The Latino vote could be key in November’s presidential election. If this demographic’s views at all mirror the sentiment in Latin American countries, President Barack Obama could be in trouble. Gallup reported this week that the percentage of Latin Americans believing the U.S.-Latin America relationship will strengthen under Obama has dropped from 43 percent in 2009 to 24 percent in 2011. Neighboring Mexico’s optimism was halved, from 43 to 19 percent. Obama’s job approval rating in the region has also declined in the same time frame, from 62 to 47 percent, with Mexico demonstrating the biggest fall among the 18 countries, from 62 to 31 percent. At this weekend’s Summit of the Americas in Colombia, Gallup says Obama is “seeking to strengthen commercial ties, specifically in the energy sector.” Perhaps Canada will join us in our skepticism.
Western Hemisphere leaders will gather for the sixth Summit of the Americas this weekend at the Convention Center in Cartagena, Colombia. (AP Photo)
President Obama used his recent trip to the Cushing area to tout an executive order fast-tracking the southern leg of the Keystone pipeline. He should have saved taxpayers the money. Critics pointed out that federal help wasn’t needed to move the project forward. National Journal’s energy and environmental experts agree. In a survey, 71 percent said this week that the executive order was unnecessary, and most concurred that the pipeline from Cushing to the Gulf Coast needs only local approval. The president’s involvement is “not even remotely necessary,” one insider said. Another said it “looks like federal government interfering in the traditionally local decision of land-use planning, and it likely won’t actually change the permitting process, which is already under way. Not great optics — and I say this as a fan of the president.”
AP File Photo
His supporters might see President Obama’s newfound love of hydrocarbons as a Nixon-in-China event. Hardly. Obama has no serious interest in upping domestic oil and gas production — other than getting him to what he hopes is a post-re-election frenzy for alternative fuels. If you want a real Nixon-in-China event, look to Washington State, where enough Republicans and conservative Democrats joined liberals to get a gay marriage bill passed. What really turned the page in Washington was key support from the business community. Large corporations have taken the lead on benefits for same-sex couples and are helping getting gay marriage laws enacted. Corporations may want lower taxes and reduced federal debt, but they can be quite progressive on social issues. They’re not the Great Wall of Reactionaries that the “Occupy” crowd claims.
President Obama’s remarks in Cushing ran to about 1,060 words. The cost of getting Air Force One here from a previous stop in New Mexico was an estimated $149,792. So the Cushing speech ran to about $141 per word, or slightly more if you don’t count the obligatory “Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.” The figure doesn’t include any other costs associated with the stopover. The words themselves were utterly forgettable, but that was by design. This was a photo-op so an image of Obama could be framed by pipes ready for the laying. A picture is worth a thousand words; this picture was worth about $150,000. The lucky few who attended the Cushing speech got something priceless to them — camera phone photos of the president’s brief sojourn in our midst.
President Barack Obama waves to the crowd as he arrives at the TransCanada Pipe Yard near Cushing, Okla., Thursday, March 22, 2012. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Protests from the left and the right were staged to coincide with Barack Obama’s first presidential visit to Oklahoma, but the Sierra Club was not among those protesting Obama’s sudden love of hydrocarbons and pipelines. We regret the error of naming the Sierra Club as a participant in the protests, which we did in a Wednesday editorial. The protests seemed as hollow as Obama’s remarks in Cushing, but it was the only opportunity for local protests of the president’s environmental, energy and fiscal policies while Obama was actually here. Such eager opportunism reminds us of the local TV meteorologists who haven’t had much to do since the August wildfires until the emergence of typical spring weather in recent days.
We’ve noted before the tendency of lawmakers to waste taxpayer money with politically-charged press releases. State Rep. James Lockhart, D-Heavener, piggybacked on the presidential visit this week to thank the White House “for agreeing to allow” a pipeline project linking Cushing to the Gulf Coast. The project didn’t need White House support. Whatever agreement came from the White House is as hollow as an empty pipeline. What does need White House agreement is a pipeline from Cushing into Canada. For the record, Lockhart supports both segments. We know this because taxpayers funded a press release so that Lockhart and fellow legislators can campaign for re-election on the public’s dime.
AP File Photo
Liberal guys and girls aren’t the only ones who wanna have fun and make a statement. PETA is notorious for its attention-getting street theater tactics. A conservative group called The National Center for Public Policy Research joined the fun this month by deploying a HAZMAT team to dramatize the dangers of dealing with a broken compact fluorescent light bulb. Then it said it would hire a discount hypnotist called Klepto the Mediocre to compel Americans to buy the Chevy Volt, a car that only the Obama administration seems juiced about. Since so much of the “Occupy” movement has been ludicrous and childish, the NCPPR’s response is appropros. All the idiotic “Occupy” stunts need a conservative counterpart. How about an Easter parade of movie androids to demonstrate the robotic nature of so much “Occupy” rhetoric?
AP File Photo
Heard the joke about the Chevy Volt? It was subjected to a battery of tests and all of them came out negative. The electric car, a darling of the fossil fuel-averse Obama administration, didn’t quite go the way of Solyndra, another administration flight of fancy, but it has been put in neutral. General Motors suspended sales after a rash of bad news over battery fires and slumping sales. Not to worry: America’s first plug-in vehicle is a hit in Europe, where it was recently named Car of the Year. “Battery-operated cars are electrifying environmentalists, progressives and award-givers,” noted the New York Daily News. “The only ones who aren’t juiced about them, it seems, are autobuyers.” The Volt is so politically correct that you can legally drive one solo on California freeway lanes restricted to cars with multiple passengers. Thus you can beat the fossil fuelers to any fire sales disposing of Solyndra’s assets.
NATE BEELER/THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER
Oklahoma Gas & Electric deserves a salute for its commitment to education in the Oklahoma City Public School District and other areas. OG&E employees tutor students and staff the Teachers Warehouse with volunteers one day each week. OG&E volunteers inventory, fill orders and get the Teachers Warehouse ready for supply pickup days. Teachers Warehouse, a program of The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools, gives an average of $30,000 to $40,000 in supplies to teachers across the district each month. OG&E also provides classes for students to learn the importance of electrical safety and energy conservation. Through a video and a live safety demonstration, the Fourth Grade Electrical Safety Program, available throughout OG&E’s service area, provides students important life lessons such as keeping conducting materials away from electricity, staying away from power lines and practicing safe use of electricity in their homes. The OG&E Energy Corp. Teacher Grant program also has provided more than $200,000 in grants to teachers throughout the Oklahoma City metro since 2003. Creative projects focusing on math, science or reading can earn a teacher up to $1,000.
One consequence of the Great Recession has been a lowering in construction costs. Tell that to New Yorkers. This week, auditors looking into the new World Trade Center said completing the tower will cost $14.8 billion — a stunning 35 percent more than the last estimate of $11 billion in 2008. Auditors said the Port Authority, which owns the site, has “insufficient cost controls and a lack of transparent and effective oversight” of the project. No kidding. Contrast that with construction of the Devon tower in Oklahoma City. The estimated cost was $750 million when the building design was unveiled in 2008. Now? “We have not revised that figure,” spokesman Chip Minty said.
Above: World Trade Center, Jan. 31, 2012. (AP Photo)
Left: Devon tower, Feb. 1, 2012. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman