Friday, August 31, 2007



File this under “amusing’:

Lawmakers Describe 'Being Slimed in the Green Zone'

“In the soldier's hand was a thumbnail biography, distributed before each of the congressmen's meetings in Baghdad, which let meeting participants such as that soldier know where each of the lawmakers stands on the war.”

One way they do that is by quoting the congressmen. To wit, James Moran (D-VA):

"This has been the worst foreign policy fiasco in American history."

Now I can understand a certain awkwardness when you have your criticisms relayed to those who may not know that that’s how Democrats have to talk if they don’t want to get ‘slimed’ by the crowds at Daily Kos and But I sense that Post writer Jonathan Weisman somehow thinks this a bit unfair:

“For one, the quotations appeared to be selected to divide the visitors into those who are with the war effort and those who are against. For another, they were not exactly accurate.”

He then points out that the most recent Iraq vote by Rep. Tauscher was on a bill that would allow troops time away from combat at least as long as the previous combat tour. That vote came on August 2nd. The bio instead pointed to a May vote for withdrawal within 120 days.

Okay…but that doesn’t obviate the May vote nor does it in any way show that the quotations used were “not exactly accurate”. And guessing on why the quotations were selected is analysis, not reporting. I'd guess instead that they were used because they were on point about Iraq and more informative than some fluff verbage about how the congressman supports the troops.

Side Note: Interesting that a Congresswoman would describe the use of apparently accurate quotations as “being slimed in the Green Zone”...wonder how she would describe the reporting of the Washington Post.

…and who wouldn’t want to read John Murtha’s bio.


WMDs at the UN: No wonder they couldn't find them in Iraq

Buried on Page 9 of today’s Post is this wonderful tidbit;

Inspectors Find Decade-Old Iraqi Chemical Gas in U.N. Office

From the story, this is what I gather is the timeline:

“…a collection of metal and glass containers with a mysterious liquid substance…” was found LAST FRIDAY. It’s not until WEDNESDAY, though, that anyone figures out what it is because that’s when they find an inventory of the contents. Then, perhaps because these might have been Frenchmen bumping up against their 35-hour work limit, they wait until THURSDAY (yesterday) to inform U.S. officials about all this. Leading to these words of comfort:

“[UN commission spokesman] said that no other organization is better equipped to deal with the situation. "We have the expertise and equipment to do this kind of work," he said.”

But apparently recognizing that this story may just reflect poorly on the United Nations and not on the Bush Administration, Post writer Colum Lynch helpfully throws in this utterly irrelevant (and misleading - but what are you gonna do?) comment:

“Faulty intelligence suggesting that Hussein continued to produce weapons of mass destruction was used to justify the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.”

Thursday, August 30, 2007


The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy Strikes Again

I’d appreciate it if anyone could point me toward a common denominator among these three stories:

“An independent political group allied with Democrats and heavily bankrolled by billionaire George Soros has agreed to pay $775,000 to the Federal Election commission for violating campaign laws during the 2004 presidential campaign.” FEC Fines Political Group From 2004 Race

“Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton will give to charity the $23,000 in donations she has received from a fundraiser who is wanted in California for failing to appear for sentencing on a 1991 grand theft charge.” Clinton to Give Away Fundraiser's Cash

“In the e-mail yesterday, Lerach took parting shots at his political enemies more than discussed the investigation that pushed him aside.

“He and his colleagues donated millions of dollars to Democratic campaigns.” Lerach to Leave Law Firm As He Tries to End Probe


Try to resist clicking on the link below

Man arrested in prostitution sting — despite wife in car

I know there are two sides to any story but it’s tough to see how Chicago comes out looking reasonable in this one. The man was released after a few hours and predictably, all charges were dropped.

[Commercial announcement directed toward any one in Maryland who finds himself in a similar situation; I’d be the Defense Attorney on a case like this for free – just to pad the stats.]

One line from the story, though, I think sums up exactly what Chicago - as the generic state is in so much of its interactions with its citizenry - is after:

“The city wants more than $4,700 in towing and storage fees if he wants the car back.”

Side Note: The article adds that the man involved is now suing Chicago and the officers involved for violations of his civil rights. Not sure how that’ll play out. Chicago is the ultimate Democratic Party town and if we’ve learned nothing else since January 2001, it’s that George Bush is responsible for any diminution of such rights.


Great Moments in Self-Pity

The death of Richard Jewell reminds us of the dangers to individuals of a careless and spiteful government (and the headline seeking cadre of professional journalists that abets them). Nothing about his life ever gave cause for the horrific indignities inflicted on him by our government and the breathless media that made him a household name.

Mr. Jewell wasn’t a wealthy man nor particularly educated. But he knew he didn’t do what many suspected him of. And he knew enough that it was still the state that had to prove he did it. To his credit, he didn’t capitulate and eventually he was cleared. R.I.P.

Now let’s contrast that story with a story of apparent greed and hubris:

“California plaintiff's lawyer William S. Lerach yesterday told his partners that he would resign this week to resolve a long-running criminal investigation into his tactics and business practices.” Lerach to Leave Law Firm As He Tries to End Probe

The suspicion in this case is that “…he and colleagues paid millions of dollars to clients in exchange for their agreeing to be plaintiffs in securities lawsuits against some of the nation's largest companies.”

This major Democratic donor then sent out the requisite farewell memo to his current law firm:

"Now that I have outlasted Karl Rove, John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzalez [sic], it is time for me to retire…But I’ve also always understood that when you spend decades challenging powerful interests, the powerful interests will fight back with a vengeance.”

Well, perhaps but from my vantage point, Mr. Lerach is a “powerful interest” in his own right and even he admits in his memo to “mistakes”. If he is innocent of the suspected wrongdoings, I would expect a man as rich and educated as him to take advantage of all the rights afforded him. But any kind of plea deal on his part would seem to indicate that the most prominent powerful interest fighting back at him “with a vengeance” is the one staring back at him while shaving in the morning.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


A Stone's Throw from Jamie Gorelick's Glass House

For sheer chutzpah, it’d be tough to top Jamie Gorelick’s Op-Ed reaction to the Attorney General’s resignation in today’s Post. Therein, amidst the normal platitudes of where Justice needs to go from here (“Lead with values”, “Fight crime” etc.), she drops this little nugget:

“Maintain vigilance against terrorism. Use the tools the department has been given to help keep our country secure. The new National Security Division, for example, must work seamlessly with traditional crime-fighters.”

Now this is the same Jamie Gorelick who, while serving as Deputy AG under Janet Reno, issued the infamous Gorelick Wall memo wherein she established:

“…a set of instructions that will clearly separate the counterintelligence investigation from the more limited, but continued, criminal investigations.”

Later, in one the more remarkable bits of political casting, she was included on the 9-11 Commission to help determine what went wrong. Of course, some critics suggested that, in light of her memo, she should be giving testimony vice taking it. Instead, in the midst of the commission’s work, she wrote an Op-Ed defending her memo.

“First, I did not invent the "wall," which is not a wall but a set of procedures implementing a 1978 statute (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA) and federal court decisions interpreting it.”

But in her memo, she described these procedures thusly:

“These procedures, which go beyond what is legally required, will prevent any risk of creating an unwarranted appearance that FISA is being used to avoid procedural safeguards which would apply in a criminal investigation.”

She also writes about respecting rights. The Branch Davidians had no comment.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Fisking Robert Fisk

Victor Davis Hanson over at NRO had a Saturday posting in The Corner wherein he quoted Robert Fisk thusly:

“Bush's happily departed adviser Karl Rove once said that "we're an empire now - we create our own reality".

Now that just didn’t seem like something Karl Rove would say so I went in search of the quote and finally managed to trace it to a Ron Suskind October 2004 piece in the NY Times Magazine: Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush

In the article, the quote is simply attributed to “a senior adviser”…as opposed to The Senior Advisor. To my knowledge, Karl Rove has never been positively identified as the source of the quote…and probably never can be because Mr. Fisk has also gotten the quote wrong. Here is the entirety – you be the judge.

In the summer of 2002…I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush….

''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''
Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush

Fisking Robert Fisk – some things never go out of style.


Profiles in Courage

According to Berkeley Breathed, the Washington Post (anong with many other newspapers) will not run his August 26 (today) and September 2 comic strip “Opus” (although the Post does have it available online). Salon has more.

This from a paper that has no problem printing Tom Toles.


Friday, August 24, 2007


Tell me again why this is Bob Ehrlich's Fault?

I’m on a Martin O’Malley kick now so I’d like to revisit one of his central themes during the campaign: Educational Funding. His campaign was all over Bob Ehrlich on this subject as this blurb from the O’Malley Campaign website shows:

"Broken Promise/Idea #10:

“Fully fund Thornton Commission Fair Education Act by guaranteeing that the bulk of the money earned from slot machines is earmarked for all Maryland schools.‿

Bob Ehrlich’s Record of Failure:

In 2002, Bob Ehrlich refused to sign the Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act, also known as the Fair Education plan, enacted by the Maryland General Assembly. Based on the recommendations of the Commission on Education, Finance, Equity, and Excellence (“The Thornton Commission‿), the Act was mandated to ensure adequate funding for the state’s K-12 public schools according to the Geographic Cost of Education Index.

Since the Thornton Commission was enacted without Bob Ehrlich’s signature, Ehrlich has refused to fund the Geographic Cost of Education Index.

As Governor and Lieutenant Governor, Martin O’Malley and Anthony Brown pledge to fully fund the entire Thornton Commission plan, including the Geographic Cost of Education Index." Martin O'Malley: September 13, 2006

As an aside, I’ll just nit-pick a bit and point out that one of the reasons – I don’t know, it may even be the main reason - Bob Ehrlich REFUSED TO SIGN the Fair Education Plan as enacted by the Maryland General Assembly in 2002 was because he was then a U.S. Congressman. And I have previously mocked Governor O’Malley’s own initial refusal “to fully fund the entire Thornton Commission plan, including the Geographic Cost of Education Index.”

But it was another one of those campaign postings that I think should be remembered:

“When the measure requiring the state to make school funding increases mandated by the Thornton plan became law in 2004, it did so without Ehrlich’s signature. [The Baltimore Sun, “Ehrlich Lets Stand Thornton Schools Bill,‿ March 6, 2004]Martin O'Malley:August 30, 2006

Actually, what Governor Ehrlich didn’t sign was a bill removing what was known as a 'trigger' mechanism for increased funding. The 'trigger' required a joint resolution by the General Assembly that there was money to fully fund the provisions of the plan. Otherwise, any increase in funding was limited to 5%. For some reason, this rare exercise of fiscal sanity became controversial and 2 years after passage of the original bill – and more importantly, with there now a Republican Governor – both legislatures voted to get rid of it. (I would have preferred to see Governor Ehrlich veto this change but, since it passed overwhelmingly in both chambers, that would probably have just been a politically useless act.)

So now, because of that 2004 political stunt by the legislative Democrats, we are now faced with a legally mandated budget shortfall which would have been more manageable if only (a) we had slots to help finance the Thornton Plan and/or (b) had the trigger still in place to ensure we weren’t legally constricted in our funding options. You know, kind of like what Governor Ehrlich was then saying.


Governor O'Malley helpfully hints where Maryland Republicans are specifics-deficient

Classic Baltimore Sun, discussing the (Maryland) House Republican Caucus plan to handle the legislatively-mandated $1.5 billion shortfall:

“But as with most anything of consequence, the devil is in the details, and the GOP plan is short on specifics.” Budget rebuttal --

Of course, with the Sun there is "short on specifics" and then there is Martin O’Malley:

“Gov. Martin O'Malley has only hinted at what his tax package will include. It would be nice to know more. But at least he acknowledges the reality of the state's woeful fiscal situation.”

A poor man’s NY Times…

Idle question: If the state had allowed slots, say, three years ago – would the revenue going to the state bank account over those three years have been in excess of $1.5 Billion? I’m just asking.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Great moments in Maryland's priorities

As most Marylanders are aware, we have here a $1.5 Billion “structural deficit”. That’s just a fancy way of saying that certain elected officials have promised to spend money that your lazy asses apparently won’t be providing them in sufficient quantity. As a result, Governor O’Malley last month decided to cut $280 million, including:

“Over $46M in the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene;
Over $6M in the Maryland State Department of Education”

(for the record, I don't disagree with any of these cuts)

And listening to all the wailing and gnashing of teeth in reaction to this, one could understandably feel we are just barely ahead of a complete shutdown in government circles. But sanity reigns…at least in some ways, as it is now apparent that Maryland can differentiate between ‘fat’ and ‘bone marrow’:

MPT To Debut Spanish Channel Today – August 20, 2007

That’s right, Nielsen juggernaut Maryland Public Television is spending money (1/3rd financed by government) to reach out to the ever-burgeoning legal Hispanics-who-don’t –speak-English market. This is so obviously a pressing need that I feel almost embarrassed to point out that:

“…at the moment, in most of this market, [the new station] is difficult to see at all.” Public TV Airs a New Spanish Voice -

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Ruth Marcus criticizes Democrats for not pledging to spend more of our money

Even when Ruth Marcus starts out by making sense, you kind of know she can’t keep it up. today, she properly dismisses the dust up over who, among the Democratic presidential contenders, takes lobbyists’ money and who won’t:

“And, as you might have guessed from my tone, I don't think it would much matter if Democrats were to live in The World According to Edwards, who has never taken lobbyist money. Nice symbolism, perhaps, but how does it make candidates any purer to disdain checks from lobbyists while avidly vacuuming up contributions from the various industries they represent?” Democrats' Purity Primary

But Ms. Marcus is a liberal and are there two more important words for a liberal than “Public Financing”?

And so it is here - this all just leads to her preferred point: public financing of campaigns. Here she gushes over Senator Obama:

“On this issue, Obama leads the pack…”

“…Perhaps most important, Obama has pledged to take public financing for the general election if he is the Democratic nominee and his Republican opponent will do the same.”

Note, that’s IF his Republican opponent will do the same. Which is probably another way of him saying "I won't be publicly financing my general election campaign".

...that's because his Republican opponent would have to be a moron to do that. The Left is generally enamored with Campaign Finance (yes, yes, and John McCain too) but they have the advantage of free labor from Organized Labor and a decided advantage in much of the media. (Is it any wonder that the Orwellian ‘Fairness Doctrine’ is specifically targeted at the one piece of media that the Left has not quite captured (Exhibit A: Air America)?)

It takes a special mindset to consider taking money from the government somehow more virtuous than not taking it. Are there any real philosophical limits to what the Left believes government should be financing?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Wild Bill Hagy, R.I.P.

Anyone who remembers 1979 and the Orioles, remembers Wild Bill Hagy. I never met him but certainly remember being at games where he took over in Section 33. He wasn’t controversial and he didn’t change the world but he’s one of those people who made life a little better for the rest of us. R.I.P.

Friday, August 17, 2007


Repent Now!!

Steve Pearlstein is at it again as he calmly lays out what is going on right now:

“What we have on our hands here, folks, is a full-blown, global financial crisis comparable to the junk bond collapse of 1987, the S&L crisis of 1990 or the Asian financial crisis of the late '90s.” No Time To Sit and Watch -

He takes special note of St. Louis Federal Reserve Board President, Bill Poole as he:

tell[s] Bloomberg News that it would only "upset the market" if the Fed were to "change course in any fundamental way" before there was proof that market turmoil was actually having an impact on the real economy.”

Apparently, Mr. Poole is an idiot because he doesn’t want to rush into any quick fixes. To be fair, I am only inferring that Mr. Pearlstein doesn’t think much of Bill Poole because he refers to him as “a stridently right-wing academic”. Loyal readers of Steve Pearlstein will recognize that as as low a blow as he can muster. He doesn’t explain exactly why he considers the St. Louis FRNB President as stridently right-wing but I’m going to guess it’s because Mr. Poole once served on President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers and recently had some nice things to say about Milton Friedman .

Steve Pearlstein also remains unhappy with the lack of an increasing role for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae in all this:

“…the Bush administration still stubbornly refuses to allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac the latitude to fulfill their core mission and provide liquidity to these markets when private lenders and investors retreat.

“With the stroke of a pen, James B. Lockhart, director of the inelegantly named Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, could free Fan and Fred to borrow more money and buy up more mortgages at a time when rising rates for even prime borrowers are putting extra burdens on a housing market already struggling with excess inventory, declining sales and falling prices.”

Well, as Mr. Lockhart recently explained in a letter to Senator Schumer:

“Raising portfolio caps would allow the Enterprises [Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac] to purchase mortgages in this market segment, but would not respond directly to those segments having the most significant difficulties.”

Most laughable though is the follow-on caveat to the so-called “stroke of a pen” solution:

“It is true, as Locky noted in his letter to Fan and Fred, that their legislative charter prevents them from participating in several segments of the mortgage market that are experiencing problems, particularly the market for "jumbo" loans over $417,000.”

But Mr. Pearlstein firmly believes that if only the Bush Administration would signal an intention to work with Congress – after Labor Day – to rectify these procedural hurdles, there could be peace in the valley. That’s right, put that on the agenda for September…because this is no time to sit and watch.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


See ya, Padilla

I’ve been somewhat following the Padilla case and have long marveled at the pains some in the press go through to make him sympathetic (constantly reminding us of his time at Gitmo) while providing us with their expert analysis of what was going on in the courtroom:

But after three days of prosecution testimony regarding [a crucial piece of evidence], what exactly it proves about Padilla is unclear.” Defense Cites Ambiguities in Evidence Against Padilla – May 19, 2007

AP writer Curt Anderson has been especially diligent in this:

"Defense lawyers for Jose Padilla chipped away Monday at the credibility of the government's expert witness, who said he could not disclose details about some of his work because of secrecy agreements with unnamed foreign governments. Padilla Defense Questions Terror Expert World Latest Guardian Unlimited

Then when the defense rested on Tuesday, Mr. Anderson was kind enough to explain what was going on:

“To decide whether Jose Padilla and two other men are guilty of supporting terrorism, jurors will need to get inside their heads.

“Was Padilla the "star recruit" of a terror support cell, or just a recent convert to Islam learning Arabic and the Koran? Did his codefendants aim to support Islamic extremists in global conflict zones, or were they trying to help innocent Muslims suffering in those same areas? “ Recruit or pupil? Padilla jury must choose 08/14/2007

I guess getting into those heads wasn’t so difficult because after receiving the case on Tuesday, the jury quickly processed three months of testimony and was back today (less than two days)with a Guilty! for everyone. Mr. Anderson so informs and at the same time explains the symbolic importance of the case:

“Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen held for 3 1/2 years as an enemy combatant, was convicted Thursday of helping Islamic extremists and plotting overseas attacks in a case that came to symbolize the Bush administration's zeal to clamp down on terrorism.”

(He makes it sounds as if the zeal is mis-placed.) But lest we feel too good about the verdict, Mr. Anderson reminds us:

But it was hardly a complete victory for the government. When Padilla was arrested in the months following the 2001 terrorist attacks, authorities touted him as a key al-Qaida operative who planned to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in a U.S. city. That allegation never made it to court.”

Of course, the main reason it couldn’t make it to court was that the government didn’t initially provide the would-be terrorist a lawyer so anything to which he confessed was presumed inadmissible.

And that’s a great segue to read what Neal Sonnett, the Chair of the ABA’s Task Force on the Treatment of Enemy Combatants (and so, consistent with ABA by-laws, is a consistent critic of current Administration policy in this matter), has to say about all this:

"This verdict once again demonstrates that federal courts are perfectly capable of handling terrorism cases"

No doubt he was tagged to chair this Task Force because of his well-known non-partisanship but here he just sounds more like a Defense Attorney angling for future cases than a prominent commentator trying to make sense. Why does the verdict so demonstrate the competence of federal courts in terrorism cases? Does anyone really believe that had the jury come back with a Not Guilty, Mr. Sonnett would not have employed the same quote?

The issues surrounding Mr. Padilla’s incarceration were real – he is a US citizen and possibly entitled to certain protections we need not confer on your run-of-the-mill enemy combatant. But the administration wasn’t and isn’t rounding up other Americans under a similar pretext. Accordingly, I give this Administration the benefit of the doubt as to its intentions in these matters. I thought the DOD response to Mr. Sonnett’s Task Force report was lucid and adequately laid out the case for the Administration’s actions. Intelligent minds can civilly differ on this so I don’t want to come off as dogmatic but…

...Unabashed patriotism is not considered a virtue in many circles here and it is not inconceivable that many in our country will suffer from a lack of appropriate loyalty to this nation. Should their loyalties and efforts be directed to and for the benefit of one our enemies, do we really want a bright-line rule that says wait for their lawyers before anything else can happen?

Side Note: And don’t get any ideas that the jury here was somewhat suspect; it’s obviously beyond reproach because it was an “ethnically diverse panel of seven men and five women

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


At the Risk of Offending Iran...

At first glance, this seems a reasonable and not-too-controversial step to take:

“The United States has decided to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country's 125,000-strong elite military branch, as a "specially designated global terrorist," according to U.S. officials, a move that allows Washington to target the group's business operations and finances.” Iranian Unit to Be Labeled 'Terrorist' -

Indeed, as the article later notes:

“The administration's move comes amid growing support in Congress for the Iran Counter-Proliferation Act, which was introduced in the Senate by Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) and in the House by Tom Lantos (D-Calif.). The bill already has the support of 323 House members.”

(Well, yes, I would say that 323 house members could be an indication of “growing support in Congress”.)

Predictably, since this is a move by the Bush Administration, not everyone is happy about this:

“It would greatly complicate our efforts to solve the nuclear issue," said Joseph Cirincione, a nuclear proliferation expert at the Center for American Progress.

“Such sanctions can work only alongside diplomatic efforts, Cirincione added.

"Sanctions can serve as a prod, but they have very rarely forced a country to capitulate or collapse," he said. "All of us want to back Iran into a corner, but we want to give them a way out, too. [The designation] will convince many in Iran's elite that there's no point in talking with us and that the only thing that will satisfy us is regime change."

Now I have no idea what a “nuclear proliferation expert” is, how one obtains the designation or, more to the point, why we should care what one of them thinks about this matter. Mr. Cirincione's is hardly a non-partisan opinion and his employer, The Center for American Progress, is a notable critic of all things conservative and/or Republican. Indeed, his off-the-cuff remark about this greatly complicating our efforts to solve the nuclear issue comes across as naïve. Frankly, all this time trying NOT to complicate matters is what has complicated our efforts.

I don’t know what exact steps can and will be taken but I believe that screwing up an organization’s ability to participate in international financial markets can be an effective diplomatic weapon. Applying the “terrorist” label seems to allow for some of this.

Remember, North Korea seemed to get the point when our Treasury Department designated the North Korean bank of choice as an “institution of primary money-laundering concern”. That effectively cut the bank out of our system – something no bank of any importance wants to have happen. North Korea soon found out that no bank wanted its business thus making it difficult to buy and sell in the international market. Since then, we’ve been having a lot more dialogue with that leftist government.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Unintended (but predictable) Consequences

“Nasdaq is set to launch tomorrow what its executives are calling one of the most significant developments on Wall Street in decades -- a private stock market for super-wealthy investors.

“Minimum requirement for traders: $100 million in assets.” Nasdaq Gives High Rollers A Market Free Of Regulation -

Unfortunately, I’m not yet in that league of investors so I am effectively shut out of these potential investments as, I suspect, are some of you.

I’m guessing that some of these potential investments have real merit to them because, unless someone inherited or married into their wealth (i.e. John Kerry, Jay Rockefeller and Ted Kennedy), people with $100 million in assets tend to know a thing or two about wealth development. But (sigh!), thanks to the hard-working (don’t let their current month-long vacation fool you) folks on Capital Hill (and an all-too compliant President in this case), most of us are “protected” from the vagaries of such investments.

“For the first time last year, corporate America raised more money -- $162 billion -- from private investors than from initial public offerings, which raised $154 billion from the three major U.S. stock markets -- Nasdaq, the New York Stock Exchange and the American Stock Exchange.”

Why do companies go the private route?

“These companies would remain private and not have to make public their financial statements or submit to federal regulation, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate accountability law.”

This doesn’t give Sarbanes-Oxley enough credit. The cost of that legislation is significant and it is not just financial. It involves tedious, mundane documentation efforts that can quickly kill a person’s ambition to enter the internal and external auditing professions. Many perceive – correctly I believe – that it is trap waiting to be used by lawyers in a future class-action lawsuit. Accordingly, many companies have implemented an EXPENSIVE, preemptive, over-the-top compliance strategy. If you’re in a position to decide whether to subject yourself to it, saying the hell with it makes a lot of sense.

The lasting legacy of our own Senator Sarbanes.


Taranto's/Gerstman's BOTW

Just got back from Chicago yesterday afternoon so am behind in my postings and readings but…mega Congrats to Soccer Dad for getting a great citing in James Taranto’s Best of the Web last Friday. OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today August 10, 2007

David’s name is becoming a mainstay of that column.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Marine makes a liar of John Murtha

As expected, Lance Cpl. Sharratt will not be facing a court martial. Marine's Charges Dropped in Iraq Deaths.

As of now, John Murtha had no comment.


Son of FISA

Moving through today’s Washington Post Op-Eds:

Susan Landau of Sun Microsystems has a piece critical of Congress for “caving” into the Administration’s request for electronic surveillance rights without the FISA warrant. Ms. Landau worries that this 6 month extension could have long term ramifications that hurt our security because the technology needed to perform this function also makes us more vulnerable to outside hackers.

Perhaps; but adoption of many new technologies and lifestyles have usually left us more vulnerable precisely because of our increasing reliance on them. Left unsaid is exactly how getting a warrant would somehow improve our technological security. Because of this, while I don’t discount her fears for the POTENTIAL for mischief that such technology portends, I can’t help but be suspicious that her Op-Ed is primarily intended to be a partisan hit piece.

On a related subject, Robert Novak discusses Adm. Mike McConnell, Director of National Intelligence (DNI), and his role in the passage of this 6-month authorization.

“Late Saturday, the Democratic-controlled Congress passed a bill that is anathema to the party's base: authorization of eavesdropping on suspected terrorist conversations without a court warrant. It passed because Democrats could not take the political risk of going home for the August recess having shut down U.S. surveillance of threats to the country. But since they could not blame themselves, they blamed the nonpolitical DNI.” Admiral Scapegoat


“Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York suggested McConnell accepted the Democratic restrictions "until he spoke to the White House, and now he changes politically." Off the House floor, one prominent Democrat said -- not for attribution -- that McConnell "was less than truthful." On the record, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel told me: "He was not negotiating in good faith."

And right after they question the Admiral’s integrity perhaps they should have righteously and preemptively harrumphed that he had better not question their patriotism. I suspect there will be similar character attacks on General Petraeus should his report next month on Iraq not be sufficiently doom & gloom to fit the Pelosi-Reid orthodoxy.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


(Yawn) Israel criticized by so-called human rights group

Dog bites man:

An Israeli human rights group charged Tuesday that Israelhas used concrete barricades, fences, checkpoints and other measures to impose restrictions on Palestinian movement in the West Bank that are "unprecedented in scope and duration." Restrictions on Palestinians Decried -

Apparently all you need do to become a bona-fide “human rights” group is criticize Israel. The group cited, B'Tselem, was pretty much formed to reflect Israeli left-wing guilt over Israel being Israel. Even when they branch out to critiquing others, they manage to somehow bring it back to Israel:

“The organization said that both parties [Fatah and Hamas] committed severe violations of customary international humanitarian law during fighting in the Gaza Strip over the past week, including acts that constitute war crimes.”


“B'Tselem also reminded the Israeli government that it "bears overarching responsibility for the human rights of all people in the West Bank, including for acts committed by agencies operating with Israel's agreement, including the Palestinian Authority." B'Tselem to Hamas, Fatah: Put war crimes suspects on trial - Haaretz - Israel News

Wake me when a group like B’Tsalem issues a report that DOESN’T criticize Israel.


Blaming the Tempter; never the Tempted

For at least a few years now, post writer Steve Pearlstein has been decrying an impending burst of a credit bubble. Like the proverbial stopped clock, it seems he’s finally onto something and so can now sit smugly:

“It's still early, but up to this point, the performance of the Bush administration and the Federal Reserve has been less than impressive. They were late to acknowledge the extent of the credit bubble and its potential impact on the economy. And ever since, they've been behind the curve, hamstrung by a free-market ideology and their own roles in allowing the bubble to develop in the first place.” Steven Pearlstein - Missed Opportunities

Well, it wouldn’t be a Steve Pearlstein column without some kind of gratuitous slam against the Bush administration. And you just got to love a Business columnist lamenting organizations as being “hamstrung by free-market ideology”…if only!!

Strangely, Mr. Pearlstein isn’t criticizing the Fed for their latest action (a no change on interest rates) - on that he actually agrees. No, his beef with the Fed seems to be that their primary public concern is with inflation. He thinks they should be dialoguing their concern with credit crunches. He doesn’t actually propose what this means the Fed should be doing about said credit crunches (although judging by current rates, credit doesn’t seem to be that much a problem yet) but I, for one, am just as happy to keep the Fed focused on not screwing things up for which inflation is a good scorekeeper.

He is also upset that the administration isn't reacting more forcefully to the recent problems in the mortgage sector. He thinks we should be turning more to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to provide some stability in the market:

“Unfortunately, that would require the Fed and the administration, after having spent six years demonizing Fan and Fred and trying to reduce their size and influence, to eat a heaping serving of political crow.”

If the Administration did demonize Fannie and Fred then it has to also be said that the two helped pick out the horns.

“In July 2003, an internal audit report, which included Raines and Mudd on its distribution list, cited problems with Fannie Mae's accounting controls that may have affected its books by as much as $155 million.

“Those warning signs came against the backdrop of an accounting scandal at Fannie Mae's direct competitor in the mortgage industry, Freddie Mac, a company with a virtually identical business model and a similar government charter to keep the housing markets supplied with money. The problems at Freddie Mac had raised widespread concerns about Fannie Mae's accounting -- concerns that Raines sought to dispel.” Fannie Mae Warnings Documented - March 2006 -

As can be expected from a business writer who is more versed in modern-day liberalism than economics, it all comes down to protecting the so-called innocents in all of this:

“But when, as result of market and regulatory failures, millions of Americans face the prospect of losing their homes, jobs or retirement savings, you'd expect the government to show a bit more urgency and candor about the problem, and more creativity and leadership in addressing it. This is hardly the time to head for the ranch and the beach and leave everything to Mr. Market.”

Actually, it’s Mr. Market that will probably clear everything up in the most efficient manner possible. Lenders who lent to suspect people will have to bear the price of their poor business decisions. If they go out of business, so be it. It’s painful but surely better than the rest of us having to soak it up for their poor judgment. And if you bought a home you can’t afford, why does it now descend upon the rest of us to somehow validate things for you? I firmly believe that the bigger danger in all this is government overreaction vice under reaction.

Which also seemed to be the instinct of a Washington Post writer in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina:

“Nor is there any rationale in using taxpayer funds to bail out a mortgage industry that is coming off five years of spectacular growth in sales and profit. Sophisticated companies like Wells Fargo and Citigroup should have known the risks of loans to homeowners in flood-prone areas.” Don't Let Industry Win With Disaster Bailouts

I think Mr. Pearlstein was right in that instance.


GOP-insider Ruth Marcus reports

Ruth Marcus has a column today outlining a part of the upcoming electoral strategy for Republicans. Which is convenient because this then allows her to rail against Republicans.

“Here's an emerging line of attack you can expect to hear more of in the 2008 congressional campaigns -- especially if you live near a vulnerable Democratic incumbent: Democrats vote to give welfare benefits to illegal aliens.” Ruth Marcus - Attack Ads You'll Be Seeing -

She then goes onto explain how the charges aren’t true because such giveaways are already against the law. She seems appalled at the prospect that Republicans would target vulnerable Democrats by using an emotionally tinged issue like ILLEGAL immigration.

“Paid, fed and sheltered? Federal law already prohibits this. But this debate isn't really about making good use of federal funds. It's about using immigration as a weapon against at-risk Democrats -- and assuming voters won't bother to learn the truth.”

And such voters won’t be learning the truth reading Ruth Marcus. Her first attack focuses on an attempt to “repeal a 2006 requirement that everyone applying for Medicaid provide proof of citizenship -- passports or original birth certificates. That might sound sensible, but it has been a cumbersome, expensive solution to a non-problem.”

Her proof that this was a non-problem was a quote from Mark McClellan (Administrator for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) noting “that an inspector general's investigation did "not find particular problems regarding false allegations of citizenship, nor are we aware of any."

That’s right; states that basically took you at your word that you were eligible for Medicaid reported no particular problems with non-eligibility (and that quote comes from a letter responding to an OIG inspection and in which Mr. McClellan concurs to recommendations for governments to do a better job of verifying eligibility for Medicaid – see Appendix D).

“Honest, Judge – she told me she was 18!”

But even if this was a relative non-problem - so what! Why do we have to wait for it to become a problem before we act? I provided a birth certificate to join the Navy, become a CPA and take the Bar exam; I provide two forms of ID when I take a new job. Yes, it is cumbersome et al. But after awhile you adapt if you want to avail yourself of certain benefits. Medicaid is state-administered – the states are free to not ask for any identification…but that just means they won’t get matching federal funds for those people. States had no problem changing their drinking age to qualify for highway funds nor do they mind throwing the bulk of enforcement costs onto bar owners who must seek certain forms of identification from prospective patrons.

Medicaid is also designed for low-income people – what does it say about the eligible people not signing up because of the effort involved in obtaining the necessary documentation, especially as it effects their children.

Her second focus was on the Agricultural Bill fiasco discussed earlier. Here, she seems to think it mere grandstanding that Republicans sought to explicitly bar – funds spent for the benefit of illegals – what was already barred.

Perhaps, but the federal government’s enforcement of immigration-related laws does little to inspire confidence that federal enforcers understand and/or care about such legal niceties (i.e., coming into this country without permission). And she doesn’t explain the Democrats’ antipathy to that motion – from the outside, it surely appears that they didn’t want such an explicit prohibition on the books.

The grandstanding here is primarily on the part of Ms. Marcus – she sets up the enduring strawman of Republicans against immigration (vice ILLEGAL immigration) and attacks them for ads not yet produced. But then again this is from a woman who finds Ted Kennedy a model of civility, was kind of hoping Nifong was right in the Duke lacrosse case and is so invested in the Democratic party that she is seemingly reduced to near-tears when the President refers to it as the Democrat Party.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Capturing the so-called Center

Wow – Governor O’Malley is pulling no punches in this co-authored piece in today’s Washington Post:

“With President Bush and the Republican Party on the rocks, many Democrats think the 2008 election will be, to borrow a favorite GOP phrase, a cakewalk. Some liberals are so confident about Democratic prospects that they contend the centrism that vaulted Democrats to victory in the 1990s no longer matters.” Martin O'Malley and Harold Ford Jr. - Our Chance to Capture the Center

Yep – courageously he and former Tenn. Rep Harold Ford are calling on Democrats to win big in November 2008:

“With an ambitious common-sense agenda, the progressive center has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to win back the White House, expand its margins in Congress and build a political and governing majority that could last a generation.”

Never mind the oxymoron that is “the progressive center”, this is good stuff and no doubt will have politicos talking for weeks to come. My only quibble is about the timing of this piece – you see, the authors early on warn:

“Some on the left would love to pretend that groups such as the Democratic Leadership Council, the party's leading centrist voice, aren't needed anymore.”

Coincidentally, I’m sure, Mr. Ford is now the head of the DLC and just last week it was reported that the Dems were No-Shows at DLC. That might have been a bit awkward since Mr. O’Malley has already thrown his hat in the ring to be no-show Ms. Clinton’s Veep with his early, enthusiastic endorsement of her candidacy. The same Ms. Clinton who went through some trouble to make last weekend’s Yearly Kos confab in Chicago…where voices criticizing such centrist thinking were in plentiful supply.

UPDATE: Soccer Dad is right that Martin O’Malley is no centrist and makes an excellent point in noting that uber-popular Bill Clinton never actually won a majority: Soccer Dad: Out in centerfield

Monday, August 06, 2007


A Martin O'Malley Press Release...disguised as a WaPo news story

A little late with the Sunday paper but this puff piece deserves mention: O'Malley Is Lauded for His Work on Family Issues -

“Six months into his term, advocates for lower- and middle-income families say O'Malley (D) has generally been true to his word: supporting a college tuition freeze, scuttling planned increases in drivers' fees and muscling through a law making Maryland the first in the nation to require that state contractors pay their workers a "living wage."

Well, the college tuition that’s frozen would be the same as the 2006-2007 tuition, which is the same as residents paid during the 2005-2006 school year…meaning he’s continuing the tuition of the past two years of his predecessor. And ‘muscling’ through a so-called living wage law? The legislature had passed one in 2004 (which then-Governor Ehrlich wisely vetoed), so it’s not as if Mr. O’Malley was staking out new ground. The history actually suggests he got muscled because the last minute change to the legislation allowed for a two-tier pay system – one for the Baltimore-Washington corridor and a lower rate for other more rural counties.

And who are these so-called advocates? Post writer John Wagner never actually comes out and says. The closest I could find was Sean Dobson of the liberal advocacy group Progressive Maryland, which Mr. Wagner advertises as lobbying on behalf of lower-and middle-income families:

“More generally, he said, the group has no complaints about O'Malley to date. "So far, he's delivered on his promises," Dobson said.”

Translating “no complaints” into laudation is an interesting spin. Next time maybe Mr. Wagner can find a less obvious known active supporter of the Governor to get a quote that underlines his obvious affection for this governor.

Update: Now it actually is kind of an O’Malley Press Release as Monoblogue has his take on it.


Diversity, Kos-style

A Diversity of Opinion, if Not Opinionators -

The article gives no examples of this so-called diversity of opinions but I suspect anyone speaking at all favorably about George Bush, Dick Cheney, Republicans, our efforts in Iraq, Rush Limbaugh or Joe Lieberman would quickly have found out that some diversity is best celebrated in the abstract.


Bad Mouse??

A bit of a zoning issue going on in Anaheim and the Washington Post is on the story:

“It's a tale worthy of a Disney classic: wicked plotters, oppressed workers, an uphill battle that leads, one hopes, to a happy ending. But this time the bad guy is in the mouse suit. At least that's how affordable-housing advocates in Disneyland's home town of Anaheim tell the story.” In Anaheim, the Mouse Finally Roars

Actually, that’s also pretty much the way Post writer Sonya Geis tells the story too. At issue is a plan to build some 1,500 apartments and condos – of which 225 will be of the “affordable housing” type. Early on Ms. Geis frames this thusly:

“But Disney's resistance to housing -- affordable housing, especially -- is fueling frustration in Anaheim.”

Unfortunately, this is seemingly just a gratuitous slam at Disney as Ms. Geis never actually documents a specific Disney resistance to so-called affordable housing. In fact, it takes several paragraphs before we get a hint that maybe Disney isn’t alone here as we learn that “[t]housands of residents signed petitions to force a vote on the project.”

A few more paragraphs and we discover:

“In 1994, the city created a special resort zone designation so that land around Disneyland would go only for tourism. Disney and Anaheim spent millions cleaning up the area. Nearby streets, once lined with fast-food joints and cheap motels, are now wide and clean boulevards of flowering trees, long-leafed palms and sunset-colored adobe."

And Anaheim is now collecting nearly double in hotel taxes in just 8 years. Further, this isn’t just Disney versus Anaheim

“Disney, along with business groups, residents and Anaheim's mayor, argues that the housing project is the beginning of the end for zoning that keeps cash flowing into the city…”

That’s right; the freaking MAYOR of Anaheim is on Disney’s side in this. Anyone reading just the first few paragraphs would never get the sense that there were legitimate arguments to be had by the other side.

Friday, August 03, 2007


The Silent Gavel

It’s the age-old question: If a Democrat gavels a vote shut but the Democratic leadership didn’t want him to, did it make a legally binding sound?

Compare & Contrast:

“Democrats appeared to have won, but with seconds left, GOP leaders persuaded three Latino Republicans who had voted with the Democrats to change their votes. With two of the votes changed, Democrats gaveled the vote shut, 214-214, and declared they had won the motion. But the clerk had already recorded the third vote switch, and the public tally gave the GOP the win though Democrats said the gavel had already come down.” Version One

“Two Democrats changed their votes to ensure that the measure would fail, but then three Republicans did the same. The vote total was 215-213 in favor of the Republican motion to recommit. At that moment, Rep. Mike McNulty ( D-N.Y.), who was in the Speaker's chair, gavelled out the vote, thinking that it was a tie and the motion had failed. But he had miscounted — the motion had actually passed. The Democrats were only able to change this by cheating and changing more votes after the gavel.” Version Two

The first is the Washington Post version; the second comes from The Corner at NRO.

One question; if the gavel had already come down on a tie vote – as the Post reports the Democrats claim - how did the final, officially recorded tally end up at 212-216? Final Vote Results for Roll Call 814

This could all just be chalked up to inside baseball stuff except for the issue at hand. The GOP was attempting to get an Agricultural funding bill recommitted so an addendum could be added explicitly forbidding illegals from receiving food stamps. Not sure I’d want to be on the side of going all out to ensure such a prohibition not be written into law.

By the way, anyone surprised to see Maryland’s own Wayne Gilchrest vote with the Democrats on this matter – even after the bulk of his party had left? Final Vote Results for Roll Call 816 (although, to be fair, he did vote with them on the recommit)


The new mantra of the Left: Why do they hate us?

Apparently young Russians don’t have a good opinion about us. Anyone want to guess where a significant amount of the blame should go?

“Yet our survey, conducted in April and May, found that a majority of young Russians view the United States as enemy No. 1. And while Putin's rhetoric is driving this development, human rights violations associated with U.S. counterterrorism policies have played a role.” Young Russia's Enemy No. 1 -

That’s right – young Russians don’t like us because of OUR so-called Human Rights Violations. And authors Sarah E. Mendelson and Theodore P. Gerber find this ominous. Now I know that for many on the Left, fretting over why others hate us is the essence of diplomacy and foreign relations. For them, I guess it does make sense to shape our foreign policy and anti-terrorism efforts to curry favor with the young Russians. But I’d advise caution as I just can’t get that excited about the youngsters' opinions on what they think we’re doing:

"Today, many Russians show symptoms of collective amnesia about the past, and a majority of young Russians believe Joseph Stalin (1929–1953) did more good than bad. Although intellectuals in many countries complain that the next generation in their own countries do not receive adequate training in history, in Russia this “absent memory” appears to have political consequences. As long as they remain positively inclined toward Stalin, young Russians are unlikely to embrace concepts such as justice and human rights.” Washington Quarterly

The authors? Sarah E. Mendelson and Theodore P. Gerber.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


“CAIR can go to Hell and they can take their 72 virgins with them.”

Response to CAIR’s attempt to stifle Robert Spencer’s talk today to a Young America’s Foundation gathering. Hot Air has more.


A Maryland reminder...


“[Governor Ehrlich] even vetoed measures to restore the independence of the Public Service Commission (PSC) and give Marylanders more leverage to negotiate lower energy costs and ensure adequate supply.

“…Bob Ehrlich has failed to demonstrate a long-term vision to keep energy affordable, and [has] sided with corporate energy interests instead of hard-working families and small businesses. Now, every time we open our electric bills and fill up our gas tanks we feel the effects of Bob Ehrlich and George Bush’s failed leadership.

Martin O’Malley and Anthony Brown will work to provide immediate relief from the impending rate hikes for our families, small businesses and the most vulnerable in our communities. O’Malley and Brown believe that any system should ensure an adequate supply of energy, a fair rate of return for producers and affordable rates for customers. Absent adequate competition that can meet these goals, we must work to implement a system that ensures an adequate supply of energy at affordable rates.” Martin O'Malley: Defending Maryland Against Rising Energy Prices


“On transportation, where he faces a parallel budget challenge because of the depletion of the trust fund that pays for highway and transit projects, O'Malley all but announced an intent to index the state's gas tax to inflation.” O'Malley hints at budget choices

“Last week, the Maryland Public Service Commission reluctantly approved the 50 percent rate increase, saying it could not find a legal alternative. The rate increase goes into effect Friday.“Gov. Martin O'Malley, who criticized the commission during his campaign last year, ended up replacing the chairman with Steven Larsen and two other members of the five-person board.”
Activists Call on Md. Leaders to Address Utility Rates


They spend; you pay

For the record, I think we pay more than enough in taxes here in Maryland but apparently I’m in the minority: Poll results back higher Md. taxes

“A majority of Marylanders want state leaders to raise enough new tax revenue to fix the state's budget shortfall and increase spending on education, health care and other priorities, a coalition of labor unions, environmental advocates and liberal groups said yesterday.”

Yep – turns out “that 74 percent supported enacting more tax increases than would be necessary to fix the deficit so the state can also "protect education funding, seniors and the most vulnerable in society."

…and I’m sure that asking the question like that had nothing to do with the results. Of course, as in so much of life, the devil is in the details and the people were quite specific about exactly what taxes should be increased. Short version: Not theirs.

“Raising the sales tax by a penny was opposed by 55 percent, and increasing the gasoline tax by 12 cents a gallon to pay for roads and mass transit was opposed by 79 percent of those surveyed.

“Gov. Martin O'Malley has said repeatedly in recent weeks that he believes Marylanders would prefer to pay more taxes than to see the kind of spending reductions that would be necessary to close the budget gap by cuts alone.”

Perhaps “…would prefer OTHERS to pay more taxes…” would be more accurate??

But that's a mere quibble - despite my apparent heartlessness, it is good to see that I am otherwise surrounded by good and caring people who want nothing more than to see their generous instincts paid for by other people.

UPDATE: Not sure how I missed this but newest MBAer Maryland Politics already posted a similar spin a few days ago: Marylanders for Higher Taxes?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Extra! Extra! Read All about It!!

This is a Page One story: U.S. Attorney Became Target After Rebuffing Justice Dept. -

Reading the article, this is what I learn:

US Attorney John Brownlee was working the Oxycontin case and the night before the planned settlement, he got a call from Michael Elston, then chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty. Here’s how Mr. Brownlee describes what happened:

“In his testimony and in an interview afterward, Brownlee recounted that he asked Elston whether he was calling for his boss, Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty, and Elston replied, "No."

"I told him to leave it alone, to go away," Brownlee said, "and he did."

The article doesn't actually mention what he rebuffed. Mr. Brownlee settled the case the next day as he had planned.

I guess this is all seems ominous because “[e]ight days later, his name appeared on a list compiled by Elston of prosecutors that officials had suggested be fired.” Of course, this then seems less ominous when you realize that of the three – Brownlee, Elston & McNulty – only John Brownlee is still employed.

So to sum up: someone further up the chain of command calls an underling, nothing much gets said, a settlement occurs as originally planned and a person possibly targeted for a firing doesn’t get fired. Woodward & Bernstein – move over.


E.J. Dionne: What's in a Name

E.J. Dionne has a philosophical piece today asking the age-old question: Who's for Big Government?

“One of the most predictable arguments is also one of the most useless: that politics comes down to a choice between being for "big government" or "small government."

Of course, Mr. Dionne also once wrote:

“Winners change the terms and fight back.” Stand Up, Fight Back: Republican Toughs, Democratic Wimps, and the Politics of Revenge: Books: E.J. Dionne

…so in this George Lakoff era, I’m not taking too seriously his discard of the “big government” moniker (I don’t think many pols are afraid of the “small government” tag).

One remarkable feature of today’s column is his reliance – seemingly without question – on Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm for the quotes to make his case:

“Shrewd industrialists who love the free-enterprise system have noticed how "countries that have big-government health care" are at a competitive advantage, Granholm said in a telephone interview, and "they're asking government to help them out."

Who are these “shrewd industrialists” and what COUNTRY obtains a competitive advantage through its big-government health care? Start ticking through the list: Cuba? France? Canada? At the micro level, a company that can shift costs to others is surely in a better competitive position but I can think of no instance where such a strategy similarly translates at the national level. More perplexing is this:

“Granholm argues that the United States is "never going to be the cheapest place to do business," in part because of its high labor and environmental standards relative to many of the emerging economies. She suggests that improving the country's competitive position will require "investing in education, higher education and health care."

A tried but true cliché is to hide your wallet when a politician starts talking about “investing”. How many countries have a greater combined investment in education and health care than ours? That much of it comes from the private sector should not disqualify its inclusion in the equation, even if that means “big government” doesn’t get credit for it.

Mr. Dionne concludes by echoing Ms. Granholm’s call to “…put all that old stuff aside"
- presumably the use of such labels as “big government”. I agree – as long as the concept of an increasing government is discarded with it.

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