ThinkFast: April 29, 2010

Hamid Karzai

A new Pentagon report on the war in Afghanistan finds that “only a quarter of what it regards as key regions in Afghanistan” support the government of Hamid Karzai. The report also concludes that corruption in the Karzai government has led the Taliban to “perceive 2009 as their most successful year.”

Faced with increasing public scrutiny and charges from the SEC, Goldman Sachs is “assembling a team of veteran lobbyists” that includes former members of Congress and presidential advisers. The team includes former Democratic House majority leader Dick Gephardt and Kenneth Duberstein, one of Ronald Reagan’s chiefs of staff.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One yesterday, President Obama conceded “that Congress may not have the appetite to deal” with immigration reform this year. “It’s a matter of political will,” said Obama. “We’ve gone through a very tough year, and I’ve been driving Congress pretty hard.” He added, however, that “we need to start a process, at least.”

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) will host a fundraiser for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) this Sunday in Greenwich, CT. Reid asked Lieberman to do a fundraiser for him; Lieberman agreed to do it as a “gesture of goodwill toward Reid.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is now saying that the oil rig that sunk in the Gulf of Mexico is spewing 5,000 barrels of oil a day, five times the initial estimate. The disaster may reach Louisiana’s coast by Friday, threatening the livelihood of fishermen, tourism, and more than 400 wildlife species. The Coast Guard and BP “set fire to a portion of the crude oil” in an effort to limit the spill.

Two coal miners are missing after an underground rock fall in western Kentucky. A United Mine Workers representative described the rock fall “as a ceiling collapse.” “Rescue operations were initiated immediately, but efforts to contact the miners have been unsuccessful,” a spokeswoman said.

Facing mounting political pressure, Senate Republicans agreed yesterday to let Democrats begin debate on a sweeping financial regulation bill. The GOP “still oppose many aspects of the bill, and a rough floor fight lies ahead.”

President Obama “plans to nominate three new Federal Reserve governors,” an administration official told the Washington Post. Obama will nominate Janet Yellen, currently president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Sarah Bloom Raskin, Maryland’s commissioner of financial regulation, and Peter Diamond, an MIT economist, to be Fed governors. All three would need to be confirmed by the Senate.

Obama administration officials are “urging the extraordinary step of suing Arizona over its new immigration law, and the Justice Department is considering such an action to block the legislation from taking effect.” “Considering that it’s signed into law, and Arizona is doing a lot of pomp and circumstance, do you see a friendly way out of this?” one official said.

And finally: Sarah Palin won’t be the only Miss Alaska contestant in the political arena — Maryline Blackburn, the woman who beat Palin in the 1984 pageant, is also stepping into politics, running for a seat in the Georgia House.

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