- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Big government I

A chart making the rounds at conservative blogs compares by presidential administration the private-sector experience of Cabinet-level officers. Guess who finished last …

Nick Schulz of the American Enterprise Institute said the chart came “from a J.P. Morgan research report” covering officials “that one might expect a president to turn to in seeking advice about helping the economy.” This criteria “includes secretaries of State, Commerce, Treasury, Agriculture, Interior, Labor, Transportation, Energy, and Housing & Urban Development, and excludes Postmaster General, Navy, War, Health, Education & Welfare, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security,” Mr. Schulz wrote at the American Enterprise Institute blog, the American.

The immediate at-a-glance reaction is less than 10 percent of the Obama administration’s pre-Cabinet experience in the private sector; the next-smallest amount, during the administration of President John F. Kennedy, was just under 30 percent. No administration topped 60 percent.

“When one considers that public sector employment has ranged since the 1950s at between 15 percent and 19 percent of the population, the makeup of the current cabinet — over 90 percent of its prior experience was in the public sector — is remarkable,” Mr. Schulz wrote.

Others were less restrained. Red State blogger “bs,” the nom de blog for a St. Louis man named “Bill,” said “we knew that Barack Obama was turning DC into a mecca for sucking at the public teat, but it perhaps was not as obvious until recently as to what extent this is occurring.”

“Bill” concluded his post by saying “It shouldn’t be a ‘wow’ moment, though. The Obama administration is promoting exactly what we have suspected it would — elimination of private sector industry in favor of government control. From banking to automotive to health care to ‘net neutrality’ — the government takeover is already well under way. And we shouldn’t be surprised — they’re just doin’ what comes naturally.”

Big government II

Matthew Vadum reports on a Justice Department memo that he says indicates that the funding cutoff for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now might not be as total as some thought.

“Holder’s Justice Department released a legal opinion last week that allows the Obama administration to ignore the will of Congress which has voted overwhelmingly to suspend federal funding of ACORN until at least Dec. 18,” he wrote at the Andrew Breitbart site Big Government.

Congress cut off all federal funds to ACORN and its affiliates under Public Law 111-68, an emergency measure to keep the government operational until all budget and appropriations bills are passed. But Justice ruled that the provision, referred to as “section 163,” does not apply to pre-existing contracts with ACORN or funding secured under other laws.

“We conclude, in agreement with the views we solicited and received, that the language of section 163 is not clear with respect to whether its prohibition applies in cases where pre-existing law apart from section 163, including the contract itself, compels such a payment and where, accordingly, failure to make such a payment would subject the federal Government to contractual liability. In accord with established interpretive principles for resolving such lack of clarity, we conclude that section 163 does not direct or authorize HUD to refuse payment on binding contractual obligations that predate the Continuing Appropriations Resolution,” reads the somewhat-lawyerly Justice Department letter.

Mr. Vadum calls the memo unsurprising, saying Mr. Holder “supports ACORN’s goals.”

“Holder has made it abundantly clear he has absolutely no interest in investigating his radical friends at ACORN … He’s also ignored the 88-page report on ACORN’s systemic corruption and flagrant racketeering activities that was issued this summer by Republican investigators on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee,” he wrote.

Foreign pressure I

In the words of Dan Collins, Honduras became “the mouse that roared.”

Mr. Collins and other conservative bloggers took the side of the Honduran government in its dispute with the Obama administration over the removal of President Manuel Zelaya, which the White House denounced as a coup and used as a basis for imposing sanctions on Honduras.

Rick Moran at Right Wing Nuthouse linked back to a September news report that cited State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley as saying that “because of the environment on the ground, we will not recognize the election.” But in early November, after South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint put a hold on two State Department appointments and took a trip to the Central American country, the Obama administration backed down.

Sunday’s elections put Porfirio Lobo, an anti-Zelaya conservative in power with 56 percent of the vote from 60 percent of the registered voters, results the U.S. accepted as legitimate. (For the record, President Obama received 53 percent of the 2008 presidential vote from about 63 percent of eligible voters.)

“How often does the United States stake out a clear, unequivocal position on a major foreign policy event and then, over the course of a few months, slowly walk back from their original position to come around and embrace exactly the opposite point of view? This is the Obama administration in all its amateurish glory. When Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was invited to leave back in June, the administration took the same side as the thugs and dictators of the world, calling it a ‘military coup’ even though the Honduran Supreme Court had ruled the action legal and the Honduran parliament had passed a resolution supporting it,” Mr. Moran wrote.

Added Mr. Collins: “It’s really amazing that it took the administration this long to come around to the obvious conclusion that Zelaya’s deposing was constitutional and brought about by his repeated violations of the Honduran Constitution. Zelaya’s performance in the Brazilian Embassy in Honduras, which harbored him when he snuck (I prefer it, don’t care) back into the country, was a turning point. There, he claimed that he was being subject to radiation beams and hallucinogenic gases provided to the Honduran military by the United States. Senator DeMint and his fact-finders, despite John Kerry’s attempt to block them, also managed to get on the ground and discover that the general Honduran view was quite different from what was being expressed” in the U.S. mainstream media.

Foreign pressure II

In the recent movie “Inglourious Basterds,” a French theater owner says to a German soldier, “in France, we respect directors.” Marie Biondolillo, guest-blogging at the film site “Week in Rewind” would agree.

“Embattled director Roman Polanski might be humming ‘La Marseillaise’ right about now. According to French newspaper Le Parisien, the director’s family is very grateful to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whom they credit as being instrumental in securing Polanski’s release from Swiss prison into house arrest,” she wrote.

A report in the London Times suggested that Mr. Sarkozy’s wife, Carla Bruni, may have been instrumental because her social circle among the chic artistes of Paris likely included Polanski and his French wife, actress Emmanuelle Seigner. Polanski, a French citizen, has spent more than 30 years on the lam from a U.S. conviction of statutory rape against a 13-year-old girl.

Three-word reaction from Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit: “Oh, Good Grief.”

Victor Morton may be reached at

[email protected]

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