- The Washington Times - Friday, May 15, 2009

THE PRETENDER

Andrew C. McCarthy, writing at www.nationalreview.com, asks: Why is President Obama continuing to pretend that the release of supposed prisoner-abuse photos is a judicial call, concerning which he is just a bystander?

“Apparently, the ‘delay’ [in the release of the photos] is to be accomplished by having the Justice Department do what it patently should have done two months ago: appeal the Second Circuit’s disclosure ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. That’s all well and good, but to prevent the photos from being used by our enemies, Obama doesn’t need to rely on that iffy route. He has it within his power, and has had it within his power at all times since Jan. 20, to issue an executive order determining that the release of the photos would harm U.S. national security and contravene U.S. foreign policy objectives,” Mr. McCarthy said.

“The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) expressly permits him to do that. Of course, doing so would require the president to be a grown-up - to say, ‘I’m the president, I’m the commander in chief responsible for the security of these young men and women in harm’s way, and I’m the guy elected to protect American lives. Regardless of whether the courts think these photos are law-enforcement materials exempt from FOIA disclosure, I have determined - by the power vested in me by FOIA - that these photos must be suppressed in the interest of American national security.’ …

“Why doesn’t he? Could it be that he wants to be able to vote ‘present’? Is it that, no matter how this comes out, he wants to be able to tell both the antiwar left and Americans concerned about national security that he tried to look out for them but, alas, it was the court’s call? I suspect that’s the case and, if I’m right, that’s foolish on Obama’s part. Presidents don’t get to hide that way. This is his call. He should make it.”



PUBLIC VS. PRIVATE

“Across the private sector, workers are swallowing hard as their employers freeze salaries, cancel bonuses and institute longer work days,” Steve Malanga writes in the Wall Street Journal.

“America’s employees can see for themselves how steeply business has fallen off, which is why many are accepting cost-saving measures with equanimity - especially compared to workers in France, where riots and plant takeovers have become regular news,” said Mr. Malanga, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

“But then there is the U.S. public sector, where the mood seems very European these days. In New Jersey, which faces a $3.3 billion budget deficit, angry state workers have demonstrated in Trenton and taken Gov. Jon Corzine to court over his plan to require unpaid furloughs for public employees. In New York, public-sector unions have hit the airwaves with caustic ads denouncing Gov. David Paterson’s promise to lay off state workers if they continue refusing to forgo wage hikes as part of an effort to close a $17.7 billion deficit. In Los Angeles County, where the schools face a budget deficit of nearly $600 million, school employees have balked at a salary freeze and vowed to oppose any layoffs that the board of education says it will have to pursue if workers don’t agree to concessions.

“Call it a tale of two economies. Private-sector workers - unionized and nonunion alike - can largely see that without compromises they may be forced to join unemployment lines. Not so in the public sector.

“Government unions used their influence this winter in Washington to ensure that a healthy chunk of the federal stimulus package was sent to states and cities to preserve public jobs. Now they are fighting tenacious and largely successful local battles to safeguard salaries and benefits. Their gains, of course, can only come at the expense of taxpayers, which is one reason why states and cities are approving tens of billions of dollars in tax increases.”

ROAD TO SERFDOM

“It takes a lot of chutzpah for a president who has zero experience in corporate America to suggest he knows the ‘right’ way to structure employee compensation,” Jonathan Hoenig writes at www.smartmoney.com.

“Yet published reports indicate the administration is exploring ways of dictating pay at private financial companies, even those that have not been bailed out or received government aid. This isn’t just scary: It’s downright dangerous,” Mr. Hoenig said.

“The basic issue is that of property rights. In a capitalist society, companies are privately owned, make their own decisions and deal with the consequences. If shareholders don’t like the strategy, product line or compensation structure, they can simply sell the stock.

“Most managers understand that it is in their best interest to pursue a rational, long-term outlook that creates wealth for their customers, investors, employees and executives. Yet today, the prevailing belief in this country is that free markets are inherently destructive, that business is essentially suicidal and, if not for a smart and stern regulator, capitalism would collapse.

“With that justification, government now owns a major insurance company, mortgage finance firms, automakers and banks. It’s choosing CEOs, boards of directors, favoring politically connected creditors and dictating terms of trade.

“Companies can pay their CEOs whatever they want. The real injustice isn’t a CEO making millions, but a government that now routinely takes taxpayers’ money to prop up failing companies they wanted nothing to do with in the first place. It is estimated that government’s bailout of AIG alone has cost every man, woman and child alive in this country today more than $600.

“Determining pay at private corporations is a frightening step further down the Road to Serfdom, and away from the principles of freedom and individual rights on which this country was built.”

GUEST HOST

“Miss California and Miss USA runner-up Carrie Prejean, tossed around in the battle over gay marriage, will be a one-day guest host for Fox News Channel’s popular morning show ‘Fox & Friends,’ ” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column at www.usnews.com.

“She will host the 6 a.m.-to-7 a.m. slot on May 27, filling in for Gretchen Carlson - the 1989 Miss America - who will be off that day.

“The decision to make her a one-day co-host was finalized [Wednesday] - the same day Prejean and Miss USA owner Donald Trump appeared on ‘Fox & Friends.’ ”

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected] .com.

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