Thursday, February 5, 2009

Obama Nation 02-05-09



  • First lady Michelle Obama was at the Department of Education yesterday, extolling the value and virtue of the Department of Education.  What did we ever do before it was established in 1980?...... Drum Roll Please.... A better job!

"When will they ever learn?  Quality education has been available in poorer neighborhoods for decades in this country.  The New York City school system educated generations of immigrants to high standards until the 1960s, when political correctness overran the schools.  So many poor kids from deprived families were getting into Harvard as early as the 1920s, by sheer merit, that Harvard established ethnic quotes to limit their number.
Good schools are built by good families.  They’re built by cultural attitudes that value education and respect those who excel as students.  That’s the key.  Tell me why, wherever Asian-American students move, the schools get better.  Please tell me, and I’ll show you how to cut the education budgets by a third and improve the schools at the same time."   William Katz 

  • Cokie and Steve Roberts bemoan the fact that Tom Daschle will not be the Secretary of Health and Human Services and help shepherd the country into the lush green grass of Government Provided Health Care.

    "Look, we know that honest mistakes can happen. We also know that government bureaucracies can be extremely frustrating. Years ago, we were badgered by the state of California to cough up annual income taxes long after we had moved away.

    It might even be true that Daschle's mistakes were "completely inadvertent," as he claimed. He failed to pay income taxes on a car and driver worth $255,000 over three years because he thought the perk was a "gift from a good friend." What that statement reveals is a sense of entitlement, even arrogance........He failed to pay income taxes on a car and driver worth $255,000 over three years because he thought the perk was a "gift from a good friend." What that statement reveals is a sense of entitlement, even arrogance. I'm rich, I'm famous, and people give me valuable presents all the time. Heaven forbid I should drive my own car, or pay for my own chauffeur, or bother with taxes on a "gift" that is worth more than the annual income of most American families. (For those keeping score at home, the median household income in 2007 was $50,740, while Daschle's fancy ride was worth $85,000 that year.) This is not a partisan issue, or a purely Democratic problem. Plenty of Republicans leaving the Bush White House are now doing exactly what Daschle did after he was defeated for re-election to the Senate in 2004 — cashing in on their connections, selling their expertise, and getting rich in the process.  There is another way to look at this episode, however. Daschle was an excellent choice to head the president's healthcare-reform effort. He knows the players on the Hill and in the private sector and genuinely understands the key issues. His departure is a real loss, and Obama has to bear some of the blame here......He knew that "Washington lobbyists" like Tom Daschle are often the most knowledgeable and effective people in town. And he knew he would need them in his administration. (And let's not quibble with words. Daschle was not an officially registered "lobbyist," but he didn't make $5 million playing the piano.)

In fact, after the election, Obama admitted that his virulently anti-Washington campaign talk was overblown. "I was never of the belief," he told the Washington Post, "that the way you bring about change is not to hire anybody who knows how things work." Quite the opposite, he was looking for "good mechanics who know how to run the system."made a stupid mistake. But he was a top-notch mechanic, and he might have survived if Obama had been more candid with the voters about the Washington insiders he intended to hire.
Now it's Obama's fault for not being honest and admitting that he was just kidding about what he said about changing Washington, and getting rid of lobbyists during the campaign.
There are no black and whites in the Robert's world.  Everything is finesse-able because the end justifies the means.  Moral equivalency is established between Republican government personnel trading in on their connections and experience, and Daschle not paying taxes.  Sorry, They're not at all equivalent, especially given Daschle's now infamous line: "tax cheats cheat us all". He would know....

  • We hear so much business bashing from the Democrats.  With all the announcements of thousands of private sector workers being laid off, we never hear about Government employees being laid off.  Always just the threat of laying off essential public safety or transportation workers if funding isn't approved.  Yet Randall Hinton is paid $93,803 a year to do nothing.
He spends much of his workday at the NY State Insurance Fund donning headphones, listening to rock 'n' roll, blues or classical tunes and his superiors are cool with that.

His work agenda involves placing his feet up on his desk, staring out his office window and counting cars on the New York State Thruway. He arrives at 7:30 a.m., leaves at 3:30 p.m., sees no one and talks to no one.  The real tragedy here is that the entire government work force is filled with Randall Hinton's.

  • Members of Congress have been quick to shame corporate executives for over-the-top extravagance during the economic crisis, flying private jets and taking luxury junkets. But some lawmakers are strolling fancy resorts spending tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars and mingling with lobbyists. 

    "We're very mindful" of perceptions, House Democratic Caucus Chairman
    John Larson told reporters Thursday camped outside of the sprawling Kingsmill Resort & Spa in Williamsburg, Va., where House Democrats spent about $100,000 on their three-day annual retreat. "It's serious and it's from morning till night. We've been dwelling, rightfully, on the economy," said Larson, D-Conn.

  • A Senate committee today abruptly canceled a session to consider President Obama's nomination of Rep. Hilda Solis to be labor secretary in the wake of a report saying that her husband yesterday paid about $6,400 to settle tax liens against his business -- including liens that had been outstanding for as long as 16 years.  The fact that she also withheld (forgot to mention) her involvement in a pro-labor lobbying organization while a member of Congress (which is against the law), is less than a minor ethical point for her supporters, who point out that it's not her taxes that are in question this time....just her husband's....   

  • This morning , radio host Bill Press brought up the recent closing of liberal station Obama 1260 when speaking with Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, and talked about whether there needs to be a balance to right-wing talk on the radio dial.
    BILL PRESS: Yeah, I mean, look: They have a right to say that. They’ve got a right to express that. But, they should not be the only voices heard. So, is it time to bring back the Fairness Doctrine?

    SENATOR DEBBIE STABENOW (D-MI): I think it’s absolutely time to pass a standard. Now, whether it’s called the Fairness Standard, whether it’s called something else — I absolutely think it’s time to be bringing accountability to the airwaves. I mean, our new president has talked rightly about accountability and transparency. You know, that we all have to step up and be responsible. And, I think in this case, there needs to be some accountability and standards put in place.

    BILL PRESS: Can we count on you to push for some hearings in the United States Senate this year, to bring these owners in and hold them accountable?

    SENATOR DEBBIE STABENOW (D-MI): I have already had some discussions with colleagues and, you know, I feel like that’s gonna happen. Yep.
     UPDATE: A commenter points out that Stabenow is married to Tom Athans, a liberal talk radio executive.

    Maybe it's me, but I don't seem to remember these types of ethical issues when George Bush was President.  


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