Morning Must Reads -- Never in the field of human conflict was so much said by so many for so little 

Washington Post -- Obama secures 47-nation pact at nuclear summit

One thing is for certain: President Obama really loves a good summit. The plenary sessions, the photo-ops, the bowing, the subtle dance of multilateral negotiations, and most of all, the talking. My goodness, the talking.

There is merit in getting most of the civilized world to agree not to leave their piles of nuclear fuel out where baddies can make off with pocketfuls of plutonium. The pro-unsecured nuclear material caucus is very weak indeed.

But the torrent of words that spewed forth for two days at the Washington Convention Center would have been enough to fill every missile silo in the world.

We are no closer to meaningful sanctions against a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran. And the only countries to have ever been caught disseminating nuclear capacity – Pakistan and North Korea – were not part of the discussion.

(While he was in town, China’s President Hu Jintao also made it clear that the country will continue currency manipulation designed to hurt U.S. exports.)

Why did it take so much palaver to get all of our nuclear allies and a bunch of second-tier, non-nuclear states to agree to do what is logical for the former and irrelevant for the latter?

Writer Mary Beth Sheridan explains that the White House is beaming about the non-binding, unverifiable pact between the U.S. and 46 other mostly non-nuclear nations. The best part is, they all agreed to do it again in South Korea in two years.

“He said French President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed setting up an international court to try officials who spread nuclear materials to terrorists. Obama said the idea ‘certainly merited further discussion,’ [Gary Samore, the top nuclear official on the National Security Council] said.”


New York Times -- G.O.P. Takes Aim at Plans to Curb Finance Industry

The battle over bank regulation is shaping up to be more like the fight over cap and trade than the health bill.

Conscientious liberals and conservatives have good reason not to support the plan put forward by Sen. Chris Dodd and the White House. It’s a welter of special interest favors and big government solutions that won’t actually address the underlying problem of taxpayer liability. Once the CEO of Goldman Sachs Lloyd Blankfein came out in support of more regulation, you knew no good would come of this.

While health care was a battle of ideas in which special interests sought sway, this, like the push to conjure a carbon market, is a battle of special interests with an ideological veneer.

The legislation creates a permanent bailout fund, empowers a Treasury board to take over and unwind institutions deemed unwell and “put them out of their misery,” and a new set of complex and mostly unenforcable regulations for banks to game when making commercial loans.

Writers David Hersezenhorn and Sewell Chan show that what Democrats are looking for is a new narrative after Obamacare of fighting Wall Street and attacking the GOP for coddling bankers.

“[Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell asserted — as some liberals also have — that Fed oversight might be interpreted by the markets as an implicit guarantee of government support should those institutions be at risk of failure.

Senator Bernard Sanders, independent of Vermont and a self-described socialist, said he, too, was unhappy about the proposals so far. ‘We have got to stand up to Wall Street,’ he said. ‘We need real reform.’”


Washington Post -- At the peak of his influence, SEIU chief set to leave a mixed legacy

Writer Alec MacGillis takes a most useful look at the career of SEIU boss Andy Stern, who redefined the labor movement.

He has led the charge away from trade unions and toward government unions and focused more on boosting rolls than the contents of contracts. But most of all he has re-cemented the bonds between big labor and the Democratic Party. While trade unions occasionally bucked Democrats over environmental, immigration or other issues, the service workers and government employees of Stern’s union have no beef with the Democratic platform.

His goal has been to elect more Democrats and use political influence to get more members. Compared to the moribund trade unions that are now all facing pension collapse because of a lack of new members, it seemed like a good idea.

But it’s left behind deep divisions in the union and looming financial problems of its own. Perhaps decision to leave after the passage of health care was about getting out before a slide.

“SEIU membership growth has slowed -- after growing by 300,000 workers from 2006 to 2009, it added only 50,000 workers last year, for a total of 1.86 million. The union's finances are far more leveraged than those of most other unions -- it owes $121 million, while much of its $188 million in assets include IOUs from strapped locals.

And it is now facing a likely succession struggle. Stern is supporting his lieutenant Anna Burger, who would take over as interim leader for 30 days before the executive board elects a new president.”


Wall Street Journal -- U.S. Exits Afghanistan's 'Valley of Death'

After five years and 42 troops killed, the U.S. is pulling out of Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley.

The Korengal firebase (the scene of the famous photo of the GI manning his rifle in boxer shorts) was similar to the one to the north in the Nuristan Province where eight Americans were killed when Taliban overran them.

Under the Obama surge strategy, outposts like the Nristani and Korengal firebases are being closed to focus manpower on urban warfare in places like Kandahar in an effort to build nuclei of Western civilization in the country.

Writer Matthew Rosenberg got to go along as the U.S. closed up shop.

For their part, the 6,500 residents of the rocky valley are happy to see the Americans go and not too worried about the Taliban, who never managed to subdue the region either.

“‘Everybody hates them in the valley,’ Haji Nizamuddin, a tribal elder in Korengal, said of the Americans. U.S. forces ‘shoot at people, they raid our houses and kill our women and children.’

Mr. Nizamuddin stressed that he wasn't pro-Taliban. He, like most people in the valley, simply wanted to be left alone, he said.

‘If the foreigners leave the Taliban will stop harassing my people,’ he said during a telephone interview from the provincial capital, Asad Abad. ‘We have our tribes and our tribes can protect us against the insurgents when the Americans leave.’”


Arizona Republic -- Tough immigration bill OK'd by Arizona House

As Washington drifts into the stratosphere of nuclear nonproliferation, transformative societal change and special interest duels, state legislatures are the ones taking on the big issues of the day.

In the wake of the murder of a kind-hearted rancher and his dog, likely by Mexican drug gangs, the Arizona legislature has passed the toughest illegal immigration law in the country.

The law makes being in the country illegally a state crime. Where most local enforcement efforts have run aground is on the fact that the best they can do is turn detained illegals over to the feds, who generally have to punt them out of an overburdened system. While the feds are cracking down on illegals who commit violent crimes, the crime of sneaking into the country itself largely goes unpunished.

The Arizona law allows police to detain suspected illegals on their own charges and gives the state the power to crack down on employers who are complicit in the crime by not checking the status of those they hire.

The law, of course, has been denounced as a racist outrage and many, many lawsuits have been promised over racial profiling etc. The common modern disincentives to action (litigation, identity politics outrage, etc.) though, have been proving less effective at dissuading states from acting on pernicious problems.

Writers Mary Jo Pitzl and Daniel Gonzalez give us the details:

“The bill addresses a range of issues relating to illegal immigration. It would:

• Require law enforcement to make a reasonable attempt "when practicable" to determine the immigration status of a person if reasonable suspicion exists that the person is in the U.S. illegally.

• Require employers to keep E-Verify records of employees' eligibility.

• Prohibit state, city or county officials from limiting or restricting "the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law" and allow anyone to sue an official or agency that adopts or implements a policy or practice that does so. The bill contains a "loser pays" provision that may deter frivolous lawsuits.”


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About The Author

Chris Stirewalt


Washington Examiner Political Editor Chris Stirewalt, who coordinates political coverage for the newspaper and in addition to writing a twice-weekly column and
regular blog posts.

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