ThinkFast: November 2, 2010

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said yesterday that “he has no regrets about saying the GOP’s top priority over the next two years will be to make Barack Obama a one-term president.” Democrats had attacked McConnell for suggesting that politics would be his priority over jobs or health care, but McConnell dismissed the charge as “laughable.”

The New York-based private research group Conference Board released a handbook on corporate political activity “urging corporations to establish strong internal controls and oversight over political donations” after Target Corp. was criticized for backing a GOP candidate in Minnesota. The report’s co-author says that corporate political activity has increased since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

While the 2010 season garnered almost $4 billion in “unregulated, often secret campaign money” that “sharply increased the power of wealthy individuals and groups on both the right and left,” the spending trend is “expected to grow as the 2012 presidential campaign begins.” After Citizens United, political groups are calling the influx of spending “the new normal.”

“Even though the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been among the most active outside groups trying to influence the midterm elections, the prominent business organization is likely to fall short of its ambitious spending goal of $75 million.” Yesterday, the Chamber announced it had spent only $32.4 million on electioneering and communications activities, almost all of which targeted Democrats and supported Republicans.

With one judge dissenting, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the government Monday to block a lower court’s ruling that the military’s DADT policy is unconstitutional. The lawyer for Log Cabin Republicans, the gay rights group that filed the lawsuit against DADT, said “the appeal would continue and he raised the possibility of seeking emergency relief from the nation’s highest court.”

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge John Noonan Jr. “expressed deep skepticism” yesterday “about a Justice Department lawsuit challenging Arizona’s new immigration law, leaving uncertain the Obama administration’s chances of stopping the law from taking effect.” Noonan doubted the government’s argument that the Arizona law is “preempted” by federal law in this case.

General Motors “will succeed in shrinking the federal government’s ownership stake to less than 50 percent in a $10.6 billion initial public offering later this month.” “G.M.’s market value could approach $60 billion,” following a restructuring of the company’s stocks.

The Transportation Security Administration revealed that only 20 percent of the “9 billion pounds of air cargo that comes from overseas each year is physically checked for bombs.” The security system for cargo is “under scrutiny following last week’s plot to sneak bombs into U.S.-bound planes using cargo packages sent from Yemen.”

And finally: As voters head to the polls today, one largely unnoticed election in Colorado could (though almost certainly will not) determine the fate of all humankind. Voters in Denver will consider a ballot measure to set up a commission to track space aliens, and allow residents to submit UFO sightings on the new Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission website. Sponsor Jeff Peckman says the government is tracking aliens, but refuses to make the reports public.