ThinkFast: October 15, 2010

In a GOP strategy meeting last week, Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell warned an unsupportive GOP that “I’ve got Sean Hannity in my back pocket, and I can go on his show and raise money by attacking you guys.” Yesterday, O’Donnell followed through on Hannity’s radio show when she “acidly criticized” the National Republican Senatorial Committee “for not funneling any serious cash into her race.”

The U.S. has increased airstrikes on Taliban insurgents by 50 percent over the same period last year — “the latest piece in what appears to be a coordinated effort by American commanders to bleed the insurgency and pressure its leaders to negotiate an end to the war.” At the same time, top U.S. commander Gen. David Petraeus has increased Special Forces raids to clear territory of Taliban militants.

The Obama administration has “asked the federal judge who issued” a ruling striking down Don’t Ask Don’t Tell “for an emergency stay of her decision.” “The stakes here are so high, and the potential harm so great, that caution is in order,” said Clifford Stanley, under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

In her debate with Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) last night, Republican candidate Sharron Angle argued that health insurers shouldn’t be mandated to cover individuals. But, as the Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky notes, Angle co-sponsored mandatory coverage provisions during her time as a state legislator.

Rick Scott, the Republican gubernatorial nominee in Florida, was once sued by the state for insider trading, the Miami Herald and St. Petersburg Times revealed. In 1997, Scott’s hospital chain was the target of a massive FBI investigation, and Scott and several directors sold their stock 23 days before the FBI began raiding the company’s offices.

Florida’s U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson ruled yesterday that the lawsuit challenging health care reform can go to trial over “whether it’s constitutional to force citizens to buy health insurance,” to tax people who don’t buy insurance, and to require states to expand Medicaid programs. In his 65-page ruling, Vinson agreed with the 20 states that say “Congress was intentionally unclear when it created penalties” in the law.

President Obama told a televised youth town hall that he favors raising more money for Social Security, instead of cutting benefits or extending the retirement age. Obama said the best approach would be raising the amount of income subject to Social Security taxes above the current cap, but also noted that “all options are on the table.”

White House Senior Adviser and Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett “apologized Thursday morning for referring to a gay teen who committed suicide as having made a ‘lifestyle choice.'” Jarrett said she “meant no disrespect to the LGBT community, and I apologize to any who have taken offense at my poor choice of words.”

And finally: Green Party gubernatorial candidate in Illinois Rich Whitney recently discovered that electronic voting machines in 23 wards — “about half in predominantly African-American areas” — misspelled his name “Rich Whitey.” Whitney, who is polling at around 2 percent, wondered “if this is machine politics at play or why this happened.”

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