January 17, 2012

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Egypt is in big trouble. We know that because Jimmy Carter is happy with events there. Jonathan Tobin has the story.

If you weren’t already worried about the direction events are heading in in Egypt, here’s one more reason to be worried: Jimmy Carter?’s feeling good about things. Carter, who was in the country monitoring the recent elections, had this to say about the impact of the new Egyptian government on the Middle East peace process:

“This new government will probably be much more concerned about the rights of the Palestinians than have the previous rulers or leaders in Egypt, but in my opinion that will be conducive to a better prospect of peace between Israel and its neighbors.”

But the only real difference between the Mubarak government and his successors is that the latter are good friends with the Hamas terrorists who run Gaza. In Carter’s distorted worldview, support for Palestinian Islamists is synonymous with “Palestinian rights.” That’s bad enough, but to think the opening up of Hamas’s supply lines and its increased influence will actually lead to peace is so contrary to logic and reason the only conclusion one can draw from such a statement is that any development that heightens Israel’s isolation and increases the danger of terrorism is something the 39th president regards with complacence.


Fred Siegel and Joel Kotkin write for City Journal on the “New Authoritarians.”

“I refuse to take ‘No’ for an answer,” said President Obama this week as he claimed new powers for himself in making recess appointments while Congress wasn’t legally in recess. The chief executive’s power grab in naming appointees to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the National Labor Relations Board has been depicted by administration supporters as one forced upon a reluctant Obama by Republican intransigence. But this isn’t the first example of the president’s increasing tendency to govern with executive-branch powers. He has already explained that “where Congress is not willing to act, we’re going to go ahead and do it ourselves.” On a variety of issues, from immigration to the environment to labor law, that’s just what he’s been doing—and he may try it even more boldly should he win reelection. This “go it alone” philosophy reflects an authoritarian trend emerging on the political left since the conservative triumph in the 2010 elections.

The president and his coterie could have responded to the 2010 elections by conceding the widespread public hostility to excessive government spending and regulation. That’s what the more clued-in Clintonites did after their 1994 midterm defeats. But unlike Clinton, who came from the party’s moderate wing and hailed from the rural South, the highly urban progressive rump that is Obama’s true base of support has little appreciation for suburban or rural Democrats. In fact, some liberals even celebrated the 2010 demise of the Blue Dog and Plains States Democrats, concluding that the purged party could embrace a purer version of the liberal agenda. So instead of appealing to the middle, the White House has pressed ahead with Keynesian spending and a progressive regulatory agenda.

Much of the administration’s approach has to do with a change in the nature of liberal politics. Today’s progressives cannot be viewed primarily as pragmatic Truman- or Clinton-style majoritarians. Rather, they resemble the medieval clerical class. Their goal is governmental control over everything from what sort of climate science is permissible to how we choose to live our lives. Many of today’s progressives can be as dogmatic in their beliefs as the most strident evangelical minister or mullah. Like Al Gore declaring the debate over climate change closed, despite the Climategate e-mails and widespread skepticism, the clerisy takes its beliefs as based on absolute truth. Critics lie beyond the pale.

The problem for the clerisy lies in political reality. …


A defense of equity capital from Holman Jenkins.

… the best antidote to foolish thinking about job creation is the work of economists Steven J. Davis and John Haltiwanger. Their painstaking research has revealed a side of America’s dynamism that isn’t always pretty. Between 1977 and 2005, years roughly overlapping Mr. Romney’s business career, some 15% of all jobs were destroyed every year, even as total jobs grew by an average of 2% a year. Job creation and destruction are both relentless, the authors showed in paper after paper. The small difference between the two is what we call prosperity.

But now Republicans are worried. To fault Mr. Romney for being involved with businesses that both grew and shrank, that created jobs and destroyed them, may be to fault him for having eaten from the tree of knowledge in a way that, say, President Obama has not. But how will his story fare in November against Mr. Obama’s simpler story, in which ravenous capitalists destroy jobs and government creates them with things like the Detroit/UAW bailout, solar subsidies and health-care mandates?

Mr. Romney would be a fool to believe a political campaign is the right place to explain the private-equity business. But he has a perfectly defensible story to tell. …


Janet Daley in Telegraph, UK with more on the attacks on Romney.

In the midst of what was shaping up to be a stupefyingly boring US presidential primary last week, an interesting thing happened. This bizarrely unexpected turn of events might have been explained by the desperation of one of the candidates, Newt Gingrich, to make a perceptible dent on the drearily predictable front runner, Mitt Romney, or possibly as an attempt by virtually everybody involved to inject something startling into a monumentally tedious political process. Whatever it was that provoked it, the phenomenon should be of serious interest both in the United States and in Britain, where it has been a feature of our public life for much longer.

What happened was this: a number of Republican candidates who are generally thought to be on the Right of Mr Romney began to attack him from the Left. Homing in on Romney’s career in the venture capital business – a feature of his past which is generally thought to count as an advantage in a contest with the unworldly academic Barack Obama – Gingrich launched into a full-blown assault on the evils of asset-stripping corporate take-over merchants who mercilessly disregard the fate of ordinary workers. Sounding for all the world like a good old-fashioned European socialist (which is to say, like Ed Miliband), he railed against Romney’s former company Bain Capital, which specialised in buy-outs of failing businesses, describing his rival as a “corporate looter”.

The even more desperate (and even more Right-wing) contender, Rick Perry, dragged Wall Street into the mix, and spoke of something called “vulture capitalism” – a rather more lurid image than Mr Miliband’s “predator capitalism”, although it is, in fact, less alarming since vultures only prey on the already dead.

What on earth were they thinking? …

Friday afternoon the White House made a document dump of some Solyndra items. Ed Morrissey was paying attention.

… Let’s straighten out that timeline and connect a couple of dots, shall we?

10/25/2010 — Solyndra CEO writes to the DoE that he will announce worker layoffs on 10/28.

10/27/2010 — In the White House, climate change adviser Zichal sent out an e-mail to Obama adviser Browner and several other officials warning of a layoff announcement in very specific terms — “200 of their 1200 workers” — and added, “No es bueno,” which is Spanish for “not good.”

10/28/2010 — No announcement comes forth from Solyndra on layoffs.

10/30/2010 — Solyndra investor explains that the DoE “push[ed] very hard” for a delay on the announcement until November 3rd, the day after the election, even remarking that the DoE “oddly they didn’t give a reason for that date.”

One does not have to be Sherlock Holmes to see the game afoot in this sequence.  The DoE alerted the White House to the “no es bueno” situation at Solyndra, which would have undermined Democratic arguments that their spending spree in 2009 created real jobs rather than unbearable risk for borrowed taxpayer funds.  After the White House got alerted to the situation, suddenly the Solyndra announcement never takes place, and two days later the primary investor has to explain internally that the DoE pressured them to delay the announcement.

Something smells very badly.  It’s clear that the Obama administration at some level used taxpayer funds as leverage to manipulate a private enterprise for purely electoral benefit to the President, and it seems clear that the direction to do this came from the White House.  I’ll bet we have a few more Friday night document dumps to go in this scandal.

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