Not all of a president’s picks for ambassadorships come with ready expertise on their new home countries. That point has unfortunately been on display during recent Senate hearings. Formerly hesitant to appoint big-money donors to such posts, the second-term President Obama has been doling out political ambassadorships.
Presidents have been “gifting” ambassadorship posts from the earliest days, but some in this crop of political appointees have drawn heavy criticism for such statements as: “I haven’t had the opportunity to be there.” That was Noah Bryson Mamet, answering a question as to whether he had been to Argentina, where he will be ambassador. But he did raise more than $500,000 for Obama’s re-election. Even politically in-tune former Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., stumbled. Baucus, whose new post is Beijing, said, “I’m no real expert on China.”
Here’s how loony government has become under the influence of the tea party. Most Republicans in both houses of Congress voted against a bill to raise the debt limit even though most wanted it to pass. Not exactly a profile in courage. In the House, Speaker John Boehner had to rely on minority party Democrats to do the heavy lifting while in the Senate, Ted Cruz of Texas – architect of last year’s government shutdown – threatened a filibuster that required Republican leaders to vote with Democrats.
Most members of Congress, with the possible exception of Cruz, understood that defaulting on our debts could plunge the world back into recession. But many Republicans are fearful of challenges from the tea party right and were afraid to vote for the bill. “Vote No, Hope Yes” is the tag given to these chicken hearts, who must be what Benjamin Franklin had in mind when he observed that Americans now had a republic … “if you can keep it.”
Most people wouldn’t get into a snowball fight with witty NBC weather forecaster Al Roker. Unless you’re powerful and, so far, popular New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. The two publicly mixed it up over the mayor’s unwillingness to close schools during the latest storm.
The normally jovial anchor, whose daughter attends a New York City public school, took to Twitter to ask: “Is there no one with any common sense?” and “Long range De Blasio forecast: one term.” Ouch. The mayor countered during a news conference: “It’s a different thing to run a city than to give the weather on TV.” Double ouch. A few minutes later, Roker tweeted: “Mr. Mayor, I could never run NYC, but I know when it’s time to keep kids home from school.”
Score: Roker 2, de Blasio 1.
If the resurrection of the Graystone Building doesn’t count as one of the great turnarounds in recent Buffalo history, we don’t know what does. The building was an embarrassment, neglected for decades. Just two years ago it was in such a state of decrepitude that trees were growing through its roof.
Now, in a restoration by Ellicott Development Co., the reborn structure has opened as a luxury apartment building, featuring studios and one- and two-bedroom rentals. It took far too long, but the company’s work is a welcome addition to the story of Buffalo’s rebirth.