ThinkFast: November 6, 2008


Unemployment benefits reached a 25-year high, jumping by 122,000 to 3.84 million in late October. It is the “highest level since late February 1983,” according to the Labor Department.

Yesterday, after a wrap-up meeting with his campaign advisers in the morning, John McCain talked about what he’ll do next. “He’s thinking about the future and getting engaged with the Senate again,” senior adviser Charlie Black said. He plans to focus on “Iraq, Afghanistan and the other foreign policy issues.”

Cabinet rumors: Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) says he isn’t interested in becoming Secretary of State. Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who is reportedly being considered for health secretary, says he’d consider a potential position. Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers is a leading contender to return to that post.

Joe Biden is eyeing Walter Mondale – not Dick Cheney – as a vice presidential role model. “Mondale, who served under President Jimmy Carter in the 1970s, was consulted on almost every appointment and had access to the same documents as the president.” “Biden will be more interested in carrying out the Obama agenda as opposed to his own agenda,” said Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA).

Yesterday, talk show host and LGBT activist Ellen DeGeneres put out a statement saying she is “saddened beyond belief” that California voters approved a ban on marriage equality. Gay marriage backers have also filed three lawsuits asking the California Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8.

A group of conservative power brokers are meeting today in Virginia to “discuss the future of the movement and the GOP.” Convened by Brent Bozell, head of the right-wing Media Research Center, the meeting will include “roughly twenty leaders” and “conservative political and media strategists.”

71 million: Number of viewers who tuned into election night television coverage on Tuesday, according to Nielsen. In 2004, 59.2 million viewers tuned in as President Bush defeated Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), and 61.6 million watched the contest between Bush and Al Gore in 2000.

Fearing a terrorist attack during the presidential transition, “Homeland Security officials are working with Congress to ensure that the Senate moves quickly to confirm a key Cabinet nominee.” The top senators on the Senate Homeland Security Committee are now arguing “that the DHS secretary must be bumped up to top priority, and the secretary should be confirmed on or close to Inauguration Day.”

CentCom Commander Gen. David Petraeus “has decided to reduce the number of U.S. combat brigades in Iraq from 15 to 14 about six weeks earlier than planned, as a result of dramatically lower violence there.” A brigade from the 10th Mountain Division “was scheduled to go to Iraq in its place [but] will instead deploy to Afghanistan.”

Ambassador Ryan Crocker hosted 250 Iraqi officials at the first event in the new American embassy in Baghdad, which cost half a billion dollars and has not yet officially opened. He reminded his guests, “Our president today is George Bush, and he will be our president for the next two and a half months,” and said the size of the embassy reflects America’s long-term “commitment to democracy in Iraq.”

And finally: Juror 11 is ready to tell all. This person was one of the jurors in the corruption trial of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), who was eventually found guilty on seven felony counts. Now, this juror has decided to start a blog, telling how he or she became Juror 11 and the story behind the missing juror: “Through out the trial and deliberations I had to check my emotions at the door and reserve my comments, but now that it is over let the flood begin!”