ThinkFast: June 1, 2009


The Republican 2012 presidential campaign is already underway, with potential nominees making various visits to Iowa, the site of the first primary caucuses. “Potential Republican candidates who have visited the state include Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.” Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) is visiting on Monday, followed by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and another appearance by Huckabee.

Eleven progressive groups are planning to spend at least $82 million to push health care reform that includes a public health insurance plan option. The announcement of the progressive push, which is being billed as their largest health reform campaign ever, is being timed to coincide with the kick off the America’s Future Now conference.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) is no longer opposed to including a public option in health care reform, saying, “I have not closed my mind to any option.” However, he told the Journal-Star newspaper that he does not want it to “‘destabilize or adversely affect‘ the private health insurance coverage now in place for most Americans.”

Nevada is legalizing domestic partnerships. The state Assembly voted Sunday to override Gov. Jim Gibbons’ veto of a domestic partner bill. “The move makes Nevada the 17th state to recognize the relationships of gay men and lesbians, creating the registry with the secretary of state by which couples receive legal protections associated with marriage.”

Yesterday’s “slaying of Dr. George Tiller in his Kansas church” was “part of a decades-long history of domestic terrorism aimed at abortion providers,” which has included bombings, butyric acid attacks, sniper shootings and letters filled with fake anthrax. The National Abortion Federation “has documented more than 6,100 acts of violence against abortion providers in the United States and Canada since 1977.”

Forty-five former law clerks of judge Sonia Sotomayor signed a letter praising her “indisputably stellar” credentials for the Supreme Court. “We are united in our strong belief that Judge Sotomayor is a brilliant and first-rate judge who is an ideal selection for our nation’s highest court,” wrote the group. All but four of Sotomayor’s former clerks signed the letter.

General Motors filed for bankruptcy this morning, and now “American taxpayers will invest an additional $30 billion in the company, atop $20 billion already spent.” GM will be firing 21,000 union workers and closing 12 to 20 factories, and “the workers’ union will be forced to finance half of its $20 billion health care fund with stock of uncertain value.”

Shortly before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s arrival in El Salvador yesterday, the Cuban government informed the State Department that “it was ready to resume talks on migration issues” and “negotiate direct postal service between the countries for the first time in decades.” Cuba also agreed to cooperate with the U.S. “on counterterrorism, drug interdiction and hurricane relief efforts.”

Israel is conducting its biggest emergency drill in the nation’s history to prepare civilians, soldiers and rescue crews for the possibility of war. “Officials said the drill will include simulated rockets, air raids and other attacks on infrastructure and essential facilities, and use of weapons on civilians.”

And finally: Last week, the Irish Vice President Biden received the Sons of Italy Foundation’s highest honor. During his remarks at the event, Biden — whose wife has an Italian heritage — quipped, “My self-consciousness about not being Italian goes all the way back to my childhood.” He also listed his friends in grade school, quickly listing off “10 boys all with names that could’ve come straight from a Martin Scorsese script. His football team in high school allowed him to rattle off eight more. ‘And that was just the offense. You think I’m kidding. I’m not kidding. I’m not kidding,’ he said.”

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