ThinkFast: May 18, 2011

Conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said yesterday that critics of the court’s decisions are either illiterate or lazy, and that their critiques are undermining “the integrity of the law.” Thomas, who hasn’t uttered a word during the high court’s oral arguments in years, said in a Georgia speech that the “cynics” are merely “drunk on their own opinions.”

The “Gang of Six” senators who are negotiating a deal to raise the debt ceiling is on the verge of collapse after Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) withdrew from the bipartisan working group this week. Both sides are skeptical about the prospects for a deal without Coburn, who left because he did not believe the parties could overcome political pressure from both sides.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner wants a vote to increase the debt ceiling “done and clean” by July, he said yesterday. Geithner said he has received assurances from GOP leaders that they won’t “monkey around” with the vote, adding that the GOP “will own the responsibility for the first default in our history” if the limit isn’t raised.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) spent yesterday meeting with K Street lobbyists as he attempts to build a national network for his potential presidential campaign. Politico reported that Huntsman has attempted to gain the support of Gov. Haley Barbour’s (R-MS) extensive lobbying network, reaching out to “several large firms and trade associations” in the process.

The Associated Press reports that American soldiers found Osama bin Laden’s two guns “only after he was dead, while they photographed his remains.” The soldiers “found an AK-47 rifle and a Makarov pistol on a shelf beside the door” to Bin Laden’s room. Bin Laden had not touched the weapons, according to the AP account.

Russ Feingold’s PAC Progressives United sent out a fundraising e-mail blasting several members of Congress for opposing President Obama’s planned executive order to increase transparency of the political donations of contractors. Included among the targets of Feingold’s e-mails are Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT).

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) plans to move for a confirmation vote on Goodwin Liu, who has been nominated for a judgeship on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. “I think he should be confirmed unanimously. At the very least, he undoubtedly deserves an up-or-down vote,” said Reid, lamenting the likely filibuster of Liu’s confirmation.

In a newly-released study intended to provide the definitive explanation of the child abuse scandal that rocked the world, the Catholic Church blames the social turmoil of the 1960’s and 70’s for widespread child rape by its priests. This “blame Woodstock” explanation has been suggested by Church leaders since the scandal erupted in 2002. The report “concluded that neither the all-male celibate priesthood nor homosexuality were to blame.”

And finally: Gay rights activists in Minneapolis, MN showered potential presidential candidate Newt Gingrich with glitter at a book signing yesterday, telling him to “stop the hate.” Gingrich was due to give a speech at the anti-gay socially conservative Minnesota Family Council later that evening.

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