Wall Street Journal -- Obama To Urge Congress To Extend Unemployment Insurance

President Obama is hoping to force a vote this week in which Republicans will move to block 99-week unemployment benefits.

Of course, Democrats haven’t been all on board with the proposal to add $30 billion more to the deficit — Sen. Ben Nelson has been more stalwart than many in the GOP.

The president and Harry Reid do not want to use unspent stimulus money to pay for the plan and have defeated even compromise measures that would have split the difference and taken half the money from the unpopular $787 billion spending package.

Obama called the Republicans the party of the rich on Saturday and suggested that the GOP was unsympathetic to the millions of unemployed Americans. Vice President Joe Biden Sunday said that the stimulus would have been bigger and worked better if the three Senate Republicans who voted for it hadn’t gotten so squeamish about the cost.

Arlen Specter fled the GOP after the blowback on his stimulus vote, but the two Republicans from Maine who voted for the package, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, must have been unhappy to hear that Biden blamed the nation’s economic malaise on them and that they were part of the party of Scrooge McDuck.

Having given the president his way on the Dodd-Frank bank bill, will the Mainers feel obliged to give him his deficit spending package? I suspect not – especially when the president refuses to budge on deficit spending. It is Democrats, after all, who have blocked the benefits.

In the two weeks remaining before lawmakers flee Washington, the extension of unemployment benefits and the continued funding for the Afghan and Iraq wars are the only two “must do” items on the Democratic agenda. New energy taxes don’t have to pass, they just have to come up for a vote as a sop to the green Left. But the White House has staked its claim on two-year jobless benefits and the Afghan war.

Writer Jared Favole previews the president’s Rose Garden speech today condemning Republican heartlessness.

“Obama will highlight the need for the extension in a speech scheduled for Monday morning in the Rose Garden. ‘The president will tell the stories of Americans in need of the extension,’ a White House official said. ‘He will have strong words for Republicans who have previously supported unemployment extensions under Republican presidents but refuse to offer relief to middle class families today,’ the official added.

The official said Obama will also point out that Republicans have been calling for billions of dollars in tax cuts for wealthy Americans ‘while telling working families that we can't afford to help them when they need it most.’”


Wall Street Journal -- U.S. Raises Concern About Seeping Crude

Federal regulators believe that the capping of the blown BP well is causing oil to seep out elsewhere – that having put a nozzle on the end of the garden hose has controlled the flow but also caused a leak back at the spigot. BP believes that the cap is holding and wants to keep the seal on until the relief wells are completed in the coming weeks. Neither side has a lot of public credibility here.

The feds have a particularly tough case to make because they will be arguing essentially to uncap the well at some point. BP will be arguing that the Gulf seabed seeps all kinds of stuff so they should focus on the big problem.

Writer Angel Gonzales reports:

“In an earlier statement, Adm. Allen said that lower-than-expected pressure readings at the well could be a sign of an oil and gas leak on the seabed.

BP's Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said in a teleconference early Sunday that the pressure readings were an indication of a depleting reservoir and that no issues had been found.

In his letter, Adm. Allen reiterated that the drilling of a relief well—which would permanently kill the spill by flooding the well with cement—should remain the foremost option to stop the gusher."


Charleston Daily Mail -- Manchin could proclaim election

Soon-to-be-West Virginia Sen. Carte Goodwin may want to think about finding a place in Washington.

The 36-year-old lawyer, tapped as a three-month seat warmer for Gov. Joe Manchin, got the nod when Manchin still expected broad-based support for a special election to select someone (preferably himself) to serve out the final two years of Byrd’s term.

He called a special session of the legislature to iron out a poorly-written succession law to allow for a special election for the fall – one in which he would be the prohibitive favorite.

A sign of progress in West Virginia: Competition among many ambitious politicians led to an impasse on the new law.

Manchin pushed for election rules most favorable to him – a stripped-down primary weeks from now and then a regular general election in the fall. Manchin also excluded the question of what would happen to his seat if it in fact became vacant because he went to Washington.

Manchin’s machinations prompted others to ask for their own carve outs instead of just going along with his instructions. Notably, the state’s top Republican, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, asks lawmakers to craft the new statute so that she could oppose Manchin for the Senate but also run for a sixth term in the House.

The legislature has hit an impasse on how to set up the elections and under law only has the rest of the day to resolve big differences between bills and considerable resistance in the House of Delegates.

Now, if Manchin wants to have things his way, he may not have any legislative cover. Acting under an advisory opinion from the state attorney general, Manchin can now simply declare and election in contradiction of the secretary of state.

That means Manchin would face political and legal uncertainty. What happens when the lawsuits start flying? What will all the maneuvering do to public esteem for Manchin?

Manchin made his Goodwin appointment when the new succession law seemed rather a sure thing. Senate Democrats has been squeezing Manchin to send a new Senator to vote for spending bills, etc., but Manchin delayed for fear that a seat warmer might become a two-and-a-half-year incumbent.

It seems that Manchin’s original concern was well placed.

Writer Ry Rivard explains:

“Just before 1 p.m. Saturday, the House voted down the whole bill, 42-45. Then Manchin called several lawmakers into his office and lobbied them to vote for the bill.

Just after 4 p.m. Saturday, the House reconsidered its vote, passing the bill 46-37. But then, when the House voted on the effective date, it refused to make it immediate in a 50-34 vote.”


Wall Street Journal -- China Passes U.S. as World's Biggest Energy Consumer

As Tom Freidman and President Obama wax rhapsodic over Chinese solar panels and green jobs, writer Spencer Schwartz gives us the fuller picture.

China can build all the solar panels in the world, but the rapid Westernization of the country means that Chinese demand for coal, oil and all other power available will continue to grow and grow. That means a resource struggle dead ahead.

There are lots of ways to measure industrial supremacy or national might, but energy consumption is a good one. It covers all sectors, is less subject to government manipulation and rewards modernity.

We took the crown for top energy consumer from John Bull a century ago, now it has been taken from us.

“China devoured a total of 2,252 million tons of oil equivalent last year, or about 4% more than the U.S., which burned through 2,170 million tons of oil equivalent. The oil-equivalent metric represents all forms of energy consumed, including crude oil, nuclear, coal, natural gas and renewable sources such as hydropower….China's total energy consumption has clocked annual double-digit growth rates for many years, driven by the country's big industrial base. Highlighting how quickly its energy demand has increased, China's total energy consumption was just half the size of the U.S. 10 years ago…The U.S. is still by far the biggest energy consumer per capita, with the average American burning five times as much energy annually compared with the average Chinese citizen.”


Washington Post -- A hidden world, growing beyond control

I suppose the headline on this first story in the series on the intelligence-industrial complex probably also sums up the way some editors at the Post feel about the project of writers Dana Preist and William Arkin.

The much-hyped series that examines the size and activities of “Top Secret America” does amaze in scope, and does deliver some surprising numbers about the hundreds of thousands of people making their livings from the post 9/11 intel ramp up. But there’s no pop here. Preist and Arkin admirably report details on something everybody already knew – that U.S. intelligence is a muscle-bound bureaucracy.

You can’t blame the Post for all the hype, some of which was fueled by security concerns related to the public disclosure of so much information about the intelligence community – where the top secret offices are, how government contractors work – and concerns that it might invite attacks by talking about American weakness. Only the very lazy Jihadi would need this work, since it represents only the culling of public documents. But the reporting on how overlapping intelligence agencies chase the same goals but neglect things in their own backyards is interesting.

“Last fall, U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan allegedly opened fire at Fort Hood, Tex., killing 13 people and wounding 30. In the days after the shootings, information emerged about Hasan's increasingly strange behavior at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he had trained as a psychiatrist and warned commanders that they should allow Muslims to leave the Army or risk "adverse events." He had also exchanged e-mails with a well-known radical cleric in Yemen being monitored by U.S. intelligence.

But none of this reached the one organization charged with handling counterintelligence investigations within the Army. Just 25 miles up the road from Walter Reed, the Army's 902nd Military Intelligence Group had been doing little to search the ranks for potential threats. Instead, the 902's commander had decided to turn the unit's attention to assessing general terrorist affiliations in the United States, even though the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI's 106 Joint Terrorism Task Forces were already doing this work in great depth.”


My column about the issue that could launch Hillary Clinton’s 2012 campaign is here.