ThinkFast: November 2, 2009

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"ThinkFast: November 2, 2009"

Abdullah Abdullah

Afghan officials cancelled the country’s run-off presidential election set to take place this Saturday after challenger Abdullah Abdullah announced his withdrawal from the race. The officials declared President Hamid Karzai the winner. An election commission official “cited security and financial concerns about the cost of the vote.”

According to a summary of the FBI’s interview with Dick Cheney regarding the Valerie Plame CIA leak scandal, on 72 occasions, the former vice president said “he could not be certain in his answers to questions about matters large and small.” The equivocations underscore prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s famous declaration that “there is a cloud over the vice president.”

“Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James T. Conway has emerged in internal Pentagon deliberations as the most outspoken opponent of permitting gay men and women to serve openly in the U.S. military,” the Washington Times reports. “He feels very strongly that [removing the ban] would be disruptive, and he opposes it,” said a former senior Pentagon official. President Obama has pledged to repeal the policy.

As the Senate climate change bill emerges from committee tomorrow, “key Republicans are making their opposition clear.” “Why are we trying to jam down this legislation now?” asked Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) at a hearing last week. Now, “Democratic leaders, with the support of the Obama administration, are trying to sway at least half a dozen Republicans by offering” support for new nuclear power plants.

A fact-checking performed by the AP shows that many Republican lawmakers are using “grade school arithmetic” to criticize the stimulus package. The AP notes that critics are complaining that the stimulus cost $246,000 a job, ignoring material costs and the ongoing value of jobs created.

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa told the press Monday that Arab leaders are likely to tell Secretary Clinton they are disappointed that the U.S. appears to be backing down on pressing for a settlement freeze from Israel. “I am telling you that all of us…are deeply disappointed…with the results, with the fact that Israel can get away with anything without any firm stand that this cannot be done,” Moussa told reporters.

After withdrawing from New York’s 23rd district congressional race just three days before the election, Republican Dede Scozzafava threw her support behind Democrat Bill Owens yesterday. Many of her GOP backers, such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, condemned her decision and instead endorsed Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman.

James Dobson, the founder of the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family, “will no longer host its flagship radio broadcast and is cutting formal ties with the organization.” The decision to part ways was amicable and long anticipated, said Gary Schneeberger, spokesman for the Colorado Springs-based group.

And finally: Around 2,000 lucky D.C. children trick-or-treated at the White House on Saturday, where they were greeted by the President, the First Lady dressed up as “a very nice-looking Cat Woman,” and First Grandma Marian Robinson. (White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was also at the festivities, dressed in a Darth Vader costume.) The presidential treats included “White House M&Ms, a sweet dough butter cookie from the White House pastry shop and dried fruit (cherries, apricots, pears, apples and papayas).”

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