National Review / Digital
The Week

(Roman Genn)


The drip-drip on Solyndra, the bankrupt solar-energy firm in which the administration “invested” a half-billion dollars of taxpayers’ money, continues. The White House released documents showing that Obama fundraiser Steve Spinner, appointed by the president to a job in the Energy Department, was deeply involved in getting the loan approved, even though he had promised to recuse himself from the case because his wife’s law firm represents Solyndra. “How f*****g hard is this?” he wrote in one e-mail. “I have the OVP and the WH breathing down my neck on this. They are getting itchy to get involved.” (OVP is Office of the Vice President, WH is White House.) The “investment” in Solyndra, which is connected to several large Obama donors, was not properly vetted. When the deal started to go south, Energy Department officials offered to restructure the loan, again without proper approval, even though they were warned that doing so might be illegal. They were told that they should seek an opinion from the Justice Department, but did not. What has happened here surely was not wise. It may not even have been legal.

After months of slow leaks, the dam is finally breaking on Operation Fast and Furious, the controversial project of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives in which government agents deliberately allowed Mexican drug cartels to traffic American guns across the border. Evidence has surfaced on a few key issues: 1) Attorney General Eric Holder was sent memos about Fast and Furious last year, although it is unclear whether he was informed about the program’s most controversial aspects, and although he told Congress he hadn’t heard of the program until this year; 2) the man briefing Holder, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, almost certainly knew that agents were letting guns cross the border (an e-mail between two Justice Department officials explicitly mentions that guns have “walked” and suggests that Breuer should talk to the press when the results of the investigation are released to the public); 3) the extent of the damage is great — the Mexican government says it has tied Fast and Furious guns to 200 murders, and 40 more guns were found at the home of a Sinaloa-cartel leader. The Justice Department — from Holder down to the ATF officials who implemented Fast and Furious — needs to come clean.

The Obama administration has the worst employment record in modern history, but it is pressing forward boldly to create a number of new jobs — for trial lawyers. To the existing menu of protected classes in job-discrimination cases — race, sex, physical handicap, etc. — President Obama proposes to add a new one protecting the unemployed. Which is to say, being unemployed would put one in the same position as being black or being a woman when it comes to making claims of discrimination in hiring practices. This is a bad decision for a raft of reasons, the main one being that there is a logical connection between one’s employment status and one’s desirability as an employee: Less productive workers are more likely to be unemployed. That is the nature of the labor market. To equate hesitancy about hiring a worker long out of active participation in his industry with the corrosive and pervasive discrimination against blacks that our laws were intended to remedy is to trivialize the enormity that necessitated them. That the president’s instinctive response to the unemployment crisis is to try to in effect pass a law against unemployment speaks volumes about his economic thinking, if it can be called that.

October 31, 2011    |     Volume LXIII, No. 20

  • Bobby Jindal is leading Louisiana’s revival.
  • Celebrating a remarkable Supreme Court tenure.
Books, Arts & Manners
  • Tracy Lee Simmons reviews James Madison, by Richard Brookhiser.
  • William Tucker reviews The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World, by Daniel Yergin.
  • Michael Novak reviews The Most Controversial Decision: Truman, the Atomic Bombs, and the Defeat of Japan, by Wilson D. Miscamble, C.S.C.
  • Eli Lehrer reviews The Collapse of American Criminal Justice, by William J. Stuntz.
  • Ross Douthat reviews The Ides of March.
  • John Derbyshire laments the passing of ‘supererogate’ — and more.
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Poetry  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
The Bent Pin  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .