ThinkFast: February 18, 2009


The Senate Ethics Committee has opened an inquiry into Sen. Roland Burris’s (D-IL) “conflicting testimony on the circumstances surrounding his appointment. … While actions could extend to expulsion, the committee often opts for less severe punishments such as letters of admonition.”

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz “said yesterday that the service is cutting back on plans to buy more F-22 Raptor fighter jets,” adding that the Air Force is likely to buy “less than 381” jets. The administration has a March 1 deadline to decide whether to buy more F-22s.

It may be necessary to temporarily nationalize some banks in order to facilitate a swift and orderly restructuring,” former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan told the Financial Times. “I understand that once in a hundred years this is what you do.”

“After years in which military budgets have soared to record levels,” the Pentagon is preparing to have its funding scaled back in President Obama’s upcoming budget, set to be released next week. “One thing we have known for many months is the spigot of defense funding opened by 9/11 is closing,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Congress recently. CAP’s Lawrence Korb suggests ways to cut wasteful Pentagon spending here.

The Environmental Protection Agency “will reopen the possibility of regulating carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, tossing aside a December Bush administration memorandum that declared that the agency would not limit the emissions. The decision could mark the first step toward placing limits on greenhouse gases emitted by coal plants.”

Yesterday, the Obama administration launched Recovery.gov, a website that will attempt to institute accountability over the expenditure of stimulus funds. “The site features cool graphs, interactive maps, projected timelines of when the money will start pumping into the economy, and a place to share your stories and offer comments.”

The S.E.C. charged Texas businessman R. Allen Stanford yesterday with carrying out a “massive, ongoing fraud” involving the sale of $8 billion in certificates of deposit. Stanford and his colleagues “lied to customers about how their money was being invested” while promising “improbable, if not impossible” returns. Over the last 10 years, Stanford spent at least $5 million on lobbying and campaign contributions.

Visiting Indonesia today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “pledged a new American openness to ideas from abroad, especially the Muslim world.” As a signal that “steps were already being taken to improve relations,” Clinton announced at a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda that Peace Corps operations were expected to resume in Indonesia after a long absence.

CQ writes that House GOP leaders Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Mike Pence (R-IN) are “repackag[ing] the right’s thinking.” But they’re using familiar tactics. “The pair is out to align the business community’s K Street allies and their party’s conservative wing in time for the 2010 midterm campaign.”

And finally: The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder reports that “recent Colorado Senate candidate Bob Schaffer has become…(drum roll)…a margarita pitchman! For real.” Schaffer recently appeared on the local Fox affiliate with his wife, Maureen, to tout her new “premium margarita” Coyote Gold. Schaffer refused to bite when the news host asked whether he drank the margaritas to “help offset the stress of a long day on the campaign trail.” “This didn’t play any role in the campaign,” replied Schaffer. Watch video here.

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