ThinkFast: April 5, 2010

John Paul Stevens

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens told the New York Times that he will decide soon whether he will retire because “the president and the Senate need plenty of time to fill a vacancy.” According to Bloomberg, the Obama administration is focusing on U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan and federal appellate judges Diane Wood and Merrick Garland as potential nominees to replace Stevens.

Senate Republicans are preparing “for battle on financial regulatory reform” and “Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his team are exploring both opposition and bipartisan approaches to President Barack Obama’s plans.” “I think they’re very much trying to figure out where they are,” a lobbyist told Roll Call. “But if they can keep 41 together, the will is there to not just cede this over to the administration.”

More than 40 people were killed and over 80 were injured in attacks across northern Pakistan that targeted a political rally and the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar. The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai met with supports in parliament over the weekend “and berated them for having rejected his proposed new election law” that “would have given him the power to appoint all the members of the Electoral Complaints Commission.” “If you and the international community pressure me more,”
Karzai reportedly said, “I swear that I am going to join the Taliban.

New data from the Census Bureau finds that conservative-leaning states have some of the lowest response rates to the Census. Almost “48% of households in Texas and 53% in Alabama have mailed in their forms so far, for example, while the response rate in Massachusetts, a more-liberal state, is at about 57%.” Conservatives have in recent months demonized the Census.

“Labor unions, corporations and wealthy individuals are preparing to break spending records to influence the November elections,” focusing increasingly on races for governor and state legislatures with a goal of winning “control of state governments ahead of the state-by-state process for redrawing congressional districts.”

Federal officials are pursuing an indictment of Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) on charges of “structuring” — “a broad term that refers to the crime of creating financial transactions to evade reporting requirements,” the Las Vegas Sun reports. Ensign allegedly laundered payments to his mistress through a trust controlled by his parents.

Obama administration officials said Sunday that despite an optimistic jobs report last week, “the public shouldn’t expect any dramatic improvement in the jobless rate, largely because of the effect of thousands of ‘discouraged’ unemployed people who have resumed their search for work.” Some economists say the jobless rate “will not recede to pre-recession levels near 5 percent for four more years.”

“The Copenhagen climate summit, roundly dubbed a failure when it ended last year, may actually have sparked significant steps toward curbing global warming.” Deutsche Bank attributed 154 new domestic policies to the summit. The Center for American Progress estimated the pledges would take the world two-thirds of the way to “climate safety.”

And finally: Tens of thousands of kids will descend on the White House lawn this morning for the annual Easter Egg Roll. The anti-obesity themed event will include a “a non-stop dance station at the White House complete with hula hoops and dance workshops.” But the goody bags will still contain sweets such as “Hershey’s chocolates and Peeps.”

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