A Million Reasons To Love California

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Earlier this week the Los Angeles Times took a look at why politicians looove California, concluding that Hollywood cash has a lot to do with it.

But the New York Times points out today that presidential wannabes are trying to woo more Californians than just those with deep pockets.

Why is that? Because the Golden State is also a state rich with delegates.

Barack Obama's press secretary put it this subtly: "The fact that Barack Obama did a large-scale rally in Los Angeles already speaks to the change in the role California has. California has always played an important role, but this time it will be the voters as much, if not more, than the donors who will matter."

Money Doesn't Just Grow On Palm Trees

Lest we forget the vital importance of New York City in the White House race, the Wall Street Journal explains that campaign cash is still vital -- and it doesn't just grow on palm trees.

So, "after a stop in Hollywood, the Democratic money chase is headed to Wall Street -- home to establishment bankers and the newly rich young hedge-fund managers who are joining the field of potential kingmakers." And with record numbers of hedge-fund managers, the Big Apple is more important than ever.

Overall, the financial industry is "by far the largest single source of campaign cash," with lawyers and lobbyists making up the second-largest set of donors.

Greed Is Not Good

While we're on the subject of Wall Street, news of charges in an insider trading scam makes the front pages of the Washington Post and the L.A. Times.

And it apparently has all the trappings of a classic American scandal – coded messages, envelopes filled with cash, meetings a famed New York restaurants.

So clichéd was the whole affair, "investigators said they shook their heads at times as the case increasingly resembled the greed on display in the 1987 film 'Wall Street,'" writes the Post.

Nine people who worked for big-time financial firms like UBS, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Bear Stearns were indicted on conspiracy, fraud and bribery. Four more agreed to plea bargains for assisting prosecutors and will testify against their associates.

Regulators described the case as the biggest insider-trading scandal since the days of Ivan Boesky and Dennis Levine in the 1980s, a point that both papers mention.

The L.A. Times noted that the story was indeed a hot topic around the water coolers of investment firms. "Any time you have something that taints the industry, it's a topic of conversation," said a managing director at a New Jersey brokerage firm.

Consequences At Walter Reed

In the wake of the Washington Post's series that described many soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center facing a bureaucratic labyrinth and some living in squalid conditions, the Army has fired the commander of the medical center.

News that Army Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, who took over Walter Reed in August, will be temporarily replaced by Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley (who had been commander of the facility earlier) makes the front page of three papers and the Wall Street Journal's newsbox.

While "officials refused to provide the specific reasons for General Weightman's firing," writes the New York Times, Army Secretary Francis Harvey said in a brief statement that he had "had lost trust and confidence" in Weightman's ability to improve outpatient care at the hospital.

According to the Washington Post, Kiley's appointment "surprised some Defense Department officials because soldiers, their families and veterans' advocates have complained that he had long been aware of problems at Walter Reed and did nothing to improve its outpatient care."

Of the appointment, Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, told the Los Angeles Times "It's good to see someone held accountable. But you can't just drop one person and make him the scapegoat."

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