Russlynn Haneefa Ali, Assistant Secretary of Education
NPR rejoices in the occupancy of the Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights by Russlynn Haneefa Ali, a first generation American, raised by a single mother from Trinidad, who is thoroughly committed to a philosophy that holds that inequality of results is immoral and intolerable and requires vigorous correction through an aggressive agenda of coercive federal social engineering.
Russlynn Ali, the youthful, curly-haired assistant secretary of the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, oversees the enforcement of all anti-discrimination laws related to education. With broad jurisdiction that includes admissions and recruitment, student discipline, as well as classroom assignment and grading, she investigates schools and districts nationwide to ensure equitable conduct across race, gender, national origin and disability.
It’s the same perch once occupied in 1982 by conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. But over the past two years Ali, 40, has elevated the office’s work to new heights.
While previous OCR leaders have relied on filed complaints to launch probes, Ali has proactively opened 60 investigations based on the agency’s own research. That’s in addition to nearly 7,000 complaints recorded last year, the most in Education Department history. Of the thousands of cases handled in the first year under the Obama administration, resolution agreements increased by 11 percent. Voluntary resolutions, in which schools made sufficient changes without additional prodding, jumped 32 percent.
“My sense of urgency could not be greater,” Ali says in her raspy voice, punctuating each word with insistent hand motions over her office’s mahogany conference table. “We’re talking about questions of fundamental fairness.”
Ms. Ali describes the 1972 passage the 36-word Title IX amendment as “one of the most effective and profound Civil Rights laws in American History… One of the greatest Civil Rights accomplishments of the last 30 years. ”
“There’s been a great slippage in Title IX… We came so far from 1972 to 1980, then we started slipping. Then we picked back up in the early ’90s, but then by 2000 we started slipping badly… And I made a commitment… I promise you no more slippage. Not while Barack Obama is President of the United States, and not while Arne Duncan is Secretary of Education, and not while Russlynn Ali is the Assistant Secretary of Education.”
The Yale DKE business represents Russlynn Ali’s attempt to revive Title IX aggression on the liberties of Americans and the autonomy of American colleges and universities in the name of radical egalitarianism.
The White House has tapped a former leader of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the Indiana Wildlife Federation as the Asian carp czar to oversee the federal response to keeping the invasive species out of the Great Lakes.
On a conference call today with Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and other congressional leaders, President Obama’s Council on Environmental Quality announced the selection of John Goss to lead the near $80 million, multi-pronged federal attack against Asian carp.
“This is a serious challenge, a serious threat,” Durbin said. “When it comes to the Asian carp threat, we are not in denial. We are not in a go-slow mode. We are in a full attack, full-speed ahead mode. We want to stop this carp from advancing.”
Asian carp, which have steadily moved toward Chicago since the 1990s, present a challenge for scientists and fish biologists. The fish are aggressive eaters, consuming as much as 40 percent of their body weight a day in plankton, and frequently beat out native fish for food, threatening those populations.
They are also prolific breeders with no natural predators in the U.S. The fish were imported in the 1970s to help wastewater treatment facilities in the South keep their retention ponds clean. Mississippi River flooding allowed the fish to escape and then move into the Missouri and Illinois rivers. Some species can grow to more than 100 pounds.
The challenge for Goss, who was director of the Indiana DNR under two governors and served for four years as the executive director of the Indiana National Wildlife Federation, will be to make sure millions in federal money is spent efficiently, to oversee several on-going studies — including one looking into the possibility of permanently shutting down the Chicago waterway system linking Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River–and to bring together Great Lakes states currently locked in a courtroom battle over the response to the Asian carp threat.
Does anyone seriously believe that $80 million spent on studies and the creation of a Federal Asian Carp Directorate is really going to stop these frisky critters?
Daniel Henniger, in the Wall Street Journal, argues that Obama’s appointment of Daniel Berwick, aptly headlined by Gregory as: Obama Appoints Marxist to Lead Death Panel, is decidedly worse than the Kagan appointment.
Barack Obama’s incredible “recess appointment” of Dr. Donald Berwick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is probably the most significant domestic-policy personnel decision in a generation. It is more important to the direction of the country than Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
The court’s decisions are subject to the tempering influence of nine competing minds. Dr. Berwick would direct an agency that has a budget bigger than the Pentagon. Decisions by the CMS shape American medicine.
Dr. Berwick’s ideas on the design and purpose of the U.S. system of medicine aren’t merely about “change.” They would be revolutionary.
One may agree with these views or not, but for the president to tell the American people they have to simply accept this through anything so flaccid as a recess appointment is beyond outrageous. It isn’t acceptable. …
These excerpts are from past speeches and articles by Dr. Berwick:
“I cannot believe that the individual health care consumer can enforce through choice the proper configurations of a system as massive and complex as health care. That is for leaders to do.”
“You cap your health care budget, and you make the political and economic choices you need to make to keep affordability within reach.”
“Please don’t put your faith in market forces. It’s a popular idea: that Adam Smith’s invisible hand would do a better job of designing care than leaders with plans can.”
“Indeed, the Holy Grail of universal coverage in the United States may remain out of reach unless, through rational collective action overriding some individual self-interest, we can reduce per capita costs.”
“It may therefore be necessary to set a legislative target for the growth of spending at 1.5 percentage points below currently projected increases and to grant the federal government the authority to reduce updates in Medicare fees if the target is exceeded.”
“About 8% of GDP is plenty for ‘best known’ care.”
“A progressive policy regime will control and rationalize financingâ€”control supply.”
“The unaided human mind, and the acts of the individual, cannot assure excellence. Health care is a system, and its performance is a systemic property.”
“Health care is a common goodâ€”single payer, speaking and buying for the common good.”
“And it’s important also to make health a human right because the main health determinants are not health care but sanitation, nutrition, housing, social justice, employment, and the like.” …
“Young doctors and nurses should emerge from training understanding the values of standardization and the risks of too great an emphasis on individual autonomy.”
Elena Kagan says (in a speech at Case Western Reserve in 1997) she “loved what happened in the Bork hearings… The Bork hearings were great, the Bork hearings were educational. The Bork hearings were the best thing that ever happened to Constitutional Democracy.â€
I’m inclined to think the Directorate of National Intelligence is a supernumerary and redundant level of authority, destined to divert massive amounts of energy to turf battles and struggles over authority. I think that, instead of adding another supervisory layer, we should have revolutionarily changed the CIA from an intensely Congressionally-regulated, rear-end-protecting bureaucracy with its own agenda into something a lot more like the original O.S.S.
If Barack Obama was going to appoint anyone to this dubious position, this time he seems to have made a well-qualified, professional choice. George Smiley is well up on General Clapper’s career and has positive things to say.
While Clapper is largely unknown to most Americans, he has served in the intelligence community for most of his adult life. As a young signals intelligence officer, Clapper flew collection missions over Southeast Asia on a modified EC-47 aircraft. He advanced steadily over the decades that followed, serving as a senior intelligence officer in Korea during the mid-80s, and as the Air Force’s Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence during the first Gulf War. At the time of his retirement from active duty in 1995, Clapper was Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
As a civilian, Clapper spent time at two defense contractors before returning to government service in 2001 as the first civilian director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA), which processes and analyzes much of the data collected from spy satellites and other sensors. He spent five years at the agency before resigning in 2006, reportedly because of conflicts with then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Clapper testified before Congress that DoD’s four major intelligence agencies should report to the DNI, a position that angered his boss.
After Rumsfeld left the Pentagon, Clapper was nominated to rejoin the Bush Administration, this time as Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence. In that post, he served as chief advisor on intel matters to the new SecDef, Robert Gates, and his deputy, William Lynn. Clappper also functioned as DoD’s primary liason to the DNI, led by retired Navy Admiral Mike McConnell (under President Bush), and more recently, under another former Navy flag officer, Dennis Blair. …
In terms of background and experience, Jim Clapper is (arguably) the most-qualified man for the job. He’s one of the few spooks who has run two major intelligence agencies, and (more importantly), General Clapper knows the nuts-and-bolts of the business. He knows the star performers (and the weak sisters) in the intelligence community, and has definite ideas about making the DNI construct more efficient and effective. …
Managing an intelligence apparatus that consists of 16 different agencies (and thousands of employees) is a daunting (some would say impossible) task. General Clapper certainly understands the terrain–and he knows the key players–but there’s no guarantee he can meld them into a more effective team.
Indeed, Clapper will face many of the same challenges that bedeviled his predecessors. The DNI has limited budget authority, curtailing his ability to control agencies and their operations. Intel organizations have, in the past, found it convenient to slow-roll (or even ignore) DNI directives that aren’t to their liking.
Clapper may also have problems with his boss in the White House. During the Bush Administration, General Clapper was a strong supporter of enhanced interrogation techniques, though he also fought for more transparency and accountability in intelligence matters. Clapper may well find himself in a major battle the next time a terror suspect is detained at an airport (or in a foreign land) and other administration officials push to treat the individual as a criminal defendant, and not a hostile combatant.
General Clapper also faces opposition in Congress. Both the Chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee (California’s Diane Feinstein) and the ranking Republican (Kit Bond of Missouri) have expressed reservations, noting that Clapper was often reluctant to brief Congress on the Pentagon’s intelligence activities. After 45 years in the intel business, Clapper knows that Congress leaks like a seive, but stonewalling the SSCI doesn’t win you any favors from people that control your budget.
As Dean of Harvard Law School, Elena Kagan not only moved Harvard away from teaching the case method (invented at Harvard circa 1870), she eliminated Constitutional Law from the list of required courses.
As CNS reports, American Constitutional Law was demoted in favor of more international perspectives.
[I]n a 2006 Harvard news release explaining the changes, Kagan explained the move away from constitutional law was deliberate: â€œFrom the beginning of law school, students should learn to locate what they are learning about public and private law in the United States within the context of a larger universe — global networks of economic regulation and private ordering, public systems created through multilateral relations among states, and different and widely varying legal cultures and systems.
â€œAccordingly, the Law School will develop three foundation courses, each of which represents a door into the global sphere that students will use as context for U.S. law,â€ the guide said.
Among the three new required courses Kagan introduced, one focuses on public international law, involving treaties and international agreements, and the second is on international economic law and complex multinational financial transactions, according to a Harvard news release.
But the third course, on comparative law, â€œwill introduce students to one or more legal systems outside our own, to the borrowing and transmission of legal ideas across borders and to a variety of approaches to substantive and procedural law that are rooted in distinct cultures and traditions,â€ the release said.
What could be a more eloquent demonstration of the precise level of deference to the US Constitution Ms. Kagan would bring to the Supreme Court?
Barack Obama has nominated to the United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Robert N. Chatigny, who is famous for having served as counsel defending Woody Allen against charges he had molested one of his minor stepchildren and even more famous for surviving a complaint of judicial misconduct when, after his rulings rejecting the competency of a serial killer to decide to refrain from opposing his own execution had been vacated by the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, he intervened personally to arm twist the murderer’s attorney to ignore his client’s desires and file for a stay of execution.
Chatigny actually threatened to have the attorney disbarred if he did not oppose the execution, asserting that Michael Ross “never should have been convicted. Or if convicted, he never should have been sentenced to death because his sexual sadism, which was found by every single person who looked at him, is clearly a mitigating factor.”
Peggy Noonan reflects on the ironies of American meritocracy laboring mightily… and delivering an establishment full of socialists. And exactly how committed to socialism is the successful gamesman who has finally clambered all the way to the top by hard work, talent, and no small quantity of discretion and craft?
Personally, I tend to suspect that Socialism functions in much the same way for these people that Religion used to for earlier establishmentarians. One regularly attends services and is officially a member of the church, but it has not got a lot to do with one’s actual business life.
What is interesting about the nomination is that all the criticisms serious people have lobbed about so far are true. Yes, she is an ace Ivy League networker. Yes, career seems to have been all, which speaks of certain limits, at least of experience. She has been embraced by the media elite and all others who know they will be berated within 30 seconds by an irate passenger if they talk on a cellphone in the quiet car of the Washington-bound Acela. (If our media elite do not always seem upstanding, it is in part because every few weeks they can be seen bent over and whispering furtively into a train seat.) Ms. Kagan and her counterparts all started out 30 years ago trying to undo the establishment, and now they are the establishment. If you need any proof of this it is that in their essays and monographs they no longer mention “the establishment.”
Ms. Kagan’s nomination has also highlighted America’s ambivalence about what we have always said we wanted, a meritocracy. Work hard, be smart, rise. The result is an aristocracy of wired brainiacs, of highly focused, well-credentialed careerists. There’s something limited, even creepy, in all this ferocious drive, this well-applied brilliance. There’s a sense that everything is abstract to those who succeed in this world, that what they know of life is not grounded in hard experience but absorbed through screensâ€”computer screens, movie screens, TV screens. Our focus on mere brains is creepy, too. Brains aren’t everything, heart and soul are something too. We do away with all the deadwood, but even dead trees have a place in the forest.
The ones on top now and in the future will be those who start off with the advantage not of great wealth but of the great class marker of the age: two parents who are together and who drive their children toward academic excellence. It isn’t “Mom and Dad had millions” anymore as much as “Mom and Dad made me do my homework, gave me emotional guidance, made sure I got to trombone lessons, and drove me to soccer.”
We know little of the inner workings of Ms. Kagan’s mind, her views and opinions, beliefs and stands. The blank-slate problem is the post-Robert Bork problem. The Senate Judiciary Committee in 1987 took everything Judge Bork had ever said or written, ripped it from context, wove it into a rope, and flung it across his shoulders like a hangman’s noose. Ambitious young lawyers watched and rethought their old assumption that it would help them in their rise to be interesting and quotable. In fact, they’d have to be bland and indecipherable. Court nominees are mysteries now.
Which raises a question: After 30 years of grimly enforced discretion, are you a mystery to yourself? If you spend a lifetime being a leftist or rightist thinker but censoring yourself and acting out, day by day, a bland and judicious pondering of all sides, will you, when you get your heart’s desire and reach the high court, rip off your suit like Superman in the phone booth and fully reveal who you are? Or, having played the part of the bland, vague centrist for so long, will you find that you have actually become a bland, vague centrist? One always wonders this with nominees now.
Mr. Obama noted that as Solicitor General her “passion for the law” had led her make this year’s landmark campaign finance case, Citizens United v. FEC, her first argument before the Supreme Court.
“Despite long odds of success, with most legal analysts believing the government was unlikely to prevail in this case,” Mr. Obama said, Elena Kagan took it on bravely. “I think it says a great deal about her commitment to protect our fundamental rights,” he continued, “because in a democracy, powerful interests must not be allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens.”
Elena Kagan said as a U.S. Supreme Court law clerk in 1987 that she was â€œnot sympatheticâ€ toward a man who contended that his constitutional rights were violated when he was convicted for carrying an unlicensed pistol. …
The manâ€™s â€œsole contention is that the District of Columbiaâ€™s firearms statutes violate his constitutional right to â€˜keep and bear arms,â€™â€ Kagan wrote. â€œIâ€™m not sympathetic.â€
But her recently unearthed college thesis shows that she once thought a lot more highly of socialism.
In our own times, a coherent socialist movement is nowhere to be found in the United States. Americans are more likely to speak of a golden past than of a golden future, of capitalism’s glories than of socialism’s greatness.
Why, in a society by no means perfect, has a radical party never attained the status of a major political force? Why, in particular, did the socialist movement never become an alternative to the nation’s established parties? Through its own internal feuding, then, the SP [Socialist Party] exhausted itself…
The story is a sad a but also a chastening one for those who, more than half a century after socialism’s decline, still wish to change America. … In unity lies their only hope.”
His Wikipedia bio describes him as a “marxist.” He is a Harvard professor and a technocrat with his own health care think tank. Naturally, Donald Berwick believes in central planning by experts like himself, and Barack Obama has nominated him for a post which will effectively give him the ability to impose a regime of treatments and protocols prescribed by a committee on every doctor and hospital in the United States. The new regime, of course, will have to be designed to supply services for free on a universal basis, so rationing and cost control will inevitably play a very key role in all the planning, but that’s just fine, Dr. Berwick tells us in the video below: “Excellent health care is by definition redistributional.â€
Obama’s choice to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Donald Berwick, [is] a Harvard professor with a self-professed love affair with Britain’s socialized health care system. In his writings and speeches, Berwick has defended government rationing and advocated centralized budget caps on health care spending.
“Cynics beware, I am romantic about the (British) National Health Service; I love it,” Berwick said in a July 2008 speech at England’s Wembley stadium. “All I need to do to rediscover the romance is to look at health care in my own country.”
While Berwick would not have the authority to impose a British health care system on the United States in one fell swoop, as head of CMS, he would be running both Medicare and Medicaid. Given that the two programs alone account for more than one out of every three dollars spent on health care in America (all government programs combined account for 47 percent), private players tend to follow CMS’s lead. Berwick himself has made this point.
“(G)overnment is an extraordinarily important player in the American health care scene, and it has inescapable duties with respect to improvement of care, or we’re not going to get improved care,” he said in a January 2005 interview with Health Affairs. “Government remains a major purchaser.â€¦ So as CMS goes and as Medicaid goes, so goes the system.”
There are two basic visions for how to contain the growth of health care spending. The free market approach would give individuals control over their health care dollars, with the idea that it would encourage more shopping that will drive down costs and increase quality as has happened in every other aspect of the consumer-based economy. But the other approach, employed by nations such as Britain, is to have the government ration care to meet a global budget.
President Obama rejected the market-based approach, and sought to drastically expand insurance coverage while reducing health care costs. But according to a report by CMS’s chief actuary, the new law will actually increase health care costs. That leaves rationing of care based on a bureaucratic notion of the common good as the remaining option for containing skyrocketing spending, and it’s an outcome that Berwick himself once predicted would be necessary to achieve universal coverage.
“(T)he Holy Grail of universal coverage in the United States may remain out of reach unless, through rational collective action overriding some individual self-interest, we can reduce per capita costs,” Berwick wrote in an article for Health Affairs he co-authored in 2008.
He went on to write that, “The hallmarks of proper financial management in a systemâ€¦ are government policies, purchasing contracts, or market mechanisms that lead to a cap on total spending, with strictly limited year-on-year growth targets.”
On a number of occasions, Berwick has praised Britain’s National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), a body of experts that advises the government-run health care system on how to allocate medical spending based on cost-benefit analysis. Among other decisions, they have ruled against the use of cancer-treating drugs and put a dollar value on the final six months of human life.
“NICE is extremely effective and a conscientious, valuable, and — importantly — knowledge-building system,” Berwick said in an interview last June in Biotechnology Healthcare. “The fact that it’s a bogeyman in this country is a political fact, not a technical one.”
The national health care law that President Obama signed in March will greatly expand the role of CMS by adding an estimated 15 million beneficiaries to Medicaid. In addition, the law contains a number of initiatives, to be spearheaded by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in conjunction with the head of CMS, to provide incentive-based pay to doctors and hospitals based on performance. This builds on the comparative effectiveness research provision of last year’s economic stimulus package. While none of these measures will have the same sway as NICE does in Britain, taken together, they will move America in a NICE-like direction, especially with Berwick at the helm.
2:15 video â€œAny health care funding plan that is just equitable civilized and humane must, must redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and the less fortunate. Excellent health care is by definition redistributional.â€ – Donald Berwick
Kagan would be the first justice without judicial experience in almost 40 years. The last two were William H. Rehnquist and Lewis F. Powell Jr., both of whom joined the court in 1972.
This is not a good thing.
At least, she is a law professor, not an environmentalist poet. But even a dean and law professor is coming out of an ivory-tower academic milieu in many respects far more untethered from reality than the bench and far, far more culturally left wing.
She is close to Obama. She evidently attempted to recruit him as a full-time law school faculty member at Chicago.
Obama is thought by some to have chosen her as an intellectual counterweight to Chief Justice Roberts. But I think she was probably really chosen on the basis of her collegiality and talent for negotiation and persuasion, as demonstrated by her performance as Dean of Harvard Law School.
Deans of elite major academic institutions of that kind must be personable and articulate enough to function as public figures and institutional symbols. A dean is also an administrative officer presiding over a restive community of powerful interest groups quite capable of making serious trouble when not satisfied and handled with tact. The dean of Harvard Law is, of course, inevitably an operator, a thoroughgoing realist and pragmatist skilled at getting her way, but knowing very well what the limits of possibility and acceptability are.
She is short, plump, unattractive, and of heavily ethnic appearance. She must be quite brilliant and possess enormous personal charm to have overcome those obstacles to become Dean of Harvard Law.
I think Obama is right to believe she is likely to be influential at the Supreme Court through personal charm and persuasion.
Media Matters is hastily assuring everyone that she is not a radical or a socialist.
Well, no dean of Harvard Law School can possibly be regarded as really radical. But there can be no doubt that she is an echt liberal Jewish law professor with strong roots on the political left. She clerked for Thurgood Marshall, and has referred to him as “the greatest lawyer of the 20th century.” Obviously, that particular opinion demonstrates a powerful emotional connection with Civil-Rights-ism and complete identification with the conventional leftwing narrative of the progressive triumph over American oppression through a series of expansions of federal power and admirable end-runs around “outworn” Constitutional obstructions.
Still, she is replacing Justice Stevens, and we can console ourselves that it seems impossible that Obama could appoint anyone inclined to vote worse.
Daniel Foster, at the Corner, supplies a list of the likely Obama choices to succeed Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens who has announced his retirement at age 90.
[B]eginning, roughly, with the center-most candidate and moving left, that list likely includes:
Merrick Garland – a former federal prosecutor and current D.C. Circuit appeals judge. A Clinton appointee, Garland is well-liked by Democrats and even some Republicans in the Senate.
Elena Kagan – The first-female Solicitor General and probably first-runner-up for the Sotomayor seat, Kagan has a record of the kind of cagey jurisprudence that is ideal for a tough confirmation battle. She is well-respected by just about everybody on both sides, but lacks the paper trail that would reveal just how far to the left she’d sit.
Diane Wood – Another Clinton appointee, considered the heaviest liberal counterweight to the conservative Chicago Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals dominated by Richard A. Posner. Wood was a colleague of President Obama at the University of Chicago Law School.
Pamela Karlan – A professor at Stanford Law School, Karlan is a longshot once was described by the New York Times as a “snarky. . . Antonin Scalia for the left.” Karlan is openly gay, and an outspoken liberal.
“Would I like to be on the Supreme Court?” Ms. Karlan asked once asked during a Stanford graduation address. “You bet I would. But not enough to have trimmed my sails for half a lifetime.”
A longer list would include some Obama DOJ officials / liberal legal intellectuals like Harold Koh and Cass Sunstein. And the administration reportedly vetted a number of politicians for the Sotomayor spot that could be reconsidered here, including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano (“the system worked”), Sens. Byron Dorgan (D., N.D.) and Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.), and Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm (D.)
My two cents: It’s Kagan or somebody nobody is even talking about.
I suspect Obama is going to go farther leftward than most people expect.