“Nothing in politics happens by accident”

This observation by Franklin D. Roosevelt comes to mind as various agencies of the federal government move in force against reported design defects in automobiles made by Toyota Motor Company. Focusing on problems of sudden acceleration, the proceedings of the Securities and Exchange Commission, a grand jury and today the House Energy and Commerce Committee have begun to exhibit something resembling a cross between swarming and piling on. Is it possible that last year’s federal intervention to "save" the Chrysler and General Motors corporations has as its follow up an attack on the chief foreign rival of these American companies? Just wondering. For years, the primary criticism of government efforts by liberals to encourage commerce has been that picking winners and losers is neither productive nor fair, these matters being best determined by competition in the marketplace. Are we now seeing that such "picking" involves not only giving political and financial advantages to favored firms but actually making attacks on unfavored ones? One is reminded of the purportedly non-xenophic President Obama's denunciation of foreign corporations in his State of the Union Address last month. I guess foreigners coming over the borders illegally is one thing but playing by the rules in the American market is something else. Kimberly Strassel wondered out loud about these possibilities last week in her weekly column at the Wall Street Journal. I think she might be on to something.

Bankruptcy for owner of Denver Post

You have to read closely to see it, so elegant are the euphemisms, but the company that owns the company that owns the Denver Post is taking bankruptcy to get out from under $1 billion in loans it can't repay. ("Pact lets Post's owner cut debt," Jan. 16.) I note this with sadness, not any sort of pleasure, because Denver and Colorado need the Post -- all the more so after we lost the Rocky Mountain News a year ago -- and because I admire press lord Dean Singleton, whose MediaNews Group is the nation's second-largest newspaper publisher in terms of circulation and who is one of the world's true visionaries about where journalism is going in the digital age.

As today's story explains, MediaNews is in relatively better shape than most other struggling or bankrupt newspaper owners, and given Singleton's proven virtuosity there is reason to think he can pilot the company through current storms into sustainability when industry trends smooth out. For Colorado's sake and in the interest of informed self-government, let's hope so.

Disclosure: I am a Denver Post columnist.