Will Obama Be the ‘Jimmy Carter of the 21st Century’?

06/17/2010 03:14 PM

The World from Berlin

Will Obama Be the ‘Jimmy Carter of the 21st Century’?

Can US President Barack Obama lead America away from fossil fuel dependency? German commentators don’t think so. Some say he is in danger of turning into an idealistic, one-term president like Jimmy Carter.

US President Barack Obama’s address from the Oval Office on Tuesday was supposed to be a moment of leadership during the worst environmental disaster in American history. But critics from across the political spectrum wondered afterwards whether he’d shown leadership at all. The geyser of oil in the Gulf of Mexico seems, technologically, to lie beyond anything either BP or the US government was prepared for, and Obama failed to mention any specific new ideas.

“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,” he declared, without offering policy details. Of course, it wasn’t a policy speech. But the fact that Obama failed to outline a clear path toward this clean-energy future seems to have disappointed a lot of people. “He didn’t boldly push an agenda,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator from South Carolina, to Politico, the Washington-based news website. “I think a lot of people took that to mean lukewarm support for anything big.”

One immediate result of White House talks with the American arm of BP, though, was a series of concessions on Wednesday. BP Plc agreed to set aside $20 billion (€16.1 billion) in escrow to cover damage claims by shrimpers, restauranteurs and other Gulf-Coast residents hurt by the spill. The energy giant also said it would suspend shareholder dividends until 2011, when it expects to have a clearer notion of the catastrophe’s costs. Another $100 million (€80.8 million) will be set aside for compensation to BP workers hurt by the spill.

These gestures from the energy giant are the most tangible form of good news local residents have heard in the two months since the spill began. German commentators on Thursday think BP’s concessions are genuine as well as worthwhile — but they warn that Obama will need to paddle harder to realize the shining future he promised in his speech on Tuesday.

The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:

“Obama wants to lead the US out of its dependence on oil. Absolutely right. In fact it’s the very thing people have been wanting to hear from Obama for weeks.”

“But how cautious he seems, and how vague his suggestions. In 1961 President Kennedy declared a national mission to place a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Obama has chosen not to name concrete goals. No numbers, no time frame. He doesn’t dare mention how things will have to change to favor the climate. Professor Obama waits for new ideas and looks forward to a public debate. He doesn’t dare push the Senate to settle on a climate-change bill. This president won’t lead America out of a crisis this way — and he certainly won’t usher in a new era.”

The left-leaning daily Die Tageszeitung argues:

“International markets have started to take environmental problems seriously. BP stock has fallen by almost 50 percent since the start of the oil catastrophe. Ratings agencies have downgraded its creditworthiness to near-junk status. And banks have stopped sealing long-term contracts with BP.”

“This situation is new. When oil companies in the past soiled the Niger Delta or the Amazon, markets tended to reward them — because corporations that skimped on security also increased their profits, to the detriment of the environment and the public interest. Now the costs of environmental damage have started to weigh on the balance sheet, with consequences extending to the possible bankruptcy of a multinational.”

“This new environmental sensibility has been possible not through a sudden display of reason on the markets, but through political decision-making. President Barack Obama made it clear (in early June) that BP won’t be exempt from criminal investigation. He’s also maintained a moratorium on new oil exploration on the deep-ocean floor, and looks determined to end corruption in federal oil agencies.”

The Financial Times Deutschland writes:

“The oil company could be prosecuted by shareholders for paying billions upon billions into a fund for damages without being legally required to do so … It’s therefore a good thing that the US government has not asked for a blank check to cover damages. With the high sum (of $20 billion), the government can now offer quick and unbureaucratic First Aid (to people living near the Gulf).”

“But the firm can’t just run free now that an arbitrary sum has been set. What the final cost for damages might be, and which mistakes were made by whom, have yet to be determined. Civil and criminal complaints against BP have to remain an open possibility. This fund is just a first step toward stopping the holes that the oil catastrophe has ripped in the finances of many affected people.”

The conservative daily Die Welt writes:

“When Obama surprised people by lifting his opposition to offshore drilling, just before the , he meant it as one part of a package deal: Citizens who worried primarily about high fuel prices were meant to be placated by expanded domestic oil production — as a gambit to win more acceptance for the core of his new-energy agenda. This strategy is marked by a typical American pragmatism, unlike Europe’s forces of climate protection. The emphasis rests on incentives to save energy, on building more nuclear-energy plants and on developing new ideas in renewable energy.”

“This is the right way to make America independent of problematic nations. Going forward, the mix will also have to include exploitation of (America’s) domestic energy resources, even if it also means heavier regulation to avoid a new disaster. But if this oil shock accelerates America’s shift to new energies, and moves the West away from a dangerous dependency on fossil fuels, then the catastrophe will have at least one positive outcome.”

The left-leaning Berliner Zeitung writes:

“If Barack Obama isn’t careful, he will become the Jimmy Carter of the 21st century.”

“In his speech, Obama tried to make a virtue of an emergency. He said a shift to new energy sources was now a ‘national mission.’ Just as the nation once mobilized its powers for World War II, now it needs to conquer its devilish dependence on fossil fuels … If Obama wins this debate, and achieves a true shift in energy dependence, then his name will perhaps be mentioned again in the same breath with great American presidents.”

“Politically, though, it’s fraught with risk. His opponents have already charged Obama with using the Gulf catastrophe to advance his climate agenda in Congress. Republicans rely on the tendency of Americans to prefer cheap fuel and big cars with a certain level of power. Over 30 years ago, after all, another president called for smarter American energy policies in a televised speech from the Oval Office. He wanted to know, ‘Why have we not been able to get together as a nation to resolve our serious energy problem?’ That president’s name was Jimmy Carter.”

— Michael Scott Moore

© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2010

Obama making Secret Deal with Russia to Kill Missile Defense

Obama making Secret Deal with Russia to Kill Missile Defense

June 18th, 2010

By Bill Gertz, The Washington Times

Obama making secret Deal with Russians 

The Obama administration is secretly working with Russia to conclude an agreement that many officials fear will limit U.S. missile defenses, a key objective of Moscow since it opposed plans for a U.S. missile defense interceptor base in Eastern Europe, according to American officials involved in arms control issues.

According to the officials, the administration last month presented a draft agreement on missile defenses to the Russians as part of talks between Ellen Tauscher, undersecretary of state for international security and arms control, and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Rybakov.

The secret talks and possible agreement have triggered alarm among pro-missile defense advocates who are concerned that the administration, in its effort to “reset” ties with Moscow, will make further concessions constraining current and future missile defenses.

Read More

Obama Encouraging War against Israel

Obama Encouraging War against Israel

June 18th, 2010

By James Lewis

The Middle East is now teetering on the brink of war because a vast international mob has been loosed, with the tacit approval of Barack Hussein Obama. That is the real meaning of the Gaza martyrdom stunt of May 31, 2010. That purposeful provocation is not past. The Gaza suicide operation is still being used all over the Middle East and Europe to whip up hatred and violence.

As Mark Steyn just reported from a dingy cafe in Algeria,

I can just about make out the plasma TV up in the corner on which Jimmy Carter, dubbed into Arabic, is denouncing Israel. Al Jazeera doesn’t so much cover the Zionist Entity as feast on it, hour after hour, without end. So here, at the western frontier of the Muslim world … the only news that matters is from a tiny strip of land barely wider at its narrowest point than a rural Canadian township way down the other end of the Mediterranean. … (there is) saturation coverage of the “Massacre In The Med” (as the front page headline in Britain’s Daily Mirror put it).

Iran, Lebanon, and Islamist Turkey have just announced new flotillas to break the Gaza blockade. If they succeed, it will not stop with Gaza. The conquest of Jerusalem and rest of Israel is the target. That is why Ahmadinejad has trained all his life in the “Al-Quds” (Jerusalem) Brigade of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the shock suicide brigade for reconquering Jerusalem. That is why the Hamas flag shows a green Islamic Jerusalem. It is why Kofi Annan at the U.N. proudly posed in front of a map of the Middle East with Israel erased.

Read More

Meanwhile, Clinton said recently that the U.S. would no longer consider an Iranian attack on Israel as an attack on America. Interesting coincidence

Could the Obama Administration be Blocking Gulf Clean-up Efforts Intentionally?

Could the Obama Administration be Blocking Gulf Clean-up Efforts Intentionally?

June 18th, 2010

By Floyd and Mary Beth Brown

At first blush this sounds like an outlandish question with a conspiratorial twist. The corollary question goes like this: Is the Obama administration intentionally scaling back clean-up efforts in the Gulf in an attempt to maximize the damage so Democrats in Congress will have an excuse to take effective control over yet another major sector of our economy and impose crippling and draconian new taxes on the American people?

We first learned of this controversy reading Sher Zieve who wrote in the Canada Free Press: “Obama is doing the bare minimum so that destruction will be at an all-time maximum — in order to shove his Cap and Trade bill (which will complete our destruction) down our throats.”

Zieve added: “The BP oil disaster was custom-made for The Obama… The effective oil-skimmer systems utilized by the Saudis and others would work to greatly minimize the damage being caused to the US Gulf Coast. But, The Obama continues to drag his heels as States and lives are destroyed.”

Fox News reported that when the Dutch government offered to help us clean up the oil spewing from the leaking BP oil rig, Obama initially turned them down cold. Norwegian and Dutch firms offered to help us too, but Obama said no.

It is reputed that the Roman Emperor Nero played his fiddle while Rome burnt to the ground so he could falsely blame the disaster on Christians and thereby rationalize a campaign of persecution against them.

Is it possible that Barack Hussein Obama and statists on Capitol Hill are using this crisis as an excuse to drive prices up at the pump, drive your utility bills through the roof, regulate your behavior and diminish your standard of living in this already queasy economy?

This much is certain — in spite of what Obama told the American people during his Oval Office address to the nation, he did not adequately respond to this crisis. The administration has clearly failed in terms of organization and the use of resources available to the federal government.

Moreover, it’s now indisputable that statists on Capitol Hill are attempting to exploit this disaster to push so-called cap and trade legislation. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell recently revealed: “At the same time as Americans wonder when this gusher will ever be plugged, we hear word that the administration and my good friend the majority leader want to piggy back their controversial new national energy tax — also known as cap and trade — to an oil spill response bill that could and should be an opportunity for true bipartisan cooperation. So here again, we see the administration using a crisis, in this case the disaster in the gulf, as an opportunity to muscle through Congress another deeply unpopular bill that has profound implications for small business and struggling households.”

But why let something as trivial as the truth get in the way when it comes to pushing an extreme “green” agenda? Liberals like Barack Obama made this problem worse so they could “solve” the problem and, as we’ve come to expect, they plan to “solve” the problem by making it worse.

So, true to form, Obama declared a moratorium on off-shore drilling and to make matters worse, Obama wants to institute a massive new energy tax, masquerading as sound energy policy (so-called cap and trade), that will dramatically raise the cost of just about everything you produce or consume, deprive you of income, control your behavior and repress your liberties.

Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, once said that you should never let a good crisis go to waste and Barack Obama and Democrats on Capitol Hill aren’t about to let this crisis go to waste. He may pontificate about holding BP to account but Obama and his leftist cronies fully intend to exploit this crisis to sneak liberty-stealing cap and trade legislation past the American people.

Obama’s Gulf Speech – The Day After In One Sentence

Obama’s Gulf Speech – The Day After In One Sentence

“So that’s what it’s like to play President.”

Wanted: Oil Spill Czar

Wanted: Oil Spill Czar

Posted By Michelle Malkin On June 18, 2010 @ 12:03 am In FrontPage | 7 Comments

Here is the Obama Disaster Management Theory: In times of crisis, you can never have enough unelected, un-vetted political appointees hanging around. Nearly two months after the BP oil spill, the White House will now name an oil spill restoration point person to oversee recovery efforts in the Gulf of Mexico. Too many czars have already spoiled this administration’s credibility. Might as well pile on another.

The new oil spill czar is not to be mistaken for the old oil spill czar, U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who was officially designated the “National Incident Commander of the Unified Command for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico” on April 30. Allen was appointed by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano 10 days after the disaster, which Napolitano claimed the administration had been on top of since, um, “Day One.”

Fifty-six days later, President Obama has deemed the leadership skills of Allen, Napolitano, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, environmental czar Carol Browner, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the rest of his self-declared “all hands on deck” crew insufficient. The new disaster czar also comes on top of the “National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling,” created by executive order on May 22 and “tasked with providing recommendations on how we can prevent and mitigate the impact of any future spills that result from offshore drilling.”

As I’ve noted before regarding Obama’s czar-mania, this White House has bypassed the Senate advise-and-consent role and unilaterally created a two-tiered government. It’s fronted by cabinet secretaries able to withstand public scrutiny (some of them just barely) and then managed behind the scenes by shadow secretaries with broad powers beyond congressional reach. Bureaucratic chaos serves as a useful smokescreen to obscure the true source of policy decision-making. While past administrations dating back to the Nixon era have designated such “superaides,” none has exploited and extended the concept as widely as Obama has (we’re up to the 40th appointed czar, by Washington-based watchdog group Judicial Watch’s count).

It’s government by proxy and government by press release all rolled into one.

According to White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, the latest commissar will have the power to oversee government efforts “to increase the health and the vitality of the species there, the wildlife and the natural beauty that we all know is the Gulf of Mexico.” This will make the power-grabbing environmental lobby happy. And the new czar appointment will feed the photo-op-hungry news cycle. But instead of rushing to move “past the cleanup and response phase of this disaster,” shouldn’t this czar-crazy regime concentrate on the immediate mitigation tasks at hand?

Folks in the Gulf don’t need any more Romanov-style apparatchiks or blue-ribbon crony panels to show them the way toward relief. Florida public officials and foreign shippers say the protectionist Jones Act is preventing vessels from abroad from providing cleanup aid. And Louisiana GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal has exposed White House obstructionism and delays in approving the construction of barrier walls to stop the oil spread.

After waiting weeks for approval, Jindal received a green light from the White House to put up just five barrier islands — a minuscule amount of his plan. Tired of waiting for approval of the rest of his plan, Jindal this week ordered the National Guard to circumvent the Beltway foot-dragging and start building the walls immediately.

Executive leadership doesn’t need to be outsourced when the executive in office knows how to lead. While Obama squawks, Jindal acts. While Washington appoints more gasbags, the National Guard is dropping sandbags.

The president’s czar fetish is his crisis crutch — a desperate, public relations habit that he can’t break. What 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue needs is a visit from retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, the Hurricane Katrina military relief coordinator who offered timeless and timely advice for the disaster-stricken: Don’t get stuck on stupid.

Michelle Malkin is the author of “Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies” (Regnery 2010). Her e-mail address is malkinblog@gmail.com.

“If Israel Goes Down, We All Go Down”

“If Israel Goes Down, We All Go Down”

June 18th, 2010 Posted By Erik Wong.

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World Jewish Congress:
by José María Aznar

For far too long now it has been unfashionable in Europe to speak up for Israel. In the wake of the recent incident on board a ship full of anti-Israeli activists in the Mediterranean, it is hard to think of a more unpopular cause to champion. In an ideal world, the assault by Israeli commandos on the Mavi Marmara would not have ended up with nine dead and a score wounded. In an ideal world, the soldiers would have been peacefully welcomed on to the ship. In an ideal world, no state, let alone a recent ally of Israel such as Turkey, would have sponsored and organised a flotilla whose sole purpose was to create an impossible situation for Israel: making it choose between giving up its security policy and the naval blockade, or risking the wrath of the world.

In our dealings with Israel, we must blow away the red mists of anger that too often cloud our judgment. A reasonable and balanced approach should encapsulate the following realities: first, the state of Israel was created by a decision of the UN. Its legitimacy, therefore, should not be in question. Israel is a nation with deeply rooted democratic institutions. It is a dynamic and open society that has repeatedly excelled in culture, science and technology.

Second, owing to its roots, history, and values, Israel is a fully fledged Western nation. Indeed, it is a normal Western nation, but one confronted by abnormal circumstances.

Uniquely in the West, it is the only democracy whose very existence has been questioned since its inception. In the first instance, it was attacked by its neighbours using the conventional weapons of war. Then it faced terrorism culminating in wave after wave of suicide attacks. Now, at the behest of radical Islamists and their sympathisers, it faces a campaign of delegitimisation through international law and diplomacy.

Sixty-two years after its creation, Israel is still fighting for its very survival. Punished with missiles raining from north and south, threatened with destruction by an Iran aiming to acquire nuclear weapons and pressed upon by friend and foe, Israel, it seems, is never to have a moment’s peace.

For years, the focus of Western attention has understandably been on the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. But if Israel is in danger today and the whole region is slipping towards a worryingly problematic future, it is not due to the lack of understanding between the parties on how to solve this conflict. The parameters of any prospective peace agreement are clear, however difficult it may seem for the two sides to make the final push for a settlement.

The real threats to regional stability, however, are to be found in the rise of a radical Islamism which sees Israel’s destruction as the fulfilment of its religious destiny and, simultaneously in the case of Iran, as an expression of its ambitions for regional hegemony. Both phenomena are threats that affect not only Israel, but also the wider West and the world at large.

The core of the problem lies in the ambiguous and often erroneous manner in which too many Western countries are now reacting to this situation. It is easy to blame Israel for all the evils in the Middle East. Some even act and talk as if a new understanding with the Muslim world could be achieved if only we were prepared to sacrifice the Jewish state on the altar. This would be folly.

Israel is our first line of defence in a turbulent region that is constantly at risk of descending into chaos; a region vital to our energy security owing to our overdependence on Middle Eastern oil; a region that forms the front line in the fight against extremism. If Israel goes down, we all go down. To defend Israel’s right to exist in peace, within secure borders, requires a degree of moral and strategic clarity that too often seems to have disappeared in Europe. The United States shows worrying signs of heading in the same direction.

The West is going through a period of confusion over the shape of the world’s future. To a great extent, this confusion is caused by a kind of masochistic self-doubt over our own identity; by the rule of political correctness; by a multiculturalism that forces us to our knees before others; and by a secularism which, irony of ironies, blinds us even when we are confronted by jihadis promoting the most fanatical incarnation of their faith. To abandon Israel to its fate, at this moment of all moments, would merely serve to illustrate how far we have sunk and how inexorable our decline now appears.

This cannot be allowed to happen. Motivated by the need to rebuild our own Western values, expressing deep concern about the wave of aggression against Israel, and mindful that Israel’s strength is our strength and Israel’s weakness is our weakness, I have decided to promote a new Friends of Israel initiative with the help of some prominent people, including David Trimble, Andrew Roberts, John Bolton, Alejandro Toledo (the former President of Peru), Marcello Pera (philosopher and former President of the Italian Senate), Fiamma Nirenstein (the Italian author and politician), the financier Robert Agostinelli and the Catholic intellectual George Weigel.

It is not our intention to defend any specific policy or any particular Israeli government. The sponsors of this initiative are certain to disagree at times with decisions taken by Jerusalem. We are democrats, and we believe in diversity.

What binds us, however, is our unyielding support for Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself. For Western countries to side with those who question Israel’s legitimacy, for them to play games in international bodies with Israel’s vital security issues, for them to appease those who oppose Western values rather than robustly to stand up in defence of those values, is not only a grave moral mistake, but a strategic error of the first magnitude.

Israel is a fundamental part of the West. The West is what it is thanks to its Judeo-Christian roots. If the Jewish element of those roots is upturned and Israel is lost, then we are lost too. Whether we like it or not, our fate is inextricably intertwined.

José María Aznar was prime minister of Spain between 1996 and 2004.