ThinkFast: December 20, 2010

The Washington Post’s Dana Priest and William Arkin document the U.S. government’s “vast domestic intelligence apparatus to collect information about Americans.” They write, “The FBI is building a database with the names and certain personal information, such as employment history, of thousands of U.S. citizens and residents whom a local police officer or a fellow citizen believed to be acting suspiciously.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said yesterday that the Senate will “pass a short-term continuing resolution over into March” 2011 to keep the federal government operating. But while McConnell said he and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had agreed, a Democratic aide said a deal is not final and “there are still outstanding issues.”

Senate Democrats are scrambling to round up enough votes to pass the START treaty with Russia this week, after a key Republican said he would not vote for ratification. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who had previously signaled willingness to support the treaty, said yesterday he would not, and blamed a “sour mood” created by the passage of DADT, among other measures.

Supporters of a bill providing medical care for 9/11 first responders are optimistic the bill may pass this week, after a less expensive version of the bill was re-introduced. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will today urge the Senate to act, calling for a “Christmas miracle” for the rescue workers.


New Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (WV) skipped votes this weekend on the DREAM Act and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, giving “Republicans an easy opportunity to begin framing him as a cowardly politician without a core.” Manchin missed the two key votes “due to a family Christmas party.” The 2010 Census data being released tomorrow will likely show that “Republican strongholds in the U.S. South and West are poised to gain political power in time for the 2012 presidential election, taking electoral votes away from states Barack Obama carried in 2008.” These gains will come at the expense of the Northeast and Midwest, which may lose as many as 10 seats in Congress.

Six in 10 registered voters say they would not consider voting for Sarah Palin if she launches a White House bid, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll. “A slim 8 percent of all registered voters say they would definitely vote for Palin for president, while 31 percent say they would consider doing so.”

Under corporate-friendly Chief Justice Roberts, the Supreme Court has sided with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on 13 of 16 cases — higher than under previous chiefs — and “the percentage of business cases on the Supreme Court docket has grown in the Roberts years, as has the percentage of cases won by business interest,” a New York Times study found.

Media Matters is launching a new project called Equality Matters, a website devoted to waging a battle over gay marriage. Run by former Clinton administration staffer Richard Socarides and edited by journalist Kerry Eleveld, the site is intended to “push back against homophobic messages in the media and the political arena.”

And finally: On two separate occasions Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) invoked pop icon Lady Gaga. First, to shame Republicans for delaying ratification of START, Reid’s office circulated a list of events that have occurred since the treaty was signed in April, including when “Lady Gaga debuted her meat dress.” Later, Reid tweeted Gaga to celebrate the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, exclaiming, “We did it!”

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