The last time we got together, Barack Obama was still president-elect. Now, he's president and has been for nearly three weeks. Wow. He's had some stumbles, but mostly he's done what he said he would do, and is on the way to throw some more money into that huge maw that is the sinking economy.
Friend wife, who hasn't been a full-time journalist for many years and admits losing that killer instinct, carps about the state of journalism these days, and I'm not sure she's all that wrong. For example, we've lost some really good people who might have done well in the Cabinet because they messed up on their taxes.
Tom Daschle, who was to be health secretary, was forced to withdraw his name because he made so much money as a lobbyist and didn't pay taxes on some of it. I don't know for sure, but I'd be happy to bet a goodly part of my much-diminished savings that he didn't do his own taxes. I'd also bet that he really didn't set out to not pay his taxes on his whole income.
So, what do we get? The guy who could have played Lyndon Johnson to Obama's John Kennedy is no longer in that role. OK, I can be a bit obtuse some time. So, let's take this one step at a time.
I don't think there are too many people in the nation these days who feel we are getting the best medical care that's possible. There are too many disparate groups out there, each pursuing its own goals for its own good. We need a comprehensive medical policy, call it whatever you want: socialized medicine, single-payer, national medical plan or whatever.
Obama has great ideas, but, like John Kennedy, is a little weak on how to get them through Congress. Daschle would have been great with that, just like Johnson got many of Kennedy's ideas through Congress. But that won't happen now. The medical fix we get probably won't be as good as the one we could have gotten. Nobody's perfect. If a person can help the nation, who cares if it took him or her a little longer to pay taxes.
Just because you can do a thing doesn't mean that you should do that thing. Ask Angela Suleman.
She's the mother of Nadya Suleman, the woman who gave birth to octuplets, eight kids at one fell swoop, while she already had six at home. Angela was caring for those kids at home while her daughter went out and got herself pregnant with the eight through in-vitro fertilization.
In fact, the same doctor who implanted the first six also did the eight-is-not-enough job. The grandmother calls the whole thing "unconscionable." She should know. She's the one who has to take care of the feeding and diapering and cleaning while her daughter sits in the hospital, doing interviews with the press and the media.
That doctor should lose his license, the mother should get her tubes tied and we should not have to witness this ridiculous display of ego.
Everybody says so. It's the worst winter in a long time. There has been snow on the ground for weeks and, although we may be experiencing the January thaw in February, there's no reason to think the cold and snow will end anytime soon.
But, although the groundhog saw its shadow and predicted six more weeks of winter, the spring season has begun. Today (Feb. 9, 2009) is the birthday for the trees in Israel. Today, all the almond trees in the whole nation burst into bloom. It's a beautiful sight. Soon, flowers will fill the hillsides in the part of the nation that's not desert. The rainy season is coming to an end and soon it will be warm enough to swim in the Dead Sea or the waters of Ein Gedi.
I covered our congresswoman, Rosa DeLauro, as she blew into New Haven to cheerlead for the president's recovery plan. There, I saw an old friend and one of the best economists around, Nick Perna. Nick was one of my sources way back when. Come to think of it, that was the last time we were in trouble financially -- the late 80s and early 90s.
Nick also was one of the people who tried to warn people not to buy houses they couldn't afford and not to take the equity out of their houses to buy BMWs and Audis. Too bad more people didn't listen then. Now, Perna says that if the president's recovery plan is put into effect, we might see the beginning of the end to this recession in late summer.
I hope he's right. I'm sick of it. I've been sick of it for a long time now.
Until next time...