The Note: Courage Mounteth with Occasion

The Los Angeles Times' article focuses on dissidents who could get no closer to Wal-Mart's headquarters than the Embassy Suites nearby. LINK

Yesterday, an errantly placed sentence suggested inadvertently that Democratic uber-consultant Jim Jordan is helping Wal-Mart craft strategy. While we can't say for sure that Jordan has never shopped at the retailer, we do know, and did know, that he's working for a non-profit set up to change the company's culture. Our apologies to him.

One young lady working with Mr. Jordan, former DNC research deputy director Tracy Sefl, e-mails this morning that her data collection efforts in Bentonville are beginning to pay off.

"While at the Wal-Mart Museum yesterday I bought a miniature replica of Sam Walton's iconic red pickup truck for one of my new colleagues . . . and I see it has a big MADE IN CHINA sticker on its box."

The Maryland state Senate approved a bill yesterday to require Wal-Mart to spend more money on health care for its workers, the Washington Post's dashing John Wagner and Michael Barbaro report. Lawmakers said they didn't intend to target the bill, which mandates that companies with more than 10,000 employees spend at least 8 percent of their payroll on health care, at Wal-Mart, but as debate went on, it became clear that it would be the only company in the state affected. LINK

Conservatives and Republicans:

Conservative economist Bruce Bartlett, long an opponent of a V.A.T., has changed his mind, he tells readers of the New York Times op-ed page. LINK

"In the 1980's and 1990's, I thought it was possible to restrain the growth of government by cutting taxes. This would 'starve the beast,' as Ronald Reagan used to say, and force government to live on its allowance. And after Republicans got control of Congress in 1994, I thought the means had finally come to make a frontal assault on the welfare state."

"I have been sadly disappointed. After an initial effort at restraining Medicare spending -- squelched by President Bill Clinton's veto pen -- Republicans in Congress have become almost indistinguishable from Democrats on spending. They have been aided and abetted by President Bush, who not only refuses to veto anything, but also aggressively worked to ram a $23.5 trillion (of which $18.2 trillion must be covered by the general revenue) expansion of Medicare down the throats of the few small government conservatives left in the House."

"This behavior has led me and other conservatives to conclude that starving the beast simply doesn't work anymore. Deficits are no longer a barrier to greater government spending. And with the baby-boom generation aging, spending is set to explode in coming years even if no new government programs are enacted."


The New York Observer's Ben Smith reports that Freddy Ferrer's campaign has agreed to let a documentary crew led by filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker follow them through the election.

Says Pennebaker of Ferrer: "He's such a fundamentally decent guy, you wonder why he's getting involved in this whole mess.'" LINK

We'll use this occasion to plug Smith's blog about New York politics, now at LINK

When we need to know, right now, what's happening with city and state politics, we do two things: we call David Chalian, and then we check the Observer's blog, now a 24/7 must-read for all Gotham Gang of 500 members.

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