ThinkFast: March 8, 2006

New Jersey Assemblyman Peter Biondi (R) wants to ban anonymous online speech. Biondi has introduced a bill “that would require Internet forum operators to register their users’ real names and addresses or face liability for defamatory posts.” One problem: NJ’s Supreme Court has ruled banning anonymous online speech unconstitutional.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) “threatened to write legislation to limit funding for the [warrantless surveillance] program if he can’t get more information about it.” “If we cannot find some political solution to the disagreement with the executive branch, our ultimate power is the power of the purse,” Specter said.

$5.9 billion: The amount spent per month in Iraq. The Wall Street Journal notes, “War costs are rising despite Pentagon estimates of lower personnel costs.”

The Congressional Progressive Caucus will introduce a plan today, dubbed the Common Sense Budget Act, to divert $60 billion in defense spending to humanitarian assistance, social programs, energy conservation, homeland security and deficit reduction.

More than 9,000 truckers are given cards to handle cargo at the ports of New York and New Jersey, giving them access to all areas of the ports. But a new Homeland Security report found that more than half of the truckers had criminal records and nearly 500 had bogus driver’s licenses.

House to force vote on Dubai ports deal. “Efforts by the White House to hold off legislation challenging a Dubai-owned company’s acquisition of operations at six major U.S. ports collapsed yesterday when House Republican leaders agreed to allow a vote next week that could kill the deal.”

Renewal of the Patriot Act passed the House yesterday “making permanent most of the major provisions of the original 2001 law.” The compromise bill doesn’t go as far it should in protecting private records.

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank observed from a gathering at the conservative Cato Institute yesterday that there exists “deep disillusionment among conservatives over Bush’s big-spending answer to Medicare and Hurricane Katrina, his vast claims of executive power, and his handling of postwar Iraq.”

Former Enron CFO Andrew Fastow testified yesterday that he concocted a massive fraud in face-to-face meetings with the company’s chief executive, who both sanctioned the deals and asked him to “get me as much juice as you can.”

And finally: Pope Benedict XVI “is very pleased with the iPod. The Holy Father likes to unwind listening to it and is of the opinion that this sort of technology is the future.”

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