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Are The Wheels Coming Off The Bus?


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She wrote this last October in the Wall Street Journal, but I saved it. There's much more to this essay, but this is the crux of it: We have some very hard history ahead of us, and the people in power, Republicans and Democrats alike, are doing very little to stop it.

"Our elites, our educated and successful professionals, are the ones who are supposed to dig us out and lead us. I refer specifically to the elites of journalism and politics, the elites of the Hill and at Foggy Bottom and the agencies, the elites of our state capitals, the rich and accomplished and successful of Washington, and elsewhere. I have a nagging sense, and think I have accurately observed, that many of these people have made a separate peace. That they're living their lives and taking their pleasures and pursuing their agendas; that they're going forward each day with the knowledge, which they hold more securely and with greater reason than nonelites, that the wheels are off the trolley and the trolley's off the tracks, and with a conviction, a certainty, that there is nothing they can do about it.

I suspect that history, including great historical novelists of the future, will look back and see that many of our elites simply decided to enjoy their lives while they waited for the next chapter of trouble. And that they consciously, or unconsciously, took grim comfort in this thought: I got mine. Which is what the separate peace comes down to, "I got mine, you get yours."

You're a lobbyist or a senator or a cabinet chief, you're an editor at a paper or a green-room schmoozer, you're a doctor or lawyer or Indian chief, and you're making your life a little fortress. That's what I think a lot of the elites are up to.

Not all of course. There are a lot of people--I know them and so do you--trying to do work that helps, that will turn it around, that can make it better, that can save lives. They're trying to keep the boat afloat. Or, I should say, get the trolley back on the tracks.

That's what I think is going on with our elites. There are two groups. One has made a separate peace, and one is trying to keep the boat afloat. I suspect those in the latter group privately, in a place so private they don't even express it to themselves, wonder if they'll go down with the ship. Or into bad territory with the trolley."

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For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and

count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it – lest, after he has laid

the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all who see him begin to mock

him, saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish” (Luke



The One Bureaucrat Who Outranks the Entire SEC

On May 5, 2006, President Bush signed an executive order giving Intelligence “Czar” John Negroponte the right to excuse public companies from SEC accounting and disclosure laws. As reported by BusinessWeek, the news was announced “in a brief entry in the Federal Register… that was opaque to the untrained eye.”

Of course, that’s not unusual with this administration. And unlike some of the government’s actions during the “war on terror,” President Bush’s order is unquestionably legal. During the Carter administration, the Securities Exchange Act was amended to allow companies to circumvent reporting requirements in the name of national security.

However, this is the first time a president has actually invoked that power. But although we’re sure the president is acting with the best intentions, the possibilities for scandal are endless.

Think about it — from now on, any company can try to hide a bad quarter with a quick call to Homeland Security. They don’t have to worry about bankers, regulators or even shareholders… just a bureaucrat concerned about leaking secrets to terrorists.

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