In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

Still better than government wages

In the end, the Obama administration’s caps on executive pay for foundering financial institutions that receive major public bailout money may be largely symbolic. But it is symbolism that taxpayers and Congress, outraged at lavish pay and huge bonuses for poor performance, are demanding.

The precipitating factor was the disclosure that Wall Street paid out more than $18 billion in year-end bonuses even as it was collapsing into the arms of the federal Treasury.

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Obama at sea on wave of debt

 I’ve handed over today’s column to my friends in the drunken sailor community, who have an important message for America.

A lot of water has passed under the keel since we in the drunken sailor community last asked our favorite matey to hand over the wheel of his column for a day.

As you may remember, that old sea dog Reg, the usual author of this log, came to our attention after he wrote about crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a saucy sloop.

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Obama tries damage control

His infant presidency already shaped by mounting national troubles, President Barack Obama now faces an added challenge: weathering the fallout of a spate of nomination glitches.

"I screwed up," Obama said repeatedly after two top nominees withdrew their names from consideration, saying they wanted to avoid becoming distractions for the president as he seeks to move ahead with an ambitious agenda. "I’m frustrated with myself, with our team."

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A measuring stick for scandals

Along with Tom Daschle, Tim Geithner and Nancy Killefer, plus Joe Biden, David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel and all the president’s vexing vetters, I also must share some the blame for the sudden puncture and deflation of Barack Obama’s Glorious Expectations Balloon.

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The devil is in the details

President Obama greeted Thomas Daschle’s decision to withdraw as nominee to be secretary of Health and Human Services with "sadness and regret" — and surely with something approaching relief. The tax problems of Obama’s nominees were threatening to become the stuff of late night comedy. And they were doing nothing for the president’s credibility on his high-minded new ethics standards.

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Obama meets reality

It wasn’t so long ago that Barack Obama was on the campaign trail, talking about hope and change, about the purity he would bring to Washington. A true believer could maybe imagine a movie musical and a melodious voice singing, "The hills are alive with the sound of music … "

Now comes reality, governing, and two cabinet nominees who evaded taxes, one nominee faced with corruption allegations and another nominee who was going to keep an eye on government performance but who apparently neglected to keep an eye on her own.

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Daschle withdraws as nominee

Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination on Tuesday to be President Barack Obama’s Health and Human Services secretary, faced with problems over back taxes and potential conflicts of interest.

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Obama’s broken promises

Barack Obama promised a "clean break from business as usual" in Washington. It hasn’t quite worked out that way.

From the start, he made exceptions to his no-lobbyist rule. And now, embarrassing details about Cabinet-nominee Tom Daschle’s tax problems and big paychecks from special interest groups are raising new questions about the reach and sweep of the new president’s promised reforms.

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Holder’s job: Rid nation of Bush’s abuses

Eric Holder has won confirmation as the first African-American attorney general, but he’ll have little time to consider his role in history as he decides which Bush administration counterterrorism policies to reverse.

Holder was confirmed 75-21 Monday, with all the opposition coming from Republicans. He will be sworn in Tuesday by Vice President Joe Biden.

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Rethinking the stimulus

President Obama’s economic adviser, Lawrence Summers, said that any stimulus bill should be targeted, timely and temporary.

The 647-page, $819 billion bill that passed the House — close to what the Congress spends to run the government in a normal year — sprawls all over the place, defers major spending to a time when we hope the recession has run its course, greatly expands the federal government’s role in health care, education and energy, and much of the bill is not likely to be temporary.

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