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ThinkFast: October 20, 2008

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"ThinkFast: October 20, 2008"

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In a new report on the medical records of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates, the New York Times’s Dr. Lawrence Altman wonders whether Sen. John McCain’s left-temple melanoma is more serious than reported. If it were reclassified as a Stage III cancer, it would “change his statistical odds for survival at 10 years from about 60 percent to 36 percent,” with his age and sex increasing the risk.

Freddie Mac secretly paid Republican consulting firm DCI $2 million in a bid to kill legislation three years ago that would have regulated and trimmed Freddie and Fannie Mae. DCI’s chief executive is Doug Goodyear, “whom John McCain’s campaign hired to manage the GOP convention in September.”

The Iraqi parliament’s largest political bloc has “called for all American troops to leave Iraq in 2011 as a condition for allowing the U.S. military to stay here beyond year’s end.” The bloc which includes Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Dawa party, also insists that Iraqis play a larger role “in determining whether U.S. soldiers accused of wrongdoing are subject to prosecution in Iraqi courts.”

52 percent: The share of Americans who said that John McCain’s choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate “has made them less confident in the kind of decisions he’d make as president,” according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll. The percentage is up 13 points since just after Palin’s selection.

15 days to go: Barack Obama will kick off the first day of early voting in the state with rallies in Tampa and Orlando. John McCain is in Missouri, making stops in Columbia and the St. Louis and Kansas City areas.

Ed Lazear, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said yesterday “that parts of the country probably already are experiencing a recession and it could take a few months before the clogged credit system starts working again.” He “noted that national unemployment stands at 6.1 percent” but that some areas “have even higher rates of people out of work.”

Palin and her husband Todd will give separate depositions this week to an attorney for the Alaska Personnel Board, which is investigating whether Palin violated state ethics law when firing her public safety director. Earlier this month, a separate investigation by the state legislature found that Palin had “abused her power” by pushing State Police Commissioner Walt Monegan to fire her former brother-in-law.

60 Minutes reported on the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan last night. One soldier explained, “I thought it was gonna be a little bit quieter here. But we landed in a hornet’s nest when we got here.” Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schlosser said bluntly, “I need more resources, more soldiers, and more assets.”

In a newly disclosed legal memo, the Bush administration claims sweeping authority to “bypass laws that forbid giving taxpayer money to religious groups that only hire staff members who share their faith.” One legal expert called the administration’s argument “a very big stretch.”

A study released today shows that “California’s energy-efficiency policies created nearly 1.5 million jobs from 1977 to 2007, while eliminating fewer than 25,000″ and raising employee compensation in the state by $44.6 billion. A Center for American Progress study showed that investing $100 billion over two years in a Green Recovery program would create 2 million new jobs.

And finally: Speaking at a Seattle fundraiser last night, Joe Biden expressed his love for musician Dave Matthews. “Dave Matthews, I want you to know, I’ve got more of your CDs, I’ve got more of the Dave Matthews Band than you could imagine since my kids were in college,” Biden said. “One of the dangerous things to do is come out on-stage after some talent like Dave Matthews stops singing.”

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