ThinkFast: December 23, 2008


President-elect Obama’s team has announced that on Jan. 20, Obama “will take the oath of office using the same Bible upon which President Lincoln was sworn in at his first inauguration.” He “will be the first President sworn in using the Lincoln Bible since its initial use in 1861.”

According to enforcement data released Monday, “Internal Revenue Service audits of large corporations fell for the third straight year” in 2008. The IRS audited just 15.3 percent of returns of corporations with assets of $10 million or more, which is “the lowest audit coverage level since 2003 and down from a 20% coverage rate in 2005.”

Yesterday, President Bush “made what is expected to be his final trip as commander in chief to Walter Reed Army Medical Center…where he visited soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan and also had a personal medical appointment.” Despite the facility’s problems widely publicized problems, Bush said that “every time I come here, I get amazed at the quality of care, the professionalism and the courage of our troops.”

Though the Supreme Court stated that the decision in Bush v. Gore — which was issued eight years ago this month — was “limited to the present circumstances” and did not set a precedent, legal experts say that the ruling “is turning out to have lasting value after all.” “You’re starting to see courts invoke it,” said NYU law professor Samuel Issacharoff. “And you’re starting to see briefs cite it.”

Today, the Minnesota Canvassing Board will award votes from 5,000 challenges that were withdrawn by both campaigns. “Based on a draft report released yesterday by the secretary of state’s office, once those votes are awarded, Franken will have 48 more votes than Coleman.”

Benjamin Ginsberg, the Bush–Cheney counsel during the 2000 recount, has been “quietly advising” Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) in his recount with Al Franken. “Ginsberg was forced to resign from the Bush-Cheney team in 2004 after it was revealed that he was also advising the controversial Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.”

In “a significant overture to the incoming Obama administration,” European nations “have begun intensive discussions” on whether to resettle detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Previously, “repeated requests from the Bush administration that European allies accept some Guantanamo Bay detainees received only refusals.”

Police departments across the country are saying that “shoplifting arrests are 10 percent to 20 percent higher this year than last.” With the economy weakening, “much of the increase has come from first-time offenders” who make “rash decisions in a pinch.”

And finally: President-elect Obama caused a stir on the Internet yesterday, when photos popped up showing him shirtless at the beach. According to the Washington Post, the photographer who snapped the pictures is a contractor who lives in Hawaii and whose family has a house near where the Obamas are vacationing.

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