ThinkFast: March 29, 2011

“Talks between congressional leaders and the White House on a deal to fund the government for the rest of the year appear to have” broken down, less than two weeks before the current funding resolution expires on April 8. House Republicans are insisting on the inclusion of controversial policy riders, such as restrictions on federal funds for Planned Parenthood and the implementation of Obama’s health care law.

President Obama defended American intervention in Libya last night in his first major address since the intervention began. “I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action,” Obama said. “We’ve accomplished these objectives consistent with the pledge that I made to the American people at the outset of our military operations.”

Syrian security forces used tear gas and live ammunition to disperse more than 4,000 people protesting for reforms in the city of Deraa. Human rights activists say that more than 150 people have been killed in the 11 days of the pro-democracy uprising so far.

“The lead role the United States is playing in the military action against Libya threatens to scramble an emerging consensus over the need to trim defense” spending. “It is just plain vanilla that it will make it harder to cut defense in the near term,” said Republican economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin.

In audio obtained by Media Matters, top Fox News executive Bill Sammon says he purposely lied in the closing days of the 2008 campaign in order to harm Obama. “I have to admit, that I went on TV on Fox News and publicly engaged in what I guess was some rather mischievous speculation about whether Barack Obama really advocated socialism, a premise that privately I found rather far-fetched,” he said.

Former Council of Economic Advisers Chair and Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz explained his decision not to sign the Bowles-Simpson Deficit Commission’s recommendations. Stiglitz denounced the plan as a “near-suicide pact” that would “lead to a weaker America.”

Despite his state having an unemployment rate over 10 percent, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signed a law yesterday “that will lead the state to pay fewer weeks of unemployment benefits next year than any other state.” The language cutting benefits “was slipped quietly into a bill that was originally sold as way to preserve unemployment benefits this year.”

Former State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley says he doesn’t regret speaking out about the treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning, even though it may have cost him his job. “I’m a believer in something like strategic narratives — that the United States, as an exceptional country in the world, has to be seen as practicing what we preach,” Crowley said.

And finally: Billionaire reality TV star Donald Trump has been spouting birther conspiracy theories to gain attention for his presidential run, and yesterday made good on a promise to release his own birth certificate — except it’s “actually not an official document.” Trump’s document is from a hospital in New York City, but the city’s Health Department is the “sole issuing authority” of authentic birth certificates. Trump’s family recently gave money to the hospital that issues the document. “So, what is Trump trying to conceal?”

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