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ThinkFast: July 8, 2008

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"ThinkFast: July 8, 2008"

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Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) is considering legislation to cease funding of Karl Rove-type advisers in future administrations. “Why should we be using taxpayer dollars to have a person solely in charge of politics in the White House?” Waxman said. “Can you imagine the reaction if each member of Congress had a campaign person paid for with taxpayer dollars?”

The Senate will begin debate today on a bill giving telecommunication companies immunity for participating in the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, with a final vote planned for Wednesday. Despite strong bipartisan opposition, the bill is expected to pass.

There is “a growing body of evidence” showing “that alcohol abuse is rising among veterans of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq.” Experts and studies say “the problem is particularly prevalent among those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.” “Increasingly, these troubled veterans are spilling into the criminal justice system.”

The White House was forced to apologize yesterday after circulating a “less-than-flattering” biography of Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi that described him as “one of the ‘most controversial leaders in the history of a country known for government corruption and vice.’” The biography said further that Berlusconi “burst onto the political scene with no experience.”

On the trail today: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) speaks at the League of United Latin American Citizens’ (LULAC) national convention in Washington, DC, and then heads to Pittsburgh. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) is scheduled to address crowds of supporters at a town hall meeting in Powder Springs, and then head to DC to address LULAC.

Iran will hit Tel Aviv, U.S. shipping in the Gulf and American interests around the world” if it is attacked by the U.S. or Israel, an aide to the Iranian Supreme Leader declared today. “The first bullet fired by America at Iran will be followed by Iran burning down its vital interests around the globe,” the aide was quoted as saying.

Yesterday, shares of the most important U.S. mortgage companies, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, plummeted 18 percent and 16 percent, respectively, sending a loud warning sign that, in terms of the economy, “the worst is yet to come.” The turmoil caused global stocks “from Sydney to Stockholm” to fall today.

In Japan yesterday, G8 leaders “endorsed the idea of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050,” but did not set any short-term goals for reducing emissions. The declaration, which called on developing nations like India and China to follow suit, was criticized as “weak” by environmentalists because “it aims to reduce emissions from current levels rather than 1990 levels.”

The Bush administration “didn’t pursue hundreds of potential water pollution cases after a 2006 Supreme Court decision that restricted” the EPA’s “authority to regulate seasonal streams and wetlands.” In a March 4 memo, the EPA’s enforcement chief said “there were 304 instances where the EPA found what would have been violations of the Clean Water Act before the court’s ruling.”

Former Senate aide Michael E. O’Neill “will not withdraw his nomination” for a federal judgeship, despite the fact that he was credibly accused last week of plagiarizing a law article. O’Neill, who says “he fully disclosed the controversy to both White House officials and the FBI during interviews” before being nominated, claims the plagiarism “wasn’t intentional.”

And finally: There’s a new book coming out by Susan Wise Bauer that’s likely to be popular around Washington, DC. “The Art of the Public Groveladvises “sex-scandal-afflicted leaders of America” on how to salvage their political careers. According to Bauer, politicians have to do more than apologize; they have to prove they are no better than anyone else by admitting they’ve erred and asking for forgiveness.” Bauer mentions that one politician who didn’t do it well was former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, although she admitted he was in a “tough spot.”

What did we miss? Let us know in the comments section.

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