Tags: Podesta | Turns | Down | Obama

Podesta Turns Down Obama; Clinton Takes Action; Ron Paul, Michelle Obama, More . . .

By    |   Sunday, 19 April 2009 01:32 PM

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Obama's DOE Hid News of School Voucher Success
2. Report: Podesta Turns Down Obama Ambassador Post
3. Bill Clinton Takes Legal Action Over Domain Names
4. Ron Paul: Legalize Marijuana and Reduce Crime
5. Ray LaHood Is Obama’s GOP Weapon
6. Michelle Obama Has Full-Time Makeup Artist
7. We Heard: Gay Marriage, Taxes, New York Times, Voice of America

1. Obama's DOE Hid News of School Voucher Success

President Barack Obama’s Department of Education sat on a report chronicling the success of a school vouchers program until after Congress had voted not to continue the program.

That’s the report from Deroy Murdock, a media fellow with the Hoover Institution, who exposes the subterfuge in an article published by National Review Online.

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program allows 1,714 children — 90 percent of them black and 9 percent Hispanic — to receive up to $7,500 to attend a private or parochial school instead of a public school in the District of Columbia, which is widely believed to have one of the nation’s most troubled school districts.

Since the program’s launch in 2004, 7,852 students have applied for these grants, and participants have been chosen by lottery.

Obama — who said last year that “you do what works for the kids” — did not intervene as Congress scheduled the program’s end after the 2009-2010 academic year.

“Now it emerges that Obama’s Department of Education  possessed peer-reviewed, congressionally mandated, federally financed research proving this program’s success,” Murdock writes.

“Though it demonstrates ‘what works for the kids,’ DOE hid this study until Congress squelched these children’s dreams.”

An amendment in the Senate to rescue the vouchers program failed on March 10 by a vote of 39 to 58. The DOE finally released the report on April 3. Even then, DOE researchers were reportedly barred from discussing their findings.

“You’d think we were talking about nuclear secrets, not about a taxpayer-funded pilot program,” An April 5 editorial in The Wall Street Journal reported.

During the March 10 vote, 57 Democrats voted and 54 of them opposed the vouchers program.

Why? Murdock suggested, “Follow the money,” and he pointed out that teachers’ unions shelled out $55,794,000 in political donations between 1999 and 2008, with 96 percent of the funds going to Democrats.

The “winners” in the Senate vote, he added, are “the teachers’ unions, who hate school choice, hate vouchers, and don’t give a damn about school kids when they threaten union pay, benefits, and control of classrooms.”

Editor's Note:

2. Report: Podesta Turns Down Obama Ambassador Post

The prestigious job of U.S. ambassador to China is open — but several high-profile Washington insiders have reportedly already turned down the post.

John Podesta, the Center for American Progress president who headed Barack Obama’s transition team, and former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel have both rejected offers to represent the U.S. in Beijing, sources told Foreign Policy magazine’s The Cable Web site.

“Some people think ambassador jobs are beneath them,” one source said.

“Others think the process to get confirmed is too big a pain. Some people don’t want to move to China.”

Clark T. Randt left the post in January after serving for more than seven years. Candidates to replace him, according to The Cable, include the following:

  • Bill Owens, a retired admiral who served as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Bill Clinton presidency
  • Former Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa, a Republican who endorsed Obama’s presidential candidacy and was recently named director of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics
  • Ken Lieberthal, a University of Michigan professor who advised Hillary Clinton on Asia during her primary campaign.

It’s not clear if any of the three have already turned down the job.

Editor's Note:

3. Bill Clinton Takes Legal Action Over Domain Names

Private investigator Joe Culligan registered PresidentBillClinton.com and similar Clinton-related domain names in the late 1990s as a joke. Now Clinton’s lawyer is taking legal action to gain ownership of those Web site addresses.

Culligan believes it’s payback. For months he has been probing why Maggie Williams, a longtime Clinton staffer who served as Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, used Bill Clinton’s taxpayer-funded office to receive correspondence about stock options she received from a subprime lender.

“It’s the most obscure imaginable charge,” Gawker.com observed. “Does Culligan think Clinton ripped off taxpayers by having a government-paid clerk drop the letter off at Williams’ desk?”

But the effort to take the domain names from Culligan, Gawker.com adds, “suggests that the charge has stung nonetheless.”

An attempt to go to the PresidentBillClinton.com site now takes an Internet user to the Web site of the Republican National Committee.

Editor's Note:

4. Ron Paul: Legalize Marijuana and Reduce Crime

Rep. Ron Paul declares that the federal war on drugs is a failure and legalizing marijuana would reduce the prison population and in effect the crime rate.

“I think we should look at the federal drug war, and I would say the federal drug war has failed so we should reject it,” the Texas Republican, who ran for president last year, told CNN.

“When I talk about changing the law, I want to go back to a constitutional approach to a problem like this, and that is through the states.

“Up until 1937 there wasn’t even a law against marijuana, and at that time they just passed a law to tax it. So we’ve had an experience in this country where we didn’t have all these laws, but it was regulated by the states.

"Alcohol is legalized by the federal government but it’s regulated by state laws.”

Paul said he is particularly disturbed by the federal government’s efforts to override state laws allowing some people to legally obtain medicinal marijuana, as has happened in California.

“They’ll pass a law that says that sick people can use it. So people who are dying with AIDS or cancer are getting benefit from marijuana. Then the federal government comes in and says we don’t care about the state law, and they just override it and put people into prison for this.

“We have over 500,000 people that never committed a violent crime in prison for drug use, and there are mandatory jail sentences under these conditions.

"This makes no sense. It’s so expensive, and it hasn’t achieved anything.”

Paul included other drugs in the discussion when he said: “We’re creating a monstrous legal problem costing hundreds of billions of dollars and putting people in prison who should be treated as sick people. They shouldn’t be treated as criminals.

“The problems we have is because the price for these drugs is about a thousand times greater than it would be” if they were legal and regulated.

“We’ve created most of the problems for ourselves,” he added, “and these drug wars are a consequence of our policies.”

Editor's Note:

5. Ray LaHood Is Obama’s GOP Weapon

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is the only member of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet who won an election as a Republican — and Obama is now using LaHood as his liaison with Republicans in Congress.

LaHood accompanied the president when he traveled to Capitol Hill to meet with GOP House members, and was with Obama when he met at the White House with a group of moderate Republicans to discuss the stimulus package.

“Although the administration has not had much success recruiting Republican support for the president’s signature initiatives — not a single House Republican voted for the stimulus package — efforts at bipartisan outreach are still promoted heavily,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

“And LaHood is a key player in the White House strategy.”

The Obama administration is likely to need GOP votes on several issues, including trade legislation and immigration reform, according to Howard Paster, who directed President Bill Clinton’s congressional relations.

And LaHood believes he could garner some Republican support for the administration’s efforts on healthcare reform.

LaHood — first elected to the House from Illinois in 1994 — has demonstrated an unwillingness to toe a strict Republican line.

Although he was the presiding Republican over the impeachment vote against President Clinton, he was 1 of only 3 Republican candidates in 1994 not to sign on to Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America.

LaHood forged a close relationship with Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s White House chief of staff, when the two served in Congress, and Rahm acknowledged to the L.A. Times: “He’s our ambassador beyond his portfolio.”

LaHood, an Arab Catholic, publicly criticized the Bush administration for what he perceived as indifference over Israel’s 2006 bombing campaign in his ancestral Lebanon, while Emanuel, who is Jewish, served as a civilian volunteer in the Israeli army during the 1991 Gulf War.

“He has his point of view, and I have my point of view,” LaHood told the L.A. Times.

“I think the idea that a member of Congress of Lebanese Maronite background can work so closely with a Democrat of the Jewish faith speaks volumes about both of us and our ability to work together,” LaHood said. 

Editor's Note:

6. Michelle Obama Has Full-Time Makeup Artist

Michelle Obama is the first American first lady to have a full-time makeup artist travel with her entourage.

Ingrid Grimes-Miles has been serving as Michelle’s makeup artist for six years, and now splits her time between Washington and Chicago, where she works with news anchors at the TV station WGN.

“No other first ladies have consistently traveled with a makeup artist,” hairdresser Bernard Portelli, who has styled Hillary Clinton’s hair, told the New York Post.

“It took Laura Bush four years to finally look good. It’s taken Michelle Obama two months. She wears fake eyelashes that are beautiful. She can’t do those herself.”

Grimes-Miles and hairstylist Johnny Wright both accompanied Barack and Michelle Obama during their recent trip to Europe. The Obamas paid the pair’s travel expenses.

Observers suspect that Grimes-Miles is behind Michelle’s “most prominent beauty reinvention: her eyebrows,” the Post reported.

“After the first lady drew criticism for looking angry, her high-arched eyebrows were reshaped with a softer arc that gave her a friendlier appearance.”

Editor's Note:

7. We Heard . . .

THAT Steve Schmidt, John McCain’s chief strategist in last year’s presidential campaign, is urging conservatives to drop their opposition to same-sex marriage.

In a speech on Friday to Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights organization, Schmidt said, “There is a sound conservative argument to be made for same-sex marriage.

“I believe conservatives, more than liberals, insist that rights come with responsibilities. No other exercise of one’s liberty comes with greater responsibilities than marriage.”

Schmidt also made a political argument for his stance, noting that McCain lost to Barack Obama by a wide margin among voters under 30, who are generally more accepting of gay couples, CNN reported.

McCain voiced opposition to same-sex marriage on the 2008 campaign trail.

THAT a new political action organization called GOProud has been formed to represent gay conservatives and their conservative allies.

The group’s chairman is Christopher Barron, former political director for Log Cabin Republicans, and its executive director is Jimmy LaSalvia, former policy director for Log Cabin Republicans.

The organization said in a release: “GOProud represents gay conservatives and their allies. GOProud is committed to a traditional conservative agenda that emphasizes limited government, individual liberty, free markets, and a confident foreign policy.

“GOProud promotes our traditional conservative agenda by influencing politics and policy at the federal level.”

THAT half of New York City’s tax receipts come from just 42,000 of its residents, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced.

So in a city of 8.2 million, half of 1 percent of residents carry 50 percent of the tax burden.

Nationally, the top 10 percent of income tax filers pay       70 percent of the taxes and earn 47 percent of the income, according to a report on the Human Events Web site.

Last year, 23 million Americans who paid nothing in income taxes still received federal “refunds” totaling $46 billion.

THAT The New York Times turned on a dime when covering the recent piracy hostage crisis.

On April 10, two days after Somali pirates attacked an American cargo ship and took its captain hostage, the Times ran a front-page story under the headline “Standoff with Pirates Shows U.S. Power Has Limits” — echoing a theme the Times has put forth during the Iraq war.

But after U.S. Navy Seal snipers killed three pirates and rescued the captain, a Times story was headlined: “To Rescue Captain, U.S. Snipers Held Steady Despite Many Moving Parts” — those parts being the bobbing lifeboat that held the pirates, the rolling U.S. Navy ship with the snipers, and the pirates themselves.

That story made no mention of the “limits” of U.S. power.

THAT in another display of its editorial bent, the Times buried its story about the “tea parties” — where tens of thousands of taxpayers gathered across the nation on Wednesday to protest the Obama administration’s tax and spending plans — at the bottom of Page 14 rather than on the front page.

What the paper did find room for on the front page was, “Soot from Third-World Stoves Is New Target in Climate Fight.”

THAT the executives in charge of Voice of America broadcasts for Iran don’t know what is being sent out over the air — because none of them speaks Farsi, the language of Iran.

A State Department report on the Persian News Network (PNN), obtained by The Washington Times, discloses that “in part because of the language issue, managing editors report not to the executive producer of their show, but to a Persian-speaking senior executive editor.”

That means content is aired without high-level approval.

Last year Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, said PNN’s mismanagement allowed anti-American content to creep into broadcasts.

Editor's Note:

Editor's Notes:

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Obama's DOE Hid News of School Voucher Success2. Report: Podesta Turns Down Obama Ambassador Post3. Bill Clinton Takes Legal Action Over Domain Names4. Ron Paul: Legalize Marijuana and Reduce Crime5. Ray LaHood Is Obama s GOP...
Sunday, 19 April 2009 01:32 PM
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