Snakebit

Nicknames are funny. I don’t know if Betsy DeVos has one. You don’t get to choose them. They may not be flattering.

The Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren has a couple of nicknames—”Lieawatha”, and “Fauxcahontas”. These stem from her using false claims of Cherokee Indian ancestry to gain entrance into college. So I already knew that she was bad news.

What I hadn’t realized was just how vicious she can be. I was watching the Senate Confirmation Hearing for the nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. Now, Betsy DeVos is a billionaire who has made education her life’s work. If confirmed she’ll work for $1 per year. She was asked a lot of interesting questions … then we got to our resident non-Indian Senator:

SENATOR WARREN: Ms. DeVos, many of my Democratic colleagues have pointed out your lack of experience in K-12 public schools.

But I’d like to ask you about your qualifications for leading the nation on higher education. The Department of Education is in charge of making sure that the $150 billion dollars that we invest in students each year gets into the right hands and that students have the support that they need to be able to pay back their student loans. The Secretary of Education is essentially responsible for managing a trillion-dollar student loan bank and distributing thirty billion dollars in Pell Grants to students each year. The financial futures of an entire generation of young people depend on your department getting that right.

Now, Mrs DeVos, do you have any direct experience running a bank?

EDUCATION SECRETARY NOMINEE DEVOS: Senator, I do not.

SENATOR WARREN: Uh-huh … have you ever managed or overseen a trillion-dollar loan program?

EDUCATION SECRETARY NOMINEE DEVOS: I have not.

SENATOR WARREN: How ’bout a billion dollar loan program?

EDUCATION SECRETARY NOMINEE DEVOS: I have not.

SENATOR WARREN: OK! So NO experience managing a program like this … how about participating in one. I think it’s important for the person who is in charge of our financial aid programs to understand what it’s like for students and their families that are struggling to pay for college. Mrs DeVos, have you ever taken out a student loan to help pay for college?

EDUCATION SECRETARY NOMINEE DEVOS: I have not

SENATOR WARREN: Have any of your children had to borrow money in order to go to college?

EDUCATION SECRETARY NOMINEE DEVOS: They have been fortunate not to.

SENATOR WARREN: Uh-huh … have you had any personal experience with a Pell Grant?

EDUCATION SECRETARY NOMINEE DEVOS: Not personal experience, but friends and students with whom I’ve worke…

SENATOR WARREN [interrupts]: So … you have no personal experience with college financial aid … or management of higher education.

============================

Now stop for a moment and consider just how ludicrous this is. Set aside the fact that Senator Warren knew the answer to every question in advance. For her this is just a photo op, it is just the opening shot for Senator Warren’s next political campaign. Problem is, she got stuck so far into her attack dog mode that she totally let go of logic. Think about the person she wants the Secretary of Education to be:

betsy-devos-i

Senator Warren is looking for someone who has run a trillion-dollar loan program, or at a minimum a bank CEO who has run a billion-dollar loan program, and who is also an expert about the US education system top to bottom including K-12 public schools, but they or their kids had to borrow money to go to college.

Get real! Talk about setting an impossible standard and then being oh-so-concerned when a nominee doesn’t match up, this one takes the cake. There’s nobody in the world with those attributes. That’s just a vicious underhanded attack by a concern troll.

What makes this sustained unpleasant hatchet job by the Senator most amazing is that Betsy DeVos is known first and foremost as a champion of school vouchers. These give a family the right to send their kids to a school of their choice. Know who else is a big advocate of school vouchers?

Senator Elizabeth Warren …

Which means that Senator Warren just put her party loyalty ahead of what she herself thinks is best for the children of the US … I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by her actions, but I tend to believe the best of folks, and as a result I always am surprised at how low people will sink.

Ah, well. As Mark Twain said, “Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.”

I must say I was greatly impressed with Mrs. DeVos’s patience and her mocking smile as Senator Warren did the best she could to get Mrs. DeVos to lose her cool. She just smiled and answered the questions asked, nothing more, nothing less. She’s sharp, and she will do well.

Such is life in the US Senate snakepit. Gotta watch out you don’t get snakebit.

Best of this crazy life to all,

w.

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30 thoughts on “Snakebit

  1. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Fauxcahontas.

    I wonder if she voted to approve Obama’s first Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. His degree was in sociology and had no banking experience. His senior thesis was “The values, aspirations and opportunities of the urban underclass”.

    Sen Al Franken was just as nasty as she was and most of the other Teacher’s Union lacky’s were too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Can we assume that the senator has the education and experience to be able to judge whether someone is suitable for the job?

    Even if she found someone that met her requirements, would she be able to evaluate whether that person did a good job?

    How much money does the Senate control using senators with little to no experience in the myriad operations of the US Government?

    Liked by 3 people

    • “How much money does the Senate control using senators with little to no experience in the myriad operations of the US Government?”
      And look how well that’s turned out.

      Like

  3. I must say I was greatly impressed with Mrs. DeVos’s patience and her mocking smile as Senator Warren did the best she could to get Mrs. DeVos to lose her cool. She just smiled and answered the questions asked, nothing more, nothing less. She’s sharp, and she will do well.

    The Trump transition team has been running practice confirmation sessions with all the nominees for weeks now, with post session critiques. Reportedly they are pretty hard on the nominees so they will be prepared for hostile questioning.

    As long as there is nothing substantively disqualifying in the nominees’ records they will all be confirmed. In the entire history of the US federal government only nine cabinet nominees have been rejected by the Senate, the most recent being John Tower in 1989. 13 other nominations have been withdrawn. So in 227 years a grand total of 22 cabinet nominees have failed to win confirmation. I did not check to see how many of those were before Senates with majorities not of the president’s party, but I’ll bet that accounts for most of them.

    Senator Warren’s act is just political theater and Mrs. Devos’s job is simply to respond to the questions without losing composure. Since Warren’s questions are so clearly absurd, this is relatively easy. Say hello to the next Secretary of Education.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I had a colleague with many teaching awards who was the master of nearly everything – including the proper art of answering idiotic questions. Since few actually listen much to questions, and may only hear A QUESTION and a subsequent FAILURE to give an elaborate answer (assumed a deficiency), he would often repeat (perhaps paraphrase) the stupid question and ask: “Is that your question?” This greatly expanded an awareness of the vapidity of the quiz. This set/up/repeat can be finished off with an emphatic short (but natural) response such “absolutely!” or “of course not!”.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What Mark Twain said. There are lots of quotes about democracy. Someone should start a new one along these lines. The problem with representative democracy is the representatives. They represent themselves first, their party second, and way down the list somewhere they represent us. Correction, they represent SOME of us.

    We long ago passed the point where we could all participate in the democracy. Until now. With the internet, we can debate proposals at the most important stage, before they become set, way before the voting stage. Just like the internet does better peer review than the pros.

    Democracy is too important to be left to the representatives who only play one for TV.
    It’s one of the few jobs where qualifications don’t matter.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nicknames are funny. I don’t know if Betsy DeVos has one.

    Well, if this can help: DeVos (Devos, De Vos) is a Dutch/Flemish name meaning “The Fox“.
    Betsy The Fox.
    Ah but… “you don’t get to choose them“. What a pity!

    Like

  7. Perhaps the Native American Senator could respond to this …

    U.S. government has ‘dismally failed’ to educate Native American children, lawsuit alleges
    The federal government has repeatedly acknowledged and even lamented its failure to provide adequate education for Native American children. Now, nine Native children are taking to the courts to force Washington to take action.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/education/wp/2017/01/12/u-s-government-has-dismally-failed-to-educate-native-american-children-lawsuit-alleges/?utm_term=.5acf64df031c

    Among the many failures of federal policies over the decades, the failures of Indian policies stand out.
    [ … ]
    The poor performance of the schools does not seem to be caused by a lack of funding. The schools received $830 million of federal aid in 2014, which is $20,000 per pupil. The GAO reports that “the average per pupil expenditures for BIE-operated schools—the only BIE schools for which detailed expenditure data are available—were about 56 percent higher than for public schools nationally.”

    https://www.cato.org/blog/education-american-indians

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  8. “Nicknames are funny. I don’t know if Betsy DeVos has one. You don’t get to choose them. They may not be flattering.”

    Now that brought back some memories. I once had a 2 year stint as a bartender at the Sarasota Kennel Club (greyhound race track) in Sarasota FL. As with most race tracks there were a plethora of colorful characters who would hang out at the bar. Many had well earned nicknames. Bad Luck Bob, Saint John, Sad Jim, Bobby the Mugger to name just a few. On one occasion one of the dog trainers, a rather short burly woman from Iowa who would also hang out at the bar, asked me to give her a nickname. I told her one had to earn a nickname. It was about a week later when, after perhaps too many beers, she overheard a nearby man spouting about how all dog trainers were evil and beat their dogs. She became incensed, grabbed him by the shirt and pinned him up against the wall threatening to castrate him if she ever heard him talking like that again. And thus she earned the nickname Mad Dog. And yes, she was proud of that name.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Twitter today:

    Bernie Sanders: College should be tuition free.

    Betsy Devos: That’s an interesting idea, but nothing in life is free.

    #DeVosHearing

    Like

  10. Minor correction — Warren invented her “Native American” credentials not to be admitted as a college student but rather to beat out other faculty candidates applying for a slot at Harvard. By ticking off “female” and “diversity minority” (not some “un-diverse minority” such as Asian) she was twice as diverse and got her faculty gig at the big time U.

    Like

  11. How to answer the Law Squaw when she’s in prosecutorial mode.

    Now, Mrs DeVos, do you have any direct experience running a bank?

    EDUCATION SECRETARY NOMINEE DEVOS: A bank? Thank goodness, no. They tend to be run by Democrat funders. And criminals. But perhaps I repeat myself.

    SENATOR WARREN: have you ever managed or overseen a trillion-dollar loan program?

    EDUCATION SECRETARY NOMINEE DEVOS: no. That’s the sort of thing bankers tend to do, who are largely supporters of the Democrats, as you know, and often crooks, of course.

    SENATOR WARREN: How ’bout a billion dollar loan program?

    EDUCATION SECRETARY NOMINEE DEVOS: I guess that’s a job for junior bankers but I’ll bet they’re Democrat funders too, and possibly crooks into the bargain. I dare say you know more about that than I do.

    SENATOR WARREN: …. Mrs DeVos, have you ever taken out a student loan to help pay for college?

    EDUCATION SECRETARY NOMINEE DEVOS: I have not; I have been in the happy position of giving money away rather than seeking loans. But I’d no more need to have taken a loan to allow me to oversee a loan program that you’d need to have whooped your way around a wigwam to claim to be a Cherokee.

    SENATOR WARREN: Have any of your children had to borrow money in order to go to college?

    EDUCATION SECRETARY NOMINEE DEVOS: I don’t think that my family should be dragged into this issue. Family life should be sacrosanct, don’t you think? Whether that family is real or fake.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Late to the party, but a point of order professor Willis.

    Betsy finagled a ‘visiting’ associate profersorship’ to ‘Penn” Law using the Cherokee drops whilst she was an associate professor at UH law school. She then parlayed this into a ‘visiting’ professorship at Harvard that she then finagled into a permanent full professorship with a named chair because of being a ‘nativus americanus’ She is a fascinating person, freakishly intelligent verbally, and cataclysmically incompetent quantitatively… And yet, she is a bankruptcy specialist? I keep waiting for any one to ask her how many companies she has steered through bankruptcy, achieving maximal protection of all stakeholders… Just asking.

    So your comment about her gaining entrance to college? Not so much. Getting a full profesrship and a named chair at harvard law is what she finagled. I’m sure they were all thanking G#d that they had found a white injun!.

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  13. The story I read somewhere was that Harvard wanted Faucahontas’s husband, who was a genuine ‘superstar’, so had to finagle a way to take her, too. The faux ‘Indian’ (‘Native American’?) designation was convenient.

    She is a piece of work. Scott Brown could have beaten her, but he was too busy trying cotton to the liberal Massachusetts voters with “reaching across the aisle” pap, so came across as a whimp in the face of her long “millionaires and billionaires” knives.

    /Mr Lynn

    Like

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