RANDY TOBIAS

Randy indeed – but why not? Whose business is it if a guy calls an escort service? In America, shouldn’t adults be entitled to liberty and the pursuit of happiness without government supervision? Or invasion of their privacy? According to press reports, the college-educated women that the former Eli Lilly CEO engaged ranged in age from 23 to 55. Hardly children in need of protection. One can eschew such behavior oneself without believing that the government need step in and legislate morality. What is ‘conservative’ and ‘small government’ about that?

And leaving aside the legality (because if nothing the government deems illegal happened, as both Tobias and the escort service assert, then it was not illegal), isn’t it amazing that Republicans resign over things like this but not, say, in protest over misleading the country into war? Or over disastrous incompetence in the prosecution thereof?

I’ve never met Mr. Tobias (who also helmed AT&T International and chaired the board of Duke before joining the Bush Administration). He is no relation. By all accounts, he is a talented executive, and, according to a mutual acquaintance, a nice guy. He shouldn’t have resigned over this; but then again, I wish he hadn’t been appointed in the first place. As AIDS czar, his approach was to ‘protect’ HIV-positive Africans from cheap (and, he apparently felt, insufficiently tested) generic drugs . . . and – on moral grounds – to impede the sex education and condom use that would have saved a lot of lives.

GEORGE TENET

And speaking of focusing on all the wrong things, Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient George Tenet is back in the news with his new book, reminding us that – as so many of us have long known – Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. The agenda of the very first National Security Council meeting, long before 9/11 and just days after Bush’s Inauguration, was all about Iraq. Bin Laden – whom the President- and Vice President-elect, and Ms. Rice, were told days before the Inauguration represented a ‘tremendous’ and ‘immediate’ threat to the United States – was ignored.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civil award. . . . It is awarded by the President of the United States to persons who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

☞ As forceful as Tenet was on ’60 Minutes’ last night, and as easy as it is to criticize in hindsight, one is struck by his failure in the summer of 2001 to tell the President every morning at their daily briefing – or even once! – of the need to take immediate action to avert the spectacular attacks he urgently warned Condoleezza Rice about (and which she again ignored). Not only that, one wonders what medal he would have deserved if he had somehow managed to persuade the President not to invade Iraq. Or at least not to have done so without first planning for the aftermath.

WHITHER INTEREST RATES

A month ago, I opined that, to deal with an increasingly scary housing market, the Fed would be lowering interest rates. (Not, like, necessarily, right then, but in the foreseeable future.) Had I been on my toes, I would have included this link to buttress my case (thanks, Stephen Willey). It’s a sophisticated yet engaging overview of the housing situation (and “the Plankton Theory”) for those with an extra ten minutes this morning.

 

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