ThinkFast: September 22, 2008

Having spent 20 years and millions of dollars “loudly and bitterly attacking the liberal leanings of American campuses,” conservatives “have failed to make much of a dent in the way undergraduates are educated.” In a new strategy, they “are finding like-minded tenured professors and helping them establish academic beachheads for their ideas.”

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley “will transform themselves into bank holding companies subject to far greater regulation,” the Federal Reserve announced last night. The New York Times describes the change at the last big independent investment banks on Wall Street as “a move that fundamentally reshapes an era of high finance that defined the modern Gilded Age.”

$1,800,000: Amount Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) campaign manager Rick Davis was paid as president of a lobbying company founded to defend Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from stricter regulations, over five years. “The value that he brought to the relationship was the closeness to Senator McCain and the possibility that Senator McCain was going to run for president again,” a former Fannie spokesman said.

In the midst of the current credit crisis, Americans are “cutting back on health care, a sector once thought to be invulnerable to recession.” Spending on doctor’s appointments and preventive tests is down while “the number of prescriptions filled in the U.S. fell 0.5% in the first quarter and a steeper 1.97% in the second,” compared with 2007 — the first negative quarters in the last decade.


On the trail today: Barack Obama will campaign in Green Bay, WI. Joe Biden will speak at a National Guard Association meeting in Baltimore. John McCain and Sarah Palin will hold a joint rally in Media, PA.The trial of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) begins today, “marking the first time in more than 27 years that a sitting Senator will face a federal jury. Stevens was “indicted in July for failing to report gifts from an Alaska oil-services company.”

“Under pressure from the White House and the Pentagon,” the EPA is expected to rule that “it will not set a drinking-water safety standard for perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel that has been linked to thyroid problems” in pregnant women and children. The White House “heavily edited” a proposal that assumes the “maximum allowable” level is 15 times greater than what EPA had suggested in 2002.

“Congressional Democrats began to set their own terms on Sunday for a plan to rescue the nation’s financial institutions, including greater legislative oversight of the Treasury Department, more direct assistance for homeowners and limits on the pay of top executives whose firms seek help.”

Three years after the Defense Department set out to increase the number of foreign language specialists within its ranks, little progress has been made. Only “1.2 percent of the military receives a bonus paid to those who can speak languages judged to be of critical importance for the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as other areas of strategic concern.”

And finally: Politics took center stage last night’s Emmy awards ceremony. Co-host Howie Mandel began the night by noting that he didn’t have an opening monologue: “We are like on Sarah Palin’s bridge to nowhere, that’s where we are right now. The government can’t even bail us out of this.” Comedian Tommy Smothers, who won an honorary Emmy, dedicated his award to “all people who feel compelled to speak out.” Jon Stewart, who won an award for The Daily Show, said, “I really look forward to the next administration whoever it is. I have nothing to follow that up with.”

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