April 10, 2011

Obama’s Condescension at Pa. Town Hall Disappears in AP Updates

Back in mid-2008, as gas prices approached $4 a gallon and the first inklings that a real recession would soon be under way were appearing, George W. Bush told a town hall audience questioner who wondered when gas prices might start coming down that it might be time for owners of gas-guzzling SUVs like the questioner to “think about a trade-in.” He also laughed at the questioner’s indication that he had ten children and told him that “you definitely need a hybrid van.”

… Well, of course George W. Bush didn’t say these things. Readers here and anyone else who understands the establishment press know that if Bush or any other well-known Republican or conservative had said these kinds of things, the nation would have been alerted to it quickly and repeatedly. Reporters would have solicited comments from Democratic Party officials, who would have dutifully told the world that such remarks were proof of how uncaring and out of touch the person who made them must be.

President Barack Obama said the exact things mythologically portrayed in the opening paragraph above at a town hall meeting in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania on Wednesday.

Here are relevant excerpts from the White House web site’s carriage of Obama’s remarks (bolds are mine throughout this post):

Q. My name is Jazz (ph). You were talking about the rise of gas prices. … Is there a chance of the price being lowered again?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me go over what I said a little bit earlier.

But I’m just going to be honest with you, there’s not much we can do next week or two weeks from now. What we can do is, for example, increase oil production here in the United States. …

… the second thing we can do is increase efficiency on cars and trucks, which is where most of our oil is used. (Applause.) Now, I notice some folks clapped, but I know some of these big guys, they’re all still driving their big SUVs. You know, they got their big monster trucks and everything. You’re one of them? Well, now, here’s my point. If you’re complaining about the price of gas and you’re only getting eight miles a gallon — (laughter) — you may have a big family, but it’s probably not that big. How many you have? Ten kids, you say? Ten kids? (Laughter.) Well, you definitely need a hybrid van then. (Laughter.)

None of that is going to help you this week, though. So, like I said, if you’re getting eight miles a gallon you may want to think about a trade-in.

Of all the potentially controversial content above, only the following made it into the 4:39 p.m. version of the report on the event by the Associated Press’s Darlene Superville, whose narrative was clearly supportive of the President’s handling of the question (HT Instapundit; also noted at several other sites):

Obama needled one questioner who asked about gas prices, now averaging close to $3.70 nationwide, and suggested that the gentleman consider getting rid of his gas-guzzline vehicle.

“If you’re complaining about the price of gas and you’re only getting 8 miles a gallon, you know,” Obama said laughingly. “You might want to think about a trade-in.”

Though Superville’s narrative differs slightly from the White House’s (which among other things, doesn’t have the words “only” or “you know” in the transcript), her “Obama said laughingly” observation is crucially and painfully instructive. It wasn’t just the crowd which was laughing at the questioner; it was our president, who was thereby exhibiting clear condescension towards a citizen he is supposed to be serving. Combine this with Obama’s reaction to the fact that the questioner has ten children and his derision of “these big guys” and their “monster trucks,” and his response steps right up to the line of contempt. In my opinion, it clearly crosse that line.

If a conservative or Republican were to say such contemptible things, it would be big news. Not even the most hardened defender of the establishment press would disagree that at a minimum, replies such as Obama’s if made by a conservative or Republican would make their way into subsequent revisions of AP reports.

Not this time. The AP reporter’s 7:33 p.m. update, less than three hours after the report excerpted above, moved on to Obama’s meeting with Al Sharpton in its first two-thirds, but retained coverage of Obama’s Pennsylvania visit in the final third. In what may be a sign that Superville or her editors recognized the toxicity of the portion of Obama’s remarks she originally reported, the final third’s content seemed to overcompensate for what was previously reported:

“I’m just going to be honest with you. There’s not much we can do next week or two weeks from now,” the president told workers at a wind turbine plant outside Philadelphia.

It’s a theme Obama’s struck before as he tries to show voters he’s attuned to a top economic concern with gas prices pushing toward $4 a gallon.

Gee Darlene, Obama didn’t seem very “attuned” when he was ridiculing a fellow citizen with 10 kids who happens to own a vehicle popular with “monster truck” guys which is getting poor mileage, where the cost of a fill-up has doubled for reasons totally out of that citizen’s control.

Now of course material from previous wire service reports drops out in subsequent revisions and updates all the time; that’s the nature of news (though it should be a journalistic standard that all previous renditions of reports that are revised and updated are retained and made accessible). But decisions as to what stays and goes overboard can be pretty clear indicators of bias, as can failures to follow up. I don’t see the press asking Republicans or conservatives what they think of a guy who basically told a fellow citizen, as Mark Steyn characterized it in his column yesterday, that “It’s your fault.” That would extend the life cycle of comments which reflect really badly on Obama. Apparently, we can’t have that.

It’s obvious that if Obama’s arrogant and condescending comments were more widely known, they would be hurting him with voters. But Darlene Superville and her employer did what they could to minimize the damage. This is the way of the state-compliant media as it moves into campaign mode.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Sunday Question: Why Isn’t This 71 MPG Car in the U.S.?

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:03 am

VoltIn a chance conversation with a gentleman who had recently visited London and Wales, I heard him describe a car he had rented on that trip which gets 71 miles per gallon.


Yes, he insisted. 71 mpg — and it’s a 5-passenger diesel-powered vehicle.

What? Stinky, smelly diesel?

No, he said. It smells no more or less than an ordinary, gas-powered car.

It’s the Volkswagen Polo.

Here’s part of a review at Car and Driver in November 2009 (picture at top right was taken from that review):

2010 Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion Diesel – Quick Spin
Save the earth in this 70-mpg diesel.

What Is It?

Simply one of the most efficient five-seaters on the market today. The Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion (BlueMotion is VW’s term for its line of hyper-frugal diesel vehicles) is designed to be mass-market compatible, unlike most fuel misers. Indeed, until recently, the typical efficient car—especially in Europe, where this Polo is sold—has been the very definition of a penalty box, with little in the way of luxuries and barely more horsepower than an Amish buggy. This Polo is comfortable and at least has enough power to merge into traffic safely.

How Does It Drive?

The Polo BlueMotion is powered by a 1.2-liter three-cylinder turbo-diesel derived from the 1.6-liter TDI four-cylinder available in the Golf BlueMotion and Passat BlueMotion models. It’s equipped with a stop/start system that turns off the engine when stopped and restarts it when the driver requests movement. Revs at idle are reduced, and regenerative braking recuperates wasted energy when coasting or decelerating. Helping with efficiency, the Polo BlueMotion incorporates a lot of weight-saving technology and comes in at about 2400 pounds. That’s considered lightweight these days.

… In the European cycle, the Polo BlueMotion is rated at a combined 71 mpg. After spending considerable time behind the wheel, we can confirm these numbers are pretty accurate in the real world.

… If fuel consumption were the decisive criterion, nothing could come close to this VW—including politically correct hybrids such as the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius, which are EPA city/highway rated at 40/43 mpg and 51/48 mpg, respectively.

Where Can I Get One?

Not here, at least not yet. The U.S. will likely get the Polo at some point, probably as a four-door sedan, but it’s not clear whether the BlueMotion model will be included in the lineup.

A visit to VW’s UK site indicates a price range of 9,495 – 12,310 British pounds (probably before several options), which translates to about $15,600 – $20,200 US$ at current exchange rates. The Chevy Volt’s MSRP is $40,280.

From all indications, the Polo has none of the inconveniences or extra costs associated with the four-passenger Chevy Volt, particularly the whole plug-in exercise, limited range, etc. If this area (metro Cincinnati) is typical, a large plurality if not a majority of gas stations have at least one diesel pump these days. The person with whom I spoke told me that U.S. and worldwide regs imposed on diesel fuel content and VW’s improved technology over mediocre American offerings of the past have removed problems previously experienced with bad smells and smoke.

So it would appear that the VW Polo puts the Chevy Volt to shame. So why isn’t it available here (confirmed by visiting to this VW US page) — or did I just answer my own question?


UPDATE: A commenter just raised the issue of the diesel-powered Ford Fusion, which is an SUV that gets 53 MPG, and is apparently big in Europe.


Please use the comment link at the bottom right of this post, and NOT the comment box which appears below if you’re not on the home page. The comment box got hacked some time ago and isn’t operational.

Positivity: Be courageous Catholics, Archbishop Chaput urges Notre Dame students

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 6:55 am

From South Bend, Indiana:

South Bend, Ind., Apr 9, 2011 / 07:10 am

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver encouraged a gathering of pro-life University of Notre Dame students to be courageous in fighting for their beliefs and to always remember what being Catholic really means.

“(W)e need to learn that not from the world; not from the tepid and self-satisfied; and not from the enemies of the Church, even when they claim to be Catholic; but from the mind and memory of the Church herself, who speaks through her pastors,” he said in an April 8 speech at the university.

Chaput noted how the philosopher Leszek Kolakowski stressed the reality of evil. Though not an orthodox religious thinker, Kolakowski talked about Satan “not as a metaphor or legend or the figment of neurotic imaginations, but as a living actor in history.”

The devil, the archbishop said, “works in the present to capture our hearts and steal our future. But he also attacks our memory; the narrative of our own identity.” This is because our memory of history conditions our thoughts and choices in our daily lives.

Archbishop Chaput encouraged his audience to participate in politics, saying, “Christ never absolved us from defending the weak, or resisting evil in the world, or from solidarity with people who suffer.”

Catholics cannot exclude their religious beliefs from guiding their political behavior, because God sees that this “duplicity” is a kind of cowardice. This lack of courage wounds Christians’ individual integrity and also discourages others who try to witness publicly to their faith.

Christians should act on their beliefs always with humility, charity and prudence, but also always with courage, he emphasized.

“We need to fight for what we believe,” he said. “Nothing we do to defend the human person, no matter how small, is ever unfruitful or forgotten. Our actions touch other lives and move other hearts in ways we can never fully understand in this world. Don’t ever underestimate the beauty and power of the witness you give in your pro-life work.”

The archbishop also described abortion as “the foundational human rights issue of our lifetime.”

“We can’t simultaneously serve the poor and accept the legal killing of unborn children. We can’t build a just society, and at the same time legally sanctify the destruction of generations of unborn human life,” he added. …

Go here for the rest of the story.