ThinkFast: November 3, 2009

Tea Party

Buoyed by their success in New York’s 23rd congressional race, right-wing activists “are gearing up to challenge leading GOP candidates in more than a dozen key House and Senate races in 2010.” “What you’re going to see,” said FreedomWorks’ Dick Armey, “is moderates and conservatives across the country in primaries.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has reportedly reached a “private understanding” with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) that would ensure the Connecticut senator does not block a final vote on health care reform. “Lieberman keeps assuring Reid that he’s OK,” said one source. “But he’s one of those characters — you never know with Joe.

Maine could become the first state to endorse gay marriage by popular referendum” today “as voters head to the polls to decide whether to repeal a recently-passed law legalizing unions between people of the same gender.” Following the disappointment of Proposition 8’s success last year in California, “advocates of same-sex marriage are optimistic that ballot box history won’t repeat itself in Maine.”

The suicide rate in the Army has passed that of the general population for the first time. Sixteen American soldiers took their lives in October, and suicides have risen 36 percent since 2006.

The Senate voted 85-2 to cut off debate on a bill that would expand homebuyer and business tax credits and expand jobless benefits. This bill would add up to 20 more weeks of aid to unemployment benefits, extending them through Thanksgiving and Christmas.

A “record number of lobbyists have quit the business this year,” according to a new study by the Center for Responsive Politics and OMB Watch. “About 1,400 lobbyists, or 8% of the industry, left in the three-month period ending June 30.” The report’s authors say the drop may be a consequence of the Obama administration’s new ethics regulations.

Pentagon auditors have warned contractor KBR that it needs to “cut its workforce there or face nearly $200 million in penalties for keeping thousands too many on the payroll.” Without “significant action,” KBR will have “one employee for every 3.6 troops in Iraq by August 2010.”

Media Matters Action Network is launching a new website today that aims to document the financial and political ties of conservative groups, called Conservative Transparency. Knowing the source of conservative funding will assist the entire progressive movement in responding to attacks from ‘astroturf’ organizations,” said Chris Harris, the group’s communications director.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Iran to “stick to an agreement to ship low-enriched uranium abroad for processing.” “Acceptance of this proposal would be a good indication that Iran does not wish to be isolated,” Clinton said. Iran is seeking greater assurances that the fuel “would be enriched to a higher level and returned.”

And finally: Did actor Edward Norton “beat Sarah Palin like a rug” in the New York Marathon on Sunday? You betcha.

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