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“Dramatic Advances Sweep Iraq, Boosting Support For Democracy”

Monday, March 16, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

New ABC News polling shows an enormous surge in optimism and security in Iraq, underscoring not just how dramatic has been the turnaround brought about by the surge, but also the much more broad lesson that extremely adverse circumstances can be quickly remedied and momentum in the opposite direction established and maintained with good leadership and sound strategy.

This broader lesson is applicable, of course, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, anda new Weekly Standard piece by Max Boot and Frederick Kagan and Kimberly Kagan makes it clear that what has happened in Iraq can also happen in Afghanistan.

It seems likely as well that a rapid turnaround in the economic circumstances of the U.S. and its allies is also possible, provided that the Obama Administration actually pursues growth policies as opposed to redistributionist policies. The acceleration of information flows across markets makes rapid changes in direction –both good and bas– possible and information-hungary investors and entrepreneurs react quickly to every change in direction in government economic policy. If President Obama heads in the right direction, the economy watchers will applaud and react accordingly. If he continues down the deep deficit road, the return to vibrant growth will have to wait for a new Congress in 2010 and quite possibly a new president in 2012.

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Global Warming and The Endangered Species Act

Sunday, March 15, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

There are indications that some in the media are finally figuring out that the environmental movement is very serious when it says it intends to use the federal Endangered Species Act and the listings of the polar bear and other species to force regulation of many “lower 48″ operations, especially those in the energy business. This article covers a recent gathering of ESA experts wherein the path forward that environmental activists envision was discussed:

Under most traditional interpretations of the Endangered Species Act, an agency like the Bureau of Indian Affairs would have to determine how much of an impact a new coal-fired power plant in New Mexico or Colorado has on polar bears near the North Pole and penguins in Antarctica.

The vexing question is how to measure the site-specific impacts of such a project on a global scale. Top conservation leaders like Kieran Suckling, director of the Center for Biological Diversity, said the federal government is legally obligated to do just that.

The about-to-be-impacted industries have adopted a “hear no evil, see no evil” approach, and have refused the sort of preemptive litigation strategy that would have defined the outer limits of the ESA’s reach via test cases on carbon-emitting activities in industries unrelated to direct energy-production. Had the oil-and-gas industry brought suit, for example, to oblige a small airport expansion to conduct a Section 7 consultation, it could have begun to build a defense against overreaching by the Act’s most aggressive proponents.

Instead it has ceded the legal initiative to the very capable lawyers at the Center for Biological Diversity and other groups, and the rollout of the prevent-global-warming-via-the-ESA strategy is beginning. The impact on energy production across the U.S. will be to sharply curtail new exploration and production and to greatly increase the cost of existing production. Every time a federal permit is proposed that will facilitate energy production –or any carbon-releasing activity for that matter– environmental activists will argue that an ESA mandated permitting process is required. This process, called a Section 7 consultation, is very time-consuming and mandates necessary “mitigations” that are imposed on the sought-after permit. Landowners have learned how to negotiate this regulatory maze in the past two decades, but the vast expansion of jurisdiction foreseen by the advocates of the polar bear and related listings will greatly increase the scope of the Act’s reach and the workload on the Fish & Wildlife Service, not to mention the cost of each permit if a cost can even be calculated.

All of this fallout was easy to predict at the time the Bush Adminstration listed the polar bear last year, but the coverage of the controversy has resolutely refused to explain to the public the enormous price tag it will be paying for the use of ice coverage models in the listing process that were at best speculative and at worse wildly so.

The “Stimulus” and the States

Sunday, March 15, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

My Chapman Law colleague Ronald Rotunda explains why the Congress and President Obama crossed a very bright constitutional line when they pushed the “stimulus” into law.

The Bottomless Budget Pit Of Barack Obama

Sunday, March 15, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Politico.com reports the entire Adminstration and Obama campaign organization is being mobilized to push the president’s destructive and recession-prolonging budget. But, the article notes:

This is not an easy message war for Democrats. Obama’s budget calls for the largest deficit in U.S. history and a doubling of the national debt to $23 trillion in 2019. That is a big, juicy target for the GOP, which plans to hit this theme relentlessly all spring.

Doubling the national debt in a decade. Wow. Can’t wait to hear Senators Conrad and Dorgan on that.

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