PARENTHETICAL MY-MOOD-RING-EXPLODED-TODAY NOTE: Yes, I am in a singularly grouchy frame of mind tonight....
Late this afternoon, I heard helicopters. Living in this area, where heavy helicopter traffic is a normal part of the environment, you learn to recognize different choppers: the little machines built nearby by Robinson being given their first test flights, police helicopters, Coast Guard helicopters....
But these were big. And loud.
So I went outside to take a look. Two helicopters, glossy green with white tops, were heading along the coastline, in line with at least one exceptionally dangerous-looking military craft.
Yes, the current president is in town.
He came into Long Beach this afternoon aboard Air force One, his Boeing 747, and transferred to Marine One, his helicopter, for local hops.
Of course there is more to his entourage than that. I don't remember all the specifics -- and thus I may have one or two details wrong -- but when the president travels, he has AF One, a back-up aircraft, a number of C-17 transports (carrying Marine One plus at least one backup, plus his limousine -- officially called a Cadillac but actually built on a gas-guzzling GMC truck chassis -- and the full-size SUVs driven by his security detail) and at least one plane for the press.
If you haven't noticed, that adds up to a lot of fuel consumption. And a lot of money.
What brought him here? What task of Vital National Importance? He came here to appear on the Jay Leno Show tomorrow night.
I suppose some will think I'm making a fuss about trivia. Every president since Franklin Roosevelt has had a fleet of dedicated aircraft, and all have made extensive use of them.
But we are, in case it has escaped your attention, in a major financial crisis. It'd be nice to see some restraint at the top, particularly since this junket will cost as much as several of the AIG executives' bonuses the current president was complaining about (loudly and scornfully) earlier today.
Worse, this is the president who wants to slap carbon-emission taxes, cap-and-trade costs and taxes and alternative-energy taxes on us. Some put the price to consumers for his carbon-tax scheme at something north of $2 trillion. Not to mention a fair number of job losses in industry.
This is also the president who believes in some not-now-in-existence source of energy that means we don't have to drill for oil here or import any.
Still, there was this invitation to do Leno's show....
In this respect, he makes Al Gore, who has amassed a tidy $100+ million fortune through his environmental alarmism, all the while jetting about the world and occasionally plunking himself down in his massive estate, look like Ed Begley, Jnr.
I'm all in favor of many aspects of "environmentalism." I believe strongly in reducing emissions, cutting down on fuel consumption and wasted resources, improving the efficiency of everything that consumes energy. I have no problem with those things. They make sense.
But there is a word for people who live a good life of excess consumption while lecturing others on the need to cut back, do without and make increasingly onerous sacrifices in the name of "the public good." Said word gets underlined and written in capital letters when they do it with the money we normal citizens have less and less of every day.
It's not a word anyone considers nice or complimentary. But it fits.
And no, I'm not jealous because I have gone my whole life without tasting $150-per-pound Wagyu Beef, which apparently shows up from time to time on the White House menu. Hell, I just wish I could go out and buy myself an In-N-Out Burger tonight. But I can't.
Here endeth the rant. The news is about to come on. I can find out what's up with Octomom....
22 hours ago