President Obama’s Trivial Pursuits

Keith Koffler
White House Dossier

The Middle East is afire with rebellion, Japan is imploding from an earthquake, and the battle of the budget is on in the United States, but none of this seems to be deterring President Obama from a heavy schedule of childish distractions.

The newly installed tandem of White House Chief of Staff William Daley and Senior Adviser David Plouffe were supposed to impart a new sense of discipline and purpose to the White House. Instead, they are permitting him to showcase himself as a poorly focused leader who has his priorities backward.

A woman with her pet dog and belongings pauses on the way from her devastated area in Higashimatsushima, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after a powerful earthquake-triggered tsunami hit the country's east coast. (AP Photo/The Yomiuri Shimbun, Hiroto Sekiguchi)

This morning, as Japan’s nuclear crisis enters a potentially catastrophic phase, we are told that Obama is videotaping his NCAA tournament picks and that we’ll be able to tune into ESPN Wednesday to find out who he likes.

Saturday, he made his 61st outing to the golf course as president, and got back to the White House with just enough time for a quick shower before heading out to party with Washington’s elite journalists at the annual Gridiron Dinner

…But the fun stuff won’t end anytime soon. On Thursday, the Taoiseach of Ireland will be in town to help the president celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. And then Friday it’s off to Brazil [with wife and daughters] for the start of a three-country Latin American tour…

Read the complete article at White House Dossier.

Related: Earthquake refugees battle for survival in freezing northeast Japan.

A photograph from a Mainichi helicopter shows people washing clothes in a river in Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture, on March 15. (Mainichi)

OFUNATO, Iwate — Hundreds of earthquake refugees are battling for survival at a makeshift evacuation center here, gripped by fears of aftershocks, freezing temperatures, power outages and ruthless tsunami waves.

About 400 people found shelter at the hastily arranged welfare center in an elementary school gymnasium in Ofunato, on the Pacific coast, one of the areas hit hardest by the March 11 devastating earthquake.

Showing signs of fatigue, the refugees are cuddling together under thin blankets for warmth amid freezing temperatures in the cramped evacuation center with no electricity. There are two electric stoves with a power generator which is about to run out of fuel. “I could sleep only for three hours because it was so cold,” Yotsuko Tanaka said after waking up at 4 a.m. on March 15, four days after the killer tremor devastated the region. “Seven of us are sharing a large blanket,” said the 72-year-old Tanaka, whose home was wiped away by powerful tsunami waves….

Japan: From High-Tech to Third World

click on image to view at full size

Right now, I’m more concerned with diseases, unclean water, starvation, and exposure to the elements. The humanity is being lost in the MSM’s coverage of Japan’s nuclear power plant problems …[emphasis CAJ]

MINAMISANRIKU, Miyagi Prefecture—When a giant tsunami of more than 10 meters high crashed into the shores of this quiet fishing village Friday, hundreds, if not thousands, of its residents were swept away.

With hardly a building now standing in the town’s lower basin, Minamisanriku is the focal point of the devastation on Japan’s northeastern coast. Nearly half of its 17,000 residents are missing. Those who aren’t among the 1,000 people already identified as dead are holed up in cold and chaotic evacuation centers…

…“They’re probably gone,” 65-year-old Yumiko Yamauchi said of her two older sisters. Her back is slightly hunched, her legs wobbly legs. She uses a golf club with a sawed-off head as an improvised cane.

Together with her son and her two grandchildren, Ms. Yamauchi has already gone to all six of the town’s major evacuation centers in search of her sisters. Her last hope, she says, is to comb the area near where she thinks the house once stood. She sighed. “There is nothing left,” she said. “There is no way they could have survived.”

She said she hasn’t cried. There is a Japanese phrase shoganai, “it can’t be helped.”…

Right now we are seeing, and possibly understanding, why it took two massive A-bombs to force these people to finally surrender in WWII. Friend or foe, they are literally unshakable.

click on the image to enlarge

Nomura Examines The Economic Impact Of Rolling Blackouts In Japan

Due to the damaged power infrastructure, Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) has announced rolling blackouts across its service region.

Nomura analyses the potential impact of rolling blackouts, representing a 25% power shortfall, through the end of April…

Panicked residents start to flee Tokyo as radiation levels rise after THIRD blast at stricken nuclear power plant. This is a very comprehensive article from The Daily Mail [UK] It contains diagrams, illustrations, information about the stock exchange, and photographs pertaining to the nuclear plants, and the public trying to remain informed and cope with this situation.

…Scientists say there are serious dangers but little risk of a catastrophe similar to the 1986 blast in Chernobyl, where the reactor did not have a containment shell. Some said the length of time since the crisis began showed the chemical reactions inside the reactor were not moving quickly toward a complete meltdown…

…Professor Paddy Regan, a nuclear physicist at Surrey University [UK], said: ‘We had a doomsday earthquake in a country with 55 nuclear power stations and they all shut down perfectly, although three have had problems since.

‘This was a huge earthquake, and as a test of the resilience and robustness of nuclear plants it seems they have withstood the effects very well.’…

…The reactor core is thought to be exposed to the air after the containment wall was cracked. But the radiation escaping is thought to be steam from the storage pond, rather than more deadly radiation from exposed fuel rods.

Officials said radiation levels at the power plant gate were falling this afternoon.

Nevertheless, plant officials are seeking the help of the American military to spray the overheating reactors with water from helicopters, to avoid exposing workers to ‘very acute’ levels of radiation on the ground at the plant…

…The Mayor of Fukushima City, Mr Tananori Seto  yesterday warned of grave consequences for people who were living within a 20km range of the power station if they stepped out from their homes.

He admitted that although evacuations had begun in the past two days, many people had remained in their homes – and now they were trapped there.

‘It is too dangerous to go outside and even if they did they would not be able to be transported to a safe place because we have no fuel for our vehicles,’ he said.

‘We need more information from the government. We aren’t getting enough information.’

Mr Seto said he hoped those who were still in their homes would keep a watch on their TVs and listen to their radios for updates.

‘Don’t even step outside to hang out your washing,’ he said. ‘If you’ve already done your washing, don’t bring it in from the line because it will be contaminated.’

People have been told to take showers if they think they have been contaminated but in many places there is no running water.

Water stored in outside tanks, officials warned, would be contaminated anyway.

Serious questions now surrounding the safety of the three crippled reactors…

A woman holding her dog reacts after evacuating following a tsunami warning in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, northern Japan, Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after a powerful earthquake-triggered tsunami hit the country's east coast. (AP Photo/The Yomiuri Shimbun, Daisuke Uragami)

Images of coastal Japan before and after the 8.9 earthquake and tsunami. Click on the image to enlarge.

Update: Althouse takes up the issue (2 perspectives on the placidity/passivity of Obama). Like us, she quotes the blog “White House Dossier,” which she describes as “mean.” But she also includes this “upbeat” (we call “tragically laughable”) report from Politico:

A dizzying succession of major world events is bombarding a president who insists on controlling his own time, emotions and political message.

But the Madison, WI, law professor who admits to voting for Obama writes:

Let me muscle past that adulation and hammer one point: The simple facts speak for themselves. It doesn’t matter what emotion these second-rate writers lather into their reporting. We can see that Obama is disinclined to take positions or actions with respect to the core responsibilities of the presidency.

Read the whole thing at Althouse.

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