Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
Question: What cost $315,000 in 2005, increased to $900,000 by 2012, and rocketed up $1.3 million in 2013?
Answer: Uncle Sam’s liquor bill.
Wait, I’ve got a better one: What produces, “…a sharp high-pitched resonant sound when tapped with a metal object, such as a fork or spoon,” and costs a whopping $5 million? If you said Michelle Obama’s vacation menu, while she counsels the rest of us to subsist on arugula, tree bark and granola, well, you’re actually pretty close.
Answer: The State Department’s exquisite crystal champagne flutes, brandy snifters, red and white wine glasses, sherbet glasses, and finger bowls. And what do we get for $5 million worth of crystal to transport some of that $1.3 million booze down foreign gullets? Well, according to the State Department:
…The United States wishes to make the best impression in its dealings with foreign governments and other groups and carries out lawfully its representational activities, including its diplomatic receptions, in as effective and as culturally appropriate a manner as possible. …The United States international relations, national interest and success are, in part, built upon the ability of our ambassadors to entertain host country nationals in our embassies and residences abroad.
You will recall that we hosted one hell of a shindig for the host country nationals in Benghazi, complete with a defenseless and dead U.S. Ambassador along with three other Americans, but as former Secretary of State (and future presidential candidate) Hillary Clinton would say, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”
What does make a difference, however, is the State Department’s inviolable principle, which is the statement that our “representational activities,” must be, “culturally appropriate.” Our heightened propriety requires that we disabuse the world’s despots of the idea that we will take any meaningful action while they invade neighboring countries, arm themselves to the teeth with nuclear and conventional weaponry, slaughter Christians, and generally terrorize the planet. And if crystal flutes and brandy snifters don’t do the trick, then I’m sure it has escaped no one’s attention that while Vladimir Putin invades the Crimea, the Obama Administration is preparing for the First Family’s annual invasion of Martha’s Vineyard.
Currently, the First Lady, First Daughters, and First Mother-In-Law are sojourning in China on a mission which the White House described as, “light on politics but heavy on personal diplomacy.” Thus far, the personal diplomacy part has been a dazzling success, with hotel employees counting down the minutes until Michelle and the girls pack the First Mother-In-Law, who’s been “barking orders” at the hotel staff, back into the airplane.
But who can blame her? It’s tough to find a good 3,400 sq. ft. presidential suite these days, especially one appointed with dining for six, a jacuzzi, bar, treadmill, and 24-hour butler at the bargain basement price of $8,400 a night. What better way to represent the working people of America (an increasingly rare breed by the way), who are picking up the tab for this junket, than by berating the staff? It’s as American as anyone else who lives on the public dole expressing their gratitude by demanding still more.
The good news, of course, is that all of this…this..stuff, is being done on our behalf. The $20 million in combined costs of the Obama’s Hawaiian Christmas vacations, the costs associated with separately transporting the First Lady and her staff and security detail back to the mainland after the President graciously agreed to grant her a few extra days in Hawaii at our expense, the separate Valentine’s Day vacations, the First Lady’s $467,585 excellent adventure to Spain in 2010, the 16 vacations the First Family enjoyed in only their first three years in office, these are the trappings, er, … I mean the sacrifices of public service on our behalf.
Actually though, I suspect the real trouble starts when the vacations end. That’s when most Americans would happily fund even more lavish distractions if they would but turn the President’s benevolent attentions somewhere, anywhere, other than on those whom Bill O’Reilly calls, “the folks.” Since Barack Obama took office, gas prices have risen 111 percent, the national debt has risen 51 percent, 6.9 million more Americans live in poverty, and the average family income has dropped almost $5,000.
Meanwhile, food prices soar; millions have lost the health care plans they were told they could keep, as well as their doctors and their cancer treatments; and the costs of destroying, er … reforming the health care industry keep rising.The boot of the state is pressing down on the throat of the private sector, and “the folks” are being suffocated. This isn’t “fundamental transformation.” This is taking a wrecking ball to the last and greatest bastion of freedom and individual sovereignty in the world.
Last year, I had the privilege of sitting down to chat with the then-CEO of Ricochet, who asked whether I thought Barack Obama was engaged in a willful act of destruction, or whether he really is irredeemably and invincibly ignorant of such truths as were apparent to “Alex de Tocqueville”? To which prompted I registered my belief that he is engaged in what he sees as an act of transcendental comeuppance.
While taking the fawning and messianic coverage of his hagiographers in the press corps to heart, he views his calling as that of taking the United States down a few notches. It isn’t right, you see, that the average Joe in America, through his industry and work, achieves a standard of living unthinkable in many parts of the world. No, Joe must be made to surrender whatever part of his property Barack Obama thinks ought to belong to someone else. You call it theft, he calls it equality. Tomato, tomahto, that sort of thing.
It’s the same with national sovereignty and security, of course. So what if the United States liberated a continent in the Second World War? What right does it have to secure its survival and interests if doing so offends the sensibilities of a third world despot or Islamic fanatic, assuming there is any meaningful difference between the two? “Why did we deny Ukraine weapons?” asked Charles Krauthammer recently. “Because,” he continued, “in the Barack Obama-John Kerry worldview, arming the victim might be taken as a provocation.”
Those are the sort of mental gymnastics that result in the belief that disarming law-abiding citizens will produce safer streets, that moving a man from productivity to dependency will enhance society’s wellbeing, and that government masterminds can manage the lives of millions of people better than the people themselves. It makes counter-intuition into a virtue, and virtue into a liability. And it does it all at taxpayer expense, at cruising altitude, to the “sharp, high-pitched, resonant” clink of $5 million crystal.