Morning Must Reads -- Oil disaster confirms Obama's suspicion of the center 

Washington Post -- As oil spill hits Louisiana coast, critics assail Obama's offshore drilling plan

President Obama’s new policy on offshore drilling was actually more notable for the areas of the continental shelf it closed to exploration than for what it made available and none of areas for which he lifted his self-imposed moratorium will be pumping anything for two years.

But the BP disaster, which is pumping 5,000 barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico every day and shows no signs of letting up, comes less than a month after the president made his bid to engage the center on energy policy and global warming. Now, the Left feels utterly vindicated about tut-tutting the president for reaching out.

It is somehow fitting that it would be BP, which projects a holier-than-thou image on the environment, at the center of this disaster. With 11 dead and a 19-mile perimeter of booms trying to protect the Mississippi Delta, it’s unprecedented. The Exxon Valdez 21 years ago was bigger in volume (so far) but was in a remote, mostly uninhabited area of Alaska, and was not accompanied by any loss of life.

BP should be glad that there is a Democratic president. The penalties will be huge, but imagine if a Texas oilman were president when this went down. CNN would show oily nutria and dead shrimp until the company was on trial at The Hague.

But because of Obama’s flirtation with the oil industry, environmentalists in Congress and in the administration are exacting a heavy price.

Writers Steven Mufson and Michael Shear explain that the president’s drilling plan will likely be further curtailed.

And I’d suggest that this experience may leave Obama feeling snakebit about even the very modest outreach to the center he has made thus far. For him, it is safer on the Left.

“On Friday, Napolitano, Salazar and EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson will travel to the Gulf Coast at the president's request with Carol Browner, the White House director of energy and climate change policy, and Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to inspect operations dedicated to minimizing environmental risks.”

 

Peggy Noonan -- The Big Alienation

Sen. Chuck Schumer trotted out a warmed-over version of the 2007 Bush comprehensive immigration plan, with the talking points slanted towards border security and away from amnesty.

But like all the comprehensive bills of our day, it depends on trusting the government on big plans at a time when it has proven itself untrustworthy even in small things.

Washington says we’ll spend $2 trillion on a health entitlement but we promise to pay for it with savings and cuts later on. The electorate blows raspberries.

In the new, pessimistic, post-American America, comprehensive solutions are in vogue because people in our government don’t believe in dynamism or the ameliorative power of progress. They want the illusion of permanence and predictability because they fear where change will lead them.

What’s the American way to handle illegal immigration?

Secure the border, enforce the existing laws and then make a rational decision about what to do with the illegals already here – take the logical step and then see what happens. It’s pragmatic and protective of our own liberties but still kind.

Noonan nails both parties on their unwillingness to act on the issue. The cynical approach of allowing crises to create political opportunities for comprehensive solutions is arrogant and craven.

Republicans worried about cutting off the supply of cheap labor for campaign contributors and Democrats intent on practicing the politics of racial grievance have created an untenable situation. But just because there is a crisis doesn’t mean the solution you seek will come to pass. (The president should consider this phenomenon as he precipitates a debt crisis.)

Now that the Arizona law has the Left inflamed and the Right defensive, who knows where the road will go? Certainly states suffering from the federal neglect of the border will not be thinking in Schumerian, comprehensive terms.

“If the federal government and our political parties were imaginative, they would understand that it is actually in their interests to restore peace and order to the border. It would be a way of demonstrating that our government is still capable of functioning, that it is still to some degree connected to the people's will, that it has the broader interests of the country in mind.”

 

New York Times -- U.S. Said to Open Criminal Inquiry Into Goldman

Kudos to Louise Story whose reporting on the retributive aftermath of the Panic of 2008 has been clear and insightful. She is joined by writer Michael de la Merced to explain how the government is looking to placate those calling for the blood of Goldman Sachs because the bank made so much money on the bursting of the real estate bubble.

Henry Ford said it’s a poor business that makes nothing but money. But he didn’t say it was illegal, just immoral. As many, including Bill Clinton, have observed, the case against Goldman is weak. But for outraged class warriors, the making of so much money by men so awful as Fab Tourre must be a crime.

So, the SEC took a break from porn surfing and butt covering to refer the lawsuit against Tourre and Goldman to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan.

They are charged by the SEC with running a rigged game at a legal bookie operation. Goldman’s defense is that they disclosed the facts but can’t be blamed for the stupidity of others in making bad bets.

“Prosecutors from the Eastern District of New York lost a case last year filed against two hedge fund managers at Bear Stearns, whose collapse presaged the turmoil on Wall Street.

Prosecutors built much of that case around internal e-mail messages at Bear Stearns, much the way the S.E.C. and senators have pointed to e-mail at Goldman in which employees had disparaged investments that they were selling to their customers.

In the end, however, prosecutors were unable to prove to a jury any criminal wrongdoing by the Bear Stearns employees.”

 

New York Times -- Teachers and Crist: Will It Last?

Charlie Crist’s announcement of his new independent status in the Florida Senate race looked like a teachers’ union rally. A clot of unionistas around the governor wiggled signs to give the impression of a throng welcoming Crist out of the GOP.

Crist’s bizarre journey to the center of himself is predicated on his decision to veto a school reform bill sought by state Republicans (including him) for years. It was a shameless bit of pandering. But Crist is betting that the geysers of gratitude from the state education union will provide him with automatic ground troops, campaign cash and a voter base.

Writers Damien Cave and Lynn Waddell point out that for teachers, the farther they get from the danger of having their union busted, the less affection they may feel for the governor.

GOP-nominee-to-be Marco Rubio will get almost no union support, but seems certain to get at least 35 percent of the vote in November. Democrat Kendrick Meek seems guaranteed a quarter of the overall vote and has long been a friend of the union hack. The only candidate without a floor is Charlie Crist.

“Opposition to Mr. Rubio is visceral among teachers, and for those like Andy Foertsch, a music teacher at Northeast Elementary in St. Petersburg, support for Mr. Crist may be only as strong as his chances are for victory.

The main goal, Mr. Foertsch said, is to keep Mr. Rubio from going to Washington.

‘I see it as a pragmatic situation,’ Mr. Foertsch said. ‘I’m totally against Rubio and I cannot see Ken Meek has much of a chance.’

If the situation changes, however, if Crist drops in the polls or Mr. Meek becomes a frontrunner, that could change. In May, just before the AFL-CIO endorsing convention Florida’s teachers union will meet to decide who to support. Strategists from both parties say Mr. Crist will probably find that many of the teachers standing with him now are gone by November.”

 

Los Angeles Times -- 99ers’ dread future without jobless benefits

People who have been on unemployment assistance since June 6, 2008 are about to lose their benefits. The standard run of benefits is 26 weeks. The benefits have sometimes been extended to 51 weeks, but never have the payments gone on so long.

Congress recently added $12 billion to the deficit to extend benefits for more recently fired Americans. But for the cohort that was already unemployed when the Panic of 2008 began, it’s the end of the line.

Writer Alana Semuels does her very best to create a sympathetic portrait of the folks who are organizing and petitioning Congress for another extension of the dole -- but always leaves a question unanswered. Like why don’t you move to where they’re hiring (i.e. Texas)?

And some of the examples just beggar belief.

“And in California's wine country, Kay Stephens, 56, is frantically looking to cut her living expenses so her unemployment doesn't become a burden to her 30-year-old daughter…

Stephens says she has no close family members to turn to — her 86-year-old mother needs financial help herself, and her daughter is just squeaking by. She's looking into programs that will give her low-income discounts on her auto insurance and electric bills now that her benefits have expired.

‘I'm sick to my stomach with fear and anxiety,’ said Stephens, who used to make her living in marketing for the wine industry. She has worked only sporadically since 2006.”

 

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About The Author

Chris Stirewalt

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

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