A Teachable Moment For Malia

May 30, 2010

This past Thursday, President Obama gave his first press conference in nearly a year and received a lot of questions about the Administration’s response to the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

In his typical style, the President managed to blame British Petroleum (correctly?), the Bush administration (incorrectly, but by now it’s a verbal tic), and to insist that he (the President) is on top of the entire situation and that he is in control of the response. To highlight the emotional gravity of the situation, he told the press corps how his daughter Malia came to him and asked “Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?

When I woke this morning and I’m shaving and Malia knocks on my bathroom door and she peeks in her head and she says, “Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?” Because I think everybody understands that when we are fouling the Earth like this, it has concrete implications not just for this generation, but for future generations.

I grew up in Hawaii where the ocean is sacred. And when you see birds flying around with oil all over their feathers and turtles dying, that doesn’t just speak to the immediate economic consequences of this; this speaks to how are we caring for this incredible bounty that we have.

And so sometimes when I hear folks down in Louisiana expressing frustrations, I may not always think that they’re (sic) comments are fair; on the other hand, I probably think to myself, these are folks who grew up fishing in these wetlands and seeing this as an integral part of who they are — and to see that messed up in this fashion would be infuriating.

So the thing that the American people need to understand is that not a day goes by where the federal government is not constantly thinking about how do we make sure that we minimize the damage on this, we close this thing down, we review what happened to make sure that it does not happen again.

I can certainly understand where Malia is coming from. Her father is the most powerful man in the world when you get right down to it, and she’s only 11 years old. But this was, as the President has been known to say, a “teachable moment” for his daughter, and for the President himself.

The oil spill in the Gulf is an environmental catastrophe. Oil is pouring out of a hole in the ocean floor and creating an enormous amount of damage to the immediate eco-system, as well as obliterating the livelihoods of those Gulf residents who make their living as fishermen. The financial cost of this will likely run into the billions, and the environmental impact is staggering. What President Obama needs to understand, and what he should have told Malia, is that there isn’t anything the Federal Government of the United States can do about it at this time.

That isn’t to say that the Federal Government plays no role here. In a very real sense, this is a defense of our nation and the Feds do play an important part. But when it comes to “plugging the hole,” the Federal Government, for all of its trillions of dollars and millions of employees, is useless. Unless the President can somehow recruit Aquaman to join the ranks of the Administration, the government is powerless when it comes to stopping the leak.

The Left keeps insisting that conservatives are saying that this is “Obama’s Katrina,” but I think most of that talk is coming from those who believe in an all-powerful government. Conservatives…at least the ones that I read and with whom I speak…understand that the oil leak is not Barack Obama’s fault and that the government is not responsible for plugging the leak. I assume that Barack Obama also knows this, which is why I find it so odd that he keeps insisting otherwise.

The Federal government’s role in all of this is to give whatever help it can to the Gulf states to prevent the oil from washing up on shore. That may mean using the Army Corps of Engineers to create sand berms that will act as a natural blockade. It may mean something else entirely. And this is where President Obama is, in fact, failing. When Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal said that he wanted to create sand berms he got held up in a Federal bureaucracy as the government told him that he could not build the barriers until they had completed an “environmental impact” assessment. Are they kidding? Millions of gallons of oil are heading towards the shore and we need to see if creating some sand bars might harm the environment? This is government at its worst: slow, ineffective, bound by red tape. Obama should tell Jindal that he has the green light to do whatever is effective and we’ll worry about the red tape later. “Need men? Here’s the National Guard. Need underwater help? Let’s bring in the Navy. Would a submarine be useful? Here you go.”

Short of providing that type of help, the simple truth remains that our government is not all-powerful. There are things that happen in this world that the government can not prevent, nor turn back. What happened on that oil rig was a horrible accident and maybe there are ways of preventing this type of accident from ever happening again. But there are no ways of preventing some other type of accident from happening. Accidents happen and sometimes people are to blame because they cut corners or were inattentive to warning signs. The time for determining whether British Petroleum is at fault for the accident, as distinct from being responsible for the effects, will come. In the meantime, Obama should tell his daughter that there are many aspects of life that the President simply can not control, that he is willing to give whatever help BP or the Gulf states need to stop this mess but that, in the end, he must leave the effort in the hands of those who have the skills to do the job. Yes, BP has failed so far, but we are in uncharted waters. When you need to stop an oil leak a mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, you need to call in those companies that have the knowledge of the subject and the equipment to do the work. The last people you should call are politicians.


Everybody Draw Mohammed Day

May 20, 2010

Today is “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.” Unfortunately, I can’t draw worth a darn, so I’ll be passing on this particular event. But that doesn’t mean I can’t post this:

For those curious, here’s a link to the movie Fitna. Memo to Eric Holder: You really should watch this.


What Last Night’s Elections Really Mean

May 19, 2010

The spinmeisters on all sides are out in force today with their ruminations on the meanings of last night’s elections, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t legitimate things we can take away from the results.

  • President Obama is now 0-for-4. Obama would be more than happy with Joe Sestak in the Senate, but it was Arlen Specter for whom the President stuck out his neck. When added to the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial elections from last year, and Scott Brown’s stunning upset in Massachusetts earlier this year, Obama has a perfect track record of supporting losers. It’s true that Obama distanced himself from Specter when it looked like Sestak would win the Pennsylvania primary, but his support for Specter was clear and strong, right down to offering Joe Sestak a job in order to get him to drop out of the race. Sestak’s win doesn’t hurt Obama, but it further points out that the President’s coattails are non-existent.
  • The Tea Party is a major player. In Kentucky the conservative son of libertarian Rep. Ron Paul, an eye doctor who had never run for public office, defeated the hand-picked GOP heir to Jim Bunning’s Senate seat. Trey Grayson had the support of almost every major Republican and is by all accounts a conservative. However, the Tea Party backed Rand Paul, who is more libertarian than Grayson but less libertarian than his father. The more conservative political neophyte beat the GOP favorite, and the reason is the Tea Party.
  • The special election doesn’t really tell us what the Democrat spinners are saying it tells us. The word on the street is that the Democrats are relieved that Democrat Mark Critz defeated Republican Tim Burns. The Dems feel that this bodes well for November, that the Republicans are not an unstoppable electoral machine. While they may be right about that, the special election for the seat formerly held by the late corruptocrat John Murtha isn’t exactly indicative of future results. For starters, it’s a heavily Democratic district, even though they tend to be Reagan Democrats. Secondly, there was a Democratic Senatorial Primary which naturally led more Dems to come out and vote than Republicans. Thirdly, that House seat had been the resting place of a Democratic derriere for almost 40 years. I think it would have been a major upset had Burns won, but the odds were stacked so heavily against him that it’s neither surprising nor a “lesson” that he lost. The fact that he came within shouting distance should be a warning for Dems.
  • Your Senate votes will count against you. Down in Arkansas, Blanche Lincoln learned that her votes for bailouts and Obamacare carried a price even among Democrats. A year ago Blanche Lincoln was considered a shoo-in to get re-elected in 2010. But that was before she vacillated on Obamacare, eventually voting in favor of bringing the bill to the Senate floor. Result: she failed to get 50% in the primary and now has to face a runoff election. She will probably win the runoff, but her Senate seat is now considered to be leaning Republican.
  • The “anti-incumbent” crowd are missing the point. There’s much talk about how the voters are fed up with “business as usual” in D.C. and how no incumbent is safe. Even Republicans are worried about this, as seen in the primary defeat of Republican Senator Bob Bennett in Utah. I think the “anti-incumbent” argument is more of an attempt at rationalization by politicians of both parties who are now being haunted by their previous votes. Bob Bennett did not lose in Utah because he was an incumbent. He lost because he voted for TARP and the bailout culture. Blanche Lincoln is not fighting for her political life because voters are sick of her face. She’s fighting because of her votes for bailouts and Obamacare. Arlen Specter did not lose because he’d been in his seat too long. He lost because he was rightly seen as a career opportunist who would do anything and say anything to keep his seat. Incumbency is not the problem. How you behaved in office is the problem. It is increasingly clear that on the major issues of the past few years—TARP, auto bailouts, bank bailouts, Obamacare—a vote in favor of more government and more spending is a vote against you in the election. Incumbents who can run on standing up to Leviathan have nothing to worry about.


Life Lessons From Iron Man 2?

May 18, 2010

I recently watched Iron Man 2 and while I didn’t think it was as good as the original, I did enjoy it for what it was: eye candy, with a much-appreciated conservative bent to it.

However, reading this harpy’s review from the inane drones at Ms. Magazine (yes, it’s still being published…surprised me, too) makes me want to see the movie again. And again. And again. And buy it on Pay-Per-View, DVD and Blu-Ray. And download the soundtrack. And buy presents for the director and screenwriters. And send cash to Robert Downey, Jr.

It must be extraordinarily difficult to be this humorless. I can’t wait for her deep thoughts on The A-Team.

H/T: Big Hollywood.


Pelosi: Follow Your Bliss, We’ll Pick Up The Tab

May 18, 2010

If there is a more idiotic statement by a politician this year than this gem from Nancy Pelosi, I’m not sure what it could possibly be. Sure, Eric Holder’s frantic dance around the words “radical Islam” are way, way up there, and almost anything Janet Napolitano says has to be considered to be in contention, but this one is a beaut.

We see it [Obamacare] as an entrepreneurial bill, a bill that says to someone, if you want to be creative and be a musician or whatever, you can leave your work, focus on your talent, your skill, your passion, your aspirations because you will have health care.

So here we have the Speaker Of The House telling people, and not for the first time, that if they want to quit their jobs and become rock stars that they should do it because the government will pick up the tab for their inevitable overdoses and stints in rehab.

I’ve always wanted to be a rock star. I’ve spent countless hours listening to music and imagining myself up there on the stage, jamming with Jimi, harmonizing with McCartney, swapping verses with Jagger. The only thing that’s been holding me back, aside from a profound lack of talent, was the fact that my health care is tied to my job. But now I feel like I can finally do it…I can finally tell my boss to take this job and shove it, because Nancy’s gonna pay for my doctor visits and I’m now free at last to play Giants Stadium.

Of course, I still have a mortgage to pay, and car payments to make, and these things might prove difficult while I’m practicing for the big gig. But I’m sure Nancy has a program for that, too. I need the time to settle down and write some tunes, so I’m afraid we’ll have to get those taxpaying chumps to chip in for the mortgage and car. Think of it as a rent party, and I’ll supply the music! You can’t put a price on the toe-tapping melodies I’ll be writing while you suckers pay for me.

Perhaps Nancy didn’t actually mean what she said. Even she’s not stupid enough to imagine that the economy of this country can flourish if we all quit our jobs in order to write epic poems. But once again we have a small glimpse into the Progressive mindset.

The concept goes back probably to the dawn of time and it’s expressed in a multitude of ways. Matthew Arnold, in Culture and Anarchy, critiqued the “exaggerated notion” of “the blessedness of doing as one likes.” Acid guru Timothy Leary exhorted the youth of a nation of to “Turn on, tune in, drop out” of society. The hippies tried to built a society on the premise of “If it feels good, do it.” Mythologist Joseph Campbell smiled benignly at Bill Moyers and dropped the malignant line, “Follow your bliss.” Every day people will say the seemingly innocuous “Follow your heart” or “Listen to what your heart says.” Oprah Winfrey built a media empire telling people to follow their hearts.

The belief is that somehow what your heart wants you to do is purer, and a source for greater happiness. The truth is just the opposite. In the real world, your heart tells you to do what feels good. Your head, on the other hand, tells you to do what is good. While doing what is good usually feels good in the long run, we live in an age of instant gratification and far too many people have no desire to wait for the long run to play itself out. They want to feel good right now, and one of the lures of liberalism is that it promises that what you do will make you feel good. It’s not called “bleeding heart” liberalism by accident.

Liberalism promises you the moral high ground. Liberalism tells you that you are a better person than conservatives because you care. Liberalism offers a way to express concern and help others, but almost never looks at the end result. Liberalism is concerned with doing what feels good to the liberal. Long-term results are unimportant when measured against the demands of the here and now. Many of the liberal policies that have acted as a cancer on our rights, freedoms, and prosperity, from welfare to Obamacare, were conceived with good intentions, but the hideous blind spot of failing to look further down the road has led to untold damage to our nation.

The old Jewish proverb from Maimonides that if “you give a man a fish he will eat for a day; if you teach a man to fish he will eat for a lifetime” is turned on its head by contemporary liberalism. Liberals feel good about themselves when they hand out fish, and their solution to ongoing problems is to hand out ever increasing amounts of fish. The more fish they hand out, the more they feel that they are helping, the more they feel that they care, and the better they feel about themselves. This is the entire concept behind the welfare state.

When you consider this, you start to understand why Nancy Pelosi believes that it’s perfectly okay to leave your job to focus on your dreams. It feels good, so do it. Any potential consequences are unimportant, secondary to the greater good of feeling positive about yourself. It’s why liberals think it’s important to teach “self-esteem” in schools.

It is this moral blind spot of many liberals combined with the libido dominandi of liberalism’s more despotic cousin, Leftism, that has led America down the path we are currently traveling. I believe that America can pull itself off the track we’re on. I believe there’s almost nothing Obama and Pelosi can do that can’t be undone, but it will be a difficult job and there will be no small amount of pain. Liberals believe that the pain is not worth it; better to continue going down this road, and mask the pain with more government handouts and taxpayer-subsidized goodies. “Here, have another fish.”

But then, liberals aren’t really all that interested in where this road ends, as long as they get to continue to drive.


Andrew Klavan Explains It All For You

May 7, 2010

Nice and concise.

H/T: National Review.


Comprehending Reform

May 5, 2010

A quick Google search this morning of the phrase “comprehensive immigration reform” turned up more than half a million hits. A similar search for “comprehensive health care reform” showed well over a million hits. The term “comprehensive (blank) reform” is pervasive on the news and in Washington. It seems that no issue can be tackled without some sort of reform that is geared towards fundamentally changing the entire system.

And that, in a nutshell, is the problem.

It’s time we strike down the notion of comprehensive reform. The recent health care debacle is proof that the notion of comprehensive reform is foolish and arrogant. “We need to pass the bill,” said Nancy Pelosi, “to see what’s in it.” When politicians start blathering on about the need for comprehensive reform we end up with bills that are thousands of pages long, not written by legislators, not read by legislators, and not understood by legislators. These same bills are not read or understood by the American citizen, either.

But the fact that Congress didn’t write, read, or understand the health care bill didn’t stop it from becoming the health care law. And now we see the real cost of it all: increased spending, increased deficits, increased premiums, less access for senior citizens. The “comprehensive” cure has made the problem so much worse, sparking cries for a total repeal.

But repealing health care will be difficult. Why? Because the Democrats in Congress are so busy patting themselves on the back for their comprehensive fix that they can’t (or won’t) see that their best intentions have only made matters worse.

The idea of “comprehensive reform” is supremely arrogant. It assumes that Congress is so well-informed on the issue at hand that they can see every problem, project any and all future problems, and then correct all of these problems in a single, bold stroke. But in the end the reality is that a bunch of half-informed political hacks are trying to repair a leaky lifeboat by firing a bazooka at the leak. Behold the omniscient, all-powerful Congress and their God-like powers!

What we need is to change the game plan. Instead of relying on Hail Mary passes that almost never work, we should be using the short pass. Instead of trying to fix all the problems at the same time under an avalanche of rules and regulations, we should address each of the problems with a separate bill. There is no need to try to fix everything at the same time. Each law that Congress passes is, in effect, an experiment. We can theorize, but never really know the long-term effects of these bills. What we should be doing is passing a small bill, that is easily read and understood. Then let’s see what the effects of that bill are. Is it working? Great! Now let’s address another problem with an equally small bill and see if that works.

This is a much slower way to solve a problem, but it’s a better way of making sure that the solution doesn’t create a host of new problems. Instead of a 2000+ page comprehensive health care reform bill that nobody understood, we should have passed a simple bill expanding Health Savings Accounts, followed it with an equally simple bill allowing consumers to buy insurance across state lines and personalize their own policies, and then another simple bill for tort reform, etc. By making the bills smaller, you are making them more transparent. Only masochists will go online to read thousands of pages of legal mumbo jumbo, but if the bill was only a hundred pages long and written in a manner that is clearly understood…well, I can’t help but think that more citizens might be inclined to really see what their elected officials are up to. This would also make it more difficult for Congress to attach sweetheart deals to the bills because those deals would no longer be lost in the tar pit of modern legislation. Good for America, bad for a lot of incumbents.


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