Saturday, May 8, 2010

Political Digest May 8, 2010

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article. It also doesn’t mean that I don’t agree with them. I have to say all this to give some of my critics the benefit of the doubt, assuming they are thick, rather than deliberately taking things the wrong way.

Book Recommendation
Just finished A Question of Command: Counterinsurgency from the Civil War to Iraq, by Mark Moyar, a Harvard and Cambridge educated historian. I highly recommend it. His thesis is that it is leadership that makes the difference. The reviews of what happened in both Iraq and Afghanistan are clear, concise and compelling, worth the price alone. He has no hesitation in saying who did well and who screwed up.

Nice comment posted on my blog
It's amazing how MUCH news I can get in ONE post (here) than from everywhere else ALL week. Keep those hits coming!

Greek crisis exposes cracks in Europe's foundation
Excerpt: It is easy to dismiss Thursday's 30-minute, 1,000-point boomerang on the Dow Jones industrial average as a freak event that resulted when everyday human error collided with high-speed, high-volume computerized trading. But it should not be forgotten that that the whole thing was triggered when traders around the world simultaneously pushed the "sell" button as they watched live video of baton-wielding riot police wading into a crowd gathered outside the parliament in Athens to protest the passage of austerity measures foisted upon their government by their European neighbors and creditors. Even after technical glitches were suspected and the trades were unwound, however, the markets and the world confronted the precarious state of the 60-year effort to create a single economy and a unified political system out of Europe's once-warring countries. The Dow has already fallen more than 600 points in three days on fears that a European debt and banking crisis could drag the continent's economy back into recession and put the entire European project in jeopardy. This project has created a massive new bureaucracy in Brussels, a much-ignored new political apparatus in Strasbourg and a central bank in Frankfurt that continues to reflect the Germanic fear of easy money. After the Berlin Wall fell, the once-communist countries to the east were gradually incorporated into the union. And under the financial umbrella of the euro, the smaller, poorer countries at the periphery found they could borrow and attract enough capital to bootstrap themselves into the ranks of wealthy nations.

(Bob’s take: The cracks are called “Socialism,” as politicians gain power through benefits paid for by someone else. They have long realized that they have run out of money from the productive members of society, whom they call “the rich,” and so now buy support with the money of future generations. Eventually the can becomes too heavy to kick down the road. Then things spin out of control. Be not smug over riots in Greece—the USA is, at most, 20 years behind them. Imaging the riots from government workers, welfare recipients, seniors and others in the promised land of entitlements when the government can no longer borrow to fund the promised programs. Buy canned goods and ammo.)

Your grandkids are now asked to bail out Greece
Guess Greece is “too big to fail.” And you believe them about no more Wall Street bailouts? Excerpt: It was bad enough when the federal government bailed out AIG, and then Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and then many of the mega banks, and then GM and Chrysler. At least these had the modest merit of being US companies with US workers. Even if US government finances were in pristine shape, US taxpayer dollars should not be used to bail out a perennially dysfunctional state. But as spending-driven trillion dollar budget deficits and a Presidential debt commission starkly evidence, the US is seriously risking its own Greek-style sovereign debt crisis. Fortunately, the US doesn’t need an IMF bailout. It only needs a President willing to acknowledge that he has led the country on a Grecian spending binge it cannot afford.

Pakistani Taliban Are Said to Expand Alliances
Excerpt: Pakistan’s military offensives and intensifying American drone strikes have degraded their capabilities. But the Pakistani Taliban have sustained themselves through alliances with any number of other militant groups, splinter cells, foot soldiers and guns-for-hire in the areas under their control. Those groups have “morphed,” a Western diplomat said in a recent interview. Their common agenda, training and resource sharing have made it increasingly difficult to distinguish one from another. The alliances have also added to their skills and tactics and list of shared targets. “They trade bomb makers and people around,” a senior United States intelligence official said Thursday in an interview. (It sounds like baseball managers trading players in the last week of the season. "I'll trade two bomb-makers for an apprentice doctor and a future draft pick." –Ron P.)

Conservatives hold edge but lack absolute majority in U.K. elections
Excerpt: A revamped Conservative Party made major gains in Britain's closely fought elections but was falling short of the absolute majority needed to form a government and head off the prospect of the most divided Parliament here in a generation. The results early Friday suggested Britain would face a potentially messy period of uncertainty over who will eventually occupy No. 10 Downing St. The Conservatives were projected to win an estimated 305 seats -- 21 short of a majority -- in the 650-seat House of Commons, according to exit polls by a consortium of TV networks. Official results also pointed to a hung Parliament. With two-thirds of districts reporting, the Conservatives had picked up some targeted seats but failed to deliver hoped-for gains in others.

Examining the "birther" movement
Excerpt: A new Washington Post/ABC News national poll shows that one in five adults either believe or guess that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States although that number jumps to one in three self-identifying Republicans. The results make clear that while suspicion about the president's place of birth is far from widespread, there is a certain -- and not entirely insignificant -- segment of the population that carries doubts. (For the record, the proof that Obama was born in Hawaii is indisputable; Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, said as much in a recent interview.) Seventy seven percent of adults polled said Obama was born in the United States with a near-majority (48 percent) able to name Hawaii as the president's birthplace. Twenty percent said he was not born in the U.S. with nine percent citing "solid evidence" to back up that belief and 10 percent calling it a suspicion only. Not surprisingly, doubts about Obama's citizenship were lowest among Democrats and highest among Republicans. Fifteen percent of self-identified Democrats said cited solid evidence (six percent), suspicions (seven percent) or no opinion (one percent) about whether the President was born in the U.S. Thirty-one percent of Republicans had suspicions (19 percent) or solid evidence (11 percent) that Obama was not born in the country. Establishment Republicans have done everything they can to downplay chatter about Obama's citizenship, believing, rightly, that it is a stone-cold loser for the party. But, elements of the GOP base seem unwilling to leave the issue behind and a handful of candidates around the country -- including former Rep. J.D. Hayworth who is running for the Senate in Arizona -- seem unwilling to rule out the possibility in what seems like an attempt to win the votes of the most conservative of conservatives within the GOP base.

(Bob’s Take: As a Conservative Republican who believes replacing Obama in 2012 is vital to delaying the coming collapse of the Republic, it doesn’t matter. I think the “birther” movement is a gift to Obama. First, no court is going to overturn an election, if you had a video of him being born on Mars. This is doubly true when doping so would mean riots in our inner cities, with thousands of deaths and billions in damage. Birthers I know say that is no reason to not go forward, but I don’t think they expect to be among the dead. Second, it takes energy and dollars away from opposing BO’s polities and electing members of Congress who will oppose them. Third, the movement has eagerly circulated forged documents and pictures, plus racist pictures, all of which helps Obama and his party with the uncommitted center where the election will be won or lost, just as the eager push of the Bush forgeries by Dan Rather helped Bush against Kerry. They should make up bumper stickers which said, “Proud Birther Helping to Re-Elect Obama!”)

Why the AMA Wants to Muzzle Your Doctor
Excerpt: The American Medical Association (AMA) is putting the doctors of America on notice. A major cheerleader for ObamaCare, the organization is now trying to silence doctors who oppose it. It is time the American people understood what the AMA is really all about. Last month, not long after a Florida urologist placed a sign in his door making it clear that patients who voted for President Obama were not welcome in his practice, the AMA issued the following statement: "[P]hysicians might reflect on how to properly balance their obligations as members of the medical profession with their rights as individual citizens who will be affected by reform. In particular, physicians may wonder whether it is appropriate to express political views to patients or their families." The statement goes on to say that while the AMA "supports the right of physicians to free political speech and encourages them to exercise the full scope of their political rights . . . physicians should conduct political communications with sensitivity to patients' vulnerability and desire for privacy." Many doctors interpreted this as an attempt—albeit with verbal parachutes attached—to keep them from sharing their opinions about health-care reform with their patients. This position is troubling on many levels. The AMA was not only a major supporter of ObamaCare but also an accomplice in its passage. Without the support of the AMA it is quite possible that the health-care reform initiative would have failed. So why the effort to silence other doctors? The AMA is not only worried about protecting this misguided legislation, it is worried about protecting itself. In the weeks since passage of this 2,700 page bill, more and more of its policy land-mines have exploded, including rising insurance premiums and admissions of inevitable rationing. Not surprisingly, an increasing number of physicians have expressed alarm over the impact that the legislation will have on their patients. This growing opposition makes the actions of the AMA, which represents only 17% of the doctors in the U.S., look very bad.

Fannie and Freddie Failure Forever
Excerpt: Yesterday, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) told reporters about his financial regulation bill, “We’ve ended the ‘too big to fail’ debate. So no longer do I expect any argument to be made that this bill exposes the American taxpayer.” Really. Someone might want to tell Sen. Dodd that in other news yesterday, Freddie Mac announced that it lost another $6.7 billion in the first quarter of 2010 and therefore needed another $10.6 billion in cash from U.S. taxpayers. Since formally nationalizing Freddie in 2008, the federal government has already spent $50.7 billion bringing the Freddie bailout total to $61.3 billion so far. Combined with Fannie Mae’s raid on the Treasury, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the American people will spend $389 billion bailing out the two Government Sponsored Entities by 2019. So much for American taxpayers no longer being exposed to “too big to fail.” In fact, nothing in the Dodd bill does anything to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This despite the fact that Fannie and Freddie were key components in causing the very financial crises Dodd claims his bill will forever prevent. Fannie and Freddie were both created for the specific purpose of making it easier for Americans to buy more expensive housing. Starting in 1993, political forces pushed Fannie and Freddie to loosen their once strict loan purchasing requirements. By 1996, regulations required that 40% of all Fannie and Freddie-bought loans must come from individuals with below median incomes. In 1995, Fannie and Freddie began buying subprime securities originally bought and bundled by private firms. One of these firms was Countrywide Financial who, thanks to their status as Fannie Mae’s biggest customer, delivered investors a 23,000% return between 1985 and 2003. By 2004, Fannie and Freddie were purchasing $175 billion worth of subprime securities per year from Countrywide and their brethren… a 44% share of the entire market. There are other factors that helped contribute to the 2008 financial crisis, but Fannie and Freddie’s use of their “too big to fail” status to create and grow the subprime security market was essential.

Constitution in decline
Excerpt: It's time to reform our administrative state. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was right when she said Congress would have to "pass the health care bill so you can find out what's in it." That's because the health care bill, like most major laws passed by Congress over the past hundred years, isn't really a law. Rather, Obamacare is a series of assignments to bureaucrats in the Department of Health and Human Services. It is emblematic of what scholars call the administrative state, where legislative, executive and judicial powers are delegated to unaccountable experts sequestered in a fourth branch of government. If we are seeking the most effective means of defending - and restoring - the Constitution, we must pay attention to the rise of the administrative state and the decline of constitutional government in the United States. The Founders confronted a basic problem: How to vest government with sufficient power to get things done without giving it the instruments to exercise tyrannical control? To protect individual liberty and rights, they established (among others) two basic principles at the center of our constitutional order: representation and the separation of powers. To assure that government operated by consent, they provided that those responsible for making laws would be held accountable through elections. Moreover, legislative, executive and judicial power would be separated so those who made the laws were not in charge of executing and applying them.

The Coming Constitutional Debate
The Constitution as Robin Hood, taking from the productive for the non-productive. Excerpt: Proponents of a “21st century constitution” or “living constitution” aim to transform our nation’s supreme law beyond recognition—and with a minimum of public attention and debate. Indeed, if there is an overarching theme to what they wish to achieve, it is the diminishment of the democratic and representative processes of American government. It is the replacement of a system of republican government, in which the constitution is largely focused upon the architecture of government in order to minimize the likelihood of abuse of power, with a system of judicial government, in which substantive policy outcomes are increasingly determined by federal judges. Rather than merely defining broad rules of the game for the legislative and executive branches of government, the new constitution would compel specific outcomes. Yes, the forms of the Founders’ Constitution would remain—a bicameral legislature, periodic elections, state governments—but the important decisions would increasingly be undertaken by courts, especially by federal courts. It will be the California referendum process writ national, a process by which the decisions of millions of voters on matters such as racial quotas, social services funding, and immigration policy have been routinely overturned by single judges acting in the name of the Constitution—not the Framers’ Constitution, but a “constitution for our times,” a “living constitution,” resembling, sadly, the constitutions of failed and despotic nations across the globe. This radical transformation of American political life will occur, if it succeeds, not through high-profile court decisions resolving grand disputes of war and peace, abortion, capital punishment, or the place of religion in public life, but more likely as the product of decisions resolving forgettable and mundane disputes—the kind mentioned on the back pages of our daily newspapers, if at all. Let me provide a brief summary of six of the more popular theories of the advocates of the 21st century constitution. In particular, it is my hope here to inform ordinary citizens so that they will be better aware of the stakes. For while judges and lawyers may be its custodians, the Constitution is a document that is the heritage and responsibility of every American citizen.

Hardworking students without clout are left out by John Kass,0,5398011.column
Politics in Democrat-run Illinois. Not that many of the Republicans are much better here. Excerpt: According to a Tribune story this week, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Lisa's Daddy, applied his clout to help dozens of political allies and campaign donors trying to get their relatives into the University of Illinois. Many of the relatives who were accepted wouldn't have made it into the U. of I. on their own merits, the story said. Three of the students backed by Madigan are relatives of North Shore attorney Steven Yonover and Illinois Appellate Judge Margaret Frossard. Yonover dropped more than $70,000 into campaign funds controlled by Mike Madigan. Wouldn't the lawyer and the distinguished appellate judge make fine lecturers at a university-sponsored seminar titled "Ethics in Illinois"? Boss Madigan is one of the most powerful politicians in the state, and the least accountable, hiding from reporters, working in the shadows. But U. of I. officials know who butters their bread. Think about that when you watch your high schooler doing homework at the kitchen table past midnight, reading American history, working hard for that A…… Because, as most of you know, the Illinois attorney general is Lisa Madigan, Mike's daughter. And she received almost $50,000 in political cash linked to relatives of the students on her daddy's clout list, the Tribune reported.

President Obama's home-state headache
The muck from which Obama arose, pure, shinning and spotless. Excerpt: Chicago has delivered an unending stream of embarrassment, frustration and discomfort to the administration of its favorite son, from an indicted governor to a failed Olympics bid to a series of smaller political blows. In the latest encounter with political quicksand, the White House — already burned by a series of failures to fill Obama’s Senate seat with a chosen candidate — has been forced to proceed with extreme caution toward the damaged Democratic Senate nominee, Alexi Giannoulias, waiting to see if he drops out even as some of its allies want the White House to take a heavier hand. Giannoulias is only the candidate, after all, because Obama, a proud Chicagoan, first failed to persuade Illinois’s Democratic governor to appoint Valerie Jarrett, the perceived favorite — at least without cash on delivery. Then, after the governor’s indictment, the White House tried, and failed, to keep Roland Burris from warming Obama’s seat. After that, Obama couldn’t persuade Illinois’s popular attorney general to run for a federal office that would be seen, in most states, as an obvious promotion.

Ariz. governor rejects delay of immigration law
Excerpt: A prominent Senate Democrat asked Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to put off her state's controversial immigration law to give Congress a chance to act. Scant time passed before Brewer's answer came back: No. The request by Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York was a long shot for getting a stalled Senate immigration initiative moving again. Even the White House thinks the Senate proposal is nearly dead. "There's not enough support to move forward," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday. (Why would the bill be dead? Because Democrats don’t want to vote yet again against what a majority of the public wants, as they did with healthcare, and don’t want to alienate their leftwing base by voting for what the public wants.)

Marketing Advice For Mad Scientists
Excerpt: The Guardian published a fascinating “open letter” from AAAS, signed by 250 biologists, anthropologists, neuroscientists, etc. in defence of climate science. So far, it has not gone over too well. Even Andy Revkin at the NYT Dot Earth blog points out that: “The letter has a defensive tone that hasn’t served scientists particularly well in the past…” Revkin also notes the fact that even the AAAS deputy editor himself tried to tone it down in a companion editorial:

Nancy Pelosi pals gain power in House
Excerpt: The fiercest old bulls who roamed the House when Nancy Pelosi came to power will be gone by the beginning of next year — replaced by new bulls who more clearly owe their positions to the powerful speaker. At the beginning of this Congress, Pelosi ally Henry Waxman ousted House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell. Sander Levin got the Ways and Means Committee chairmanship earlier this year after Charles Rangel gave it up under an ethics cloud — the result in part of Pelosi’s maneuvering to avoid an all-out mid-session race for the prestigious post.

Sen. Coburn asks Goldman, Sachs chair a question
Excerpt: the fact is Goldman and others on Wall Street will actually get rich off financial deform.

Sen. Shelby: Financial Reform Violates Privacy
Excerpt: Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), senior Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, said that provisions in the new financial regulatory bill violate privacy rights by allowing the government to collect any financial information it wants from any financial institution it wants.

Miranda and Public Safety
Excerpt: But what if Faisal Shahzad, the confessed Times Square bomber, had stopped talking? When you tell someone he has the right to remain silent, there is a distinct possibility that he will remain silent, is there not? And then what? The authorities deserve full credit for capturing Shahzad within 54 hours. Credit is also due them for obtaining information from him by invoking the "public safety" exception to the Miranda rule. But then Shahzad was Mirandized. If he had decided to shut up, it would have denied us valuable information -- everything he is presumably telling us now about Pakistani contacts, training, plans for other possible plots beyond the Times Square attack. The public safety exception is sometimes called the "ticking time bomb" exception. But what about information regarding bombs not yet ticking but being planned and readied to kill later?

Sex slave girls face cruel justice in Iraq
I’d be opposed to this, but don’t want to be called Islamophobic. Excerpt: At one of Baghdad's two female juvenile prisons, the young Iraqi girls live in limbo, sadness and desperation permeating every aspect of their interrupted lives. Some face punishment for prostitution. Others are charged with ties to terrorism. And then there are the victims, also behind bars. Fifteen-year-old Zeina's sad journey to prison began two years ago when she says was sold into sex slavery. "My father came and took me to go visit my grandfather in Syria," says Zeina, "and I went with him." The family trip turned out to be a cover story, and Zeina found herself faced with the most horrific possible reality. She says she was then forcefully taken from Syria to the United Arab Emirates and sold into sexual slavery.

Halal-Slaughtered Shop Owner in Copenhagen
Excerpt: This is a particularly gruesome story about cultural enrichment in Denmark. One would expect it to have an explosive effect among “persons of Danish background” — which is perhaps why it was so quickly censored by the media. A Macedonian shop owner was murdered by another culture enricher, who is probably a Turk, based on his name. The original article featured a headline and a quote from the coroner’s report highlighting the fact that the victim was killed via a “method used when halal-slaughtering animals”.

Early Warning Signs,8/action,show_content/id,14/category_id,0/blog_id,1409/type,33/
Excerpt: Fortune magazine has a blockbuster report out this week that shows major companies are beginning to recognize the extraordinary risk of continuing to provide health benefits for their workers under ObamaCare. It reports that "many companies are examining a course that was heretofore unthinkable, dumping the health care coverage they provide to their workers in exchange for paying penalty fees to the government." If this happens -- and there is every incentive for companies to do this -- the costs of the health overhaul law would skyrocket, and tens of millions of Americans would lose their job-based plans and be forced to get coverage in the publicly operated state exchanges due to begin in 2014. This will send fear into the hearts of working Americans who have been promised over and over that if they like their current coverage, they can keep their insurance. Stability may not be an option. The risks to the companies of the fines, penalties, mandates, and exposure to risk under ObamaCare are just too great. The companies' revelations came as a by-product of an ill-fated demand from Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman, who was furious at them for having the audacity to follow SEC rules and report the earnings losses they would suffer as a result of just one provision of ObamaCare (the loss of part of a tax break for providing retiree health benefits).

Who Is the Real Obama? Unifier or Polarizer?
Excerpt: The day after a Reuters story made the charge, Sebelius wrote a letter to WellPoint CEO Angela Braly, a celebrated campaigner against breast cancer, urging her to “end the unconscionable practice of deliberately working to deny health insurance to women diagnosed with breast cancer.” Braly wrote Sebelius, “To be absolutely clear, WellPoint does not single out women with breast cancer for rescission. Period.” The company said it rescinded less than 0.1 percent of all its policies last year, usually because claimants had made significant misstatements of fact in applying for insurance. As Obama has made clear many times, his animus against the insurance industry is “personal,” based on his mother’s struggle with an insurance company when she was battling cancer. But blasting business is not confined to insurance. Last weekend, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar twice said the administration intended to keep its “boot on the neck” of BP over the Gulf oil spill. But then what do we make of Obama at the University of Michigan last week, saying that “vilification and over-the-top rhetoric closes the door to the possibility of compromise”? My own hunch is that Obama, at heart, is not a socialist but a liberal without the slightest idea of how private enterprises create wealth — and deeply suspicious of their practitioners. But he knows that unifying rhetoric is what the country wants to hear. So, one day it’s one thing. Another day, it’s another. If this is right, it won’t stop and it’s very sad.

The Dodd “Financial Reform” Bill Lets Soros Off the Hook
Excerpt: The Chris Dodd financial reform bill is totally unnecessary, unwarranted and will be harmful to the Republic. The "too big to fail" concept is not the reason for the economic crisis. The problem is not Wall Street as a whole, but the hedge fund short sellers on Wall Street. They call themselves the "alternative investment community" and have organized themselves into a special interest group called the Managed Funds Association (MFA). In order to understand where Dodd went wrong, the public must learn to differentiate between what I call the "good" Wall Street and the "bad" Wall Street, and what roles they play in our economy. An example of the good Wall Street would be someone like Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs or Sandy Weill, and many more. These people create, run or finance money-making companies and serve the community with much-needed jobs and employment, products and services. The good Wall Street includes the general public mutual funds, retirement portfolios, common investors, banks and venture capital investors who finance and fund the loans for our homes and businesses. They fund and finance economic growth and expansion. An example of the bad Wall Street would be someone like George Soros. These people are the financial hedge fund short-selling operators who make money by betting on company collapse, economic calamities and catastrophes.

Obama Stands with Muslims as He Promised
Excerpt: One Pakistani-American just learned that his citizenship meant a great deal of unmolested access to a whole host of possible terror victims. And since President Obama has taken a number of measures to ensure that no Muslim American feels "profiled" in any connection to terror plots, I think we can freely assume that until his arrest on board an Emirates airplane two days ago, Faisal Shahzad felt just as welcome and loved here as he did in the country of his birth and at his favorite mosque. As a naturalized American citizen, Faisal Shahzad moved freely, completely under the radar of any law enforcement entity or terror-watch agency. Shahzad's bank knew far more about him than our so-called national security people. Our national security employees are those folks making big bucks to find people like Shahzad before they have a chance to blow any of us real American citizens to kingdom come. However, as was the case with the Ft. Hood terrorist, our national security and military personnel have become quite skittish in appearing to make any connection between the Muslim religion/political ideology and worldwide terrorism. Therefore, they don't look at the obvious until it is too late. Instead, resources are being squandered in the president's witch hunt against Tea Party grandmas and kiddies and middle-class homemakers and dads, all waving their American flags. Shahzad's real estate agent even knew something of this Pakistani's politics. Shahzad virulently hated President Bush and vociferously denounced the Iraq War, just as Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress did.

Harry Reid carrying Wall Street's love child
Excerpt: If Republicans are "making love to Wall Street," as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., puts it, one wonders if there's a printable description for Reid's torrid affair with the financial sector. Reid's slur was the standard Democratic attack -- that Republicans, by opposing regulations, are whoring for the big banks. It's a dishonest attack, belied by basic facts, but President Obama and other Democrats get away with it. But look between the sheets, and you'll see it's Reid in bed with Wall Street. Reid's re-election coffers are filled with Wall Street lucre, and his fundraisers and former staffers are lobbyists for the biggest banks. And Reid's legislative history makes it clear that -- befitting the senator from Las Vegas -- the customer gets what the customer pays for. Reid has raised more money from Wall Street than any Republican House or Senate candidate, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In fact, among senators seeking re-election, Reid has raised more than the top three Republicans combined. As far as the parties go, it's not even close -- Wall Street has given 60 percent of its cash this year to Democrats, and seven of the top 10 recipients of Wall Street political action committee money are Democrats.

Big losses help GOP push for regulations on Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac
Excerpt: A group of Senate Republicans are hoping that Freddie Mac's request this week for an additional $10.6 billion from the Treasury Department will pressure lawmakers to support an amendment to reform the company and its troubled sister, Fannie Mae. Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and Richard Shelby of Alabama say their amendment belongs in the financial regulatory bill lawmakers are debating in the Senate, but no Democrats have pledged to support their proposal, partly out of fear of roiling the housing market. Supporters of the amendment say these government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs, are an integral part of the system that led to the nation's economic crisis and will become an even bigger burden to taxpayers than the approximately $125 billion they have already cost them. "I think the administration is ignoring a grave situation by kicking the can down the road with the GSEs," Shelby told the Washington Examiner. "If we are dealing with regulatory reform, we have to do this. The GSEs were a big part of the financial debacle."

Pelosi: It’s Cheaper to Treat Teens for Drug Use Than Interdict Drugs at Border
Excerpt: pointed out to the speaker at her weekly press briefing that a recent Justice Department report indicated that one in five U.S. teenagers used drugs last year, and then asked: “Are you committed to sealing the border against the influx of illegal drugs from Mexico and, if so, do you have a target date in mind for getting that done?” “Well if your question is about drugs, I’m for reducing demand in the United States,” said Pelosi. “That is what our responsibility is on this subject. The RAND Corporation a few years ago did a report that said it would be much less expensive for us to, through prevention first and foremost, but through treatment on demand to reduce demand in our country, is the cheapest way to solve this problem.

Users of Facebook's Social Network Are Mostly Anti-Social: Poll
Suspicions confirmed. Excerpt: Facebook users are still very skeptical about socializing online. And they're slightly confused about what exactly Facebook should be used for, according to a study of user behavior by Denmark-based Red Associates. They surveyed close to 500 members of the Facebook community -- hand-picked from fans of Fast Company -- to learn more about how users interact online…. The study points out that even your "friends" online are not actually your friends, finding that close to 40% of respondents say they added "friends" to their Facebook network simply because it was easy. "Facebook has no intelligent mechanism for figuring out who your close friends are or who you would like them to be," the study reminds us. "Online social networks make it easy for people to accumulate friends rapidly and to make commitments easily," and in fact, "What define social networks most [is] a lack of depth in relationships."

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