ThinkFast: November 7, 2008


U.S. companies cut 240,000 jobs in October. The nation’s unemployment rate spiked to 6.5 percent, the highest since March 1994. The numbers are worse than economists had predicted.

The election of Barack Obama “is already beginning to shift the political ground in Iraq and the region,” the New York Times reports. With Obama’s election causing obstacles to fade, Iraqi Shiite politicians and a Bush administration official are now indicating that “a new security agreement about American troops” could be completed faster and possibly ratified as early as the middle of this month.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) “is pushing his party’s leadership to expel Sen. Ted Stevens from the Senate during this month’s ‘lame duck’ session.” DeMint, “one of the most conservative members of the Senate, is said to be angry with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for tolerating a convicted felon in the GOP caucus.”

Yesterday, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) “took a first step” toward “finding out what punishment he may face” for backing John McCain for president, by meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Reid said that nothing had been decided, although an aide revealed that he was “leaning toward removing Lieberman as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.”

The word most used to label George W. Bush’s presidency will be ‘incompetent ,’ historians say.” “Right now there is not a lot of good will among historians. Most see him as a combination of many negative factors,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton.

President-elect Barack Obama is said to be considering Lawrence Summers and New York Fed Reserve President Timothy Geithner for Treasury Secretary. “Democrats are split” over the two choices. “They’re all qualified, that’s the good news, unlike if you look back at the Cabinet of this past president – not always the case,” said one Democratic member of Congress.

New accounts call into question the Georgian assertion that it was acting defensively against Russian aggression this summer. Instead, they “suggest that Georgia’s inexperienced military attacked the isolated separatist capital of Tskhinvali on Aug. 7 with indiscriminate artillery and rocket fire” that put civilians in harm’s way.

A strategy review by the Bush administration is likely to recommend “to the incoming Obama administration that the U.S. push for further expansion of the Afghan army as the surest path to an eventual U.S. withdrawal.” The strategy review, which began in September and is expected to be presented in December, is meant to be “a kind of road map for the next administration.”

And finally: Barney, President Bush’s beloved Scottish terrier, may look cute and friendly, but watch out. Yesterday, Reuters reporter Jim Decker reached down to pet Barney, who then bit him. Watch the incident here. The LA Times writes, “Maybe Barney, a Scottish terrier, was fed up with liberal media bias.”