ThinkFast: September 29, 2008

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"ThinkFast: September 29, 2008"

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“Former attorney general Alberto R. Gonzales will not be referred to a federal grand jury for his role in the 2006 firings of nine U.S. attorneys,” but a new report released today by the Office of Professional Responsibility and the Justice Department Inspector General does recommend that “a prosecutor continue to probe the involvement of lawmakers and White House officials in the episode.”

33 percent: Number of Americans who believe the economy is already in a depression. Just 12% said that 10 months ago.

Five bomb attacks stuck Baghdad yesterday, killing at least 27 people and wounding 84. “The bombings reinforced fears among a growing number of residents that the security situation in Baghdad was deteriorating, even though over all it remained at the most stable level since the American-led invasion in 2003.”

59 percent: People who believe that the Bush administration’s “war on terror” has either made al Qaeda stronger or had no effect, according to a new BBC poll of 23 nations. Forty-nine percent of those polled said neither side is winning “the conflict between al-Qaeda and the US.”

On the trail today: Barack Obama will speak on the economy in Denver, CO. John McCain and Sarah Palin will be at Capital University in Columbus for a rally beginning at 9 a.m.

Though Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) has presented herself as a reformer, during her years as the mayor of Wasilla “she and her friends received special benefits more typical of small-town politics as usual,” according to the AP. In one example, when Palin needed to sell her house, “she got the city to sign off on a special zoning exception – and did so without keeping a promise to remove a potential fire hazard.”

Last Friday, John McCain chided Barack Obama for “saying publicly he supports striking terrorist targets inside Pakistan if the Pakistani government is unable or unwilling to do so.” But McCain was forced to defend Sarah Palin after she endorsed the same policy a day later. “I don’t think most Americans think that that’s a definitive policy statement,” McCain said of Palin’s support for striking terrorists in Pakistan.

On Saturday, the Senate voted to give $25 billion in loan guarantees to the auto industry in Detroit, the largest federal aid package ever offered to the industry. The money “amounts to a subsidy for such products as hybrid vehicles and plug-in electric cars.”

A new organization — the World Institute for Nuclear Security — is being unveiled today in Vienna that “seeks to bolster security at thousands of nuclear sites around the world in an effort to block atomic theft and terrorism.” Its goal “is to promote the best security practices, eliminate weak links in the global security chain and, ultimately, keep terrorists from getting the bomb.”

Lawmakers are seeking to “penalize excessive executive pay at many companies seeking aid from the federal government’s $700 billion bank-rescue plan.” But the penalties are likely to be ineffective, as they rely the loophole-ridden tax code. Dean Baker, co-director for the Center on Economic and Policy Research commented, “Any executive who can’t figure out a way around these restrictions should be fired.”

And finally: On Sunday, Rainn Wilson of “The Office” spoke at George Washington University, joking that he was there because “Steve Carrell was unavailable this weekend.” Wilson was actually there to benefit the Tahirih Justice Center. When asked who his character, Dwight Schrutte, would pick in the upcoming election, Wilson replied, “Early on in the campaign, John McCain picked Dwight Schrutte as his running mate. He didn’t actually follow through.” “Dwight for V.P.” t-shirts were still up for grabs at a silent auction over the weekend.

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