Sunday, May 31, 2009

"Date night": It isn't the money, it's the greenhouse gases 

The GOP and any number of righty bloggers are in a high dudgeon over the POTUS and the FLOTUS doing a date night in New York to see a show on Broadway. It is either a waste of taxpayer dollars or offensive in light of the bad economy, depending on your cup of tea.

As a fan of the "imperial presidency," this is one conservative blogger who does not have a problem with our president living the high life. I remember the Carter presidency, what with its hair shirts cardigan sweaters, beige limousines, and all-around oppressive gloom, and I want none of that. Obama is doing it right, as far as I'm concerned, and I have no problem with us paying for it, either. Given the things that politicians spend money on, this does not seem particularly wasteful and it is admirably free of long-term engineer-our-society consequences.

But, I am very much with Rob. If you believe, and President Obama says he does, that the production of greenhouse gases will lead to global catastrophe and therefore that we have a fierce moral urgancy to give up our energy-intensive ways, flying three planes to New York to take in a show is nothing less than outrageous. Imagine the entirely different pro-Gaia message if the Obamas had taken over a few cars on an Accela Express and ridden it up to Penn Station Biden-style?

It is also bad politics; how are voters going to accept fear of climate change as a justification for massively higher energy prices if the president wastes it with public and joyful profligacy? They, like me, will believe it is a crisis when the people who say it is a crisis start acting as if it were one.

CWCID: Glenn Reynolds.


By Anonymous JT, at Sun May 31, 08:40:00 AM:

When it was Bush, there was OUTRAGE that he wasn't hunkered down 24/7 working on the issue of the day.

I generally don't have a big issue with the Obama's enjoying the perqs of the Presidency, but let's be honest. We are in the midst of the biggest financial crisis in 80 years, and so far this administration has f'd up pretty soundly. Spending a lot of dough on 'taking in Broadway' seems like bad 'theatre' to me.  

By Anonymous acucucuuc, at Sun May 31, 09:21:00 AM:

Yes. Also, every minute he is not workinng is a plus. I would even be happy to have my taxes increased (somewhat) to pay for more of these jaunts.  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Sun May 31, 09:34:00 AM:

Hmmm...I certainly hope it was planned in advance and nobody lost their seat.

Sorry, TH, but I'm not a fan of an imperial presidency. I'm a fan of the president being an ordinary citizen who serves the people.

One of the great problems with our system of government - one that will probably never be cured - is the concept that one can make a profitable profession out of a position of service.

Instead, we have a few hundred people who are semi-permanently ensconced in a position of great privilege, complete with a life long retirement at full pay, free medical care, office, staff, travel budget and all the bribes you can handle under the radar.

It is a well established and separate class of people, like the "Inner Party" in Orwell's 1984.

Recall Winston Smith conversation with O'Brian when Smith is permitted to visit him in his flat:

"'It is called wine,' said O'Brien with a faint smile. 'You will have read about it in books, no doubt. Not much of it gets to the Outer Party, I am afraid.'"

Yeah, I'm harsh...but the most I would put up with is a White House conceirge buying the tickets and the President spending a working weekend in NYC.

Going off on a junket with the full regalia of the US Government for a "date" is beyond the pale...but consistent with what the professional politician expects out of his job.  

By Anonymous megan, at Sun May 31, 09:51:00 AM:

Well, as a New Yorker, I'm thrilled to read that because of e Obama's "junket" Broadway received a much needed boost to its flagging sales just as I imagine reservations at Blue Hill restaurant just a got a bit harder to secure. I dare say his date night may have even saved a few jobs in my fair city.

If this is the best the Republicans can dish out? Really?
To quote your former President's ill-conceived slogan, "Bring it on."  

By Anonymous tyree, at Sun May 31, 10:09:00 AM:

Megan- It was only an "ill-conceived" slogan to those that hated him.

So, do you think AGW is a hoax?
And if you think it isn't, why should the President get a pass for "date night" but auto executives trying to say thousands of jobs don't?

Personally, as one who thinks a trip in jet now and then is as American as apple pie, I glad the President is showing us that we can emit a little carbon now and then without guilt.  

By Anonymous Squealer, at Sun May 31, 10:32:00 AM:

Protecting the leader of the free world and managing his schedule is expensive. The Prez (and his wife) has a role to fill not only as the chief executive, but also as our head of state, and it is entirely appropriate for him to be flying around the country, showing his face and enjoying himself.  

By Blogger Viking Kaj, at Sun May 31, 10:55:00 AM:

Who care where he goes for the weekend? Remember Lincoln was assasinated while fulfilling a promise to take his wife to the theatre.

I also agree with the comments about the Accela. So many squandered opportunities to walk the walk with this guy. Like the shelter dog, vs. taking one of of Teddy Kennedy's purebred rejects.

The Accela would have sent the right message. I've been getting tired of this guy's jaunts since he took office. With the air corridor congestion in the NE we need to be promoting high speed rail.

I think the key to understanding Obama is that he is on an extended book tour. I got this from the Columbia Parents Magazine, where his undergrad roommate indicated that all he wanted to be was an author.

"Tales of my (mostly absent) father" only sold 25,000 copies when first released. This past year his royalties on books sold have been over $ 7 million.

You do the math. The more he generates publicity, the better his books sell, both here and overseas.

And we get stuck with the publicity bill and the planet gets crapped on every time he fires up air force one.

That's your boy, a wanna be celeb, with the world's biggest posse and ride.  

By Anonymous Megan, at Sun May 31, 11:07:00 AM:

Megan- It was only an "ill-conceived" slogan to those that hated himReally Tyree? So can we assume that when Bush says he regrets using that phrase he has self-loathing issues? Heh. LOL.  

By Anonymous Megan, at Sun May 31, 11:12:00 AM:

Megan-It was only an "ill-conceived" slogan to those that hated him.

Really Tyree? So can we assume that when Bush says he regrets using that phrase he has self-loating issues?

Heh. LOL.  

By Blogger D.E. Cloutier, at Sun May 31, 11:31:00 AM:

Republicans need to do more than mock Obama and Gore. We need to revive the Republican conservation movement.

Remember: Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service, was a member of Republican Party and the Progressive (Bull Moose) Party. (He also was the best governor in Pennsylvania's history.)

Just don't ask me to give up my plane. However, I might be willing to use a private railroad car from the Gilden Age when I travel inside the U.S.

More on Pinchot:

By Blogger D.E. Cloutier, at Sun May 31, 11:48:00 AM:

P.S. I can't say much about Obama's trip. I once flew a stripper to the opera after she had seen the movie "Pretty Woman."  

By Anonymous Candide, at Sun May 31, 12:05:00 PM:


You said it exactly, Bushes have very serious "self-loathing issues". That's what's the most infuriating for this Bush supporter. Obama or Clinton would never apologize.  

By Anonymous tyree, at Sun May 31, 01:59:00 PM:

Whatever, Meagan. We don't hate President Obama, far to many on the left still hate President Bush.

We just want President Obama to decide for himself, is AGW a hoax or not? As is typical of so many leftists like yourself, you only answer the part that you want and Al Gore, I mean, ignore the substantive issue.

I'll give up my power mower when I can no longer repair it, and the "sky is falling" people give up their trips to Bali to talk about global warming.

And why is it that leftist laugh when they think the US President has made a mistake? None of the conservatives I know laugh at the things that Nancy Pelosi and President Obama do wrong. We know we are the ones who will be burdened with fixing their problems.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Sun May 31, 02:28:00 PM:

"If this is the best the Republicans can dish out? Really?"

I suppose you're just more accepting of hypocrisy.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun May 31, 08:23:00 PM:

From Link:

Even if AGW is real, Obama's energy plans would do little to reduce emissions ... and he must know that. If you believed AGW was the threat Al Gore says it is, we'd need to be going balls out on nuclear -- like the French -- or resigning ourselves to living in tree forts. I can only conclude that Obama needed the political support of the greens and still thinks he does -- but that he doesn't really give a rat's ass about emissions. He'll continue to have a personal carbon footprint the size of Texas.

Obama's energy plans should have been seriously analyzed during the campaign ... it's only as difficult as high school level science ... but MSM let Obama get away with "rope-a-dope." They still do ... which is why many of us can only criticize Obama over "do as I say ... not as I do". Presently any personal criticism of Obama goes against the zeitgeist -- it's uncool. But that may change ... and sooner than I thought.

Reuters has a story today ... "Federal Reserve puzzled by yield curve steepening." One scenario is that it's signaling a recovery ... the other is that there is a reluctance to hold longer-dated Treasuries ... and suggests that the Chinese are behind this by significantly shortening the duration of their dollar holdings.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg News reports that Geithner is in Beijing to reassure the Chinese that "no one is more concerned about future deficits than Obama & Co." It's not enough that Little Timmy gets pissed on in DC -- he has to fly 20 hours to get pissed on by a horde of mandarins. If I sound crude, recall that Obama called Little Timmy a "fire hydrant" at the White House Correspondents dinner. My money says Little Timmy doesn't last a year.

Rates are still low, but this is not a good trend. Obama's budget plans will blow up ... it's just a question of when. Developing .....

Link, over  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun May 31, 08:59:00 PM:

The only time Republican care a rat's a** about the environment is when they can use the issue to bash and smear a Democrat.  

By Blogger Viking Kaj, at Sun May 31, 09:09:00 PM:

^ That is so not true.

Where would the National Park System be without the influence of Theodore Roosevelt?

Don't forget, the income from hunting and fishing licences enables most states to have a DNR.  

By Blogger Kinuachdrach, at Sun May 31, 09:41:00 PM:

On a more general level, if alleged Anthropogenic Global Warming really were real, then it was absolutely dumb for Gore, Pelosi, and late-comer Obambi to try to make the issue into a political wedge. Absolutely dumb, and absolutely unnecessary, and absolutely self-defeating.

If people really believed that the planet was at risk, then they should have been consciously non-partisan -- we need everyone on the team, all working together to achieve a very expensive shared goal. Instead, Gore et al deliberately politicized the issue.

The science is easy enough to understand. (No correlation between CO2 & global temperature = no alleged Anthropogenic Global Warming). But the politics are even easier to understand.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun May 31, 09:43:00 PM:

Can Anon 8:59 name the President who established the Environmental Protection Agency?

A hint -- he was the one after LBJ but before Ford.

Link, over  

By Anonymous tyree, at Sun May 31, 10:58:00 PM:

Anon- I had a liberal friend who once thought the same as you, until our conservative friend bought a Prius. He was puzzled because his prejudice clouded his view of reality.  

By Blogger Brian, at Mon Jun 01, 02:43:00 AM:

I'll just say, yet again, that I do think AGW is real and is a crisis, and I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is against the people who say it isn't real.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Jun 01, 08:00:00 AM:


Can you tell me the best one or a few sources that support AGW. I mean this constructively. I accept climate change happens , we've seen enough over even the last 1,000 years -- and a lot over the last 50,000 years -- but I'm not so sure how much is man made.

If AGW is true, Obama's energy plans don't address the problem. Do you agree with that?

Again, I mean this constructively.

Link, over  

By Blogger Georg Felis, at Mon Jun 01, 10:02:00 AM:

If it would keep him from spending money by the truckload like he did during his first hundred days in office, I would support sending the two of them off on a full year of opera hopping across the globe. It would be cheaper than having him in Washington.  

By Blogger Brian, at Mon Jun 01, 01:29:00 PM:

Anon - I suggest reading Coby Beck's "How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic":


and skim down to "Climate Change is Natural".

I'll also point out yet again that our esteemed host here at TH agrees with me and disagrees with the firebreathers, acknowledging that we have warmed the climate.

I think Obama's plan actually does a lot, but here I generally focus on the problem and the fact that so many people deny the problem before I get into solutions.  

By Anonymous feeblemind, at Mon Jun 01, 07:52:00 PM:

It may also be bad politics to be jetting around for meals and entertainment when the deficit is out of control and unemployment is up over 9%. Hard to believe that 'Let them eat cake' mentality will be popular with the voters for very long.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Jun 01, 09:11:00 PM:

To Brian,

Thanks, I will look at this.


By Anonymous tyree, at Tue Jun 02, 02:52:00 PM:

Whatever Brian, the fact is a lot of the people who say it is a crisis, don't act like its a crisis.  

By Anonymous Brian Schmidt, at Tue Jun 02, 05:57:00 PM:

Tyree, I'll once again admit that I'm sometimes hypocritical in having a carbon footprint that exceeds what it should be.

That's an ethical flaw, though, not a flaw in the well-established science. I don't know how to convey that to you and especially to TH.  

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