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ThinkFast: October 4, 2010

By ThinkProgress on October 4, 2010 at 9:00 am

"ThinkFast: October 4, 2010"

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Outside interest groups are spending five times as much on this year’s elections as they did on the last midterms, and they are more secretive than ever about their donors, thanks in part to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. Of the $80 million spent thus far, conservative groups are outspending progressive ones 7 to 1.

The Wall Street Journal’s Jonathan Weisman reports that White House officials are preparing plans for a scaled-back legislative agenda next year. The strategy would involve taking “a new, more incremental approach… to fulfilling campaign promises on energy, immigration and on closing the military prison at Guantanamo Bay.”

On Sunday, the State Department issued “an unusually broad travel alert advising Americans to show vigilance when traveling to Europe,” warning that al Qaeda may be planning strikes on the continent. The warning is based on “credible, yet general, threat intelligence over the last several weeks.” The FBI and Homeland Security Department say they have no indication that terrorists are targeting the U.S.

In a recording of a private conversation involving Nevada U.S. Senate GOP candidate Sharron Angle and Tea Party of Nevada candidate Scott Ashjian captures Angle pleading with Ashjian to drop out of the race and disparaging GOP leaders. Angle said they don’t support her because “they know I’ll shake this mess up.”

In a Fox News Sunday debate, Senate candidate Rand Paul (R-KY) said “eligibility changes are needed for Social Security, including possibly raising the age for receiving benefits,” as a way to reduce the budget deficit. In response to Paul, his opponent Jack Conway (D-KY) said Paul’s ideas “are out of the mainstream” and “out of touch with the values of normal Kentuckians.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said Sunday on CBS’s Face The Nation that Obama must reach out and mobilize the progressive base to fighting for a progressive agenda to “expand the middle class.” The senator also said that Obama must understand that Republicans “do not want America to succeed. They’re into politics.”

Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, called Islam “wicked” and “evil” yesterday during a panel discussion on ABC’s This Week. “They want to build as many mosques and cultural centers as they possibly can so they can convert as many Americans as they can to Islam,” he said. He said he loves “the Muslim people” but he has “great difficulty with the religion.”

The Supreme Court begins its new term today, marking the debut of Justice Elena Kagan and “the first time three women will serve on the nine-justice panel.” Kagan will recuse herself from at least 24 cases on this year’s docket, which will include cases considering military funeral protests, immigration reform, violent video games, and may include same-sex marriage, terrorism, and health care reform.

And finally: Times Square’s famous singing Naked Cowboy announced he would run for the presidency in 2012 last week, rolling out a conservative agenda based on limited federal spending (and presumably limited dress codes as well). Calling himself “a testament to America’s promise of individual liberty,” the Cowboy proclaimed, “Today, in defense of individual liberty, I am announcing my candidacy for the 2012 election.”

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