August 6, 2010

What's in the Water for Whom

Justin Katz

There's a narrative in the air, and I herein offer only a few glances from my evening reading. Turn to Peggy Noonan for the general theme:

But do our political leaders have any sense of what people are feeling deep down? They don't act as if they do. I think their detachment from how normal people think is more dangerous and disturbing than it has been in the past. ...

But I've never seen the gap wider than it is now. I think it is a chasm. In Washington they don't seem to be looking around and thinking, Hmmm, this nation is in trouble, it needs help. They're thinking something else. I'm not sure they understand the American Dream itself needs a boost, needs encouragement and protection. They don't seem to know or have a sense of the mood of the country. ...

An irony here is that if we stopped the illegal flow and removed the sense of emergency it generates, comprehensive reform would, in time, follow. Because we're not going to send the estimated 10 million to 15 million illegals already here back. We're not going to put sobbing children on a million buses. That would not be in our nature. (Do our leaders even know what's in our nature?) As years passed, those here would be absorbed, and everyone in the country would come to see the benefit of integrating them fully into the tax system. So it's ironic that our leaders don't do what in the end would get them what they say they want, which is comprehensive reform.

When the adults of a great nation feel long-term pessimism, it only makes matters worse when those in authority take actions that reveal their detachment from the concerns—even from the essential nature—of their fellow citizens. And it makes those citizens feel powerless.

Note especially the parenthetical note in the first quoted paragraph: "Do our leaders even know what's in our nature?" Do they know who we are and what we're going through?

Meanwhile, in Spain, First Lady Michelle Obama is on a third-of-a-million-dollar vacation:

And her critics will be further annoyed when they learn that the president's wife had a Spanish beach closed off today so that she, her daughter and their entourage could go for a swim.

Spanish police cleared off a stretch of beach at the Villa Padierna Hotel in Marbella after the Obamas had finished a busy day of sightseeing.

This following the recent vacation to Main and the pending vacation in the Gulf region. In the latter, the beaches are closed for the less intriguing spectacle of oil contamination. (And locally, of course, we've had shark sightings closing our beaches.)

Folks are starting to liken Michelle to Mary Antoinette. At the same time, her husband, the President, has flown halfway across the country for a home-town birthday.

By the way, employment is down, and the federal government's solution is to spend billions of dollars to insulate public sector unions... again. Noonan is right to warn of a dangerous environment bubbling.

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The personal vacations of the President and First Lady have always been paid for out of their own pocket and not the taxpayer.

I also doubt the First Lady waved her magic wand and the Spanish police hopped to her commands and cleared the beach. It was probably something the Secret Service and the local police force worked on for visiting dignitaries.

Some people have been complaining in Hawaii about road and beach closures when the Obama family visits during Christmas and moves around town. Also the air tours complain about the restricted airspace near where the Obama family stays next to a military base which is restricted airspace anyways.

Nobody complained when the Emperor and Empress of Japan visited Honolulu for a week and the security was just as tight. Now November of 2011 Honolulu will be hosting APEC meeting for 10-days with 21 heads of state and entourages from 21 countries, international financial advisers and at least 2,000 international news media. At minimum 20,000 rooms are earmarked for basic attendee needs. This is going to be a national security gridlock for up to two weeks; maybe three weeks depending how many stay to extend into vacations. I can’t wait to hear the complainers and crybabies!

In Hawaii we get shark sightings all the time so no big deal people are invading their world plus we get beach closings due to jellyfish. We just move to the other side of the island!

I didn’t know it was the President’s birthday! Happy belated Mr. President! You’re beginning to show a little gray! Time to come back to your birth hometown and relax a little and de-stress!

It cost me $2,600 to fly first class from Hawaii back to Rhode Island or Boston. I’ll be in Boston next week for 4-days to attend a wedding and then I’ll be back in RI next month for a birthday celebration. This year I will have made 5 round trips back to the mainland one day events. Great to be retired!

On another note Hawaii’s Pam and Pierre Omidyar of Kahala, HI accepted The Giving Pledge, the brainchild of uber-billionaires Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, will give away half their personal fortunes to charity which by some estimates, worth about $160 billion and counting. They will have to tighten their belts a little with only $80 billion left and still making money.

State of Hawaii has the highest percentage of millionaires per population in the nation that has disposable $1 million in cash at hand all times.

You and the newspapers say employment is down. Don’t tell that to the 10 states that have the lowest unemployment in the nation. Hawaii is ranked #6. The airline seat peak was in 2006 with 7,183,817 flight seats to Hawaii. Then Aloha and ATA went bankrupt and seats dropped to 5,908,118 flight seats. All major airlines that service Hawaii have added seats bring capacity back up to 6,490,797 in 2010. Hopefully the 693,020 flight seats will be made up in 2011 bringing Hawaii back to capacity and with new Walt Disney resort and added cruises coming to Hawaii the tourist industry is back to almost full swing! Honolulu unemployment has dropped to 5.6% continuing to drop each month and visitor spending is over $100 million extra a month compared to last year plus hotels are 70% and up in accommodations; they are actually beginning to post profits again! If there is an economic problem in the USA the tourist are not showing it in Hawaii!

By the way my brother retired and was working part-time just to keep busy living in Providence, RI. He got laid off two months ago from his part-time job. He got tired of sitting around the house so he made a few phone calls and got an interview. He got hired not part-time but full time in less than a week of looking. He is 72 years old!

Who said there are no jobs in RI?

Posted by: Ken at August 7, 2010 1:42 AM

What is the connection between what Peggy Noonan wrote and the story of Obamas vacations ? I don't get it.

Posted by: Phil at August 7, 2010 6:55 AM

You're right... things are great.

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at August 7, 2010 7:02 AM


I've added to the Noonan quote to clarify.


I'm pretty sure the president doesn't pick up the tab for his/his wife's security detail, which is a substantial component of the cost. At any rate, the point isn't the taxpayer expense, so much as the disconnect between the behavior of the President and his family and the everyday lives of Americans.

Posted by: Justin Katz at August 7, 2010 7:07 AM

Yes, all the recents President's have been so in touch with the American people. We all have vacation ranches in Texas and vacation homes in Maine.

Posted by: triplerichard at August 7, 2010 7:48 AM

Mike Capelli makes all the readers and users of this site look bad. Why does he feel the need to constantly insult anyone who differs in view from him?

Posted by: triplerichard at August 7, 2010 9:34 AM

Reading the anger, hatred and lies being written by rightwingers here on Anchor Rising about President Obama makes me wonder what this swirling torrent of rage will eventually lead to.
Especially when he gets re-elected in 2012. Will they finally stop WHINING the way they have been now for 20 months? Will they finally shut up and realize that most people don't share their hate filled narrow minded view of what America should be?
Because frankly, most people I know support the President. Most people I know support his desire to make this nation a land with greater opportunity for all people regardless of economic background. And most people I know also recognize that the main challenges facing America are products of the eight disastrous years GWB was in the White House

Posted by: Sammy at August 7, 2010 11:00 AM


Thanks. That did clarify. Noonan of course was a speechwriter concerned about the effect the words she put in Ronald Reagan's mouth had in the fly over states. She and others never minded the effect some of their words had on race relations though. Remember that being "color blind" was really " Let's keep things as they are" and "enterprise zones" was really "stay where you are and we may eventually get some money there after we take care of ourselves". Now in those days those on the top had no problem with relating to ol' Ron and Nancy. Nancy spent a fortune on decorating the White House and she and Ronny did a shitload of entertainng (White tie of course) All of a sudden now though we are requiring these current inhabitants to roll up their sleeves and work like ... well you know. So now Peggy is waxing nostalgic for the old days when people knew their place and you had to work really hard to have the people (thick fingered clowns and rubes they may be) believe you were one of them. Now that's a true leader.

Posted by: Phil at August 7, 2010 12:38 PM


I often wonder when the "swirling torrent of rage" to which you refer started, why it started, and whether we'll ever be able to put that evil genie back in the bottle.

Let's work backwards. Were there people who hated George W? Plenty. What about Bill Clinton? Plenty of them too. What about George HW? Not many, really. Reagan? Some, particularly after Iran-Contra got going. But the return of optimism (remember "Morning in America?") seemed much more important at the time. Carter? There was frustration with his malaise speech, to be sure, and with the Iranian hostage crisis, Desert One, and a lackluster economy. But there was never real hatred of the man himself, who almost everyone recognized as a very smart and decent person. Gerald Ford? No hatred that I can recall. Nixon? There were definitely people who hated him personally. LBJ? Not really. JFK? History provides scant evidence. Ditto for Ike. So a quick reading of history suggests that sometime in the Reagan Presidency we hit a tipping point,of both polarization levels, and a coarsening of speech, that has come to its fruition during the presidencies of Clinton, George W, and now Obama.

However, if you go further back into US history, the use of extreme language to express one's dislike -- or hatred -- of a sitting President has a long (and often colorful) history.

So maybe what we're seeing is just a return to form, rather than something more sinister. On the other hand, that same era also saw the majority of Presidential murders. So Noonan may be quite right to worry about where current trends are headed.

Years ago I worked in a DC that was dominated by the middle, not the ideological extremes. Frankly, I do not think the current situation is an improvement, and I share Noonan's worries, as anyone with a knowledge of US and world history should.

Posted by: John at August 7, 2010 1:10 PM


The First Lady was not elected by the people to hold government office. Basically she is a private citizen as are her children. Her husband was elected by the people because the people of the United States felt he was the best choice for the Presidency whether you personally like it or not.

As such the costs for the First Lady and children are paid for by the President or herself because she is not an elected official.

As for the reported disconnect I don’t see it, the First Lady and children are private citizens not elected officials so comments about their personal life style and vacations are out of place.

President had a birthday and a dinner party in his second home town Chicago where his current personal owned house is located about two hours from the White House by jet. If that can be cited as a major disconnect with the American people well excuse me!! Maybe we all should stop celebrating our birthdays!!!

I’m an everyday American senior citizen and I fly 6,000 miles to celebrate my friends birthdays does that put me in the same category you put the President; a person with major disconnect with my fellow Americans that are flocking to the island and state that I live in? Average all inclusive week vacation in Hawaii for two is about $7,000.

I know RI is experiencing a recession and a brain drain from people leaving like me but I didn’t know it was affecting people’s intelligence level also!

Posted by: Ken at August 7, 2010 5:41 PM

Sammy,I'm not surprised that most people you know like Obama.
I hope he loses in 2012.
GWB was bad.His father wasn't that great,and Clinton was a very smart guy who wasted his intelligence in the pursuit of a gutter level code of personal conduct.
Obama just hasn't got the experience or the grit for the job.He got wafted along on a free ride all his life and now he's holding the bag.And the bag is ticking.
Yeah Phil,it's all about holding down people of color.Ridiculous.

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 7, 2010 6:43 PM


As it happens, I too support Obama's "desire to make this nation a land with greater opportunity for all people regardless of economic background," if that is, indeed, his desire. I just don't support his completely self-defeating method of striving for that end.

Posted by: Justin Katz at August 7, 2010 6:49 PM

"Meanwhile, in Spain, First Lady Michelle Obama is on a third-of-a-million-dollar vacation"

You know, I'll bet that France is a little miffed about the First Lady's choice of Spain as her European vacation locale.

Early October is the perfect time to vacation in the Loire Valley. It's no longer the height of the tourist season, so it's less crowded, but the weather is still lovely if a little frais. She and her forty friends could rent a chateau (even better than a five star hotel), they could get invited to other chateaus to dine, they could visit neighboring vineyards to sample wine and champagne.

The government of France would be greatly mollified by such a visit and ties between the US and France could only be strengthened. Accordingly, I would urge her to consider the Loire Valley for her autumn vacation ... strictly in the interest of better relations with one of our allies, let me emphasize, and certainly not because of the image that would be projected/reinforced in the United States during the run-up to Congressional elections three weeks later.

Posted by: Monique at August 7, 2010 7:33 PM

Triple Dick,
I have no problem with people who have differing views than me, if they can articulate a well reasoned, logical argument. I actually look forward to that.
But, for simpletons like Ken who provide anecdotal evidence of a friend getting a job in two weeks as proof there isn't an employment problem in RI, I have no patience. To them, I have no problem calling it like it is.

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at August 7, 2010 8:23 PM

Mike Cappelli,

Learn to read English because you are living in the United States of America.

I said it was my 72 year old brother that landed the job and not a friend.

Who’s the dope that can't read????

Posted by: Ken at August 7, 2010 8:31 PM

joe Bernstein & Sammy,

Most of us living in Hawaii don’t believe President Obama will run for a second term. As a matter of fact he also indicated some time ago he would be a one term president. I would not worry about his running for re-election in 2012.

After looking at the lower 48 mainland states and upper 49th state reaction to electing President Barack Obama and the continued negative very vocal minority that have nitpicked every second of the President’s current and pass life there is no way the United States of America can move forward as the great nation it suppose to be.

There is a pre-existing divide in the country that just will not die. Don’t forget, the whole world is watching the USA at this time in history which will set further tone of relationships.

As a former die hard New England born and raised Yankee who has lived in the South, Northeast, West, Midwest and Southwest as well as other counties while serving in the military during military conflict protecting America, I gained an appreciation of different cultures, people and value of life and liberty which many commenters and contributors of Anchor Rising enjoy today especially free speech and free movement.

I after many years of visiting and getting to understand the culture and people of Hawaii; I settled on leaving the state of my birth (RI) and moving to the 50th state Hawaii which some very educated journalists, politicians, political analysts and extremist USA birthers maintain is not a USA state because President Barack Obama was not born in the USA. HI Republican Governor had to sign into law a measure to stop the USA birthers from disrupting normal State of Hawaii Department of Vital Records barraging department continuously requesting copies of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate which they were not entitled to under HI law.

I am happy to report in Hawaii everyone is treated as a minority because there is no ethnic majority. There are no ethnic neighborhoods in Hawaii. Everyone lives together regardless of ethnicity, religion, status, station in life or wealth. Every religion is practiced in Hawaii and there is no domineering religion. US Census Bureau has ranked Hawaii #1 in the nation with the highest percentage of inter-racial married population in the nation and we all get along daily because we understand tolerance, understanding and Aloha which is written into the state constitution for every resident to follow. Hawaii is a true American melting pot (boys and girls the melting pot has produced some fantastic eye-candy).

Over 35 years ago State of HI took on healthcare reform and now is the only state in the nation closest to providing universal healthcare to total state population. HI has the lowest healthcare costs in the nation, least stressed and healthiest in the nation; one of the oldest and longest living populations in the nation. My healthcare costs dropped significantly moving from RI to HI with same healthcare insurers.

This is the environment President Barack Obama was born into and grew up in.

An in print quotation from Michelle Obama says; "You can't really understand Barack until you understand Hawaii."

As I have said many times, there is a different mindset living in Hawaii than on the mainland.

Posted by: Ken at August 8, 2010 1:15 AM

Ken-why does everything come to be seen through the prism of Hawaii?
Your prerogative,but actually Hawaii is an atypical American state.
Why all the harping on Obama's being a "minority"?
My objection to him is simple-he's a left wing ideologue who's made bad appointments and seems to not be competent and experienced enough for the job.
It's not a good thing to be seriously tested for the first time in one's life AFTER being elected President.
Obama needs to call a moratorium on his daily speeches-he's beginning to rival Castro for rambling on and on.I don't think Castro needed a teleprompter however.
Unlike Obama,Castro had been tested severely before assuming power.If you don't find this neophyte President scary,I don't know what to tell you.

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 8, 2010 6:14 AM

joe Bernstein,

I use Hawaii as a contrast to what is going on in New England. I don’t think it is atypical because a lot of what goes on here I also experienced in Milwaukee, WI, Indianapolis, IN and Harrisburg, PA. What RI needs to do is stop thinking parochial and start looking more at the world and how other states are interacting globally.

I never was touting Obama as a minority. I said in Hawaii everyone is considered a minority because there is no majority ethnic race mainly because of the enormous amount of inter-marriages over the hundreds of years. Average blood line spans at minimum 6 ethnic origins and have produced some very beautiful exquisite women.

As for Obama, he is ending his second year in office. Two more to go. He took office at a time only a crazy person would. Two wars, national debt out of control due to the wars, country in massive financial meltdown, recession of epic size, world relations and opinion of USA at lowest point and major population unrest because everyone wanted things fixed and made better yesterday.

As a president he has the ultimate final word of yes/no. However he has a lot of advisers stacked around him for guidance. Some good and some middle of the road. He is only going to be as good as his advisers. He has made some mistakes and he will continue to make mistakes and as long as he recognizes the mistakes and fixes them because he is only human like the rest of us.

There is an enormous military buildup going on in the Pacific (Hawaii and Guam) with North Korea and China rattling their sabers. North Korea test firing ballistic missiles that so far fall 600 miles short of Hawaii and China with the Pacific Ocean game changer the mobile land based DF-21D (CSS-5 Mod-4) Anti-ship ballistic missile with a 1,900 mi range, capable of evading detection and pinpoint accuracy of hitting a moving aircraft carrier and sinking it with conventional high-explosives. A major problem now for the US Navy because the F-18 has a combat range of 450 mi especially if China starts exporting the DF-21D and guidance satellites to other countries.

We had RIMPAC massive month-long naval war game involving 14 countries the last month and they sank a decommissioned helicopter carrier with naval gun fire, ship-to-ship missiles and submarine torpedoes but the US Air Force had to get in the act with a high altitude B-52 flyover dropping a laser guided bomb on the deck of the carrier.

Posted by: Ken at August 8, 2010 6:52 PM

Ken-you are the person on this blog I communicate with the best because we shared very similar experiences.Don't ever think I'm dumping on you for a second-just questioning.Harrisburg?Cool.ennsylvania is the most beautiful state in the Union.It's also the original Heartland.I can't get myself to move out of the original Thirteen Colonies.
If you live near Honolulu,look up Glenn Nakajo-he was the admin officer in my unit in Vietnam.He's State Farm agent.

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 8, 2010 7:18 PM

joe Bernstein,

As far as experiences you don’t want to know and if pressed it would have to be off line. I’ll be in RI for a week in this September. This week I’ll be in Boston for a few days attending a wedding.

I live on the Island of Oahu which has Honolulu which is the capitol city of the state. Honolulu is the largest city in the world; at least it has the longest borders. According to the state constitution any island (or islet) not named as belonging to a county belongs to Honolulu. This makes all islands within the Hawaiian Archipelago, that stretch to Midway Island (1,500 miles northwest of Hawaii) part of Honolulu. Honolulu is about 1,500 miles long or more distance than halfway across the 48 contiguous states with one school district.

I didn’t think you were dumping on me just needing a little clarification to my statements and I thought you’d enjoy hearing about the military sit-rep and AF precision bombing demonstration to 13 countries and 4 observing countries. Never dull sitting in the middle of the Pacific! By the way; HIANG will be the only ANG outfitted with a squadron of advanced F-22 Raptors. We got the first two last month. They did an advertised flight demo off my coast line to show public what they could do and it was amazing to see what they did without ABs lit! I could feel the Gs!

My time in WI, IN and PA was all mil related as those states were part of my 11 state jurisdiction responsibility. I was always visiting NSGL in IL. Winter visits was the icy worst! I hated it and had to stay in BOQ lakeside with a penetrating offshore wind! The most crazy and fun place which I always enjoyed visiting was Naval Support Activity Mechanicsburg actually next door to Harrisburg, PA (like saying I visited Providence but worked in Cranston) but always stayed at Holiday Inn which had a great very active night club and outside bungee jumping. The college was just down the street! I am still allowed to use my mil email account under DoD civilian even though I am fully retired and no longer working for USAF, USN/MC, USAR, USAR/ANG and DISA.

I’ll look up Glenn Nakajo (downtown Honolulu is 1 hr away in traffic) and will tell him you sent me and told me to call him a “no-load” and on the flight-line that he didn’t know what a “mule” was (just joking)!

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