Exclusive – Oval Office Watch – Tuesday, May 18

by OVAL OFFICE WATCH May 18, 2010
Woodward book on Obama coming in September - HERE.
First lady tells George Washington grads to 'keep giving' - SEE HERE.
White House: Stop Marketing Unhealthy Foods to Kids - GO HERE.
Review set for 160,000 pages on Kagan
Josh Gerstein, Politico.com
The Clinton Presidential Library is facing a mammoth task to prepare for confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan: processing about 160,000 pages of records from Kagan's time as a lawyer and policy adviser in the Clinton White House.
The staggering page count comes from a letter President Barack Obama's White House Counsel Bob Bauer sent Saturday to Archivist David Ferriero, asking that the Archives expedite release of the files so the Senate can have them to consider Kagan's nomination.
"I understand that preparing these 160,000 pages for public release will require very significant efforts," Bauer wrote. "Their availability, on an expedited schedule, is necessary to afford the Senate a reasonable opportunity to evaluate Ms. Kagan's nomination."
Democrats are hoping to hold the hearings in July or August, which would give the Archives a couple of months to sift through the records looking for materials that might invade someone's privacy. The library can also withhold national security information and details of high-level exchanges between President Bill Clinton and his advisers or among those advisers.
Kagan spent four years working for Clinton between 1995 and 1999. Read article.
Hatch vows probe of Kagan's judicial philosophy, calls Obama pick qualified but wants to see her casework
Lee Davidson, DeseretNews.com
Sen. Orrin Hatch says Republicans apparently dodged a worse-case, extremely liberal nominee to the Supreme Court, but he's not exactly sure what new nominee Elena Kagan's judicial philosophy is, and he vows a thorough probe into that.
He told the Deseret News that because of a private meeting he had with President Barack Obama last week, "I knew some of the ones he was looking at that were, at least ostensibly, much to the left of her. And, yes, I'm pleased that he did not go to them."
Hatch, a senior member of the Judiciary Committee and its former chairman, added, "I told him, 'I know you're going to pick Elena Kagan.' He's like a sphinx. He doesn't give you much facial expression at all, but I knew this was going to happen," Hatch said, in his first public discussion of that meeting last week.
Hatch said he figured Kagan would be picked because she is only 50 years old and could serve on the court for decades. Also, she has never been a judge, so it will be more difficult to pin down her judicial philosophy. She is the U.S. solicitor general and represents the federal government in cases before the Supreme Court. Read article.
An Ever-Evolving Enemy
Ed Feulner, Townhall.com
Last December, my family saw the revival of “White Christmas” at the Marquis Theater on Broadway. The play reminds us of a time when Americans could easily identify their enemies. Back then, veterans poured home knowing they’d completely vanquished their Axis foes and kept our country safe.
Things aren’t as straightforward today.
While we were in New York, a terrorist was planning the attack he’d carry out Christmas Day on a plane headed for Detroit. Five months later, another terrorist attempted to set off a car bomb in Times Square. Had he succeeded, the Marquis might have been destroyed.
It’s been more than eight years since terrorists hijacked planes and first attacked our homeland. Of course, al Qaeda had been at war with the U.S. overseas long before 9/11 -- we just hadn’t replied in kind. The current struggle has already lasted longer than World War II.
And it will continue for the foreseeable future. There are still bad guys. They still want to target Americans. They’re just more difficult to identify than most of our previous enemies.
Lawmakers and the Obama administration need to work together and with state and local governments to provide terrorism-fighting tools, to increase information-sharing and collective security efforts around the globe, to expand vital law enforcement partnerships with local law enforcement and to encourage cooperation with the governments of other countries. Read article.
The Islamists Amuck in America
Bob Tyrrell, JWR.com
A few days after the failed attempt of a Pakistani-born naturalized American citizen to blow Times Square sky high, I bravely made my way through the returning throng of tourists and street vendors to take a look. By my calculation, had the jackal, Faisal Shahzad, 30, succeeded with his evil project in the early evening of Saturday, May 1 to explode the SUV he left on a Times Square street, he might have killed several hundred utterly innocent civilians, possibly a thousand. Fortunately, he failed.
Despite instructions from highly experienced terrorists back home, he packed his Nissan Pathfinder with the wrong kind of fertilizer — a variety unsuited from bombs. The firecrackers he rigged up as detonators were insufficiently powerful to set his incendiaries off.
Shahzad's alarm clocks, which were supposed to serve as timers, were set wrong. He failed to distinguish a.m. from p.m. Oh, yes, and he ran from the SUV leaving on its key ring the keys to his getaway car and to his apartment.
The evil Shahzad's incompetence, we are told, should not give us confidence that the next attempt by another terrorist or terrorist group will fizzle as his did. The failed attempt in 1993 to blow up the World Trade Center was followed brief years later by Sept. 11. In fact, the terrorist threats against us here at home continue and may be speeding up.
Since Sept. 11, there have been 20 Islamists terrorist plots directed against us at home, former Attorney General Michael R. Mukasey writes in The Wall Street Journal, including Maj. Nidal Hasan's massacre of American soldiers at Fort Hood. He urges that any terrorist such as Shahzad be designated as "an unlawful enemy combatant" and that information obtained from them in interrogation remain confidential to be exploited against our enemies. Doubtless he is right and prudent in his recommendations.
Yet without diminishing the extent of the threat from Islamist terrorists, let me return to my expedition into Times Square. Read article.
Nuclear Cuts Could Prove Dangerous
Peter Huessy, Human Events.com
The Department of Defense recently released the official figures of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile as of September 2009. Counting the strategic weapons we have now deployed—roughly 2,200—and the 500 tactical nuclear weapons we have—the United States has fewer overall nuclear weapons than at any time since the Eisenhower administration.
During the past 30 years, the United States has reduced its nuclear weapons by nearly 20,000, nearly ten times the total number of nuclear weapons we have deployed today. That is the extent of the progress we have made since President Reagan was inaugurated in January 1981.
President Bush 41 and President Bush 43 reduced nuclear weapons by over 16,000, following agreement on INF and START and the Moscow Treaty. And of course it was President Reagan, under a policy and strategy of “peace through strength”, that built-up America’s power and negotiated reductions in Soviet military power. It was that strength that made such nuclear weapons reductions possible.
Unfortunately, like all the strategic nuclear-weapons reduction treaties before it, the New START treaty leaves unsettled the question of the huge Russian advantage in such weapons, which further calls into question the security of our European allies on whose soil many of these weapons are targeted. America’s stockpile has certainly been reduced sharply over the past 30 years, but there is no question that our robust, effective and strong nuclear deterrent led to the nuclear agreements we signed with the Soviets and then the Russians, and the resulting remaining force that was sufficient to maintain deterrence. Read article.
Our Unsustainable Debt: America is on the verge of financial disaster.
Veronique de Rugy, Reason.com
America’s financial situation is unsustainable. In 2009 the federal government spent $3.5 trillion but collected only $2.1 trillion in revenue. The result was a $1.4 trillion deficit, up from $458 billion in 2008. That’s 10 percent of gross domestic product, a level unseen since World War II. Worse, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that we’ll be drowning in red ink for the foreseeable future, with annual deficits averaging $1 trillion during the next decade.
While these figures are dramatic, they pale in comparison to what the federal government owes foreign and domestic investors. According to the CBO, in 2009 America’s public debt reached $7.5 trillion, or 53 percent of GDP, the highest it has been in 50 years. In 2010 the debt will cross the 60 percent threshold, a level at which many economists believe a country is putting itself in financial peril.
And the situation is deteriorating rapidly. Read article.
Clinton to Afghan women: 'We will not abandon you.'
Yahoo News.com
Women's rights will not be sacrificed in any settlement between the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Taliban militants, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday.
Clinton ruled out U.S. support, or at least her own, for negotiations with anyone who would roll back advances for Afghan women achieved since a U.S.-led invasion ousted the militant Islamic Taliban movement from power in 2001.
"There are certain conditions that have to be met" to hold talks with insurgents about laying down arms, Clinton said during an appearance with Karzai. Karzai and a large delegation of government ministers and advisers, including several women, were finishing four days of talks in Washington.
Among the conditions for peace talks, midlevel Taliban leaders would have to renounce violence, cut ties with al-Qaida and its affiliates, and abide by Afghanistan's laws and constitution, Clinton said.
"And on a personal note, they must respect women's rights." Read article.
Why Socialism Fails
Rene Stein, US Observer.com
While socialist ideals can be tempting, I disagree that socialism is an effective means of economic management. According to the American Heritage Dictionary (2006), socialism is “any of various or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that plans and controls the economy."
Socialism promises equality, security, and prosperity, but in turn delivers quite the opposite, which has been clearly demonstrated throughout history. It does not equate work with value. The dilemma of socialism as practiced in European nations is that there is no incentive to work hard. For example, if you have two people working assigned on the same task and one works hard and the other works leisurely both will earn the same wage and the same benefits under a socialized system; there is no incentive. Under a capitalist system people are rewarded based on their individual ability and effort. Private property rights are paramount and charity is based on personal discretion. 
The main component of socialism is redistribution of wealth. Many historical examples have shown this to have a negative net effect on society. The most dramatic example of this in the modern area has been the country of Sweden. Swedish citizens pay nearly half of their wages in taxes. The promised benefits are free education, universal healthcare, and subsidized childcare. There are few people who could argue that these goals are outrageous. It is a natural human reaction to offer aid to the suffering. The capitalist answer to the economic challenges of others is charity given at free will. Read article.

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