Thursday, October 28, 2010

Profiles in Courage: Kent Conrad, ND

Today's Post:

At a time when many lawmakers are running away from the hated 2008 bank bailout, Sen. Kent Conrad is holding it close - and waging a one-man campaign to rehabilitate the program in the eyes of angry voters.

Over the past week, Conrad, a Democrat from North Dakota, has crisscrossed the state, delivering speeches to college economics classes and lecturing skeptical editorial boards, in addition to making his pitch on national television.

On Thursday morning, thousands of North Dakota newspaper subscribers awoke to a full-page ad with colorful charts and graphs about the improving economy, alongside a vigorous defense of the bailout and the equally reviled 2009 economic stimulus package.

The ad describes the perilous economic conditions that prompted a terrified Congress to approve the $700 billion bailout - officially, the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP - just before the 2008 presidential election. It argues that TARP not only helped save the nation from a full-blown depression but cost much less than expected, with parts of the program turning a small profit.

And it cleverly reminds readers, front and center, that TARP was conceived by a Republican president, who just last week defended it during a lecture at the University of Texas at Tyler.

"President George W. Bush Explains Why He Created TARP," the ad says by way of introducing Bush's remarks, which are highlighted in yellow: "Depression, no depression . . . It wasn't that hard for me . . . I made the decision to use your money to prevent the collapse from happening."

Conrad, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, is not on the ballot this year. And he has not decided whether to seek re-election when his term ends in 2012. So he has little to lose personally from defending the bailout.

Meanwhile, Democrats in North Dakota and nationally are getting hammered over their TARP and stimulus votes. Conrad said his campaign is an effort to help alleviate what he called "the major drag" on Democrats this campaign season.

Voter anger over the programs stems from "a fundamental lack of understanding," Conrad said. "At the time, we absolutely failed to help educate the American people as to how serious the situation was and how essential these steps were."

In addition to a Republican president, his Treasury secretary, his Federal Reserve chairman and Republican congressional leaders, Conrad said, Republican business leaders "came to us in droves" demanding aid for the banks and more liquidity through stimulus.

"Now all of a sudden they've all got amnesia," Conrad said. "But had people not stepped up, we would be in extremely serious shape."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Post's Continued Love Affair with Michelle Rhee and Education "Reform"

I'm sure the Washington, DC schools need improvement, and I'm sure these folks are well-intentioned and quite generous, but this item in The Post's Metro section today is a little creepy.

You've got all these, may I say, Elite folks, throwing money at the DC schools and wanting certain processes put into place as a consequence for giving that money. One can read this article and reasonably conclude that public education policy in DC is being set by a highly select group of private donors. The article does note that Gray and his associates are trying to stress that as happy as they are to receive this money and attention and as committed as they are to school "reform", that there are still the actual parents of kids who go to the schools and residents who pay the taxes for the schools that, you know, actually need to be involved in the process.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

This Is The Dumbest Thing Ever Written

Richard Cohen, Washington Post columnist, come on down.

Those and a general distrust of government are what motivate most Tea Party members, The Post discovered. Their allegiance to any political party is minimal. Obama, with almost no political record, might have made inroads with these people. Instead, he managed to become the personification of Big Government -- not just with his programs (necessary though they might be) but with his persona and isolation in the White House. He banned lobbyists but managed to transform himself into the biggest one of all. He blew it.

Yeah, Obama surely blew it by not finding common ground with this gang.