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ThinkFast: March 21, 2011

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"ThinkFast: March 21, 2011"

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Allied war planes continued to attack Libyan air defenses yesterday and also bombed pro-Qaddafi ground forces, which have “offered no serious military challenge to the establishment of a no-fly zone.” “We judge these strikes to have been very effective in significantly degrading the regime’s air defense capability,” Pentagon Joint Chiefs director Vice Adm. Bill Gortney said Sunday.

Egyptian voters overwhelming approved a referendum on constitutional changes yesterday that “will usher in rapid elections.” Government officials said turnout broke all records for recent elections. “This is the first real referendum in Egypt’s history,” said one election official. “We had an unprecedented turnout because after Jan. 25 people started to feel that their vote would matter.”

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) is drawing increased scrutiny over his connections with the arch-conservative billionaire Koch Brothers. Pompeo was the top recipient of Koch donations during the midterm elections, hired a former Koch lawyer as his chief of staff, and “proposed legislation in his first weeks in office that could benefit many of Koch’s business interests.” ThinkProgress first reported on Pompeo last September.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is continuing his verbal assault on President Obama and fellow Democrats, and will tell an audience in his home state today that Obama is not leading on budget discussions, and that he will not vote to raise the debt ceiling unless there is “a real budget plan that begins to fix our fiscal mess.”

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the gates of Quantico Marine Base in Virginia Sunday” to protest the treatment of Bradley Manning, who is suspected of leaking classified information to Wikileaks. One of the protesters who was arrested at the rally was Daniel Ellsberg, famous for leaking the Pentagon Papers in the 1970′s.

A group of Democratic legislators in the House and Senate have broken from the White House and are pushing to establish new tax brackets for millionaires and billionaires. “The fact is, Republicans don’t want to do anything to take away tax breaks from the richest Americans, and we want to stimulate that debate,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

First among GOP presidential contenders to voice doubts about Afghanistan, Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) said “What is our mission?..Is that a 100,000-man army mission?” adding “if we Republicans don’t propose saving money on defense, we’ll have no credibility on anything else.” Bill Kristol of the “neocon wing” slammed Barbour’s comments as “irresponsible” and accused him of “pandering” to public opinion.

Democrats are breaking ranks over Social Security reform with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) insisting revisions to Social Security shouldn’t be attached to a deficit-reduction plan. Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Dick Durbin (D-IL) are part of the Gang of Six pushing to reform Social Security by increasing the retirement age, increasing taxes on wealthy workers, and trimming benefits for certain groups.

And finally: “How dumb are we?” A Newsweek survey of 1,000 American citizens found that 29 percent couldn’t name the vice president.

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