ThinkFast: March 11, 2009


President Bush “will give his first post-presidency U.S. speech in Erie, Pa., on June 17 to the Manufacturer & Business Association, which serves companies in Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York.” Bush’s first speech will be March 17 in Calgary, Canada.

No one wants [President Obama] to fail,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) claimed in an interview with Bloomberg. “But saying ‘no’ to bad policy is not saying ‘no’ to everything.” McConnell was singing Rush Limbaugh’s praises at the CPAC convention last month.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said yesterday that she is open to the possibility of passing a second stimulus package. House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-WI) said “he’s already instructed his staff to start drafting a second stimulus proposal. Obey said his staff is preparing the outline of a stimulus bill but he cautioned there is no timeline to move on it.”

The largest poll ever conducted by Gallup shows that “the percentage who reported having trouble paying for needed health care or medicines during the previous 12 months rose from 18% in January 2008 to 21% in December.” Gallup’s chief scientist says each percentage point “represents about 2.2 million people.”

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, former Fed Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan argues that the Fed didn’t cause the housing bubble. “The interest rate that mattered was not the federal-funds rate, but the rate on long-term, fixed-rate mortgages,” Greenspan writes in explaining the inflation of the housing bubble.

Army Lt. Gen. Michael Maples, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told Congress yesterday that “Al Qaeda has expanded its presence in Afghanistan, taking advantage of the sinking security situation to resurface in the country it was forced to flee seven years ago.” Maples cited Al Qaeda’s efforts as one of the reasons President Obama ordered additional troops to Afghanistan.

The Justice Department has launched a civil-rights investigation of the over-zealous, anti-immigration Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio after months of mounting complaints that deputies are discriminating in their enforcement of federal immigration laws.

Four million to five million voters did not cast a ballot in the 2008 presidential election because they encountered registration problems or failed to receive absentee ballots,” according to a study that will be presented to the Senate Rules Committee today. Another two million to four million registered voters were “discouraged” from voting due to administrative hassles, like long lines.

Vice President Joe Biden is expected to name Seattle police chief Gil Kerlikowske as the nation’s drug czar today. Kerlikowske has been widely expected to get the position, but an announcement was delayed while he was vetted. Kerlikowske’s agency “will no longer have Cabinet-level status,” but he “will have a seat at the table,” according to an administration official.

And finally: “The act of bestiality is a step closer to becoming illegal in Florida.” A state Senate committee voted to slap a third-degree felony charge on anyone who has sex with animals. But “animal-husbandry practices are permissible,” according to the bill. “People are taking these animals as their husbands? What’s husbandry?” asked a confused Sen. Larcenia Bullard. “Some senators stifled their laughter as Chairman Charlie Dean explained that husbandry it was the rearing and caring of animals.”

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