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“Immediately following Olmert’s announcement, Hamas fired eight missiles at Israel.”

Saturday, January 17, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Israel’s lame duck Prime Minister Ehud Ohlmert declared victory today, and Hamas responded with a barrage of eight rockets.

Will the Israeli public accept such a result as a victory? Elections are only a few weeks off, and thus this is one of those rare occasions where voters will be able to render a decisive referendum on the conduct of their government.

Olmert took the opportunity to pump up his allies who are both contending in the elections:

“I want to thank, first and foremost, my friend the defense minister, Ehud Barak, for his professional expertise, and the understanding he showed throughout the whole operation,” Olmert said. “I also want to thank and express my appreciation to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni for her contributions to the wide-ranging diplomatic efforts that greatly enhanced the international support Israel has received.”

The latest polling shows that former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains ahead, but reactions to this unilateral cease-fire will certainly roil the waters in advance of the February 10 vote. If the rockets continue to fall on Israel, will the electorate endorse the team that agreed to a deal that didn’t end the rocket fire and didn’t return the captive Israeli soldier?

Commentary’s Noah Pollack thinks the cease-fire will be a political negative for Ehud Barack and Tzipi Livni:

Opposition to the cease-fire has come principally from the IDF, which is furious at the politicians for stopping what has so far been a lopsided and successful operation that has seen far fewer IDF casualties than expected. The other source of dissent is public opinion, which remains overwhelmingly in favor of finishing the job, and especially against ceasing the operation without the recovery of Gilad Shalit. It is hard to see how Livni and Barak will benefit from all of this in the national elections scheduled for February 10th.

Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg hasn’t penned a reaction yet. Watch that space.

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ReadTheStimulus.org, Amaze.fm and GOP 5.0

Friday, January 16, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Most of today’s program will be devoted to the House Democrats’ fiscal suicide bill, otherwise known as an alleged stimulus plan.

A bunch of worthies have sponsored ReadTheStimulus.org so you can search the bill’s text for yourself. Perhaps you too have qualified for a federal bailout and just don’t know it.

I’ll also be playing the Amaze.fm song of the week. If you are a singer/songrwriter, be sure to upload your tunes this weekend.

I tried to book four different Republican leaders on the Hill today to talk about the stimulus package, and none were available. The idea that the GOP doesn’t have a Friday-Saturday-Sunday response room staffed with legislators ready to push the party’s points forward underscores why the party needs new thinking on its communications strategy. See various chapters in GOP .5.0: Republican Renaissance Under President Obama.

GOP 5.0: Republican Renewal Under Obama

The Greatest Head-Fake Ever

Friday, January 16, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The Los Angeles Times notes that hopes for a bipartisan approach to a stimulus package are fading rapidly. “The air is coming out of that balloon,” said South Dakota Republican senator John Thune.

As it should.

Unlike the TARP funds, which could conceivably come back to the taxpayer and which went mostly into financial stability efforts, the massive spending splurge unveiled by House Democrats is just a joke, an expression of eight years of pent-up liberal frustrations at fiscal discipline –the teenagers given a fifth and the car keys, out on a destructive joyride.

Absent some serious reconstruction towards purposeful spending and more tax cuts on the Republican side, the GOP should seek to garner every vote against this absurd carnival of spending in both houses. This stuff just doesn’t work to stimulate the economy anymore than a binge stimulates a drunk.

Vast sums are proposed for projects which no one believes for a moment will be job generators. From the Washington Post:

Some provisions drew fire as unlikely to lead to job creation. The bill proposed a $650 million account for providing coupons to television viewers to enable them to make the conversion to digital television. The bill also includes $200 million to refurbish the National Mall, particularly the Tidal Basin walls around the Jefferson Memorial, and another $150 million for a backlog of repairs at the Smithsonian Institution.

The president-elect is a hoops player. The House proposal amounts to the greatest head fake ever. He had many of us believing that the stimulus package would actually embody a centrist approach, using proven methods of economic growth based in tax cuts and real infrastructure improvements like nuclear power plant construction.

The impacts on the deficit are chronicled by Heritage’s Conn Carroll, but the obvious reality is that this is a bill from the far left side of a largely left-leaning House leadership.

Either the president-elect demands it be overhauled in the Senate or we will know in the first month just how far to the left the new president really is on matters domestic. At least then we can put away the idea that he is about transforming politics. Pork and payoffs by any other name are still pork and payoffs.

TheTitanic Stimulus (That Should Sink)

Thursday, January 15, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The House “stimulus” package is a disaster, and the hopes that the president-elect’s economic team could moderate the demands of the Congressional Democrats were unfounded.

It is a giant federal firehose spraying money in a hundred directions, and when the party is over, there will be nothing to show for it. Only Congress could spend $550 billion and not be able to identify a major accomplishment at the other end. The $275 billion in tax relief simply does not justify such an orgy of purposeless spending.

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