ThinkFast: May 26, 2011

Republican lawmakers vowed “no retreat” on their Medicare privatization plan yesterday despite some recent setbacks, “saying they needed to attack the Democrats’ Medicare position more forcefully, rather than back off their own plan.” Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) explained, “It’s a wake-up call on how you frame it. It obviously wasn’t framed right.”

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and 19 conservative senators asked House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to “block President Obama from making recess appointments for the remainder of his presidency” by requesting that he reject any resolution allowing the Senate to recess for more than three days.

Last night, MSNBC host Ed Schultz apologized for using “vile and inappropriate language” after calling conservative radio host Laura Ingraham a “right-wing slut” on his radio program. Schultz said that was “wrong,” adding, “I recognize the severity of what I said.” MSNBC has suspended Schultz for one week without pay.

After a long impasse, the Senate reached an agreement last night to renew the Patriot Act, which will expire Friday at midnight. Many had feared that the law, which enables intelligence authorities to conduct roving wiretaps and access business records, would not be renewed in time after Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a fierce opponent, pledged to hold up a vote.

Alan Simpson, former co-chairman of President Obama’s debt commission and GOP senator, blasted anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist yesterday, blaming him for preventing a bipartisan solution to the deficit. Norquist has been pressuring Republicans to sign a “no new taxes” pledge, prompting Simpson to say, “What kind of a nut is this guy?”

Egypt announced that it will be permanently opening the Rafah border with the Gaza Strip Saturday, with will provide relief to the territory that has been under a blockade for four years. The move sparked protests by the Israeli government, which has continues to enforce its own embargo on Gaza.

Goodwin Liu “withdrew his nomination for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in a letter to President Barack Obama.” “With no possibility of an up-or-down vote on the horizon, my family and I have decided that it is time for us to regain the ability to make plans for the future,” said Liu, whose confirmation had been repeatedly filibustered by Senate Republicans.

And finally: Despite numerous reports saying otherwise, former President Clinton does not make a cameo appearance in “The Hangover II.” However, for Clinton fans hoping to see Bill on the big screen, while visiting the Hangover set in Bangkok, Thailand, he did reportedly ask star Bradley Cooper, “Is there going to be an ‘A-Team 2’ – and can I be in it?

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