ThinkFast: October 1, 2009

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

“Critical talks over Iran’s nuclear ambitions began” today “between Iran and the five members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany and the European Union.” The U.S. and its allies are “hoping to draw Iran into a serious negotiation that will open up the country to serious nuclear inspections, suspend Iran’s nuclear enrichment program and reassure its neighbors that its intentions are peaceful.”

An article in the Joint Force Quarterly, an official military journal, “argues forcefully” for repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The article, which was reviewed by the office of Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, says that “after a careful examination, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that unit cohesion will be negatively affected if homosexuals serve openly.”

Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) has proposed a “third way” that “could provide the blueprint for compromise” on the public option. Carper “wants to allow states to individually decide whether to create a private-insurance competitor such as a government plan and a nonprofit insurance cooperative, or to open up state-based insurance pools for government workers to every resident.”

The second-highest-ranking U.N. official in Afghanistan, Peter Galbraith, was fired yesterday after he “wrote a scathing letter accusing the head of the mission” there “of concealing election fraud that benefited the campaign of the incumbent president, Hamid Karzai.” Galbraith told Foreign Policy’s Josh Rogin that he was fired after his boss in Kabul, Kai Eide, “told the U.N. leadership ‘he goes or I go.'”

After initially pledging to bring forward a resolution condemning Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) for his facetious but accurate remarks about the Republican health care plan, “House Republicans changed course on Wednesday and decided not to move forward with” it.

Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis announced yesterday that he will be stepping down from the company in December, becoming the “one of the most prominent financial executives to lose his job because of the financial crisis.” Analysts say that Lewis had become a “distraction” since the bank’s takeover of Merrill Lynch and Countrywide Financial Corp., and he leaves “amid intensifying state and federal investigations.”

Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan said the Obama administration will need to enact a consumption tax to deal with the budget deficit. “The presumption that we’re going to be able to resolve this without significant increases in taxes is unrealistic,” he said.

Seven weeks before it will be released, Sarah Palin’s book — Going Rogue: An American Life — has shot to the top spot on Barnes & Noble’s website. “The forthcoming book has also vaulted up Amazon.com’s bestseller list, currently holding the No. 3 spot just behind Glenn Beck’s ‘Arguing with Idiots: How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government.’”

Joe Romm, the editor of the influential Climate Progress blog and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, has been named by Time magazine as one of their “Heroes of the Environment 2009” and the web’s “most influential climate-change blogger.” Congratulations, Joe!

And finally: On the show “Mad Men,” Betty Draper is fighting with state government over an Ossining, NY water tower. But yesterday, the real-life Betty Draper — actress January Jones — was actually on Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers about shark advocacy. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) excitedly put up a picture of himself with Jones on Twitter: “Great meeting & tour of the Capitol with January Jones, who is an advocate for sharks. I’m a huge fan of Mad Men!” Jones noted that McCain jokingly “scolded” her “because in the latest episode, Betty met with a lobbyist!”

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