I’m going out on a limb and predicting that President Obama will talk about jobs in the State of the Union address tonight. It’s an easy bet because he has often claimed that jobs are a prime focus for his administration, just as he said back in 2010:

Oh yeah, President Obama has been great about creating jobs. Here’s a graph from the government explaining how we needed to pass a huge stimulus to help America recover from high unemployment numbers. And tacked on the government chart are the actual unemployment numbers. Looks like the stimulus was a success!

August 2012 Unemployment

But there’s a problem with the President saying he wants to create jobs: the government can only create government jobs. It is incapable of creating private-sector jobs. That is the responsibility of — hello! — the private sector. The force of government can best be compared to the brakes on a large truck. The brakes are incapable of making the truck go any faster, but they have a great deal of influence when it comes to slowing things down. Likewise, government isn’t designed to create jobs, but through its actions, laws, and regulations, government can exert a great deal of influence in slowing down the economy, which leads to job scarcity. The uncertainty of Obamacare, the way government has blocked the building of the XL Pipeline, and regulations by the EPA that are causing coal-fired power plants to shut down are three examples of government slamming down the brakes on the American economy.

Back in November 2011, DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the following to Andrea Mitchell of NBC News, with regard to the American Jobs Act:

“Well, we’re not focused on polls. I mean, we’re a year away from an election. The president is focused like a laser on passing the American Jobs Act, on making sure that we can put people back to work.”

Like a laser, huh?

Focused like a laser on jobs

So Pres. Obama has been getting some flak for recently saying, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” So let’s look at how somebody else – say, somebody in government – made it happen. First up is a report from Georgia.

Police in Georgia have shut down a lemonade stand run by three girls trying to save up for a trip to a water park, saying they didn’t have a business license or the required permits.

Midway Police Chief Kelly Morningstar says police also didn’t know how the lemonade was made, who made it or what was in it….

The girls needed a business license, peddler’s permit and food permit to operate, even on residential property. The permits cost $50 a day or $180 per year.

This is not an isolated event. Reason.TV awarded lemonade stand crackdowns the Nanny of the Month for June 2011.

And did you hear about 13-year-old Nathan Duszynski’s entrepreneurial efforts?

This summer, 13-year-old Nathan Duszynski wanted to make some money to help out his disabled parents—his mom has epilepsy and his dad has multiple sclerosis. So he decided to open a hot dog stand. He saved $1,200, mostly money made by mowing lawns and shoveling snow. He checked with the city to make sure he didn’t need any licenses or permits, even going to city hall in person with his mom. And then he bought a cart….

He arrived to set up shop on his first day and 10 minutes later, a zoning official arrived to shut him down. The problem: The cart, which is in the parking lot of a sporting goods store, is on the edge of official downtown commercial district of Holland, Michigan. The city bans food carts in that area in order to minimize competition for the eight tax-paying restaurants a couple of blocks away.

The Mackinac Center produced the following 4 minute video about this story.

Which brings me to the garbage strike. My garbage didn’t get picked up this week, thanks to a strike in my area:

Garbage, recycling and yard-waste pickup for most of Waste Management’s 220,000 customers in King and South Snohomish counties stopped Wednesday when Teamsters went on strike against the region’s largest refuse service over wage and benefits issues.

Teamsters Local 117, which represents 153 recycling-route drivers, walked off the job at 10 a.m. and was joined by Local 174, the garbage-truck drivers, who signed a contract with Waste Management a few months ago.

So 153 pissed-off drivers have affected hundreds of thousands of people, and our trash now sits, uncollected, in the hot Northwest sun. Thankfully, the Northwest sun isn’t all that hot, even in July. We’re barely hitting the low 70s, so it’s not as bad as it could be, but given an extra week, local trash is going to start smelling really special.

A lot of people are complaining about the strike, but think about it: this could be a prime opportunity for an entrepreneur. Once I realized that trash wasn’t going to be picked up, I could have printed up some flyers and hit all the houses in the neighborhood. The local dump charges $20 for a car to drop off garbage, so that would be the price I’d set per can for my trash-removal service. If my neighbors don’t want to wait for the striking collectors to pick up the trash next week (or possibly the week after that, depending on how long this strike drags on), I’d be there to do it for them at the same price it would cost them to do it themselves. But they’d get to skip the bother of carting it to the dump, and I would add the additional service of power spraying out their garbage cans to sweeten the deal. That’s a service Waste Management doesn’t offer.

I’m guessing a friend and I could do a good Saturday’s worth of work helping out the neighborhood, and I could pay a local kid to do the power spraying. But I’m not going to do this. First, I don’t have a truck, nor do I know someone who has one. But even if I did have a truck, I’d not do this because I know local government would try to stop me at every turn. I’d probably make multiple trips to the local dump, and that many visits would most certainly attract the attention of the “helpful” people at city hall. They’d want to see my business license, and who knows what else. I’ve dealt with the joys of obtaining a local business license before, and I have no desire to repeat the process. I might discover that there’s a local ordinance against individuals collecting other people’s garbage and taking it to the dump. Government will make sure that this attempt to make a little money becomes a huge headache, a bother, and more trouble than it’s worth. Consequently, this potential service will die before it even gets off the ground.

And that’s the point. Our local, state, and federal governments have gone from encouraging small businesses to actively discouraging them with punitive regulations and fees. It’s not because the government doesn’t want people to make money. After all, people who make money pay taxes. The government specifically discourages entrepreneurship and subtly encourages working for big business, partially because of the way governments collect taxes. When you start working for someone else, you sign a W-4 form stating that your boss will withhold taxes from every one of your paychecks and duly send it off to Uncle Sam. You cannot opt out of this automatic taxation, even if you would be scrupulous in paying all your taxes every April 15. The government wants a steady influx of tax money. But if you opt to start a small business, you get the thrill of paying your own income tax four times a year, plus the increased likelihood of an IRS proctology exam. Bureaucrats aren’t stupid. They’d rather receive sure, steady tax revenues, collected automatically and painlessly from docile workers who aren’t even sure how much they’re being milked, than wrestle with uppity entrepreneurs who know exactly how much they’re being taxed, who hate punitive taxation and who will fight to keep more of the money they make.

President Obama has no personal experience starting a small business or reaping the rewards of his efforts. In fact, throughout his life he’s been surrounded and supported by people who helped “make it happen” for him, so perhaps his outlook is understandable. But those of us who have always had to work for a living, who pay taxes to support the very infrastructure that gives us a measure of success, may be excused for questioning the President’s judgment. And those of us who have struggled to start a small business and grow it to any measure of success recognize President Obama’s speech for what it really is: a load of garbage.

I’ve written before about President Obama’s birth certificate issue, but it’s hit the news again this week when the White House finally released a more detailed certificate. And now that it’s been released, several things struck me.

* I find it strange that the title of the document is “Certificate of Live Birth” instead of the “Birth Certificate” that I have on mine. But apparently that’s a Hawaii thing, based on another certificate signed on the same day as Pres. Obama’s.

* Why release it now? People have called to see the certificate for more than three years, so what is so special about Wednesday, April 27th, 2011, that merits releasing it now? Pres. Obama explained the reason this way:

“We’re not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers,” Mr. Obama said. “We’ve got some enormous challenges out there. There are a lot of folks out there still looking for work… We do not have time for this kind of silliness.”

Later that day, Pres. Obama took advantage of having put this kind of silliness behind him and appeared on the Oprah show and attended three fundraisers. Serious presidential stuff, that. I’m glad it’s now behind him.

I can find only one reason why the certificate was released: instead of being a fringe subject for “birthers,” more and more mainstream people have been paying attention to this issue, thanks mostly to the way presidential-hopeful Donald Trump has talked about it. It had gotten to the point that a poll showed only 38% of Americans believed Pres. Obama was definitely born in the U.S. Pres. Obama can lay the the blame for those poor numbers at his own feet. He could have resolved this issue years ago, if he had wanted to.

* Since Pres. Obama only had to ask to get the birth certificate, why release it now when it could have been really useful at Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin’s court martial? When he was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010, Lakin refused to comply, reasoning that if Pres. Obama were not legally the Commander in Chief due to his citizenship doubts, he couldn’t legally issue orders to the military. Col. Lakin was convicted in his court martial and is currently serving his six month confinement in addition to being dismissed from the U.S. Army. His military career would not be in shambles if Pres. Obama had seen fit to release his birth certificate earlier.

* Why spend over a million dollars to the Perkins Coie law firm to squelch lawsuits asking for Pres. Obama to confirm his natural-born U.S. citizenship status? Why spend gobs of cash to hide something if there is nothing there to hide? Sure, it could be a rope-a-dope to tar people as loonies for bringing up the subject, but is that really worth the money?

* For an administration committed to being “the most open and transparent in history,” the Obama White House has been mighty closed. It took years to get this certificate released; now people will continue to ask about Pres. Obama’s school records and other records that haven’t yet been released to the public. Donald Trump is calling for them, and since he was successful in getting the birth certificate, will he also be successful in freeing up Pres. Obama’s school records from “the most open and transparent” administration in history? Time will tell.

* Will this convince all the people who believe Pres. Obama wasn’t born in the U.S.? Of course not. Some people will never accept any level of proof. Looking at the PDF file the White House released, I have to wonder why they monkeyed with the document before sending it out. The funky green and white background can’t be on the original document. I took the PDF file that the White House released, zoomed in to 600% on the top-left of the document, and added blinking lines to show the way the horizontal lines don’t curve on the image as you’d expect if they were part of the original document.

blinking Obama certificate

So someone edited the document before it was officially posted. I have to wonder why. And others have pointed at oddities of the image, too. Since the White House knew that people would be scrutinizing this document, why has it so obviously been doctored?

What we do have is Pres. Obama telling us that we should trust him. I am left to wonder what it is about Pres. Obama, his current actions, and his past that would engender such trust.

In the Sherlock Holmes story “Silver Blaze,” there is an excellent bit of dialogue between Sherlock Holmes and Inspector Gregory of Scotland Yard, beginning with the Inspector:

“Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

“To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”

“The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

“That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.

The curious incident of the quiet dog indicated that the mysterious man who stole the prize racehorse, Silver Blaze, was known to the dog, explaining why it didn’t bark.

In other news, I filled up the car and dropped over $50 to do so. As you can see from the photo I took at the time, the price for regular unleaded was just shy of $4 a gallon at the pump. Right now oil is above $110 a barrel. I remember when gas prices last spiked in the summer of 2008, when then-candidate Barack Obama stated that he would have preferred a gradual adjustment to higher gas prices over the quick rise that happened. Here’s a clip of him talking about this in 2008, with some other news commentaries mixed in.

Did you catch the female reporter around 10 seconds in, stating that the Energy Department was forecasting $4/gallon gas prices for the rest of 2008 and into 2009? Do you remember paying that much? I don’t. I remember oil prices dropping like a stone about a month after this video was posted.

The graph on the top right was generated at metalprices.com showing the price of crude oil for the past five years. See that monster spike in the middle? That’s the same 2008 oil spike that drove up gas prices. Do you see how the price quickly dropped, ending up even lower than the previous low point on the chart? Just what could have caused that drop? Oil hit its highest price on July 14, 2008, the very same day that President Bush announced that he would, by executive order, lift the ban on offshore oil drilling. Beginning the very next day, oil prices began to drop and continued to do so for several months as the market reacted to the news of increased future oil supplies.

Now look at the graph on the bottom right, listing the crude oil prices since President Obama took office. Notice a trend? This is what the market looks like when the President reimposes a ban on offshore oil drilling less than a month after taking office, then places a moratorium on all oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The market reacted to the news of decreased future oil supplies by raising the price of crude oil.

Certainly there are other factors that also play into the rising oil prices, the biggest among them being the increased instability in the Middle East and the increasingly weak U.S. dollar in international markets. There’s no need to blame Pres. Obama for political instability in the Middle East (although others have done so), but I will lay the blame for a weakening dollar solidly at his feet. Pres. Obama and his fellow travelers on the political left have trashed the foundation of our currency with their prolific spending and inability to seriously handle the rising deficit.

As long as our dollar continues to weaken because of shortsighted policies made by liberals in government, and as long as Pres. Obama prevents us from accessing our own energy supplies, the price of crude oil and gas will continue to go up and up and up. In 2008, and in the previous years when gas prices soared, there were multiple news stories each day about rising gas prices and the people affected by them. But this year the same news stories have been few and far between. So what is the difference this time? Why the strange silence from the barking dogs of the news media?

It’s simple. The media is too busy wagging its collective tail at its master, Pres. Obama, to bark at him. And when you understand that, the silence is far from curious.

Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit blog has long been using a graphic showing the deficits (and a few surpluses) of the last five administrations. Since the graphic only had the projected budget deficit for Pres. Obama’s first year, I decided to update it with more recent numbers. Taking the numbers from the Whitehouse Office of Management and Budget itself, I have updated the graphic with the announced 2009 and 2010 deficits, as well as the deficit the OMB is projecting for 2011.

Here are six variations graphing the current numbers, as of October 2010 February 2011 July 2012 [Now with updated 2013 numbers! -- CM]. Feel free to copy them and use them on your own blogs.

Obama's Deficit

I decided to call out Pres. Obama’s deficits in shades of red. You can also get this in in a much larger size (2250 x 1690 pixels).

Question: where to you get the numbers for the graph? I go to the Office of Management and Budget site and download Table 1.1. I then look at the column D (Surplus or Deficit) to get the numbers for the graph.

Question: how do you convert the surplus/deficit numbers from the table into bars on the graph? Table 1.1 comes down as an Excel file, so I continue to use Excel to convert the surplus/deficit numbers into a count of pixels for each bar. I go to a blank column, like M, and enter the following formula “=D119/8310″. That takes the contents of cell D119 (surplus or deficit for that year) and divides it by 8310, since each pixel represents $8,310,000. Since I can’t have a fraction of a pixel, I format the entire column as a Number with 0 decimal places. Excel does all the rounding up from me. I then take the number of pixels, positive or negative, and draw a bar that many pixels up or down. Once that information has been updated in my master file in Paint Shop Pro, I save out a small and large versions of the image and post them.

UPDATE (2/15/2011 12:26:09 PM): With a new revision of the OMB numbers for 2011 raising the estimated deficit to $1.645 trillion, I have updated the graphics to show the new OMB projection. I have also made two other changes based on feedback. The Bush years text now uses bars rather than arrows (h/t Irene), and I have given Pres. Bush eight years of budgets instead of nine and adjusted all the rest by one (h/t bridgeman).

If you have been using these images, please download and use the current versions. If you want to access the old ones, you may download them all as a single zip file.

UPDATE (7/26/2011 6:00:00 PM): I have updated the images with the finalized 2011 numbers (down 345 billion) and added the projected 2012 budget deficit. I changed from using .jpg to .png for smaller file size and less fuzziness. Based on feedback, I created a large version of one of the images at 2250×1690 pixels that prints better. I also added a credit to this website.

UPDATE (3/2/2013 1:00:00 PM): Since it was requested, I have updated the graphic with the current numbers from Table 1.1 from the Office of Management and Budget site. 2012 is still listed there as an estimate, so I have left it in the graph as pink. I also added the estimate for 2013 to the image. The deficit is projected to go down in 2013, not from lack of spending but from an estimated increase in taxes. We’ll see how that goes.

The image is available in regular (450px x 338px) or large (2250px x 1690px). I have removed the other versions since there has been no demand for them.

UPDATE (5/9/2013 11:07 AM): I just checked the Table 1.1 spreadsheet at the OMB site, and they have published the official 2012 numbers. I’ve updated the graphic with the new numbers and changed it from estimate pink to official red. I also added two questions with answers about where I get the data and how I make the image.

It’s time again I addressed a number of commonplace beliefs held in the United States which, while they often sound great in sound bites, are almost always based on flawed reasoning. I call these beliefs “American myths.”

And here is the sound bite that echoed around when President Obama addressed the nation’s students on Sept. 14th, 2010:

Nobody gets to write your destiny but you. Your future is in your hands. Your life is what you make of it. And nothing — absolutely nothing — is beyond your reach, so long as you’re willing to dream big, so long as you’re willing to work hard. So long as you’re willing to stay focused on your education, there is not a single thing that any of you cannot accomplish, not a single thing. I believe that.

Pres. Obama says that if you have a dream, you can achieve it through hard work and study. On a simplistic level, it sure sounds good and conveys a wonderful message of hard work and education to students. But in reality, it’s not true. Telling kids that “nothing — absolutely nothing — is beyond your reach” with the panacea of hard work is actually doing some of them a disservice. Not all human beings possess the gifts and talents necessary to achieve equally well in any field. While hard work will certainly help the students succeed in their goals, hard work and education alone will not make “nothing — absolutely nothing” beyond their reach. Some goals require physical and mental abilities far beyond that which studying and hard work can provide.

You agree with Pres. Obama and don’t believe me? Fine. If I study and work really hard, will I ever succeed in flying F-22s as a fighter pilot for the Air Force? Nope. I’m too old to successfully compete with fighter pilot hopefuls two decades my junior, and my imperfect eyesight also disqualifies me. Hard work and study will not succeed in landing me that job.

Likewise, my almost 14-year-old niece will probably never become an Olympic-level gymnast, even if she puts in 18-hour days of training. She certainly could improve whatever natural ability she has, but she doesn’t have the right body type to be a world-class gymnast, and she would be starting far too late. Looking at the U.S. women’s gymnastic team who won the team silver medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, I notice all the team members started studying gymnastics or dance by age 4 or earlier, so they were able to be world-class a decade later because of their hard work. But starting at age 14 is just too late.

My mother-in-law once taught a student with an IQ of 85. He once told her that he wanted to be a teacher when he grew up, but his low native intelligence made that impossible. No amount of studying would bring his IQ up to average. Another guy I met told me how he was studying to become a doctor, but after taking Biology 101 for the third time, he still only managed to scrape up a C. Neither student had the mental candlepower sufficient to make his worthy goal a reality. Hard work and education will take these two only so far, but some things are just beyond their reach.

And then there’s this interesting poll by Marist:

Nearly one-third of U.S. residents — 32% — say they would like to be an actor or an actress. Following closely behind are 29% who dream of becoming a professional athlete. 13% report they would like to list 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as their working address and be President of the United States. An additional 13% say they could see themselves as a rock star. 13% are unsure.

So hard work and education will make 32% of Americans into successful actors? Will hard work and education make the 29% who want to become professional athletes successful? Will the 13% who answered that they wanted to become President all succeed with just hard work and education? It should be pretty obvious that hard work and education, while very important, are not sufficient to place “nothing — absolutely nothing” beyond their reach. Certain physical and mental qualities, age, luck, and other assorted issues or events may be critical necessities in achieving some dreams.

Sure, it sounds great to tell school kids that they can succeed at anything they wish if only they work hard enough to get it. But reality shows us that success comes from more than just desire and study. Physical and mental abilities are important. Kids may dream about becoming astronauts, but unless they have the physical and mental capabilities as well as the desire and hard work — not to mention some kind of working space program when they’re adults — it’s not going to happen. And that’s why I label this idea as one of America’s myths.

You can't be an astronaut

Here are two good videos dealing with stimulus spending and Keynesian economics. The first video comes from January 2009 about Pres. Obama’s stimulus plan. Daniel Mitchell clearly specifies how the stimulus will not work, and now drawing close to two years later, we see that the stimulus spending did not help the nation, as proved by our flagging economy and stagnant unemployment rates.

The second video was produced by Daniel Mitchell again a month earlier than the previous video, but this time he is talking specifically about why Keynesian economic theories don’t work.

Albert Einstein is attributed with the following quote that clearly describes this administration and anyone who advocates government spending to “prime the pump” of the economy: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Keynesian economics has never worked, but that doesn’t stop governments from trying it again and again. “This time,” the government tells us, “it’s going to work.” Certainly sounds like insanity to me.

Today’s political cartoon was drawn by Lisa Benson.

Obama's Stimulus Game

I’ve played carnival games before, but I’ve never been hit with player fever: “Just once more! This time I just know I’ll win!” We’ve already had a near-trillion-dollar stimulus, and the results have been less than advertised, as demonstrated by the following graph borrowed from Gateway Pundit:

Stimulus Jobs

You can see the unemployment numbers President Obama’s administration said the U.S. would have, with or without the huge stimulus plan. It was passed, but reality has shown that the administration should hang up their crystal ball because they cannot predict the future with any accuracy. Face it — the stimulus has been a failure to stimulate the economy and jobs, but it has been a success for feeding money to state governments and unions.

But President Obama isn’t done spending your money yet. Welcome to Son of Stimulus! No, the administration will tie their tongues in knots before they call this “infrastructure spending” another stimulus package. But *quack* *waddle* *poop* — yeah, it’s a duck, I mean stimulus.

Vowing to find new ways to stimulate the sputtering economy, President Barack Obama will call for long-term investments in the nation’s roads, railways and runways that would cost at least $50 billion.

So what did we get with the $862 billion spent in the first stimulus that we need to spend another $50 billion for our roads, railways, and runways? Obviously that first stimulus didn’t go to roads, railways, and runways. It went to fund stupid stuff like replacing windows in a Mount St. Helens visitor center that was closed in 2007, funding computerized dance software, or providing funds for a underground tunnel in Pennsylvania already described as a “tragic mistake” by Gov. Ed Rendell. And those are just the first three of 100 stimulus projects singled out in this report.

But government succeeds in throwing your money around with great abandon. That pinch you feel in your wallet right now is President Obama reaching back there to spend even more of your money. He’s caught up in stimulus player fever — “Just one more stimulus! This time I just know it will work!”

This news report out of Missouri caught my eye:

When it comes to politics, there may be as many opinions as cars cruising down U.S. 65. So, naturally, there are different reactions to a billboard south of Ozark that says “Voted Obama? Embarrassed yet?”

“I know the president didn’t win down here, but there were a lot of people down here that voted for him, and I think I can speak for them and say we are not embarrassed yet,” Matthew Patterson, executive director of the Greene County Democratic Central Committee, said in a telephone interview on Sunday. [So this local Democrat believes Obama only won the Presidency in places where he received a majority vote? No wonder so many Democrats thought Gore won in 2000. --TPK]

“My partner and I felt lots of frustration here lately, and we liked that sign and we thought that was a reasonable question to ask,” Steve Critchfield said in a telephone interview on Monday.

Critchfield and his business partner from Commercial One Brokers, a real estate firm in Branson, saw a similar sign online, bought it, and brought it to the Ozarks.

“I’ve certainly voted for people I’m embarrassed to say I’ve voted for,” he said. “We’re not naïve enough to think that we wouldn’t get someone to be upset. I’m just surprised how upset people are.”

Critchfield says he’s received death threats due to the sign; people accuse him of hate speech and racism. He insists the billboard was for something more American in the name of discourse, conversation, and old-fashioned debate.

“If everybody thinks [President Obama's] done a great job and they’re very happy,” he said, “then I guess they’d be buying billboards saying ‘I’m proud to have voted for him.’ That’s what makes America great, isn’t it?”

Did you catch both the good and bad examples of free speech being exercised in the article? Obviously Steve Critchfield is exercising his right to free speech by buying the billboard, and people who are issuing death threats and accusing him of racism and hate speech are also exercising theirs. But those people are using their freedom of speech in a way designed to shut Critchfield up and deny him his freedom, a typical liberal response to the speech that liberals dislike.

But Critchfield nails the essence of free speech in the final two paragraphs of the news story: if people disagree with his opinion, the best way to express that would be to purchase a billboard of their own to support President Obama. That would be a dialog of ideas, and people could weigh the merits of each. And a dialog is much better than one side demanding that the other side shut up.

President Obama has headed off on another vacation, this time to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Of course, all presidents take time off from the rigors of office, and that’s a good thing. The U.S. would be poorly served by any president who is so beaten down by the pressures of office that he couldn’t properly do his job. Being president is a very tough job, and getting away from its demands is a nice break, even if it is for a short time.

I remember reading about the vacations President George W. Bush went on, and people pointed to his many vacations as a sign of a bad president. According to the article, he spent 487 days at Camp David, and 490 days at his Crawford ranch in Texas. And so that means he was completely cut off from his office, right? Pfft. A president isn’t ever really away from his job, not even when on vacation. In the middle of a transoceanic flight on Air Force One, the president is in constant communication with the rest of government. Camp David is just as connected as Air Force One and so was Pres. Bush’s ranch. During his time away from the White House, Pres. Bush was still getting his daily briefings of current events and threats, and Pres. Obama is undoubtedly doing the same on his vacations.

Both Camp David and Pres. Bush’s ranch in Texas were excellent places for some a little presidential R-and-R. Both have been set up to support a president and his needs without completely disrupting the people around. But when a president or his family goes someplace else, the visit is a huge disruption to the locals. You can see a clear demonstration of this disruption during Mrs. Obama’s vacation in Spain. As her group went around, security had to clear out buildings, check for suspicious people, and cordon off beaches just for the First Lady’s use. I certainly understand the need for security, and to a lesser extent privacy, but the end result still remains: a visiting president and family is a major disruption. Just ask the people stuck for hours in bumper-to-bumper L.A. traffic because Pres. Obama made a short visit there.

Frankly, I’m glad Pres. Obama is taking his vacations, even if it means causing a ruckus around the States. Each vacation means he is able to blow off some of the pressure of office, and hopefully that means we will have a better president.

But I’m not holding my breath.