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Posts For: June 27, 2010

What’s More Important, the Environment or the Environmentalists?

To the Obama administration, it seems that it’s the latter. According to Canada’s Financial Post (h/t Instapundit), the administration turned down an offer from the Dutch to send skimmer boats that are far better and more capable than the ones we have because the water they discharge back into the ocean doesn’t meet the regulatory requirement that it be 99.9985 percent pure. Skimmer boats in a disastrous oil spill, in other words, are subject to a rule intended for bilge pumps.

Why does neither the U.S. government nor the U.S. energy companies have on hand the cleanup technology available in Europe? Ironically, the superior European technology runs afoul of U.S. environmental rules. The voracious Dutch vessels, for example, continuously suck up vast quantities of oily water, extract most of the oil, and then spit overboard vast quantities of nearly oil-free water. Nearly oil-free isn’t good enough for the U.S. regulators, who have a standard of 15 parts per million — if water isn’t at least 99.9985 percent pure, it may not be returned to the Gulf of Mexico.

So thanks to a regulation that could have been waived in a second, rather than skim up most of the oil, the Obami chose to leave it all in the ocean. It gets worse:

The Americans, overwhelmed by the catastrophic consequences of the BP spill, finally relented and took the Dutch up on their offer — but only partly. Because the U.S. didn’t want Dutch ships working the Gulf, the U.S. airlifted the Dutch equipment to the Gulf and then retrofitted it to U.S. vessels. And rather than have experienced Dutch crews immediately operate the oil-skimming equipment, to appease labour unions, the U.S. postponed the clean-up operation to allow U.S. crews to be trained.

So rather than clean up the spilling oil, the Obami chose to put the interests of organized labor first.

The Dutch are the world’s foremost experts on protecting the margin between the sea and the land. It’s not hard to see why: one-third of the Netherlands is on that margin, below sea level. But the Obama administration preferred to play politics instead of getting all the help it could get as soon as it could get it.

The evidence is piling up that the Obama administration, through a combination of hubris, incompetence, and special-interest butt-kissing, has greatly worsened a very serious situation. I wonder when the American mainstream media is going to start reporting it.

To the Obama administration, it seems that it’s the latter. According to Canada’s Financial Post (h/t Instapundit), the administration turned down an offer from the Dutch to send skimmer boats that are far better and more capable than the ones we have because the water they discharge back into the ocean doesn’t meet the regulatory requirement that it be 99.9985 percent pure. Skimmer boats in a disastrous oil spill, in other words, are subject to a rule intended for bilge pumps.

Why does neither the U.S. government nor the U.S. energy companies have on hand the cleanup technology available in Europe? Ironically, the superior European technology runs afoul of U.S. environmental rules. The voracious Dutch vessels, for example, continuously suck up vast quantities of oily water, extract most of the oil, and then spit overboard vast quantities of nearly oil-free water. Nearly oil-free isn’t good enough for the U.S. regulators, who have a standard of 15 parts per million — if water isn’t at least 99.9985 percent pure, it may not be returned to the Gulf of Mexico.

So thanks to a regulation that could have been waived in a second, rather than skim up most of the oil, the Obami chose to leave it all in the ocean. It gets worse:

The Americans, overwhelmed by the catastrophic consequences of the BP spill, finally relented and took the Dutch up on their offer — but only partly. Because the U.S. didn’t want Dutch ships working the Gulf, the U.S. airlifted the Dutch equipment to the Gulf and then retrofitted it to U.S. vessels. And rather than have experienced Dutch crews immediately operate the oil-skimming equipment, to appease labour unions, the U.S. postponed the clean-up operation to allow U.S. crews to be trained.

So rather than clean up the spilling oil, the Obami chose to put the interests of organized labor first.

The Dutch are the world’s foremost experts on protecting the margin between the sea and the land. It’s not hard to see why: one-third of the Netherlands is on that margin, below sea level. But the Obama administration preferred to play politics instead of getting all the help it could get as soon as it could get it.

The evidence is piling up that the Obama administration, through a combination of hubris, incompetence, and special-interest butt-kissing, has greatly worsened a very serious situation. I wonder when the American mainstream media is going to start reporting it.

Read Less

How’s the Status of Women in Iran?

The Obama administration raised not a peep in protest when Iran joined the UN Commission on the Status of Women. The secretary of state, whose 19 million cracks in the glass ceiling have made her (in her own mind, at least) a feminist role model of some note, finds it beyond her ability to block such morally obscene developments. (Her quietude on women’s rights and human rights more generally is tragic, really, since she is “actually within her reach to become the voice of the world’s voiceless, with a whole Human Rights Bureau designated for that very job just down the hall — [but] she never has managed to get really full-throated about it.”) So how’s the Iranian regime treating its women these days? We have this report about Sakine Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 40-year-old Iranian woman:

She was initially sentenced to 99 floggings for extra-marital sex. Her sentenced was later changed to death by stoning in accordance with Sharia laws stipulating that punishment for adultery is death by either hanging or stoning. In their letter, which was distributed via the Internet, [her two children] expressed their hope that waves of protest around the world, particularly by Iranian expatriates would lead authorities to retract the brutal punishment. “Help to prevent this nightmare from becoming reality. Save our mother. We are unable to explain the anguish of every moment, every second of our lives. Words are unable to articulate our fear,” the letter stated. It was distributed in nine languages, including Hebrew. … Iran’s penal law stipulates that women sentenced to stoning are buried up to their chest and then pelted with small stones until they die. The law forbids the use of stones which may cause instant death.

If the UN were not a noxious circus and Hillary and Obama had not forfeited America’s moral standing at the altar of “engagement,” Ashtiani and her children might not need to go pleading on the Internet for assistance. There was a time when America stood shoulder to shoulder with the world’s oppressed peoples — and when regimes faced consequences for their brutality. Perhaps in the future that will be the case again. For now, Ashtiani and her children are on their own.

The Obama administration raised not a peep in protest when Iran joined the UN Commission on the Status of Women. The secretary of state, whose 19 million cracks in the glass ceiling have made her (in her own mind, at least) a feminist role model of some note, finds it beyond her ability to block such morally obscene developments. (Her quietude on women’s rights and human rights more generally is tragic, really, since she is “actually within her reach to become the voice of the world’s voiceless, with a whole Human Rights Bureau designated for that very job just down the hall — [but] she never has managed to get really full-throated about it.”) So how’s the Iranian regime treating its women these days? We have this report about Sakine Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 40-year-old Iranian woman:

She was initially sentenced to 99 floggings for extra-marital sex. Her sentenced was later changed to death by stoning in accordance with Sharia laws stipulating that punishment for adultery is death by either hanging or stoning. In their letter, which was distributed via the Internet, [her two children] expressed their hope that waves of protest around the world, particularly by Iranian expatriates would lead authorities to retract the brutal punishment. “Help to prevent this nightmare from becoming reality. Save our mother. We are unable to explain the anguish of every moment, every second of our lives. Words are unable to articulate our fear,” the letter stated. It was distributed in nine languages, including Hebrew. … Iran’s penal law stipulates that women sentenced to stoning are buried up to their chest and then pelted with small stones until they die. The law forbids the use of stones which may cause instant death.

If the UN were not a noxious circus and Hillary and Obama had not forfeited America’s moral standing at the altar of “engagement,” Ashtiani and her children might not need to go pleading on the Internet for assistance. There was a time when America stood shoulder to shoulder with the world’s oppressed peoples — and when regimes faced consequences for their brutality. Perhaps in the future that will be the case again. For now, Ashtiani and her children are on their own.

Read Less

Oren Spills the Beans

When last we heard from Michael Oren, he was giving an odd interview — suggesting that everything was just swell between the U.S. and Israel and decrying the “partisan” Republicans, who have stuck by the Jewish state while Democratic support has nosedived. Now, word comes that he was far more candid in private. Haaretz reports:

Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, painted a dark picture of U.S.-Israeli relations during a briefing at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem last week. Israeli diplomats say Oren described the current situation as a “tectonic rift” in which Israel and the United States are like continents drifting apart. … Five Israeli diplomats, some of whom took part in the briefing or were informed about the details, said Oren described relations between the two countries in bleak terms. Oren, however, has denied making such statements. …

Oren noted that contrary to Obama’s predecessors – George W. Bush and Bill Clinton — the current president is not motivated by historical-ideological sentiments toward Israel but by cold interests and considerations. He added that his access as Israel’s ambassador to senior administration officials and close advisers of the president is good. But Obama has very tight control over his immediate environment, and it is hard to influence him.

“This is a one-man show,” Oren is quoted as saying.

While certainly less “diplomatic,” these remarks have the benefit of candor and accuracy. As for the flotilla incident, Oren reportedly said: “Even our close friends came out against us. … Only after some time, when video from the ship arrived and was aired by the American media, did public opinion begin to shift in Israel’s favor.”

One can sympathize with Oren. His job is to try, under the most difficult circumstances with a president more hostile to Israel than any other since the 1948, to keep the relationship between the two countries from rupturing. And yet, he is neither deluded nor dishonest, so he concedes — he thought, privately — that Obama is pulling the relationship apart, replacing a robust alliance based on shared values, interests, and, yes, affection with an arms-length, if not antagonistic, one, in which Israel is treated as an encumbrance to Obama’s foreign-policy objectives.

There is a weird bit of play acting going on. The Israeli government, the Obama team, and the American Jewish groups publicly declare that things are “much improved” between the two countries and that Obama is really, honestly, a stalwart defender of the Jewish state. But, in fact, none of them believe this to be so. Bibi’s government walks a tightrope, attempting to defend its country’s interests but wary of enraging the American president, who is all too eager to look for excuses to demonstrate to the “Muslim World” that he’s not four-square behind Israel. The Obama team thinks that a “charm” offensive will be sufficient, and looks to do the least possible in defense of Israel without provoking American Jewry. And Jewish leaders privately grumble and rage over Obama’s assaults on Israel, but dare not make their fury public — for they might lose access to the White House, as well as their liberal members.

The Kabuki dance, however, matters less than reality. Israel’s foes see the separation between the U.S. and the Jewish state. Iran sees Obama’s unwillingness to consider military force to thwart its nuclear ambitions. The Arab nations see that America is an unreliable ally, and consider lining up with the Iran-Syria axis, which is growing in prestige as ours diminishes. In sum, Israel’s foes and ours are not fooled; they understand all too well the “tectonic rift” between the U.S. and Israel. Perhaps, it is time, at least in the U.S., for Israel’s friends to be candid about the depth of the problem and to devise a strategy for challenging the president, whose foreign policy is so antithetical to Israel’s interests that its ambassador can only reveal his true sentiments in private.

When last we heard from Michael Oren, he was giving an odd interview — suggesting that everything was just swell between the U.S. and Israel and decrying the “partisan” Republicans, who have stuck by the Jewish state while Democratic support has nosedived. Now, word comes that he was far more candid in private. Haaretz reports:

Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, painted a dark picture of U.S.-Israeli relations during a briefing at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem last week. Israeli diplomats say Oren described the current situation as a “tectonic rift” in which Israel and the United States are like continents drifting apart. … Five Israeli diplomats, some of whom took part in the briefing or were informed about the details, said Oren described relations between the two countries in bleak terms. Oren, however, has denied making such statements. …

Oren noted that contrary to Obama’s predecessors – George W. Bush and Bill Clinton — the current president is not motivated by historical-ideological sentiments toward Israel but by cold interests and considerations. He added that his access as Israel’s ambassador to senior administration officials and close advisers of the president is good. But Obama has very tight control over his immediate environment, and it is hard to influence him.

“This is a one-man show,” Oren is quoted as saying.

While certainly less “diplomatic,” these remarks have the benefit of candor and accuracy. As for the flotilla incident, Oren reportedly said: “Even our close friends came out against us. … Only after some time, when video from the ship arrived and was aired by the American media, did public opinion begin to shift in Israel’s favor.”

One can sympathize with Oren. His job is to try, under the most difficult circumstances with a president more hostile to Israel than any other since the 1948, to keep the relationship between the two countries from rupturing. And yet, he is neither deluded nor dishonest, so he concedes — he thought, privately — that Obama is pulling the relationship apart, replacing a robust alliance based on shared values, interests, and, yes, affection with an arms-length, if not antagonistic, one, in which Israel is treated as an encumbrance to Obama’s foreign-policy objectives.

There is a weird bit of play acting going on. The Israeli government, the Obama team, and the American Jewish groups publicly declare that things are “much improved” between the two countries and that Obama is really, honestly, a stalwart defender of the Jewish state. But, in fact, none of them believe this to be so. Bibi’s government walks a tightrope, attempting to defend its country’s interests but wary of enraging the American president, who is all too eager to look for excuses to demonstrate to the “Muslim World” that he’s not four-square behind Israel. The Obama team thinks that a “charm” offensive will be sufficient, and looks to do the least possible in defense of Israel without provoking American Jewry. And Jewish leaders privately grumble and rage over Obama’s assaults on Israel, but dare not make their fury public — for they might lose access to the White House, as well as their liberal members.

The Kabuki dance, however, matters less than reality. Israel’s foes see the separation between the U.S. and the Jewish state. Iran sees Obama’s unwillingness to consider military force to thwart its nuclear ambitions. The Arab nations see that America is an unreliable ally, and consider lining up with the Iran-Syria axis, which is growing in prestige as ours diminishes. In sum, Israel’s foes and ours are not fooled; they understand all too well the “tectonic rift” between the U.S. and Israel. Perhaps, it is time, at least in the U.S., for Israel’s friends to be candid about the depth of the problem and to devise a strategy for challenging the president, whose foreign policy is so antithetical to Israel’s interests that its ambassador can only reveal his true sentiments in private.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

They need to get their stories straight. Raju Narisetti, the Washington Post managing editor, says that Dave Weigel was “vetted in the same way that other prospective Post journalists are screened.” But Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli says, “We don’t have the resources or ability to do Supreme Court justice-type investigations into people’s backgrounds. We will have to be more careful in the future.”

Obama needs to get his act together if we are going to win in Afghanistan. “Looming over America’s military and diplomatic efforts is the withdrawal timetable. It does not matter that the July 2011 date for the beginning of the draw-down is more nuanced than a complete ‘switching off the lights and closing the door behind us,’ as President Obama said on Thursday. The arbitrary date sends the message that America’s commitment is limited. Those in the Pakistani military and intelligence establishment who support the Afghan insurgents do so because they see them as a means to project power in Afghanistan. The timetable tells the Pakistanis that support for the Taliban and their ilk may be rewarded in the not distant future.”

What does Gen. David Petraeus need? Zalmay Khalilzad writes that “he will need to get our own house in order. An effective counterinsurgency strategy requires civil-military cooperation, coordination and integration. Petraeus should demand this and ought to have the lead in bringing it about. Given all that is at stake he must establish a one-mission, one-team spirit among various instruments of U.S. power. Those who do not cooperate should be replaced, and quickly.”

Obama needs to stop treating Britain like Israel. (He, of course, also needs to stop treating Israel like a skunk at his “international community” garden party.) “Obama’s face time with [David]Cameron does present him with an opportunity to personally put U.S. relations with Britain on a new footing. The president didn’t have a particularly warm relationship with [Gordon] Brown, Cameron’s dour predecessor. It got off to a rocky start – Obama did not hold a joint press conference during Brown’s first White House visit and it was widely noted that the gifts Obama presented to the prime minister were generic. The British press concluded that Brown had been snubbed, and the perception stuck.”

Rory Reid needs a new last name: “Republican Brian Sandoval continues to hold a lead of more than 20 points over Democrat Rory Reid in Nevada’s race for governor. A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in the state shows Sandoval with 55% support, while Reid earns 33% of the vote.”

Two law professors say the Senate should take their word on Elena Kagan not being a boffo judge and forget about asking all those pesky questions: “We believe that she will take seriously the obligation to make fair and impartial decisions based on the briefs and arguments presented in the cases before her. Senators should not ask her to articulate her positions on legal issues in advance of her deciding cases. If they ask, she should decline to do so. That action would demonstrate, more than any pledge, that she understands what it means to be a judge.”

Haven’t you been thinking that what we really need is a fish czar? “As concerns mount about the presence of Asian carp near Lake Michigan, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin today urged President Obama to appoint a carp czar to oversee efforts to keep the invasive species out of the Great Lakes.”

They need to get their stories straight. Raju Narisetti, the Washington Post managing editor, says that Dave Weigel was “vetted in the same way that other prospective Post journalists are screened.” But Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli says, “We don’t have the resources or ability to do Supreme Court justice-type investigations into people’s backgrounds. We will have to be more careful in the future.”

Obama needs to get his act together if we are going to win in Afghanistan. “Looming over America’s military and diplomatic efforts is the withdrawal timetable. It does not matter that the July 2011 date for the beginning of the draw-down is more nuanced than a complete ‘switching off the lights and closing the door behind us,’ as President Obama said on Thursday. The arbitrary date sends the message that America’s commitment is limited. Those in the Pakistani military and intelligence establishment who support the Afghan insurgents do so because they see them as a means to project power in Afghanistan. The timetable tells the Pakistanis that support for the Taliban and their ilk may be rewarded in the not distant future.”

What does Gen. David Petraeus need? Zalmay Khalilzad writes that “he will need to get our own house in order. An effective counterinsurgency strategy requires civil-military cooperation, coordination and integration. Petraeus should demand this and ought to have the lead in bringing it about. Given all that is at stake he must establish a one-mission, one-team spirit among various instruments of U.S. power. Those who do not cooperate should be replaced, and quickly.”

Obama needs to stop treating Britain like Israel. (He, of course, also needs to stop treating Israel like a skunk at his “international community” garden party.) “Obama’s face time with [David]Cameron does present him with an opportunity to personally put U.S. relations with Britain on a new footing. The president didn’t have a particularly warm relationship with [Gordon] Brown, Cameron’s dour predecessor. It got off to a rocky start – Obama did not hold a joint press conference during Brown’s first White House visit and it was widely noted that the gifts Obama presented to the prime minister were generic. The British press concluded that Brown had been snubbed, and the perception stuck.”

Rory Reid needs a new last name: “Republican Brian Sandoval continues to hold a lead of more than 20 points over Democrat Rory Reid in Nevada’s race for governor. A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in the state shows Sandoval with 55% support, while Reid earns 33% of the vote.”

Two law professors say the Senate should take their word on Elena Kagan not being a boffo judge and forget about asking all those pesky questions: “We believe that she will take seriously the obligation to make fair and impartial decisions based on the briefs and arguments presented in the cases before her. Senators should not ask her to articulate her positions on legal issues in advance of her deciding cases. If they ask, she should decline to do so. That action would demonstrate, more than any pledge, that she understands what it means to be a judge.”

Haven’t you been thinking that what we really need is a fish czar? “As concerns mount about the presence of Asian carp near Lake Michigan, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin today urged President Obama to appoint a carp czar to oversee efforts to keep the invasive species out of the Great Lakes.”

Read Less




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