The Spin Numbers Just Don’t Add Up

Yesterday The Chicago Tribune posted an article that seems to correct some of the charges made against President Trump about the cost of his travels to Florida. President Trump has visited Mar-a-Lago six times since he took office. I would like to note that he is not paying rent while he is there–he owns the place. As for arguments that the Secret Service is paying rent, I don’t know, but I do know the Secret Service paid rent to Joe Biden when they stayed on his property, so that is not anything new.

At any rate, the article reports:

With President Donald Trump making his seventh presidential trip this weekend to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, government watchdogs and Democrats are once again seeing dollar signs: namely, $3 million.

There are a few problems with the way this figure was reached. It was based on a trip President Obama made in 2013 to Palm Beach:

…Another problem with extrapolating from the October 2016 GAO report is that it included a leg from Washington to Chicago, where Obama gave an economic speech before heading to Palm Beach for a long weekend of golf.

Obama was only in Chicago for a few hours, but costs pile up because each destination triggers the need for the Secret Service to prepare and protect the site and the Defense Department to move the equipment involved.

Another significant cost-driver, GAO noted, is the per-hour cost of military aircraft, such as the president’s plane, Air Force One. So it’s not just a matter of slicing off a few hundred thousand dollars to come up with the $3 million estimate.

“If you take out Chicago, that just means the equipment is going to have to come from other bases,” Lepore said. Sometimes that means more money, sometimes less.

Judicial Watch arrives at its $1 million figure by estimating flight time and typical Secret Service costs, leaving out airlifting equipment such as the presidential limousines. Those costs also aren’t fully included in Judicial Watch’s $96 million total for Obama.

I would like to note that President Trump has been doing business while in Mar-a-Lago. Certainly it is an impressive place to meet with foreign leaders. I also wonder if it has less of a change of electronic surveillance than meetings in the White House. Considering all that we have learned about the surveillance of the Trump team, that might be a valid consideration.

Strange Priorities

Yesterday Paul Mirengoff posted an article at Power Line about the upcoming visit to America by the Pope. President Obama will be welcoming the Pope and has made some interesting choices as to who his guests for the occasion will be. These guests include transgender activists, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, and a nun who criticizes church policies on abortion and euthanasia. I would consider the current Pope someone who leans to the liberal side of things, but this is definitely not a tactful move on the part of President Obama.

On Friday, The Washington Post commented:

What struck us as we read about this small controversy is the contrast between the administration’s apparent decision to risk a bit of rudeness in the case of the pope and its overwhelming deference to foreign dictators when similar issues arise. When Secretary of State John F. Kerry traveled to Havana to reopen the U.S. Embassy recently, he painstakingly excluded from the guest list any democrat, dissident or member of civil society who might offend the Castro brothers.

And when Chinese President Xi Jinping comes to the White House next week, shortly after the pope leaves town, it’s a safe bet that he won’t have to risk being photographed with anyone of whom he disapproves. Chen Guangcheng, the courageous blind lawyer, for example, lives nearby in exile, but he probably won’t be at the state dinner. Neither will Falun Gong activists, democracy advocates or anyone else who might, well, give offense.

That is truly sad. You would think that basic manners would prevent this sort of behavior. We really need to think about the character of the people we elect to the Presidency. I truly think this is a character issue. A religious leader certain deserves at least as much respect as a ruthless dictator.

Making Another Bad Deal

The U.K. Mail Online is reporting that President Obama has struck a deal with China.

The article reports:

U.S. President Barack Obama today struck a landmark deal with China that would see both countries significantly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions over the next three decades.

Under the agreement, America pledged to cut between 26 and 28 per cent of the level of its carbon emissions set in 2005 by 2025 as part of the global fight against climate change.

But Chinese President Xi Jinping simply said he would aim to cap his country’s emissions by 2030 – still an unprecedented move by a nation that has been reluctant to box itself in on global warming.

So President Obama is willingly going to cripple the American economy while China continues to pollute and grow its economy. Wow! What a deal!

The article further reports:

The U.S.’s target to reduce its emissions of heat-trapping gases by 26 percent to 28 percent by 2025 is a sharp increase from Obama’s earlier vow to cut emissions by 17 percent by 2020.

However, China, whose emissions are still growing as it builds new coal plants, did not commit to cut emissions by a specific amount.

As the Daily Caller reported in January 2014:

“As coal-fired power plants are set to retire and EPA uses every regulatory trick in the book to make sure no new plants are built, we are going to see increased uncertainty in energy prices, reliability, capacity and reserves,” Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an emailed statement.

This news comes as China approved 100 million metric tons of new coal production capacity in 2013, despite air widespread air pollution concerns in the country. This is part of the Chinese government’s plan to bring 860 million metric tons of coal production online by 2015 — more than the entire annual coal output of India.

“By requiring CCS, EPA is placing a de facto ban on the construction of new coal-fueled power plants, handing over leadership of the development of CCS, and an estimated $1 trillion in economic benefits, to countries like China,” said Laura Sheehan, spokeswoman for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

Even if America stopped burning coal, the impact on the global environment would be minimal if China continued to build coal plants at its present rate. Note that China has made no promises to actually stop what it is doing. This is a bad deal and hopefully the lame-duck Senate will not approve it.