama’s initial reaction to the Gulf Oil Spill:

No sooner had Obama publicly beheaded McChrystal that Wednesday than a fresh catastrophe crossed Gibbs’s desk: An undersea robotic vehicle in the Gulf had dislodged the containment cap on the BP well. Until the lid was reattached eleven hours later, a new torrent of oil spilled into the sea. Gibbs went back into the Oval to give Obama the news.

The president stared at Gibbs, stunned. “Well, why did it do that?” he demanded.

“Sir, we’re trying to find that out.”

“Gibbs,” Obama said, “your job the rest of the day is to make sure that one of those vehicles doesn’t do that again.”

Come again? Would that be the President of the United States telling his Press Secretary to take the lead on a underwater engineering project so complex that it befuddled the President’s Nobel laureate Secretary of Energy? What was Gibbs supposed to do? Draft an aggressive press release prohibiting any further disasters? We know this is the man who promised to stem the ocean’s rising tides, but perhaps Obama was taking the whole King Canute shtick a little too seriously.

August 21st, 2010 at 3:40 pm
Obama Administration Knowingly Killed Jobs with Drilling Ban

Here’s some fodder for your two minutes of hate, courtesy of the Obama White House:

Senior Obama administration officials concluded the federal moratorium on deepwater oil drilling would cost roughly 23,000 jobs, but went ahead with the ban because they didn’t trust the industry’s safety equipment and the government’s own inspection process, according to previously undisclosed documents.

Spanning more than 27,000 pages, they provide an unusually detailed look at the debate about how to respond to legal and political opposition to the moratorium.

They show the new top regulator or offshore oil exploration, Michael Bromwich, told Interior Secretary Ken Salazar that a six-month deepwater-drilling halt would result in “lost direct employment” affecting approximately 9,450 workers and “lost jobs from indirect and induced effects” affecting about 13,797 more. The July 10 memo cited an analysis by Mr. Bromwich’s agency that assumed direct employment on affected rigs would “resume normally once the rigs resume operations.

H/T: Wall Street Journal

August 9th, 2010 at 1:53 pm
First Lady’s Spanish Vacation Another Example of Obama Rookie Mistakes

Here they go again.  After a week’s worth of media beatings for taking an expensive vacation to Spain that is costing American taxpayers $75,000 a day (for the security detail), the folks running the Obama Administration still haven’t learned how to avoid self-inflicted PR nightmares.

Here’s a brief reminder:

  • Gifts of incompatible DVDs given to the British Prime Minister
  • Gift of an IPOD to the Queen of England filled with President Obama’s speeches
  • Conflicting directives from the White House Social Secretary that enabled the Salahis to gate crash a state dinner
  • Excruciatingly slow response to the Gulf Oil Disaster that made the president look impotent
  • Haphazard action plan thereafter that made him look incompetent
  • Continuing to host a series of expensive private parties at the White House during a severe economic downturn

All of these can be chalked up to a group of people who were not – and so far, are not – ready for prime time.  According to columnist Kirsten Powers, if this keeps up the limelight may not be shining much longer:

Some argue that Michelle should be able to travel wherever she wants if she’s paying for it herself. This is naive. She is the first lady at a time when Americans are experiencing great economic pain. There are endless great locations here at home that she could put on the map with a visit — American hotels and restaurants that would be grateful for the business generated by such a high-profile visitor.

If it’s a huge sacrifice for her, so be it. Sacrifice is actually a noble trait, last I checked.

Plus, if she keeps this up, she will be able to vacation anywhere she wants in about two years.

July 6th, 2010 at 10:25 am
Headline: “Obama Decried, Then Used, Some Bush Drilling Policies”
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Hypocrisy in a president is shameful enough.  But combining that hypocrisy with outright dishonesty is inexcusable.

Compare a front-page headline from today’s Wall Street Journal versus President Obama’s speech from the Oval Office regarding the Gulf oil spill.  In his June 15 speech, Obama descended into his usual habit of scapegoating the allegedly “deregulatory” Bush administration and falsely attempting to distinguish his own:

Over the last decade, [the federal Minerals Management Service] 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…  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…  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.”

But that’s not true.  According to a front-page report from today’s Wall Street Journal entitled “Obama Decried, Then Used, Some Bush Drilling Policies,” the Obama White House urged a federal court of appeals to reverse its environmental risk analysis and allow Gulf oil drilling to proceed:

Less than four months after President Barack Obama took office, his new administration received a forceful warning about the dangers of offshore drilling.  The alarm was rung by a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., which found that the government was unprepared for a major spill at sea…  Despite its pro-environment pledges, the Obama administration urged the court to revisit the decision.”

The appellate court did reverse its previous ruling, allowing more Gulf drilling to proceed.  That includes BP’s well.

Obama’s halting leadership style sows economic uncertainty at home and international menace abroad.  His increasing dishonesty, however, creates an even more disturbing spectre haunting the nation.

June 24th, 2010 at 4:49 pm
McCartney Still Bloviating; Elton John Still Surprisingly Brave
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Following on our observations last week about Paul McCartney’s shameless dig at former President Bush during a recent White House concert and Elton John’s brave decision to defy calls to boycott Israel (and Rush Limbaugh’s wedding), it seems the two British rockers are still showing their respective stripes.

In an interview in today’s edition of the British tabloid The Sun, McCartney puts the environmental left’s most poisonous arrow in his quiver:

The Beatles legend said: “Sadly we need disasters like this [the BP oil spill] to show people. Some people don’t believe in climate warming – like those who don’t believe there was a Holocaust.

We’ll leave it to Sir Paul to tell us exactly how an explosion on an oil rig is supposed to provide compelling proof of the reality of global warming.

A better example from amongst the knights of the realm comes from Sir Elton John. While Sir Elton has been known to wander off the sanity reservation from time to time (he famously blamed opposition to Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid on sexism and, on another occasion, fantasized about outlawing the Internet), his recent performance in Tel Aviv wasn’t the rocket man’s only principled stand in the region.  Just a few weeks before, Islamists in Morocco were calling for Elton to be banned from performing in Rabat at the country’s largest musical festival because of his homosexuality. Despite the threats, he refused to cancel his appearance. The audience reportedly ate it up.

At a time when Comedy Central curls into a ball everytime the jihad machine starts warming up, here’s to hoping for more stars with the courage of Elton John.

June 23rd, 2010 at 6:56 pm
Forget the Other 33 Oil Rigs, When Can We Get a Moratorium on the Deepwater Horizon Leak?

See if you can make sense of the following two paragraphs:

Tens of thousands of gallons more oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday after an undersea robot bumped a venting system, forcing BP to remove the cap that had been containing some of the crude.

The setback, yet another in the nine-week effort to stop the gusher, came as thick pools of oil washed up on Pensacola Beach in Florida and the Obama administration tried to figure out how to resurrect a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling. (Emphasis mine)

Why on this great blue marble of ours is the Obama Administration trying to force the shut-down of nearly three dozen properly working oil rigs when there are now tens of thousands more gallons of oil gushing into the Gulf from a totally different site?

Maybe it’s debatable whether a moratorium should be sought.  But how can it be that this seems to be the only solution the White House is willing to fight for when it could be doing a lot more good getting the federal bureaucracy to start helping state and local governments clean up the mess right now?  Is the Office of the President of the United States really this impotent?

June 21st, 2010 at 2:37 pm
Obama Administration’s Gross Lack of Discretion in Gulf Oil Spill

Typically, discretion isn’t a virtue associated with government; yet under the Obama Administration it’s being treated like a mortal sin.

The latest example comes in the aftermath of the president’s decision to impose a six-month moratorium on all deepwater (i.e. 500 feet or more below sea level) drilling.  The stated reason is to ensure that no other oil rigs accidentally blow up and gush more black crude into American waters.

But mandating stasis will do more than head-off a highly improbable second Gulf Oil Spill, says Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell.  In papers supporting a lawsuit against the moratorium, Caldwell is calling for a “balanced approach” response instead of the current policy that is “costing between $165 million and $330 million each month in lost wages for Louisiana jobs tied to the drilling,” according to the effected companies.

Caldwell argued that drilling can be safely resumed within 30 days if federal inspectors are permanently stationed on each rig. The inspectors would re-certify all blowout prevention equipment, enforce compliance with all drilling procedures, and ensure training of all rig personnel to industry standards, including any new safety recommendations made by the presidential commission.

“After confirming the correctness and preparedness of each rig and well design, these deepwater rigs should be permitted to resume work, and the Department of Interior should resume issuing permits,” Caldwell said in yesterday’s brief. Such a “balanced approach” would allow safe resumption of a vital portion of the state’s economy “without the necessity of shutting down an entire industry segment,” he said.

It is tragic that the Louisiana Attorney General has to point out this basic fact in federal court papers.  Like Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s recent decision to defy the Coast Guard after repeated attempts to go through the proper channels, we can assume that Caldwell is only doing this because previous informal requests went unanswered.

Only in a managerial labyrinth like the federal government could a common sense plan to address the real problems of deepwater drilling be ignored in favor of an across-the-board job killer like a half-year moratorium.

H/T: Bloomberg News

June 19th, 2010 at 3:37 pm
Profiles in Shallowness

With Day 60 of the Gulf Oil Spill now upon us, Mark Steyn provides a trenchant diagnosis of the mental state directing President Barack Obama’s approach to governing:

The UN, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Bono: these are the colors a progressive worldly westerner nails to his mast. You don’t need to go anywhere, or do anything: You just need to pick up the general groove, which you can do very easily at almost any college campus.

This Barack Obama did brilliantly. A man who speaks fewer languages than the famously moronic George W Bush, he has nevertheless grasped the essential lingo of the European transnationalist: Continental leaders strike attitudes rather than effect action – which is frankly beneath them.

BP’s demoted CEO Tony Hayward may be in hot water for attending a glitzy yacht race while oil continues to saturate the Gulf, but are his actions really that much different than Obama giving a national speech on the subject before turning his attention towards challenging Arizona’s immigration law?

June 18th, 2010 at 11:32 am
Pressure on Hillary to Challenge Obama?

With most of the 2012 presidential speculation focusing on the Republican side, it’s interesting to read Peggy Noonan publicly musing about the possibility of Democratic insiders pressuring the Secretary of State to challenge President Obama for the party’s nomination.

And yet, it makes sense.  Reality or not, Hillary Clinton creates the impression that she would be obsessively involved with a crisis like the Gulf Oil Spill.  Unlike Obama, it’s hard to imagine her projecting anything other than complete control of the situation.  She is, after all, the grade school student who wrote a sixty-page term paper, and who infamously crafted her version of “comprehensive health care” reform without troubling members of Congress for their input.

For all his pretensions at remaking America in his own Progressive image, President Obama shows startling apathy for the nitty gritty of governance.  Americans need nitty gritty right now.  We need someone to show us that despite all its inefficiencies, government can still be made to work when it is absolutely necessary.

For Democrats, the person most able to do it may be just off stage left.

June 16th, 2010 at 4:59 pm
California Gives the Lie to Obama’s Clean Energy Promises
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Why bother editorializing when — as lawyers and Romans would say — Res ipsa loquitur.

From President Obama’s Oval Office address last night:

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

Now, there are costs associated with this transition. And some believe 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.

From an article in today’s Ventura County Star about California’s draconian greenhouse gas regulations:

Californians need to acknowledge the full consequences of the state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and accept the reality “that the net result of green policies may be negative for the economy,” says a report released today by the California Lutheran University Center for Economic Research and Forecasting…

The report examines economic studies in Europe, where the movement toward green jobs began. It finds the government costs of subsidizing jobs in the renewable energy sector have been excessive.

“In Germany, as in Spain, there is considerable belief that the job creation afforded by investment in renewables has been more than offset by the impact of more expensive energy, which has slowed consumption and investment elsewhere in the economy,” the report says.

In the U.S., it says, “Even as energy prices have increased, the growth of green jobs has been slower than expected. The evidence shows that green jobs and the regulations needed to spur them are expensive and hurt the economy.”

So, Mr. President, how long-term were you thinking exactly?

More on the economic lunacy in my new column reviewing the President’s speech last night.

June 15th, 2010 at 5:53 pm
Florida Tries “Federalism” at the County Level

Political science purists would quibble with using the term federalism to describe a county government’s ability to declare itself able to act against the wishes of federal and state government…but who cares?

Certainly not the take-the-bull-by-horns types running Florida’s Okaloosa County.  With the Gulf Oil Spill threatening to damage the county’s Choctawhatchee Bay, supervisors “voted unanimously to give their emergency management team the power to take whatever action it deems necessary to prevent” that from happening.

That means the team, led by Public Safety Director Dino Villani, can take whatever action it sees fit to protect the pass without having its plans approved by state or federal authorities.

Commission chairman Wayne Harris said he and his fellow commissioners made their unanimous decision knowing full well they could be prosecuted for it.

“We made the decision legislatively to break the laws if necessary. We will do whatever it takes to protect our county’s waterways and we’re prepared to go to jail to do it,” he said.

Isn’t it instructive to see the relationship between a politician’s decisiveness and his proximity to the people most affected by the spill?  Maybe there is something to the idea that any activity that can be performed by a more decentralized entity should be.  If anything, the Obama Administration’s hunger for more centralized power over health care, the financial sector, and even the oil spill is showing the limits of so-called “comprehensive” solutions.

June 9th, 2010 at 9:40 pm
Unfulfillable Promises, Inevitable Disappointment
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With Barack Obama’s presidency at one of its undeniable low points, the commander-in-chief’s booster club in the beltway media is tying itself in knots attempting to locate blame anywhere but Pennsylvania Avenue.

The last time we saw the press corps engaged in this sort of intellectual yoga it was to push the notion that Obama’s “failures” were rooted in communication — that he was making prime rib arguments to a country that could only digest apple sauce. This line of reasoning has reached its apogee with Jonathan Alter’s recent hagiography of Obama, “The Promise: President Obama, Year One”, which practically drools over the president’s intellect and regularly laments the country’s refusal to comprehend the profundity of his liberal vision quest.

Lately, a new form of hand-wringing is taking center stage. It’s exemplified by journalists like the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, who writes on the Post’s Plum Line blog today:

… the Gulf oil spill may pose a serious threat to one of the most important aspects of Obama’s presidency: his effort to restore public confidence in government as competent, as a trustworthy agent of genuine and lasting reform.

Note Sargent’s peculiar phrasing, which frames the spill as a hurdle to Obama’s unified theory of government, not a refutation of it. Yet as Ron Fournier noted in an Associated Press column earlier this week:

While there were surely crises of faith during the Civil War, the Progressive Era and others times of tumult, the early 20th century was marked by a reflexive sense of trust in the nation’s institutions. Even as Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal vastly expanded the government safety net, a new breed of private charities and social reformers didn’t bother waiting on government to help the poor, infirm and abused.

But things started to change in the mid-20th century, when polls showed a steady decline on the question of whether Americans trusted government in Washington to do what is right.

From 1958, when more than 70 percent said they trusted government most or all of the time, the trend line steadily drops until it hits the mid-20s in the post-Watergate era.

Looking at those figures closely, it’s hard to miss the trend. As American government ballooned during the 20th century, the public progressively lost faith in it. The decline starts when the expansion of the welfare state begins to showcase government incompetence and compounds when Watergate adds malevolence to the mix. Could it be that Americans don’t trust the government because it has appropriated responsibilities it can’t fulfill?

Consider the functions that all but the most staunch libertarians believe government should be responsible for: defending the nation, collecting taxes, developing infrastructure, securing the border, delivering the mail. In these areas, the government is intermittently competent at best, but benefits some from the fact that its inefficiency isn’t being spotlighted by private-sector competition. When it steps over the line into smothering civil society, the evidence of government waste and stupidity becomes nearly impossible to deny.

Does President Obama have a growing problem with Americans’ faith in government? Yes. But the culprit is not the fates conspiring against him. Rather it’s the root of so many of his problems: he’s beginning to suffer the wages of making promises it’s impossible for him to keep.

June 2nd, 2010 at 7:25 pm
The Tides Are Turning on Obama

Ordinarily, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd refers to President Obama as Spock, as in the Star Trek Vulcan who lacked emotion.  Today, she passes on that appellation, but describes the same manner of dispassion that – if it continues – will likely prove to be the main reason this president serves only one term.

The oil won’t stop flowing, but the magic has.

Barack Obama is a guy who is accustomed to having stuff go right for him. He’s gotten a lot of breaks: two opponents in his U.S. Senate race in Illinois felled by personal scandals; a mismanaged presidential campaign by Hillary Clinton; an economic collapse that set the stage for a historic win, memorably described by the satiric Onion newspaper as “Black Man Given Nation’s Worst Job.”

Welcome to the big chair.  The frustration this president is supposedly feeling isn’t any different than a business owner dreaming of growth, but stifled by new regulations; or the family man trying to meet his responsibilities while attempting to make a profitable career transition.  There are two sides to the leadership coin: maintaining a vision, and overcoming obstacles to it.  Unlike a predecessor of his, Obama has “the vision thing.”  Too bad for the Gulf Coast, American economy, and Iranian democracy advocates that their problems are interpreted as annoyances to be minimized rather than challenges to be overcome.

How strange it is to watch a president lauded for his rhetorical prowess appear absolutely powerless to summon the will to roll up his sleeves and take charge of any crisis that occurs outside Washington, D.C.

May 27th, 2010 at 1:39 pm
Are Americans Pro-(Effective) Government?

That’s the point made by Daniel Henninger in today’s Wall Street Journal.

I would argue that the Reform wave building in the land is not antigovernment, but pro-government. When people call themselves Americans, Californians, New Yorkers, Illinoisans, Texans or, yes, New Jerseyans, they aren’t just talking about a place name, but a fought-for legal entity with a grand political history. Anger at Albany, Sacramento, Springfield, Trenton and Washington, D.C., isn’t antigovernment. It’s rightful rage at years of misgovernance.

I think Henninger’s argument is the best description of the anger roiling supporters and critics of the Obama Administration’s handling of the Gulf Oil Spill.  It may very be that there are limited options for “plugging the hole,” but the fact remains that people expect leaders to show they know how to prioritize problems, and work towards a solution.  Even James Carville is apoplectic at Obama’s seeming inability to do either during this crisis.

For the president who promised competence, we’re getting an awful lot of failing grades in Leadership 101.