ThinkFast: April 20, 2010


Activists from the gay rights group GetEQUAL interrupted a speech by President Obama at a California fundraiser yesterday. The activists were upset at the administration’s lack of progress in repealing the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, which is now opposed by six out of ten Americans.

Goldman Sachs’ earnings “rose 91 percent in the first quarter of 2010, to $3.46 billion,” up from $1.81 billion in the same period last year, beating analyst expectations. The “strong results are likely to be overshadowed by the Securities and Exchange Commission’s civil suit against the firm,” which accuses Goldman of fraud. Britain’s financial regulator is “launching a full-blown investigation into Goldman.”

Goldman Sachs has hired ex-White House counsel Gregory Craig to run its legal defense and public relations campaign against recent charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Last week, the SEC charged the megabank with fraud related to collateral debt obligations and the subprime mortgage crisis.

White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel told Charlie Rose yesterday that he would like to be the mayor of Chicago. “I hope Mayor Daley seeks reelection. I will work and support him if he seeks reelection,” Emanuel said. “But if Mayor Daley doesn’t, one day I would like to run for mayor of the city of Chicago. That’s always been an aspiration of mine even when I was in the House of Representatives.”

Senate Democrats are likely to scrap a proposal to create a $50 billion resolution fund by levying a fee on big financial institutions. The fund would be used to provide for the dissolution of large systemic institutions in the event resolution needs to occur. Republicans had falsely characterized it as a “permanent bailout fund.”

More than 1,500 lobbyists, financial institution executives, and bankers have “made their way to the Senate committee that…will take up legislation to rein in derivatives, the complex securities at the heart of the financial crisis, the billion-dollar bank bailouts and the fraud case filed last week against Goldman Sachs.” JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said new regulation rules “will be negative” for Wall Street.

Iraqi and U.S. Special Forces killed two top leaders of the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq last weekend in Tikrit, “a decisive tactical victory for American and Iraqi forces and one that provides Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki with additional political leverage” as the country forms a new government.

The Senate voted 84-10 yesterday to “move forward on the long-delayed nomination of Lael Brainard to serve as undersecretary in the Treasury Department” for international affairs. Brainard was nominated in December and a final confirmation vote is expected today.

The Department of Education “will no longer allow universities to rely solely on student surveys to prove they are meeting the requirements of the gender-equity law known as Title IX, a reversal of a Bush administration policy that had been opposed by the N.C.A.A. and women’s sports advocates.” In advance of today’s announcement, Vice President Biden said, “Making Title IX as strong as possible is a no-brainer.

And finally: How do you pronounce Eyjafjallajokull?

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