White House

Post image for Obama Decries Gimmicks and Slogans with “Win the Future” in Background

Let’s acknowledge the irony here. From a copy of Obama’s prepared remarks today at Georgetown University discussing his administration’s energy plan:


But here’s the thing – we’ve been down this road before.  Remember, it was just three years ago that gas prices topped $4 a gallon.  Working folks haven’t forgotten that.  It hit a lot of people pretty hard.  But it was also the height of political season, so you had a lot of slogans and gimmicks and outraged politicians waving three-point-plans for two-dollar gas – when none of it would really do anything to solve the problem.  Imagine that in Washington.

The truth is, of course, was that all these gimmicks didn’t make a bit of difference.  When gas prices finally fell, it was mostly because the global recession led to less demand for oil.  Now that the economy is recovering, demand is back up.  Add the turmoil in the Middle East, and it’s not surprising oil prices are higher.  And every time the price of a barrel of oil on the world market rises by $10, a gallon of gas goes up by about 25 cents.

President Obama is decrying gimmicks and slogans (as he should be), noting their inability to achieve anything, with his newest slogan “Win the Future” in the background.

“WTF” indeed.

Post image for Primer: President Obama’s War on Domestic Energy Production


Clean Water Act: The EPA has invented a “pollutant”— salinity—in order to stop surface coal mining in Appalachia.  It claims that this “pollutant” harms an order of short-lived insect, the Mayfly, which has not been proposed for listing as an endangered species.  The EPA has set a numeric water quality standard for salinity which effectively bars new surface coal mining permits.

Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act: Despite the fact that the 1977 SMCRA explicitly authorizes “valley fills” (a necessary byproduct of surface coal mining in the steep terrain of Appalachia), the Department of the Interior is working on a re-interpretation of the so-called “100 feet buffer rule,” a regulation derivative of SMCRA, which would effectively outlaw valley fills, and, as a result, Appalachian surface coal mining.

Oil and gas

Red Tape: The de jure moratorium on deepwater drilling permits in the Western Gulf ended on 22 October 2011, but the de facto moratorium remains.  Two weeks ago, a federal judge in eastern Louisiana (the same one who overturned the first moratorium, and who then found the Department of the Interior in contempt for issuing an identical, second moratorium), ordered the Interior Department to act on 5 pending permits within 30 days.  Interior is also slow-walking shallow water permits.

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Dan Berman reported in Politico on Wednesday that: “The White House rewrote crucial sections of an Interior Department report to suggest an independent group of scientists and engineers supported a six-month ban on offshore oil drilling, the Interior inspector general says in a new report.  In the wee hours of the morning of May 27, a staff member to White House energy adviser Carol Browner sent two edited versions of the department report’s executive summary back to Interior. The language had been changed to insinuate the seven-member panel of outside experts – who reviewed a draft of various safety recommendations – endorsed the moratorium, according to the IG report.”  This is the most outrageous example yet of the Obama Administration’s improper manipulation of science to support its agenda.  I responded in a CEI press release by calling for the firing of President Obama’s Climate Czar, Carol Browner. Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, and two of his colleagues on the committee, John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and David Vitter (R-La.), have requested that the committee hold a hearing on the Inspector General’s report.

In a blockbuster story soon to be swept under the carpet, Politico reports:

“The White House rewrote crucial sections of an Interior Department report to suggest an independent group of scientists and engineers supported a six-month ban on offshore oil drilling, the Interior inspector general says in a new report.

In the wee hours of the morning of May 27, a staff member to White House energy adviser Carol Browner sent two edited versions of the department report’s executive summary back to Interior. The language had been changed to insinuate the seven-member panel of outside experts – who reviewed a draft of various safety recommendations – endorsed the moratorium, according to the IG report obtained by POLITICO.”

In weasel words that even make this Washingtonian of twenty years blush, the Department of the Interior Inspector General writes:

“‘The White House edit of the original DOI draft executive summary led to the implication that the moratorium recommendation had been peer-reviewed by the experts,’ the IG report states, without judgment on whether the change was an intentional attempt to mislead the public.” (emphasis added)

One can certainly “lead to an inference“. But … “led to the implication”? Oh, right. You are trying not to say “implied“.

This is Exhibit A for why law schools drill into every first year’s head do not use the passive voice. It obscures meaning, begs questions, and diminishes confidence and credibility in the speaker. You come off as trying to weaselly avoid saying something. Like this guy.

And here is the, ahem, ‘implication’ placed in the administration’s twisted report before asserting the recommendations of engineers who in fact did not approve or recommend the moratorium. Prepare yourself to wade through the fog:

“the recommendations contained in this report have been peer reviewed by seven experts identified by the National Academy of Engineering”.

An implication that “led to”. A ‘lie’. Whatever. All good. (Except to the federal judge who caught…er, was led into… it, too; see p. 3).

So, the sexed up report implied something that wasn’t true — that ‘science’ and not ideology drove the numb-skulled left-wing fever dream of a drilling moratorium still effectively ravaging the Gulf Coast’s economy — an ‘implication’ which was nowhere to be found in the original report before the political and ideological spinmasters were called in late the night before the White House issued its sexed up document. They moved some language around…’implying’ a politically desirable conclusion that was patently untrue.

Contrast this with the allegedly scandalous toning down of unsupportable language in a legally meaningless climate report to the UN by former George W. Bush staffer Phil Cooney, who became the subject of a smear job in Al Gore’s silly sci-fi movie (treated in detail here). The Obama administration’s stunt entailed sexing up claims for political/ideological purposes. Where’s the outrage? (come to think of it…where’s Gore?)

Not toning hyperbole down. Sexing claims up unsupportably.

The former was scandalous — we were told. The other is being dismissed by the same crowd as, if anything, simply a result of people not reading the report objectively.

Which is where things get worse. Heads now really must roll.

“Steve Black, energy counselor to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, was the department’s point man for the safety report…Black said he didn’t have any issues with the White House edit; he and his staffer both told the IG it never occurred to them that an objective reader would conclude that peer reviewers had supported the six-month moratorium.”

Ah. Interior thinks White House did nothing wrong in…rewriting outside parties’ work to fit the ideology and agenda of Interior and the White House. So I assume BP can indeed clear itself, too?

But the smear of others never ends with people who are never wrong. Guess who the unobjective parties alluded to here are? The scientists who wrote the report that was re-written in the wee hours by an uncomfirmed (because she is unconfirmable) anti-energy czar’s ideologues!

That’s right: The White House is blaming the scientists for not recognizing their own report after the ideologues got through with it. It was they who read their bastardized work and complained. Two of the peer reviewers, upset about the ‘implication’, sent letters to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. The DOI sent letters of apology for the misunderstanding.

Now, having been outed by one of their own, if with weasel-worded friendly fire, the administration blames the people they wronged, for not being objective in reading how people flagrantly mischaracterized their own conclusions.

Incredible. And to think, coming from Carol Browner’s office! Who knew? (well, I did, dedicating the better part of a chapter — “Van Jones Was No Accident:  The Obama Administration’s Radical ‘Green’ Activists” — to her and her M.O.). Orwell and Nixon both live on in the Obama administration.

Back in February 2009, when everyone thought a deep depression was imminent, Keynesian economists and their political boosters demanded big government spending. According to their calculations, a “timely, targeted, and temporary” infusion of taxpayer money would defibrillate our moribund economy, the growth of which would make the trillion-dollar price tag seem like small potatoes. It was elementary!

So the White House pushed, and the Congress passed, a gigantic trillion-dollar stimulus, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It was, however, anything but “targeted.” Instead, it was a grab bag of special interest handouts.

About $90 billion of those taxpayer funded giveaways went to “green” energy, which is about as trendy a cause as there is right now. Today, on the thirtieth of June, almost a year and half after the stimulus passed, the Department of Energy has awarded a scant 15% of its “green” energy stimulus funds. So much for “timely.”

Despite the fact that so little of the stimulus has yet been spent, House leadership already wants more. This week, powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Michigan Representative Sandy Levin (D) is pushing a bill that would extend Stimulus green energy tax incentives, to the tune of $20 billion. So it seems that “temporary” was also a sham.

There’s only a month left on the Senate calendar, and elections are looming, so many Senators are wary of an issue as divisive and nuanced as is cap-and-trade energy rationing. As a result, there’s been a lot of procrastinating.

Two weeks ago, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid convened a meeting of Senate Committee chairs in order to figure out how to proceed with climate legislation. They agreed to punt, by having a meeting of the entire Senate the following week.

A week ago, all Democratic Senators met, and they listened to three of their colleagues pitch variations of climate/energy legislation, as well as a pep talk from Sen. Barbara Boxer (my favorite environmentalist Senator). But the pleas fell on deaf ears, and the DNP Caucus session ended inconclusively.

Following that failure, President Obama requested yet another meeting of Senate energy/climate principles and moderates from both parties. The discussion will take place today, and the guest list includes Sens. John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, Richard Lugar, Judd Gregg, Susan Collins, Sherrod Brown and Lisa Murkowski, according to a survey of offices by Energy & Environment Daily.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking, and elections are nearing. The punditry seems to be in consensus that the prognosis for cap-and-trade is dire, although there has been some discussion about a sinister back door strategy, by which the Senate would pass bare-bones energy bill, sans an energy tax, and then leadership would insert a cap-and-trade into the bill that is reconciled with the American Energy and Security Act, the climate legislation that the House passed last June. Evidently, proponents of this strategy are banking on the reconciliation conference to take place during the lame duck session after upcoming elections, a time when some Members of Congress would have nothing to lose, because they would have already lost.

**Update: 8:20 A.M. E&E Daily’s lede story this morning reports that President Obama has postponed the climate meeting, due to the ongoing imbroglio over the Afghan general who put his foot in his mouth. Fortunately, there’s not much further down the road the majority can kick this can, before the clock runs out on the legislative calendar.

White House communications director Anita Dunn is in the news cycle for having said that Mao Zedong, the megalomaniacal Communist dictator of post-war China, is one of her “favorite political philosophers.”  Zedong’s ideas led to the death of scores of millions of human beings, so many people find it news worthy that he’s an inspiration for an important White House official.

I know that 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue can be a catty work environment because I’ve seen NBC’s “The West Wing” on television. As such, I know there’s a chance that Ms. Dunn is now being ostracized by her peers on account of her controversial affinity for Mao. With that in mind, I have a comforting thought for Ms. Dunn: You are not alone!

Ms. Dunn has a comrade in Carol Browner, Obama’s climate czarina, who’s also a card-carrying member of the Socialist International. In fact, she’s busily implementing socialist environmental policies in America. SI last week introduced a climate change policy eerily similar to the strategy that Browner is pushing here in the United States.

Read more about Browner’s red plan to green the economy here.