Tag: Barack Obama (Page 1 of 3)

Is President Obama a Low Information Voter?

With the latest revelation of the NSA spying on foreign leaders comes a now familiar response from the White House: President Obama knew nothing about it. As with the Fast and Furious scandal, the IRS harassing Tea Party groups, the reaction to the Benghazi attack, and the collapse of the ObamaCare website, are we to believe that the President was neither briefed nor inquired about any of these subjects? True, plausible deniability is a long established tradition in DC, as is covering one’s backside by pleading ignorance, but what if this is actually true?

A President is an executive with a literally (as VP Joe Biden would say) a million irons in the fire. He relies on his Secretaries to manage their departments, to pursue his policy objectives and keep him informed on their progress. What does it say about the President that he seemingly learns of every major development in his administration from the front page of the New York Times? President Obama is an intelligent man, but this would indicate a stunning lack of curiosity, as well as an alarming indifference to the responsibilities of the office.

How to explain the total lack of involvement in the debut of the ObamaCare website? This is the self-proclaimed signature achievement of his Presidency, yet he was by all indications completely unaware of the program’s progress as the website’s October 1st roll-out day approached. During the run-up to the government shutdown, he drew a red line ruling out any delay in implementing ObamaCare; now the disastrous performance of the website will likely force him to accept a considerable delay.

Pundits have noted Obama’s preference of campaigning over governing, and a propensity to consider a positive headline as a good, if not better, outcome to a problem than an actual solution. Syria comes to mind as a perfect example: the civil war goes on, thousands of Syrians are still dying, but the media is now focused on the work being done to inspect chemical weapons stockpiles. Of course, these are only the chemical weapons that the Assad regime has volunteered to report, and none are being destroyed as of yet, and one suspects that such weapons will inevitably be used again in the conflict, but now that the media is not active in demanding action, it is off his plate.

Obama’s winning margin in 2012 depended heavily on getting the low information voter to cast a ballot for him. The low information voter is not stupid, but they just have better things to do than worry about the governance of the nation. There are the demands of family, and work, and the distraction of sports; they just don’t have the time for current events other than a headline here or a sound bite there; only a general impression of the overall media reporting actually gets through to them.

With the demands of taking care of Michelle and the kids, all the travel for fund-raising speeches, and working on lowering his golf handicap, Barack Obama simply doesn’t have the time or the interest for all the details of actively managing the federal government. It’s time to admit it: we’ve elected a low information voter to the Presidency.

Pres. Obama, America’s Wounded Race Relations Need Healing, Not a Fresh Dose of Salt | Commentary

Pres. Barack Obama is being a poor father.

That statement deserves some clarification.

On a personal level, Obama is, by all accounts, a caring, protective and nurturing father to his two daughters.

But in a presidential sense, through his comments in the volatile aftermath of the trial of George Zimmerman (and in his prolonged politicization of the Sandy Hook massacre taking full advantage of the emotional state of grieving victims) Obama is being a very lousy dad to the country.

In a family structure that has endured for eons, a father’s role is to convert chaos to order and to shape their children’s values by delivering life lessons, and paternal affection is less important than discompassionate – sometimes uncomfortable – truth.

Not to say that Americans cannot function without guidance from the President, but the occupant of the Oval Office projects an undeniable aura of influence in times of crisis. The question is whether his influence will be benign or will motivate positive or negative change.

In Obama’s Zimmerman-related remarks to the White House Press Corps on Friday, a casual and unplanned chat in which he emphasized his belief that African-Americans routinely receive unfair treatment and that slain young black man Trayvon Martin “could have been [him] 35 years ago,” the President opted against encouraging reasonable dialogue, choosing instead to fuel old smoldering grievances at a time when emotions are already running high.

Tragedy opens our soul’s door to grief and we struggle to exorcise grief in order to return to a normal and happy existence. There is plenty of grief to go around in Central Florida.

The loss to Martin’s family of a loved one is real. There is no getting around the fact that they are suffering.

Acceptance in this case would be allowing society to reach an understanding that a tragedy occurred, and the jury’s acquittal of Zimmerman is not the same as denying that one did. Though the jury sided with Zimmerman’s defense attorneys who made the case that Martin attacked Zimmerman and precipitated the events that followed, Martin’s death is still a terrible outcome.

Although Martin’s friends and family are saturated in anger and pain, does an increase in racial tensions help them to quell that pain? Do inflamed race relations and hyping interracial fears advance the interests of other African-Americans seeking a safe, productive world in which to live and raise their families? Does it benefit the millions of Americans of white, Hispanic and Latin ancestry who are now painted with the same broad brush of racism used to smear Zimmerman?

The grief of all involved is a process and denial, anger, bargaining, and depression, all are destinations and departure points on a road to acceptance. Society finds common ground far more readily after a traumatic event by finding acceptance than lingering in anger. We need to get there, and sooner rather than later.

Obama impulse to short-circuit our national grieving process by agitating keeps the entire stuck in a state of arrested social development. Most sadly, by painting a picture of a nation dominated by anti-black racism he offers no hope to blacks for a better future, only an endless struggle against white society.

Obama’s comments heighten interracial tensions create an ever more fictional narrative contrasted with the reality that most of us experience in our day-to-day interactions – there is harmony among people of different races and backgrounds that defies the mischief-inviting spin put out of the Al Sharptons, Jesse Jacksons, Eric Holders and Obamas of our culture.

Still, Obama’s comments will be used as justification by many to avoid burying a legacy of generational hatred. They only serve to escalate tension within the black community for negligible political gain with the potential of inflicting a high cost of society.

[featured image used under Creative Commons license, credit: DonkeyHotey]

Word to the AP: Dr. Frankenstein, Say Hello to Your Monster

Dear Members of the Associated Press, you should have known this would happen. Just as in every classic monster movie, the creature’s creator is destined to meet a violent end at the hands of their creation.

In the current real-life horror show (Jim Geraghty at National Review Online has a good inventory of the scandalous acts — admitted and alleged — of the Obama administration), the AP now finds itself in the grip of a behemoth that it lovingly fed and nurtured to maturity. By giving controversies involving Obama’s enemies ample exposure (the out-of-context media feeding frenzy regarding Romney’s careless “47 percent” remark is a notable example), while either ignoring or giving the equivalent of a princess wave to potential corruption within the Obama administration, the AP and others sent a clear signal to the Executive Branch that it need not worry about facing scrutiny.

Now, like the doomed Dr. Frankenstein who was blinded by the belief that his creation was needed to save humanity and advance the cause of science — (Hmmm, is that similar to the subtle press narrative swaddling Pres. Obama since his first presidential campaign?) — the AP and others are learning a lesson in what happens when journalists forget that a free society relies on the press to be a menacing watchdog against all abuses of power, not a nursemaid to the creation of a political prodigy.

Because voters only have a say every several years in terms of weeding out the good from the bad among those elected to high office, in the meantime, the press are given freedom in order to pose a credible deterrent to abuses of power. Reporters mind the cage containing a government that is capable of immense power. In an ideal world, journalists should react prudently but aggressively to any reach by government through the bars of its cage, a containment strategy that starts with rigidly delivering public floggings to politicians who overreach. What we have seen thus far from the Obama Era press has been far from that ideal.

In that sense, the AP must admit some responsibility for Obama’s administration full metamorphosis into the power-drunk organization it appears to be today, because its birth was aided in no small manner by the stupendous lack of interest of reporters in the AP and elsewhere in covering a pattern of questionable behavior. Before the current scandals over the Justice Department monitoring of AP phones, the building reality that the White House actively deceived the public on Benghazi, the admission that the IRS singled out conservative groups for bureaucratic bullying, even before Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ Obamacare slush fund (the weight of all the other scandals seems to have pushed that one between the sofa cushions) there were other signs that perhaps Team Obama was something other than a gaggle of angels.

One only needs to peruse the pages of the Obama Scandalpedia (we’ve put ours in a three-ring binder to make adding entries easier) to recognize that the White House has been testing its boundaries for some time without even a growl from the watchdogs at AP and elsewhere in the press. A couple of entries to refresh your memory:

  • AF1Only a few weeks after Obama’s first-term inauguration, his White House initially stonewalled requests for information about an unannounced, low-level flyover of downtown New York City by “Air Force One.” Subsequent documents released indicate no red flags were raised inside the White House about the downsides of joyriding the president’s airlift over the heads of NYC residents still reeling from the devastating terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

If there is a silver lining, it may be that the serious abuse of government power to monitor the press — a transgression of foundational principle on which the entire burden of a free society is supported — will ensure that, at least in the near-term, there will not be much that slips past the watchdog without a great deal of growling, barking, and flashing of teeth.

Yes, Benghazi Matters.

Despite any talk to the contrary, Benghazi matters.

All the President’s men and a hurricane force spin machine are feverishly working to protect former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential hopes, urging the public to interpret Wednesday’s congressional testimony by high-level career State Department diplomats and security personnel as part of an effort by Republicans to “politicize” a non-event.

[pullquote align=”right”]The questions themselves concern constitutional duties that have no partisan distinction. After all, there aren’t two Article IIs in the Constitution, one for Democrats and another for Republicans…[/pullquote]White House spokesman Jay Carney has suggested the 8-month-old Benghazi incident be regarded as “ancient history.”

But disposing of Benghazi is not so easy. The Benghazi affair is not a sex scandal, or an affair involving personal financial dealings, or even political intrigue about partisan and divisive policy goals. Middle America has a three-stage reaction to those kinds of blatantly partisan mudfests – shock (immersion in obsessive media coverage), talk (sharing of outrage with friends and co-workers) and yawn (for example, Sanford’s mistress was sooo yesterday).

But in order for the efforts by Democratic shepherds to prod journalists and the public to move along – “nothing to see here” – they must overcome five looming realities that are not grounded in politics, but in national security.

  1. On Sept. 11, 2012, the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya was attacked by more than 100 heavily-armed Islamist militiamen.
  2. High-ranking State Department personnel testified Wednesday that the last person to speak with Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, state department foreign service officer Greg Hicks, personally briefed Clinton by phone at 2 A.M. Benghazi time and described the attackers as “terrorists.”
  3. No order was given to send armed reinforcements to extricate the U.S. personnel from the embattled consular compound. (Testimony given Wednesday reaffirmed the possibility that a request for support was made and denied.)
  4. Four U.S. government personnel, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, were killed in the attacks.
  5. In the days after the attacks, United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, Pres. Barack Obama and other administration officials made repeated statements claiming or implying the attacks grew out of a spontaneous demonstration relating to an anti-Islamic film.

Learning everything about what happened in Benghazi is no more a political exercise than was the work of the blue ribbon 9/11 Commission convened after the horrific terrorist attacks of 2001. The current case, though not politically-motivated, could have devastating political consequences. The questions asked in today’s hearings concern constitutional duties that have no partisan distinction. After all, there aren’t two Article IIs in the Constitution, one for Democrats and another for Republicans, and while the actions of high-level Democratic officials are undeniably the focus of scrutiny, the controversy is over whether the Pres. Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and his senior advisors took seriously enough an attack against U.S. property and personnel, and if not, whether they sought to disguise their failure in a costume of lies.

Still, one can hear the hypnotic chant from a partisan chorus of naysayers and down-players, an echo of Clinton’s feisty retort from House hearings on the matter last year: “What difference does it make!”

Why is it important to get all of the facts about how Clinton and other officials in the Obama administration responded to the Benghazi attack? For one reason, because we are still at war; we require leaders who are able to acknowledge and respond to the threat.

In the early hours of the attack, Hicks described the attackers as “terrorists” during his 2 A.M. phone briefing to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Days later, when the bodies of the dead arrived at Andrews Air Force Base, Clinton was on hand to offer a promise of vengeance to Charles Woods, father Ty Woods, a former Navy SEAL also killed in the Benghazi attack. Clinton assured him that the U.S. government would “make sure that the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted,” parroting the story told to the media by former United States ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice.

Meanwhile, the actual war against Islamist elements raged on.

Diplomats and overseas personnel, soldiers, sailors and airmen, are each taking risks as part of a global mission to protect American interests. They do not expect a risk-free workplace, only that when those same American interests are attacked, the decision-makers in Washington, D.C. will be equal partners in the overall mission. From what we have learned about Benghazi, the Obama administration was not.

Yes, Benghazi matters. Benghazi matters a great deal.

Obama Budget Burdens Average Household with $200K in Federal Debt, Republicans Say

The FY2013 budget proposed by Pres. Barack Obama will increase the average U.S. household share of the federal debt to almost $200,000 by the year 2022, an amount likely to surpass the average household’s net worth over time, according to economic survey data and new projections released today by Senate Budget Committee Republicans.

Based on the numbers in Obama’s new budget proposal, 10 more years of planned deficit spending are projected to create a federal tax burden for the average American household of $195,000.

These new projections for accelerated debt expansion prompt a symbolic question with serious implications: If the average American family was required to cover their portion of the federal debt, would they be driven into bankruptcy based on their net worth?

The search for an answer to that question offers a sobering look at the degree to which taxpayers are heavily burdened by the federal government’s obligations.

The Federal Reserve collects information about household finances and the most recent data from 2009—in the wake of the climax of the banking and finance collapse of 2008—found the average U.S. household net worth to be $96,000. Also in 2009—the year of the first stimulus package—gross federal debt stood nearly $100,000 per household, a figure that has continued to grow while the economy continues to drag. If substitute the term “assets” for household net worth and “liabilities” for gross federal debt per household, another term emerges from the fiscal lexicon: Bankruptcy.

Since 2009, gross federal debt has continued increased along with spending, hence the warning from Republicans that the Obama administration’s newest plan for more deficit spending piles on a new layer of debt for future generations.

With the current household share of federal debt hovering near $130,000, and a projected acceleration of that debt load to $195,000, can American families build net worth fast enough in the next 10 years to keep from being ‘bankrupted’ by government debt? Recent history provides cause for skepticism.

Between 1998 and 2007—on average, a bullish 10-year period for average Americans—U.S. Census data shows that U.S. households experienced in an increase in net worth of almost 25 percent.  If net worth grew were able to grow at that rate again, it would only rise to $120,000 for the average household by 2022, a figure that falls far short of the $195,000 debt figure.

In this way of looking at our debt, in order to get one step ahead of its share of the federal debt, an average U.S. household will need to double its net worth by 2022 if the Obama administration’s budget were to be authorized.

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) described the potential ramifications of the Democrats’ tax and spend policies in the weekly Republican address this past Saturday:

If we keep on going like this, the consequences will be devastating. As we’ve learned from Greece and the European Union, no country can escape the costs of big government policies forever. The president’s budget isn’t a blueprint for America – it’s a roadmap to Greece.

[Watch the complete video of McMorris Rodgers’ address here.]

In an op-ed published in The Washington Post this weekend, Republican budget hawks Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) also argued for a sounder fiscal strategy and suggested there is bipartisan support for a better budget solution:

[We] refuse to accept the diminished future outlined by President Obama’s budget. A growing bipartisan consensus recognizes the core elements our country needs: responsible spending restraint; a repaired safety net; reforms that ensure real health and retirement security; and a simplified tax code oriented toward growth.


Obama’s Class Warfare Rhetoric Changes the Subject, Can Not Change the Economy | Op-Ed

President Obama did not cause our current economic crisis. He was, however, elected to fix it and has instead made it much worse. President Obama continues to try and change the subject by pitting the American people against one another.

When President Obama delivered his third State of the Union address he predictably recycled his same old rhetoric. He continued to use his trademark broad themes of “change” and class warfare. President Obama’s remarks were simply a campaign speech designed to distract the American people from his failed policies by using the politics of envy and division.

He talked about solving our economic problems by raising taxes on the “wealthy,” but offered few real solutions to the economic problems we face. It was frustrating that the he said so little about spending reduction, and virtually nothing about entitlement reform.

We continued to see more examples of the President’s rhetoric not matching up with his record. When President Obama talked about creating jobs he said: “During the Great Depression, America built the Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge. After World War II, we connected our states with a system of highways. Democratic and Republican administrations invested in great projects that benefited everybody, from the workers who built them to the businesses that still use them today. In the next few weeks, I will sign an executive order clearing away the red tape that slows down too many construction projects.

If this is truly part of his plan for job creation how does he explain his opposition to the Keystone Pipeline?  Keystone is not only a significant job creator but critical to American energy security. President Obama’s speech was just more empty platitudes to distract us from the facts of his job destroying record. His lack of support for the Keystone Pipeline is a prime example of how he is intentionally disregarding the fundamentals that drive our economy in the pursuit of his failed economic policies and misguided environmental agenda.

The President also spoke of his pursuit of “fairness.” The President confuses his misguided desire to make everything in society even with “fairness.” Fairness is about giving everyone the same opportunity, not the same result.

Is it fair to penalize and discourage success and innovation through increased taxes and excessive regulation on business? Is it fair to our children and grandchildren to add trillions of dollars to our already unmanageable national debt? Is it fair to subsidize some companies with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, while seeking to increase tax on others?

President Obama was elected to fix our economic crisis but his record speaks for itself:


President Obama’s policies of more spending, more taxes and more regulations are not working. He can try to change the subject, he can try to insight class warfare but this year’s election is going to be a referendum on his economic record.

President Obama has failed to improve the economy — in fact, his actions have made it worse.


[photo credit: DonkeyHotey]


Senator Sessions: While Obama Avoids Responsible Budgeting, States Have Already Begun to Cut

Courtesy: Senate Budget Comm. Republicans; click for larger image

[This article has been updated with a response from Sen. Sessions to the State of the Union speech, delivered to the media shortly on Tuesday night. Jump to Sen. Sessions’ remarks.]

As Pres. Barack Obama prepared to address the nation and advocate a new wave of increases in federal government spending in the midst of an economic crisis, state governments are already taking a more responsible approach to reining in budgets, according to an analysis released today by Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee.

Over the past two years, on average states cuts government spending by 10% while federal government spending surged upward by 16%. The trend to cut spending at the state level is not partisan, either, the report maintains. Republican governors cut spending by an average of 12% compared to 8% in states with Democratic chief executives.

Senate Budget Committee ranking Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) has been vigilantly keeping a hawk’s eye over the President’s fiscal behavior since being appointed to the committee last year and today suggested in a USA Todayop-ed that the consequences of Obama’s continued irresponsible budgeting could be dire for the majority of Americans.

Courtesy: Senate Budget Comm. Republicans; click to view larger image

Sessions points to a stunning benchmark that is unlikely to appear on White House communications concerning tonight’s speech – 1,000 days since the U.S. Senate last created a budget plan – as evidence that the plight of the middle class may be a talking point in the President’s speeches, but has not been a priority in his marching orders to the Democrat-led upper chamber. From the USA Today piece:

“In the absence of difficult, necessary, long-term reform, we have instead seen a non-stop cycle of short-term stimulus that drives up the debt. …

For American households, median income fell to $49,445 in 2010. Adjusted for inflation, this is a level not seen since 1996. Middle-class income has declined 7% over the past 10 years, while total federal spending has nearly doubled.”

Sessions also identifies the Democrats’ health care law as perhaps the most pressing threat to the middle class:

“President Obama’s health law only adds to the pain. It will grow the debt by $700 billion over 10 years and, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, result in the loss of 800,000 jobs. …

The president says it’s a ‘make-or-break moment for the middle class.’ That is surely correct. The question is, will the president now set aside the policies that have damaged the middle class while expanding the government? Will he aggressively pursue policies that will actually reduce debt and create good jobs in the private sector?”


UPDATE: Sen. Sessions delivered the following statement to the press following the President’s speech:

“It was stunning how thoroughly and deliberately the president ignored the ominous threat hanging over this country—our surging $15 trillion debt. I stand ready, eager, and willing to work with the president on a real, honest agenda of government reform, but unfortunately, tonight’s speech was more campaign plan than reform plan. America is in stormy waters, but instead of mapping a course to calmer seas, the president is already focused on his next voyage.

President Obama has again crowned himself the champion of the middle class, but from his perch in Washington he cannot see that by growing the government he is actually shrinking the middle class. Who has received the benefit from the nearly $5 trillion he’s added to the debt—middle class Americans whose wages are falling, or political class elites with power and influence? When power centralizes in Washington, those with the most access—like Warren Buffett—stand to make the most profit.

The president talks of energy production, but he remains wedded to policies that have given billions to companies like Solyndra while blocking good-paying private sector jobs such as those that would have been created through the Keystone pipeline. He talks of standing up for American manufacturing, but despite encouraging talk on confronting China, he has yet to follow through, or to untie the endless red tape that is undermining our ability to compete. He talks about ‘fairness,’ but his health law has been a hammer blow to working Americans, with the average family of four watching their health expenditures rise at year’s end $2,400 from the day the law was passed. He talks about tax reform, but instead of delivering a bold growth plan he calls for tax hikes that will only bail out the big spenders.

I was disappointed that the president’s speech made no commitment to achieving meaningful deficit reduction beyond that which was enacted last year. Experts agree that $4 trillion in savings is a minimum—with almost $45 trillion in projected spending over the next 10 years, surely we can now achieve at least another $2 trillion in spending cuts. But it appears that the president believes about roughly $2 trillion in savings against as much as a $13 trillion projected debt increase represents the total cuts that are needed. Meanwhile, instead of using the overseas drawdown to reduce our enormous borrowing, the president plans to use half of it as new spending.

While long on generalities, the plan described in his speech doesn’t change the nation’s dangerously unsustainable debt path. He proposes no real action to put Social Security and Medicare on sound footing, or to reform the often overlooked $800 billion in other entitlement spending—including $700 billion in federal welfare spending—which hasn’t been seriously addressed in years.

Most fundamentally, the president did not rise to the moment in facing the great challenge of our time. In this, perhaps his last chance to rally the public behind needed fiscal reform, he once again failed to look the American people in the eye and tell them truth about America’s enormous debt and the depth of change we need. One cannot make a nation ‘built to last’ on borrowed money.”


Big Green Disappointment

I have a confession to make.  Like tens of millions of other Americans, I believe in green energy. I know that most people don’t believe conservatives think this way, but plenty of us do. I believe in a future with clean, renewable and sustainable energy powering our world, and I believe we need to work towards that immediately and urgently.  I also believe we should drill for oil domestically, build natural gas pipelines, mine for coal, and use hydropower.  (Who can believe that in my state, water is not considered a renewable resource?!) But while using our existing energy sources, we must move towards developing green energy.  Americans should have energy choices that are economical and environmentally sustainable.

So I was a bit excited when I heard about Solyndra’s new technology for harvesting the sun’s energy.  My eyebrows raised when the government dollars poured from the White House; still I had a little bit of hope. But as more and more details are revealed about the back room deals with the solar energy company Solyndra and other green energy projects, it becomes clear that the government’s green energy initiatives are less about a future with sustainable energy and more about spreading money around to cronies, donors and political friends. It is ironic that President Obama, on the forefront of promoting alternative energy, looks to be responsible for single handedly blackening the reputation of green energy and putting the alternative energy industry back decades. Let’s be clear. This was a scam and the victims are tax payers and green energy.

When President Obama received billions in his stimulus bill for the Department of Energy to invest in green energy, he painted a bright future for alternative energy in America. Hailing the $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra, Obama said it would create green jobs; but instead, the company moved manufacturing to China. He touted their advanced design, but it was far less cost efficient than the others on the market. He marveled at the new, high-tech plant they built, but Solyndra couldn’t even sell the units they were already producing. Obama invested a half billion dollars of public money into our green energy future, and now that investment is worth…nothing.

The taxpayers lost out, but who gained? Obama’s supporters who invested in Solyndra did, when they got the DOE to break its own rules and let them go ahead of the government to recoup their investment first. Obama’s supporters who ran Solyndra did, collecting 6-figure paychecks, bonuses and golden parachutes before the company folded. Obama’s supporters who handled the loans and legal work did as well. And of course Obama himself did, when he got an impressive backdrop for photo op, for only $535 million.

In the end, that appears to be what the billions spent on Obama’s green initiative goes to: wind and solar powered Potemkin villages, to provide a PR background for Obama’s next re-election campaign appearance.


Nansen Malin lives on the rural SW Washington State Coast, where windmills were a common site 100 yrs ago in her historical village of Seaview.


[photo credit: zackgrahamEE]

Tales from the Small Business Trenches, Part 7: It’s Not Easy Being Green

We’ve been hearing about green jobs for more than three years. Growing jobs by growing the green economy was a centerpiece of President Obama’s first jobs plan. But just what is a green job? And why am I having such a hard time creating one?

The Washington Employment Security Department (link here) defines the green economy as “rooted in the development and use of products and services that promote environmental protection, energy independence, and economic development.” It goes on to define green jobs as:

 “Green jobs are jobs in the primary industries of a green economy that promote environmental protection and energy independence.

Energy independence includes the development and use of energy efficiency and renewable energy products and services.

Environmental protection includes the prevention and reduction of environmental pollution, as well as efforts to mitigate environmental pollution.”

Looking at the terms – green, growing, rooted – it would seem obvious that farming, ranching and timber are green industries. This conclusion is borne out by Washington Employment Security Department statistics, where agricultural workers take two of the top five slots on the green occupations list. Here’s why:

  • Agricultural lands may be used to grow oil seeds for direct use in biofuel production. Appropriate management of crop and range land is not only key to a healthy environment but provides local sources of food at a lesser carbon footprint than food imports.
  • Healthy rangeland supports a variety of wildlife in harmony with domesticated grazing animals. Managed grazing reduces wildfire risks, mitigates air pollution and recycles carbon from decaying plant material back into the soil.
  • Timber is a renewable resource both for construction and energy production. Well managed forest lands are a vital part of municipal watersheds, providing a critical public service for urban areas.

Jobs managing our natural resources are undeniably the original green jobs.

On the public policy front, Washington jumped on board with President Obama’s 2009 green economy and called together a distinguished panel of experts who put together “Washington’s Green Economy – A Strategic Framework.” Community Trade & Economic Development (CTED) was the lead agency, and the resulting publication can be found on the on the Department of Ecology website (link here). On page 13, this Strategic Framework announces that “forestry and agriculture – as a whole – fall outside of this definition.” The Strategic Framework goes on to say:

“However, organic farming and sustainable forest management are clearly contributors to pollution prevention, and conservation practices and recycled biomass in forestry and agriculture are certainly within the green realm. We have chosen to capture those activities in the other green-economy industry groupings, such as renewable energy, water conservation, waste management, etc.”

According to State Economist Arun Raha in a 2009 lecture to a group of architects, agriculture  is the primary driver of the economy of the state of Washington. If you look at the list of stakeholders and experts on the Green-Economy Jobs Initiative Advisory Team (page 2), you will find there are none – absolutely zero –from agriculture and forestry sectors. The strategic plan to create green jobs and strengthen the green economy didn’t include anyone with experience in the original green jobs.  Agriculture and forestry have been reclassified  into other categories by experts who didn’t realize the extent of their ignorance.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch . . .  We still need to create one green job in order to be more effective in sustainable management of healthy range land. Nothing in the Strategic Framework is going to help. It’s not easy being green.


For previous stories in the series, see the links below:

Part 1:  http://www.nwdailymarker.com/2011/09/tales-from-the-small-business-trenches-in-the-beginning-the-owner-created-jobs/

Part 2:  http://www.nwdailymarker.com/2011/09/tales-from-the-small-business-trenches-part-2-there-is-a-purgatory-for-job-creators/

Part 3:  http://www.nwdailymarker.com/2011/10/tales-from-the-small-business-trenches-part-3-working-conditions/

Part 4:  http://www.nwdailymarker.com/2011/10/tales-from-the-small-business-trenches-part-4-into-the-mountains/

Part 5:  http://www.nwdailymarker.com/2011/10/tales-from-the-small-business-trenches-part-5-with-a-little-help-from-my-friends/

Part 6:  http://www.nwdailymarker.com/2011/10/tales-from-the-small-business-trenches-part-6-big-wheel-keeps-on-turning/

[photo credit: Frankly Richmond]

One Gaffe, Shame on Obama. Four Gaffes Unreported, Shame on the Media.

Though Vice President Joe Biden has the reputation in the Obama administration for being a veritable gaffe machine, the man at whose pleasure he serves is getting some attention of his own from mainstream media for putting a presidential stamp on mangling the English language.

The Los Angeles Times reported Friday on a gaffe uttered by Pres. Barack Obama during his vaunted jobs tour, a clumsy misuse of the word “intercontinental” to describe America’s transcontinental achievement in building a railroad connecting the Western and Eastern United States in the middle of the 19th century.

L.A. Times political commentator Andrew Malcolm proudly wrote with glee about his discovery:

A railroad between continents? A railroad from, say, New York City all the way across the Atlantic to France? Now, THAT would be a bridge!

It’s yet another humorous gaffe by the Harvard graduate, overlooked by most media for whatever reason. Like Obama saying Abraham-Come-Lately Lincoln was the founder of the Republican Party. Or Navy corpseman. Or the Austrian language. Fifty-seven states. The president of Canada. Etc.

Malcolm, of course, is as much the discoverer of a gaffe-prone Obama as Columbus was the discoverer of America. Specifically, this very gaffe has been a habit of Obama and chief political adviser David Axelrod for years. From our story of June 8, 2011:

Warner Todd Huston of Publius’ Forum and John Sexton of Verum Serum have been reporting on a growing ‘intercontinental’ crisis infecting the Obama administration.

Since 2009, Obama and high-level officials within his campaign and White House administrations have cited Pres. Abraham Lincoln’s achievement of pushing through America’s intercontinental railroad as good government policy. In fact, it was not an intercontinental railroad—one that would connect two continents, such as North America and Asia—that Lincoln promoted, but a transcontinental one that traversed our single continent as the Transcontinental Railroad did.

The gaffe was not a one-time slip of the tongue, however. Sexton and Huston have been aided by other bloggers in uncovering at least four separate occasions where the term intercontinental has been misused in the same context.

Obama used the term ‘intercontinental railroad’ in a University of Michigan commencement speech in 2009 and a Florida town hall the same year (jump to 5:10 in video after link). Chief Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod went ‘intercontinental’ at the Aspen Ideas Festival as recently as this past weekend.

Malcolm, we’re just glad you’ve finally arrived.


[photo credit: aelita]

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