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There is no substitute for robust oversight


Fri, Jun 25th, 2010
Posted in Commentary

In the wake of the Gulf oil spill, it seems like every day brings new word of some calamitous failing at the Minerals Management Service, the federal agency charged with regulating offshore oil drilling. There's an inspector-general's report citing multiple violations of federal regulations and ethics rules at the agency's Louisiana office. There's The Washington Post report detailing how agency officials routinely skirted laws requiring that drilling not threaten the marine environment. There are manifold stories about the cozy relationship between agency "regulators" and the companies they were supposedly watching.

Members of Congress are practically sputtering in outrage, and have seized every opportunity to grill federal officials on how all this could happen. This is understandable and necessary, but one question keeps running through my mind: Where were these members of Congress a few years ago when intense scrutiny of the minerals agency might have prevented the Gulf disaster?

The same could be said of less-than-robust oversight of the complex financial products that banks were peddling before the financial meltdown, or keeping an eye on the regulators in charge of mine safety, the safety of imported food, or the reliability of corporate credit ratings.

Managing government well is extremely difficult, even for the most accomplished civil servants. Yet, far too frequently, we read about mistakes, missteps, actions or the absence of actions by the federal government that disappoint and frustrate us, and they inevitably raise the question: Shouldn't someone be watching the execution and implementation of these laws?

The answer, of course, is yes: Congress is supposed to be watching. You cannot entirely prevent fraud, financial irregularities, wink-and-nod relationships with regulated industries, conflicts of interest, mismanagement, and efforts by federal officials to sidestep the clear intent of Congress. But certainly we could do a better job were Congress to pursue its oversight role vigorously.

On Capitol Hill, much time and attention go to creating policy. There's testimony by world-class thinkers, spirited debate, legions of lobbyists, endless negotiation over this or that provision. When you're dealing with issues of national importance, this is appropriate. However, too many members of Congress - with, thankfully, a few notable exceptions - appear to believe that their job ends when the bill passes. Actu .....
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Foreign policy Are we safe or sorry?

Mon, Jun 21st, 2010
Posted in Commentary

It is important at this time to take a closer look at our foreign policy as to whether we, as a nation, are on a path to becoming a sanctuary against terrorism. The events of 9/11 are still looming in the background, and the attempted car bombing in ..... 
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Morse - Letter to the Editor

Mon, Jun 21st, 2010
Posted in Commentary

Letter about MN leaders

I appreciate how Minnesota legislators and the governor came together this spring with a solution for providing medical care for the poorest adults in our state through the GAMC program. I know the plan was not perfect ..... 
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Ritchie - Letter to the Editor

Mon, Jun 21st, 2010
Posted in Commentary

Letter about Protecting our Freedoms

Your piece called "Protecting our Freedoms" was inspiring and powerful. Thank you very much for this much needed perspective. If we knew more of our history and about the sacrifices made on our behalf we m ..... 
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Foreign policy

Fri, Jun 18th, 2010
Posted in Commentary

It is important at this time to take a closer look at our foreign policy as to whether we, as a nation, are on a path to becoming a sanctuary against terrorism. The events of 9/11 are still looming in the background, and the attempted car bombing in ..... 
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One Moment Please - Outsourcing to India?

Fri, Jun 11th, 2010
Posted in Commentary

Publisher of the Fillmore County Journal, cell phone number 507-251-5297

At least once a week, I receive a phone call from an "offshore outsourcing" company seeking to siphon money out of our local economy in various methods.

For exam ..... 
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If I were a Republican

Fri, May 28th, 2010
Posted in Commentary

If I were a Republican, I would be kicking walls and weeping.

When did the Grand Old Party give up on the voices of Eisenhower, Teddy Roosevelt, Al Quie and Arnie Carlson and start singing along with the shrill cry of the nut bars on the far ..... 
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The definition of liberal

Fri, May 21st, 2010
Posted in Commentary

First, thanks John Goucher for your great article "Bigger is Not Always Better." Second, thank you Jerry Grehl for your letter to the editor, as well. Contrasting the two articles illustrates very clearly how out of touch with reality liberals are. ..... 
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One Moment Please - It could have been a lot worse

Fri, May 21st, 2010
Posted in Commentary

Publisher of the Fillmore County Journal, cell phone number 507-251-5297

On Wednesday, May 19, following my daughter's pre-school graduation ceremony at the Fillmore Central Elementary School gymnasium, I journeyed back to the office for a mo ..... 
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