FUBAR

Why Wal-Mart doesn’t need a bailout

While America’s auto manufacturers and other companies are begging Washington for bailouts, the liberal-derided Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is making money hand over fist, providing the nation with more jobs than any other employer and doing something else very, very positive: serving the poor.

Times are getting harder, people want cheap stuff, and the place they find it is at Wal-Mart, which boasted a 9.8 percent increase in earnings and a 7.5 percent increase in sales the third quarter, according to The Wall Street Journal.

A big reward for screwing up

This could only happen in America.

The insurance giant AIG that is more than a little responsible for the current economic crisis reportedly has decided to lay out $503 million of early deferred compensation to top employees so they won’t abandon a ship that is being kept afloat only by billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars.

Race crimes rise after Obama’s election

Cross burnings. Schoolchildren chanting "Assassinate Obama." Black figures hung from nooses. Racial epithets scrawled on homes and cars.

Incidents around the country referring to President-elect Barack Obama are dampening the postelection glow of racial progress and harmony, highlighting the stubborn racism that remains in America.

From California to Maine, police have documented a range of alleged crimes, from vandalism and vague threats to at least one physical attack. Insults and taunts have been delivered by adults, college students and second-graders.

Faking the news

Michael Eisenstadt is a nonexistent senior fellow at the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy, a nonexistent think tank, but he has a blog and the “Institute” has a Web site and for parts of the blogosphere that’s credibility enough.

Eisenstadt is actually Eitan Gorlin, half of a team of aspiring film makers who over the course of the campaign generated loopy Web postings that, while something of a stretch had a hint of plausibility: plans to build a casino in Baghdad’s Green Zone, the assertion that Joe the Plumber was related to McCain nemesis Charles Keating, angry calls to the McCain campaign from Paris Hilton’s family.

Once again, we need to follow the money

When Congress established the $700 billion bailout fund, it promised strict and thorough oversight. Over a month later, with $290 billion already committed, we have our answer: There isn’t any.

The legislation called for a special inspector general within the Treasury to audit and investigate the bailout, reporting on what assets the government is acquiring, its reasons for doing so and their value. The special inspector has yet to be named, although the Bush administration is said to have a candidate lined up, but there’s a question whether the Senate can confirm him in a timely fashion.

GOP guvs have good and bad news

The nation’s 21 Republican governors are in defense mode. They know they’re the best and the brightest but fear the rest of the world doesn’t understand that.

Meeting in Miami after the election, now solidly the minority party, the governors embraced Haley Barbour’s statement: “When I became chairman of the Republican National Committee after Bill Clinton’s election, I quickly found out that our governors were the most popular, influential people in the party. When the other party has the White House and both houses of Congress, as it did then and will now, the only place people can actually see Republican ideas being implemented is in the states.”

Barbour, of course, is now governor of Mississippi.

So, is Detroit worth saving?

It wasn’t too long ago that most Americans accepted the adage that what is good for General Motors is good for the nation. That symbolic concept of U.S. industrial might certainly has slipped dramatically over the last four decades, but at this moment it just may be truer than it ever was.

For those of us of a certain age, the possible demise of the nation’s auto building giant and its remaining competitors in Detroit, Ford and Chrysler, is inconceivable. The loss of national pride alone is almost as devastating as the impact on jobs, GDP, taxes and personal income and those figures are enormous. American entrepreneurship and ingenuity so long admired around the globe would lose what credibility it has left. No longer would we be the geniuses of industrial development as evidenced by our remaining brands still represented on the world’s highways.

MSNBC retracts Palin story

MSNBC was the victim of a hoax when it reported that an adviser to John McCain had identified himself as the source of an embarrassing story about former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the network said Wednesday.

David Shuster, an anchor for the cable news network, said on air Monday that Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser, had come forth and identified himself as the source of a Fox News Channel story saying Palin had mistakenly believed Africa was a country instead of a continent.

Let’s remember Veterans on other days

The air is crisp, the sky bright blue, the leaves have passed their red-orange peak and are falling around the headstones of those who gave our nation their lives.

As I am writing this column on Veterans Day 2008, the sacrifices of our fallen military heroes are being remembered, briefly but respectfully, on the morning television news. But as you are reading this column, the sacrifices of our military veterans will already have been pushed back to their traditional place on the lowest rung of your government’s agenda ladder. Our nation’s leaders will have moved on to their own urgent priorities: The closing of one presidency, the opening of another; the convening of the new Congress.

The big bailout

For better or worse, or whether it’s throwing good money after bad, momentum is building in Washington for an auto industry bailout, much larger than the $25 billion already promised.

Congressional Democratic leaders Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are in favor. President-elect Barack Obama has indicated that he is inclined to support some sort of rescue. And Bush administration opposition seems to be weakening.