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Monday, April 21, 2008

A richness of embarrassments.

By George Dienhart

Cross-posted at Illinois Review

What exactly was Jimmy Carter doing this week? The list is long:

Showing his anti-Semitism (again)
Undermining the U.S. Government (again)
Throwing a wrench into the Middle East peace initiative (again)
Coddling sworn enemies of the United States (again)

Anyone else see a pattern here? Jimmy Carter is the ex-presidential equivalent of a cutter. After a life of political failure, he is back on the world stage negotiating a peace accord for the Middle East. He is willing to put his own ego and need for attention above the need of his county. He was bad as a president, but he is a disgrace as an ex-president.

The interesting thing is that he is not negotiating not on the behalf of the United States, or even of U.S. ally Israel. He is not negotiating for any UN initiative. He is in Syria at his own behest, doing his best to be the center of attention. After meeting with Hamas terrorists, President Carter beamed while announcing Hamas had agreed to let Israel "live as a neighbor." Breakthrough? Not really, Hamas had played a frail and nearly broken Carter. Only hours after Carter had met with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, Mashaal vowed that he would not recognize a Jewish state. So much for Nobel Laureate Carter- he has returned to the diplomatic style that gave the world the Tehran hostage Crisis and a Soviet dominated world. In a nutshell, a miserable failure that Carter hails as a success is par for the course.

The story gets even stranger. The LA Times reports that the Tehran Times has even softened on President Carter. The Iranian English language paper published the following: “Now, finally, we have the welcome tonic of Carter saying what any independent, uncorrupted thinker should conclude: that no 'peace plan,' 'road map' or 'legacy' can succeed unless we are sitting at the negotiating table and without any preconditions.” Now that’s some team up, and I’d be willing to wager that it surprised even Carter. You know what they say, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”- what this tells us of the Iranian perception of President Carter is obvious…

Jimmy Carter's greatest hits
Stagflation- Economic stagnation with high rates of Inflation.
Iran- His refusal to properly support the Shah handed Iran to the current, even more brutal regime.
Hostage Crisis- Not only did he fail to free the hostages- he negotiated with their captors.
The Grinch- Well, not really, but he did ask people to turn off their Christmas Lights in 1979 and 1980. This was a bizarre effort to save energy. I am proud to share my childhood memories of a fully lit tree both years.
Afghanistan- Carter’s weakness was so evident that the Soviet Union tried to over run Afghanistan. This failed policy created thousands of out of work Jihadists who turned their attention to the West after the Soviet retreat.
A 21.5% prime lending rate.
Malaise- Though he never uttered the word in his most famous speech, the word sums up Carters “Crisis of Confidence” rather well.
Amnesty for draft dodgers.
At the height of the Cold War, he cut the defense budget by the then staggering amount of 6 Billion Dollars.
Carter gave away the Panama Canal.

More important than a billion dollar shortfall?

by George Dienhart

As I made my 90 minute commute from Peachtree City to work, my head started to hurt. Though the sudden headache was a little different from my normal commuter’s pain, it was connected to commute nonetheless. As the state falls a billion dollars short of making my everyday commute shorter, attention was focused firmly on the Department of Transportation. Was the media holding the board accountable for the billion-dollar gaffe? No, the media is outraged over Transportation Commissioner Gena Abraham’s choice in a boyfriend.

In all fairness, people should not date their subordinates. I am also quite sure that Ms. Abraham’s did not accept the Chairwoman’s position with the intent of landing a potential husband. She is guilty of falling in love with former Transportation Board Chairman Mike Evans, but when confronted with what could have been a potential conflict of interest, Chairman Evans resigned. Problem solved right? Not quite.

Seems that our erstwhile chairwoman was not a unanimous choice for her position- others were looking out for their friends. While Gov. Perdue selected her, others in the GOP were not happy with the choice, most notably House Speaker Glenn Richardson (R-Hiram), favored a fellow State Rep, Rep. Vance Smith (R-Pine Mountain). This infighting is one part of the problem, but as Oxy Powered Billy Mays is so fond of saying- there’s more.

Gov. Perdue brought in Ms. Abraham to minimize the bad choices and ridiculous expectations that previous Transportation Commissioners have made. She has spent the last four months trying to get a handle on her predecessor’s books. Previously the state had started road construction projects with state dollars, while applying the federal money to finish various initiatives. This is legal, and helps stave off inflationary pressure. The problem is not in the practice of this policy, but in the frequency of its use. The state of Georgia is now 4.2 billion in arrears on these projects. This is unacceptable.

With billion dollar shortfalls and other projects under funded by 4.2 billion dollars, awaiting federal funds that may never come, shouldn’t the transportation board attend to more important matters to than Ms. Abraham’s choice of boyfriend? Not according to Dana Lemon, who said she called attention to this situation because "there were some things that were on my heart that I know we needed to talk about, some outstanding issues that needed to be addressed for the betterment of the staff and the department." Wouldn’t getting a handle on the multibillion-dollar mess address the “betterment of the staff and the department” Ms. Leon apparently didn't think so…