ThinkFast: July 29, 2008

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"ThinkFast: July 29, 2008"

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Jim Adkisson, the man who shot two people to death in a Tennessee Unitarian church this week because he was angry at “liberals and gays,” had an array of right-wing books at his home. Inside his house, “officers found ‘Liberalism is a Mental Health Disorder’ by radio talk show host Michael Savage, ‘Let Freedom Ring’ by talk show host Sean Hannity, and ‘The O’Reilly Factor,’ by television talk show host Bill O’Reilly.”

The EPA has issued a gag order to its employees, according to an internal e-mail released by the Union of Concerned Scientists [UCS]. The e-mail instructs staffers to refuse to speak with reporters, investigators, and the agency’s inspector general, and to refer questions to designated officials. A UCS spokesman said that, with evidence that “retaliation is widespread” at the EPA, “it’s critical that…employees are able to speak confidentially.”

Margaret Chiara, one of the nine U.S. attorneys fired by the Bush administration in 2006, says that she now believes “she was fired because of the erroneous belief that she was having” a gay relationship with a fellow prosecutor. Responding to a DoJ report that found “alleged homosexuality was used as a litmus test in hiring and firing,” Chiara says “there is nothing else” that could explain her firing.

An internal Department of Homeland Security memo “is advising employees to be on increased alert beginning next month through next summer because of a series of upcoming high-profile events including the Olympics, both major parties’ nominating conventions, Election Day and the presidential transition.”

On the trail today: Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) has a meeting with House Democrats today. After holding a town-hall meeting in Nevada, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will travel to Englewood, CO, where he is expected to attend a campaign fundraiser at the home of multimillionaire investor Charlie Gallagher.

McCain “drew a sharp rebuke Monday from conservatives after he signaled an openness to a higher payroll tax for Social Security,” contradicting his previous claim that there were “no circumstances” under which he would “be willing to accept a tax increase.” The Club for Growth called McCain’s shift “shocking.”

Only 37 percent of America’s unemployed received jobless benefits in 2007, “down from 55% in 1958 and 44% in 2001, according to the Labor Department. The others have exhausted their benefits, haven’t applied or don’t qualify.”

Senate Republicans who have been clamoring for weeks to get a new round of votes on legislation that would expand offshore drilling appear close to getting their wish. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said yesterday it looks “like we’re very close to having a consent agreement.”

Utilizing his powers as commander in chief, President Bush “on Monday approved the first execution by the military since 1961, upholding the death penalty of an Army private convicted of a series of rapes and murders more than two decades ago.”

After the Senate Ethics panel put renewed pressure on Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) to stop delivering babies for free at a Maryland private hospital, Coburn insisted the panel “might as well investigate Sen. Patrick Leahy’s cameo in ‘The Dark Knight.’” “If Sen. Coburn can only deliver babies for free at a public hospital, shouldn’t Sen. Leahy only be allowed to donate his notable thespian skills to a public entity like PBS?” his office asked.

And finally: John McCain, who has admitted his computer illiteracy on many occasions, tried to address the issue while speaking in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the nation’s technology capitals. “Am I a tech freak? No,” he said. “And I don’t like to text message because I’d rather call somebody on the telephone.” He added, “But I am forcing myself…let me put it this way, I am using the computer more and more every day.”

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

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