Here's news, if you define "news" as something unexpected: You know that expensive "virtual" border fence the Obama administration recently cancelled? It actually worked, acording to Janice Kephart of the Center for Immigration Studies. There were big problems with the prototype, but they fixed them. No wonder it got cancelled! ... I had always assumed the "virtual fence" was a fancy-sounding Bush administration scam to let the government weasel out of building a real, nonvirtual fence (of the sort that works well enough in California, which is why illegal immigrants and smugglers now cross in Arizona). But maybe both sorts of fences can work ...
P.S.: According to Kephart, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was one of the few pols to see the "virtual" fence installation, and "was actually very positive" about it. (That should end the issue, according to my colleague Jon Alter, who has already anointed Giffords with the unsolicited mantle of near-infallibility if, as everyone hopes, she returns to her job.) ...
P.P.S.: Upon cancelling the "virtual" fence, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano denounced it as a "'one-size-fits-all' solution," a charge echoed by Joe Lieberman. Like the word "comprehensive"—which usually means "we're sneaking in a liberal thing you won't like"—the anti-"one-size-fits-all" argument should automatically raise an alarm. There are lots of one-size-fits-all solutions. The spoon is a one-size-fits-all solution. Works pretty well. The iPad is a one-size-fits-all solution. Letter paper is a one-size-fits-all solution. Human culture is not that variegated. We live in a globalized world in which we trade on our commonalities. Toyota trucks work well for American landscapers, they work well for Al Qaeda terrorists. Cookie cutters cut cookies everywhere.
When politicians denounce something as a "one-size-fits-all solution" it usually means "We are worried this idea will spread." The "one size" charge was routinely leveled at welfare reform plans, for example—when, in fact, welfare-dependent "underclass" communities across the country are much more alike than they are unalike, and a reform that works in Wisconsn is likely to work in Mississippi and Pennsylvania ... 3:45 p.m.
kf Serving Suggestion: Shouldn't Republicans hold hearings on the general threat of Putin-like corporatism—i.e., an insidious alliance between big government and favored corporate and labor interests? a) They could call GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt to testify and embarrass him about the myriad ways in which his slightly creepy role as CEO and presidential adviser might allow him to benefit his company and squash competitors; b) They could grill the various regulators who might be tempted to favor the auto manufacturers that the government bailed out (and which, in GM's case, it still owns about a third of). Maybe some GM competitors would even be brave enough to testify. (Exhibit No. 23: Will GM and Chrysler claim all the remaining billions of "green" retooling loan money from Obama's Department of Energy? Entrepreneurial startups need not apply?) c) They could question whether these bureaucrats and others are also doing favors for other Obama constituencies, like labor unions, or Google; d) They'd appear transpartisan--this is an issue where left and right populists unite. Do they love corporate-government alliances at Daily Kos? It's also one of the legitimate worries at the heart of TeaPartyism. e) Hearings might help: There is no obvious answer to some parts of the corporatism dilemma, such as the too-big-to-fail part. If lots of firms are now too big to fail—or else their markets are unstable—and if during a downturn the government winds up investing political and economic capital in specific companies, what are you going to do? Bail the companies out and then let them collapse again? Even libertarians are flummoxed by this sort of question (e.g., Will Wilkinson, who fears "no principled alternative to muddling through"). But maybe there are some rules of the road that could be devised to help (e.g., when a firm is bailed out, the CEO must go, sans parachute) ... Obama's answer so far has been to say "Trust me." We saw how well that played last November ...
Backfill: The Examiner's Timothy Carney has more on what Immelt calls "coordinated commitment among business, labor and government" ... 4:37 p.m.
'GM sold more cars in China than in US for first time': Big news today. But note that GM's China total is famously inflated by a million or so little minvans and such produced by Wuling, a company in which GM has only a minority interest ... P.S.: That's too much information for L.A. Times readers, I guess. And it would muddy up the "resurgent GM" MSM narrative ... 4:42 p.m.