ThinkFast: December 11, 2008


In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, President-elect Barack Obama said his presidency is an opportunity for the U.S. to rebuild its relations with the Muslim world. He is planning to “set the tone with a major speech in a Muslim capital early in his presidency.” Obama also said he would take the oath of office using his middle name Hussein.

The Environmental Protection Agency “abandoned its push to revise two air-pollution rules in ways that environmentalists had long opposed, abruptly dropping measures that the Bush administration had spent years preparing.” The agency had been trying to make it easier to build coal-fired power plants near national parks and alter the “rules that govern when power plants must install antipollution devices.”

76 percent: Share of Americans who believe that financial banks that are receiving bailout funds should not dole out bonuses this year. “Though most Wall Street firms plan to pay employees’ bonuses this year, the most senior executives at the companies will see their bonuses slashed by as much as 70 percent.”

Despite Secret Service screenings, employees of a Maryland cleaning company used by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff for the last four years have “turned out to be illegal immigrants.” The owner said five of the company’s illegal employees “were part of crews sent to Chertoff’s home and whom ICE told him to fire because they were undocumented.”

One year ago today CIA Director Michael Hayden went before Congress “to answer questions about his agency’s destruction of videotaped interrogations of terrorist suspects” being subjected to the “enhanced techniques” authorized by the Bush administration. Hayden may be asked to stay on as CIA director.

“President-elect Barack Obama is entering the White House with an enormous reservoir of goodwill,” a new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll finds. Seventy-three percent of Americans approve of his handling of the transition, and two-thirds of the public view him favorably. Meanwhile, just 18 percent say they will miss President Bush when he’s gone, and 78 president believe he is not as good as, or definitely worse than, most other presidents.

The Obama transition site is open for your questions. Change.gov launched a new feature yesterday which allows users to submit questions and then vote on the ones they most want answered. Check it out here.

The House voted yesterday 237 to 170 “to approve a $14 billion government rescue of the American automobile industry” that would “provide emergency loans to General Motors and Chrysler.” However the deal is “in jeopardy because of strong Republican opposition in the Senate.”

The Coalition of the Willing is nearing its end. Most of the coalition’s members are quickly leaving Iraq before the UN mandate authorizing their presence comes to an end on December 31. Currently, “fewer than a dozen” of the 49 countries that once made up the coalition remain.

Self-described “little oinker” Rep. Don Young (R-AK) has “stepped down under pressure” as ranking Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee, saying that “he wants to focus on clearing his name in a corruption investigation.” Young reportedly made the move after House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) “told him privately he would oppose him if he sought another two years in the post.”

And finally: The Washington Post’s Mary Ann Akers writes, “Run, don’t walk, to John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign headquarters in Arlington, Va., for an amazing Blowout Sale! Computers, blackberries, televisions, desks, you name it — everything must go.” The McCain campaign is currently having a fire sale, getting rid of all its office equipment at deep discounts. “This is a great opportunity to own a piece of history, finish your Christmas shopping, or simply replace your old laptop,” wrote one campaign staffer pitching the sale.

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