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The President and the Twin Disasters

Saturday, May 15, 2010  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

This Washington Post story on the Gulf spill and the damage it is doing to the president notes that President Obama made his typical maneuver yesterday: showering “withering criticism” on others.

The story also notes that even Congressional Democrats are beginning to wonder about the president’s handling of the disaster. As the enormous spill heads towards its one month anniversary without a solution in sight, the buck is pulling up to the Oval Office and about to stop there. An administration already known for its haplessness is being defined, again, as all talk and no successful action.

The picture of the scale of the disaster under the water is just becoming clear, and as that focus increases, so too will the impact on the president’s reputation. He’s the president and is supposed to be able to do more than point fingers. That’s the job of senators. “Cool” wasn’t supposed to mean “paralyzed.” Unlike his faux health care “reform,” speeches and 2,000 page bills won’t stop the oil from gushing into the Gulf, and unilateral declarations of “big deal” breakthroughs don’t carry any weight even if themedia is still fawning. When the rig exploded he and his team did nothing for more than a week, and when they began to try they still couldn’t come up with a solution.

Useless rhetoric unmatched by effective action also defines the president’s approach to our growing fiscal crisis. Read John Hinderaker’s brief but very troubling post on the “Looming Obama Debt Disaster.” The country has to take action on its hemorrhaging debt immediately, but Democrats are instead proposing even more new bursts of monopoly money for the states. The president is standing by and waiting for a debt commission to hand him a report because he doesn’t want to do any heavy lifting when it comes to cutting spending.

A new Congress is needed, one much imbued with the spirit of Chris Cristie. (See Scott Johnson’s post with the mail from a New Jersey reader.) If Tim Burns manages a huge upset in PA on Tuesday, even Nancy Pelosi might realize that the public is disgusted with and fearful of the course charted by her, Harry Reid and the president. But if the district’s Democratic registration advantage combines with the turnout generated by the Specter-Sestak race to let the Dems hold on to the seat, the delusion about their “mandate” may even deepen and with it the fiscal crisis that is every bit as menacing as the environmental/economic catastrophe in the Gulf.

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Spending Money We Don’t Have

Friday, May 14, 2010  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The Washington Post reported last night that the Obama Adminstration was supporting $23 billion in emergency funding for states to avoid teacher layoffs.

Politico’s Kendra Marr reports that the Administration’s $4.35 billion dollar grant program/contest for shcools is generating criticism across the country, even as the White House asks for another $1.35 billion for the program. (There is $3.4 billion not yet spent in the DOE’s coffers.)

Neither story mentions that the country is headed towards a deficit of between $1.4 and $1.6 trillion. An appropriation is simply borrowed money –another mortgage on the already bankrupt future of the country.

School systems across the country simply have to reboot, probably beginning with existing contracts and levels of employment. Like GM and Chrysler, and now Greece, unsustainable levels of spending are, well, unsustainable. States could and should reconfigure their spending priorities so that schools are right behind public safety, but state legislatures prefer to rush to D.C. to ask for bailouts.

The GOP has got to be willing to say no. Education budgets are the jobs of the states, not the feds, and the feds don’t have any money to begin with. At a minimum the $3.4 billion that Arne Duncan hasn’t yet spent on the “Race to the Top” should be redirected to any “bailout” before an even deeper debt hole is dug.

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The Kagan Paper Trail and The Kagan Hearings, Cont.

Friday, May 14, 2010  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Byron York joins the effort to call attention to Solicitor General Kagan’s lengthy paper trail.

York’s assumption, shared by Newsweek’s Howard Fineman and The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait, is that all of the Kagan files in the Clinton Library should be released.

I discussed the subject as well as other aspects of the Kagan nomination with Republican Senate Whip Jon Kyl on yesterday’s program. The transcript is here.

“She worked in the Clinton administration both on the Domestic Policy Council, and also the White House Counsel’s Office, and her resume’ itself discloses that she played a prominent role in a variety of things, of course, as a resume’ would,” Senator Kyl said. “We need to find out what that role was. And those records were not obtained in her first confirmation, so they will be requested, and I would hope that the administration would be forthcoming, and whatever records bear on her role there that would be relevant to her Supreme Court confirmation process, we will need to get.”

There was also this exchange:

HH: Will you be asking Elena Kagan about Miranda rights and suspected terrorists? And will you be asking her about the surveillance programs that were compromised by the New York Times and others in the media?

JK: The answer is yes, but I’m not exactly sure how. And here’s why I say that. Cases that are going to come before her on the Supreme Court, if she is confirmed, she shouldn’t be commenting on. But she still has to sort of give us an idea that she doesn’t have preconceived notions about how those cases should come out, should be decided. And so, and we also have a right to question her about her general judicial philosophy about what various amendments to the Constitution mean. So there’s a difficult balance between not getting too close to the facts of cases that she might actually be called upon to determine, and yet find out with enough specificity as to how she might interpret different provision of the Constitution to have a sense of whether she will approach the judging in a fair and balanced way, or with a preconceived notion.

The Kagan hearings will occur at a crucial moment in the country’s war with the jihadists –after four jihadi attacks within the United States. I hope at least the GOP senators on Judiciary use much of their time to elicit the SG’s views on how the Constitution allows us to defend ourselves from these threats.

I also asked Mark Steyn about the new arrests in the Times Square bombing case, and he pointed out that “[t]here are no lone wolves,” which is certainly news to Janet Napolitano. Steyn continued:

There are people who spontaneously combust, and sort of get sudden jihad syndrome. But even in that instance, they’re plugged into really quite sophisticated networks not just throughout the United States, but throughout the broader Western world. And it’s a huge advantage, if you compare the way it was with the KGB during the Cold War, because you’ve got people who are ideologically motivated, who have strong local networks, and you don’t have to do all the sort of dead drops, you know, leaving the instructions for the guy under the rock in the park like they had to do in the Cold War. You actually have sophisticated networks operating, more or less, in plain sight.

How the U.S. uncovers those networks with the Constitution’s blessings is a key legal debate in the years ahead. The SG can discuss it without commenting on specific cases if the senators are committed to fashioning general questions and then getting out of the way of her answers.

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