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ThinkFast: March 16, 2009

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"ThinkFast: March 16, 2009"

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We’ll see the recession coming to an end probably this year,” Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said on CBS’s 60 Minutes last night. “We’ll see recovery beginning next year.” “We won’t be back to full employment. But we will, I hope, see the end of these declines that have been so strong in a last couple of quarters,” he said.

Yesterday on CNN, former Crossfire co-host Tucker Carlson ripped The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, calling him a “partisan hack” and an operative for the Democratic party who only took on Jim Cramer and CNBC only because they criticized Obama’s budget. “I would like to see somebody have the stones to come out and say, Jon Stewart is kind of a pompous jerk, actually,” Carlson added.

Pennsylvania labor leaders promised Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) “that they will switch union members from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party to help him win a tough 2010 primary election” in exchange for Specter’s help in passing the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that would make it easier for employees to form unions.

The U.S. military said that “four American soldiers were killed in eastern Afghanistan in a roadside explosion on Sunday” — the “worst of several attacks by insurgents around the country.” The Taliban have claimed responsibility and are threatening to increase attacks on NATO and Afghan forces “to counter the increase in American troops arriving in the country over the coming months.”

For the first time since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, “violence and insecurity are no longer the main concern of most Iraqis,” according to a recent BBC, ABC News and NHK poll. But the majority of Iraqis are still displeased with the role foreign powers play in their country, with 64 percent viewing the U.S.’s role in the country negatively.

Pakistan’s government agreed Monday to “reinstate a fired Supreme Court chief justice whose fate had sparked street fights and raised fears of political instability in a country battling rising Islamist violence.” While the U.S. called the decision “statesmanlike,” it could weaken President Zardari, who had “long refused to restore the independent-minded Chaudhry.”

In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria yesterday, Chas Freeman said the term “Israel lobby” isn’t “a terribly accurate name.” “It probably should be called the Likud lobby, or the Yisrael Beiteinu lobby. It’s the far right wing of the Jewish community here in alliance with the far right wing in Israel,” he said.

Obama will “will kick off an all-out grass-roots effort today urging Congress to pass his $3.55 trillion budget, activating the extensive campaign apparatus he built during his successful 2008 candidacy for the first time since taking office.” Organizing for America, run by the DNC, will “rely heavily on the 13 million-strong e-mail list” that Obama assembled during the campaign.

Though paygo rules have been a rallying cry for fiscally conservative Democrats, the Blue Dogs “are not demanding strict offsets for healthcare reform.” Instead, the group has endorsed the Obama administration’s request that healthcare reform legislation be deficit neutral, which gives “a significant boost to the chances of health reform passing the House this year.”

And finally: McCain tweets an international incident. On Wednesday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) announced on his Twitter page that he was “having lunch with the Canadian Amb Richard Wilson and Lindsey at the embassy.” The problem is, as the Washington Post’s Al Kamen notes, the Canadian Ambassador is named Michael Wilson. “Sometimes the fingers race ahead,” writes Kamen.

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