Was It Worth It?

As I noted recently, the President has been on a three-day bender of fundraising and campaigning, sufficiently leavened with “non-political” events to justify the taxpayers picking up most of the tab for the trip.  Monday night he was in Los Angeles to attend an upscale fundraiser at a Hollywood producer’s house that netted a cool $1 million.

That nice pot of cash came at a price, however.  Because the President traveled to the producer’s home by motorcade, the Secret Service had to close down roads that just happened to be some of the major arteries in the L.A. area.  Traffic ground to a halt and commuters were trapped in seemingly endless gridlock.  As the Los Angeles Times reports, virtually everyone who was unfortunate enough to be on the road at that time — regardless of their political affiliation — was furious at the President and his insensitivity to the impact he was having on their lives.

So President Obama came away from L.A. with lots of money but lots of bad feeling from voters, too.  His apparent lack of awareness of the fact that he was inconveniencing thousands of people just so he could attend a political event may end up being one of those little incidents, insignificant in its own right, that nevertheless accumulates in peoples’ minds until the balance gets tipped in one direction or the other.  President Obama and the First Lady already are being criticized for their vacations and lavish lifestyles.  A fundraising visit that mires thousands of tired commuters in a frustrating, unmoving hell of hot asphalt and exhaust fumes may well contribute to the President’s growing reputation as an elitist who doesn’t really understand average Americans or their lives.  If that reputation gets fixed in the minds of voters, it will be awfully difficult to change.

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Enough With The Mosque, Already!

I haven’t commented on the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” on this blog because UJ has already discussed it and I’m not sure there is anything left to say.  I think the Muslims who want to establish the mosque have every right to do so, although if they truly are interested in building bridges they would be best served by honoring the wishes of many families and friends of 9/11 victims and situating the mosque somewhere else in Manhattan.

My real point in bringing up the mosque issue, however, is to urge people to move on, already! Our country is wrestling with high unemployment and a persistent economic recession that has thrown many Americans out of work and out of their homes.  Our soldiers are in harm’s way in two faraway foreign lands.  We are facing a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran that is governed by a madman.  We have a government that has racked up crushing budget deficits and is doing nothing about them.

With all due respect to the memory of 9/11 and the victims of terrorism who perished on that horrible day, I think that whether Muslims establish a mosque two blocks away from Ground Zero is not the most significant matter confronting our troubled nation at this time.  We would be better off if we put the distracting and divisive “Ground Zero Mosque” issue behind us and focused on the truly important issues that are having a huge impact on the lives of millions of Americans.

Not Our Fault

A recent study has concluded that the woolly mammoth died out due to declining pasture land, rather than being hunted to extinction by early humans as some scientists have speculated.

Interestingly, climate change apparently played a role — although no one seems to be attributing that climate change to humans (yet).  During the Ice Age, there were smaller concentrations of carbon dioxide, which discouraged tree growth.  As a result, there were vast pasture lands that were perfectly suited to large grass- and plant-munching beasts like the woolly mammoth.  As the Ice Age receded, climates warmed and carbon dioxide concentrations increased, which in turn led to the development of forests that encroached on the grasslands that were crucial to the survival of the mammoths.

The study is based on computer simulations, so there will still be room for debate.  Nevertheless, it is nice to think that our ancestors were not responsible for the extinction of these striking, colossal creatures that roamed the planet at the dawn of mankind.