ThinkFast: March 8, 2010

Despite attacks by insurgents that killed at least 38 people in Baghdad, Iraqis “went to the polls in strength on Sunday to choose a new Parliament meant to outlast the American military presence,” with turnout higher than expected. President Obama said in a statement that he has “great respect for the millions of Iraqis who refused to be deterred by acts of violence.”

Republicans are criticizing the RNC for producing a fundraising document that includes a “racially charged depiction of President Barack Obama as the Joker from ‘Batman.’” Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the presentation is “unhelpful,” while Orrin Hatch (R-UT) called the presentation “shameful.”

A group of “leading conservative lawyers and policy experts” are denouncing Liz Cheney’s McCarthyite attacks on Justice Department lawyers as “shameful.” “We consider these attacks both unjust to the individuals in question and destructive of any attempt to build lasting mechanisms for counterterrorism adjudications,” wrote the 19 lawyers.

President Obama will met with Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) today to discuss their efforts to produce a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill. The meeting comes as immigration advocacy groups “are trying to organize tens of thousands of people from around the country for a March 21 demonstration in Washington.”

President Obama is expected to announce the nomination of ret. Gen. Robert Harding to lead the Transportation Security Administration. Harding “served in the Army for 33 years and…was the Defense Department’s top human intelligence officer.” Obama had previously chosen Erroll Southers for the position, but he withdrew from consideration after becoming “a lightning rod” for the GOP “political agenda.”

In an attempt to end the foreclosure crisis, the Obama administration will start a new program that allows defaulting homeowners to sell their homes for less than they owe “and will give them a little cash to speed them on their way.” The program “could encourage hundreds of thousands of delinquent borrowers who have not been rescued by the loan modification program to shed their houses.”

Vice President Biden is scheduled to arrive in Jerusalem today just after Palestinian leaders agreed to indirect talks with Israel through U.S. mediators. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the time is “ripe for peace.” Both sides will issue a declaration announcing four months of negotiations.

U.S. troops are beginning to pull out of Haiti after helping “thousands of displaced, injured, and orphaned islanders affected by the massive January earthquake.” Meanwhile, the Senate “voted late last week to relieve Haiti of its debt” and mandated that “future aid to the island be given as grants and not loans.”

House Democratic leaders are considering “declaring a party-wide ban on earmarks this year.” The “dramatic move,” floated by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in a meeting with leaders last week, would help House Democrats “outflank their Republican counterparts, who have mulled and rejected such a moratorium in recent years.”

And finally: How did House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) manage to keep his bronze glow during the D.C. blizzards?

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