ThinkFast: January 7, 2009


A government spokesman said today that Israel “welcomes” a proposal from France and Egypt to end the fighting in Gaza that has gone on for 12 days. The precise details of the proposal are currently unknown. Earlier this morning, Israel “briefly suspended its fighting” and “agreed to do so for three hours each day to permit humanitarian relief goods to reach the beleaguered population.”

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) lashed out at Eric Holder, President-elect Obama’s nominee for Attorney General, yesterday, calling into question “the issue of [Holder’s] character.” “Sometimes it is more important for the attorney general to have the stature and the courage to say no instead of to say yes,” Specter said, adding, “Further inquiry is warranted on the issue of Mr. Holder’s independence to follow the facts without respect to political bias.”

President-elect Barack Obama has asked CNN’s health care analyst Dr. Sanjay Gupta to be the next U.S. surgeon general. “Gupta would come to the post with an unparalleled public profile and background as a communicator.” But Paul Krugman expresses concern about Gupta’s allegations that filmmaker Michael Moore “fudged the facts” in his movie SiCKO. (Watch the Gupta/Moore segment.)

Speaking of Leon Panetta’s qualifications to head the CIA, former White House counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke remarked: “He was in the small handful of people who knew there was a terrorism problem long before anybody else had heard of al-Qaeda.”

Today, President-elect Obama will join President Bush for a private meeting at the White House. They will then attend a luncheon with the three other living presidents — Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Jimmy Carter. It will be “the first time all the living presidents have gathered at the White House since 1981.”

National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley told reporters yesterday that the situation in Pakistan represents the biggest foreign policy challenge for the incoming Obama administration and despite the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza, Iran will pose the biggest challenge for the United States in the Middle East.

Yesterday President-elect Obama warned of “trillion dollar deficits for years to come” unless policymakers “make a change in the way that Washington does business.” But Obama also said that the new economic stimulus bill should contain no pork-barrel spending. “What I’m saying is, we’re not having earmarks in the recovery package, period,” Obama said.

President Bush made another round of last-minute appointments Tuesday, giving 45 aides, supporters and others a parting gift as he leaves office: presidential appointments to boards and councils, with terms lasting three to six years after he leaves office.” The appointments included Elliott Abrams, Michael Chertoff, and Michael Mukasey to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council.

The coal ash pond that ruptured last month, spilling a billion gallons of toxic sludge across Eastern Tennessee, “was only one of more than 1,300 similar dumps across the United States” that are mostly “unregulated and unmonitored.” Experts say that federal regulation “could have prevented the spill.”

And finally: Comedian Will Ferrell will be reprising his hugely popular portrayal of President Bush. Ferrell will be starring in “You’re Welcome America: A Final Night With George W. Bush” at New York’s Cort Theater from Feb. 5-March 15, and will air on HBO at a later date. The show “will take a chronological look at Bush’s life, and Ferrell said that viewers should “expect the unexpected” from the performance.