Obama’s Awful Office Address

June 16, 2010

You know it was bad when Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews said it was bad. Of course, I’m sure that Olbermann at least was looking for Barack Obama to pull the severed head of BP CEO Tony Hayward from his desk drawer and intone, “This is what you get when you mess with me!” Anything less than that was bound to be disappointing.

But really, it was dreadful. Here’s the transcript, with extra added snark.

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 Qaeda wherever it exists. 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.

We know. Being President is hard.

On April 20th, an explosion ripped through BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, about forty 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 has never been a leak of this size at this depth, stopping it has tested the limits of human technology. That is 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.

In the face of this crisis, the Administration seems to have developed a verbal tic. It can’t stop mentioning that the Secretary of Energy is a Nobel prize-winning physicist. So what? That doesn’t mean that he has the foggiest notion about what to do in a situation such as the one we’re currently in. Bragging about your brain power is only good if it matters to the subject under discussion. When Dr. Chu wins a Nobel prize for stopping oil leaks, let me know.

As a result of these efforts, we have directed BP to mobilize additional equipment and technology.

All that Nobel Prize winning brainpower and they came up with: “BP should do more.”

In the coming days and weeks, these efforts should capture up to 90% of the oil leaking out of the well.

A risky statement since there’s really no way of knowing whether this is true or not. I hope he’s right.

This is until the company finishes drilling a relief well later in the summer that is expected to stop the leak completely.

Already, this oil spill is the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced. And unlike an earthquake or a hurricane, it is 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.

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.

There he goes again, getting all tough and leader-like. By now we all know that BP stands for British Petroleum. It also stands for British Pensioners, those perfectly innocent folks who have a lot of their life savings and pension accounts tied up in a stock that Obama seems determined to drive into the ground. Here’s a suggestion, Barry. Work with BP to solve this problem. They didn’t do it intentionally. It wasn’t an act of war. Solve the problem, then figure out if BP did anything wrong.

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.
First, the cleanup. From the very beginning of this crisis, the federal government has been in charge of the largest environmental cleanup effort in our nation’s history—an effort led by Admiral Thad Allen, who has almost forty years of experience responding to disasters. We now have nearly 30,000 personnel who are working across four states to contain and cleanup the oil. Thousands of ships and other vessels are responding in the Gulf. And I have 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, clean 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 five and a half million feet of boom has been laid across the water to block and absorb the approaching oil. We have approved the construction of new barrier islands in Louisiana to try and stop the oil before it reaches the shore, and we are working with Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida to implement creative approaches to their unique coastlines.

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.

This is all well and good, but Obama’s admission that things “will never be perfect” is ridiculous. Perfection was never expected. What was expected was a response that was timely and decisive. When the governor of Louisiana requests permission to build sand berms the answer is a simple “Yes,” not “We need to get an environmental study done first.” When the Jones Act is mentioned you issue a blanket waiver, you don’t whine that “nobody has asked us to do that.” The Federal Government is a bloated behemoth under the best of circumstances but in this case it’s acting like a beached whale that’s decided to learn to walk on land rather than go back out to sea.

But we have to recognize that despite our best efforts, oil has already caused damage to our coastline and its wildlife.

We’ve seen your best efforts? Really? Man, we are in trouble.

And sadly, no matter how effective our response becomes, there will be more oil and more damage before this siege is done. That’s why the second thing we’re focused on is the recovery and restoration of the Gulf Coast.

You know,

I love that folksy “You know.” He is a man of the people for sure.

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—

I have no doubt businesses are suffering, but how many times has Obama been to these restaurants for him to be able to tell, by personal observation, that they have fewer customers? A nit, I know. He’s being empathetic here (in his cold, reptilian manner) so I should cut him some slack.

even in areas where the beaches are not yet affected. I’ve talked to owners of shops and hotels who wonder when the tourists will start to come back.

They’re not actually wondering about that. They know the answer. “When the leak stops and the beaches and water are clean.”

The sadness and 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.

I refuse to let that happen.

Sorry, Barry, but unless you’re hiding a cape and tights under your suit, you are not actually capable of stopping this. It would have been so easy to forcefully say, “This will not happen” but then it wouldn’t serve his gargantuan ego.

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. 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.

And under whose legal authority will you do this? You don’t actually have the legal right to do this. The way you can accomplish this is only with BP’s full cooperation. BP may agree to it, but that doesn’t mean Obama can simply order it to be done. The suggestion that the government will somehow be more efficient at handling claims and paperwork is silly. What I can guarantee is that a lot more illegitimate claims will be processed.

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 has 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.

I make that commitment tonight. Earlier, I asked Ray Mabus, the Secretary of the Navy, a former governor of Mississippi, and a son of the Gulf, 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, conservation

What this problem needs is a Czar. One might ask what a former Secretary of the Navy knows about restoring the Gulf, but that kind of question just gets in the way.

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 was obviously not the case on 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. And so I have 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.

Thank God…a Commission! A National Commission, no less. Problem solved.

Already, I have issued a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling. 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 deepwater drilling to continue. And while I urge the Commission to complete its work as quickly as possible, I expect them to do that work thoroughly and impartially.

Of all the dumb things this Administration has done during this crisis, this is hands-down the dumbest. You know what the economically decimated Gulf region needs right now? For all those oil rig workers to be laid off for the next six months. And since this moratorium is not relegated to the Gulf, it means hundreds of thousands of newly unemployed oil rig workers. This is the equivalent of grounding all air traffic for six months because of a plane crash. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

One place we have 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. 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.

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 problems 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. His charge over the next few months is to build an organization that acts as the oil industry’s watchdog—not its partner.

It’s Bush’s fault.

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. After all, oil is a finite resource.

Drilling for oil entails greater risk? Than when? Is it riskier than it was thirty years ago? Twenty? Ten? Drilling for oil right now is the safest it has ever been, and not as safe as it will be ten years from now. That’s the way these things work, and this horrible accident doesn’t change that fact. The true risk here is when governments force the oil companies to drill in deep water. If this leak were in 500 feet of water instead of 5000 it would have been capped by now but the government, aided and abetted by the environmental lobby, keeps pushing the rigs further out. It is true that oil is finite, however. By most accounts we only have a few hundred more years worth of oil left. We better act now.

We consume more than 20% of the world’s oil, but have less than 2% 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.

Actually, that’s not why. It’s because people like you won’t let us drill on land and in shallow water. ANWR, anybody?

For decades, we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered. For decades, we have 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. 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.

But now I, Bravely Bold Sir Barry, will ride forth and be bravely bold!

The consequences of our inaction are now in plain sight. Countries like China are investing in clean energy jobs and industries that should be 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.

Is he actually suggesting that China…the country that banned cars from its capital during the 2008 Olympics because of the pollution is going to “go green” before us? The country that’s building coal plants at a staggering pace? Umm…I don’t think so. China’s probably got about thirty years before it catches up to where we are now.

We cannot consign our children to this future.

Standard Democrat talking point. Do it for the children. What? What can we do for the children? Here’s the windup…

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 American innovation and seize control of our own destiny.

This is not some distant vision for America. The transition away from fossil fuels will take some time, but over the last year and a half, we have already taken unprecedented action to jumpstart the clean energy industry. 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 will someday lead to entire new industries.

And here’s the pitch…

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 good, middle-class 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.

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.

That’s right. This entire speech was, in the end, a pitch for Cap and Trade, a proposal that wouldn’t do anything to limit our dependence on foreign oil but would absolutely destroy the coal industry and throw a whole lot of people out of work.

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.

So all of you people out there who are worried that your utility bills will skyrocket…well, you’re right. But if you’re not willing to bite that bullet for Barry’s awful agenda, you’re just a part of the problem.

So I am happy to look at other ideas and approaches from either party—

As long as either party doesn’t include ideas that won’t dramatically expand the size and scope of the Federal government.

as long 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.

All of these approaches have merit,

Acrtually, no they don’t. Obama thinks they have merit because they all have one thing in common: a massive increase of government.

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 too big and too difficult to meet. You see, 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.

Except that we knew how to make planes and tanks, and we knew how to build rockets. We have absolutely no idea how the “green agenda” is supposed to work. It’s all just pie-in-the-sky theorizing at this point.

And yet, time and again, we have refused to settle for the paltry limits of conventional wisdom. Instead, what has defined us as a nation since our founding is our 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 know precisely how to get there. We know we’ll get there.

It is 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.

What? By “fishing immigrants?” Were his speechwriters on a break?

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.”

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. 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. Thank you, God Bless You, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Now I’m sure there are Kool-Aid drinkers true believers out there who wept with joy at the rousing finale, but this speech was a mess. Instead of a ten minute speech where Obama came out and addressed the problem and reassured the public, we got a 20 minute campaign commercial for Cap and Trade with a few gratuitious shots at both George W. Bush and British Petroleum. It was, like almost everything this President does, a cheap political stunt.

The Round Up: Michelle Malkin’s syndicated column is about Obama’s fetish for Czars. Hot Air calls the speech “a disaster.” In America’s Newspaper of Record, Jonah Goldberg calls the speech a “gusher of presidential goo, while on National Review he points out what the real green energy is.”

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Bravely Bold Sir Barry

June 8, 2010

I love this. “I’m here to give permission for sand berms and to kick ass, and I’m all out of permission slips.”

“I was down there a month ago, before most of these talkin’ heads were even paying attention to the gulf. A month ago I was meeting with fishermen down there, standin’ in the rain talking about what a potential crisis this could be. and I don’t sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar, we talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick.”

How very butch. I can see the oil rushing to go back into the pipe from which it is spewing, threatened by the fear of the new, feisty Obama.

What I find especially revealing is that the President is congratulating himself for going down to the Gulf a month ago, before those “talkin’ heads.” He must have forgotten that the news coverage is now keeping track of the days like they did during the Iranian hostage crisis. So while Barry’s beating his chest and bragging about how he’s been on the case for the past 30 days, he’s forgotten that this crisis is now 50 days old.

His advisors have apparently told him he needs to show some emotion and some empathy, but that’s way too difficult to fake. What we’re left with is the least convincing display of toughness since Jimmy Carter beat up a killer rabbit.

Hot Air calls it pathetic. Guest blogging for Michelle Malkin, Doug Powers has the best line I’ve seen: “You ask for John Wayne, you get the Apple Dumpling Gang.”


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.


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