Sunday, May 17, 2009

Stuff in the News

Arizona State University recently invited President Obama to deliver the commencement address to it's 2009 graduating class, but as is customary, did NOT confer an honorary degree on the President. The media were horrified and headlines screamed: "Obama Snubbed." I applaud the University for upholding its standards. In explaining why the degree was not conferred, the University stated: "Arizona's honorary degrees are given "for an achievement of eminence" and that the President was not considered for an honorary degree because his body of achievements, at this time, does not meet the criteria." It's arguable whether becoming President of the United States should qualify, but that said, it took courage for the college to stand its ground.

The other side of this affair is the grace with which the President accepted the decision. Instead of the knee-jerk reaction of the liberal press, President Obama used the incident to urge ASU students to try harder to achieve. His statement: "I come here not to dispute the suggestion that I haven't yet achieved enough in my life. With a smile he added: "First of all, Michelle (Obama) concurs with that assessment. She has a long list of things that I have not yet done waiting for me when I get home." But more than that I come to embrace the notion that I haven't done enough in my life. I heartily concur. I come to affirm that one's title, even a title like 'President of the United States,' says very little about how well one's life has been led." I'm no fan of Mr. Obama's, but this was a very classy way to handle the situation, and I applaud him.

As long as we're patting the President on the back, let's give a nod to his wife Michele. I developed an active dislike for her during the Presidential campaign. That remark about feeling pride as an American for the first time when her husband was nominated really set me off. I am still not solidly in her corner (a fact I'm sure causes her to miss a lot of sleep) but I see a strength in her and a sense of family values that resonate for me. Here's an excerpt from her commencement remarks to grads at the University of California, Merced "You will face tough times. You will certainly have doubts, and let me tell you because I know I did when I was your age,” she said. “Remember that you are blessed. Remember that in exchange for those blessings, you must give something back. You must reach back and pull someone up. You must bend down and let someone else stand on your shoulders so that they can see a brighter future.” I like that message a lot.

Don't think I'm going soft...I have a few shots to deliver as well today, the first for Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York. I think Mike's done a fair job for the city during very tough times. His recent drive to overturn the city's law on term limits for Mayors opens the way for a third 4-year term. For a guy who spoke strongly for term limits, this was a betrayal of all the citizens who voted for the law. He's like a spoiled rich kid used to having his way. He's also using his billions to start campaigning against a rag-tag bunch of contenders who have no chance of beating him. He's already filling the airways with ads in that annoying nasal voice of his that I will have to listen to until November.

Finally, today's paper ran an item about a Staten Island woman named Marie Grasso who runs a demolition company. A quote: "She is No. 1 on the list of building code scofflaws. Grasso has run up more than $1 million in fines by routinely violating building code safety rules, permitting conditions that injured workers and undermined the stability of adjacent properties. Yet the city continues to award her permits to knock down more buildings. Grasso is one of hundreds of contractors and landowners who've racked up fines but continue to work, unpunished. All together, this legion of scofflaws has amassed $263 million in unpaid fines since 1999, half of which the city has given up on collecting." What the hell gives taxes keep going up while idiots like this get off scot free! Jimmy to NYC...turn over collections to the Gambino Family and make Marie an offer she can't refuse.


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