ThinkFast: June 22, 2009

Iran’s Guardian Council, which is charged with certifying the election, admitted that “the number of votes cast in 50 cities exceeded the actual number of voters.” “The discrepancies, the most sweeping acknowledged so far by the authorities, could affect some three million ballots of what the government says was an 85 percent turnout numbering 40 million voters.”

Politico reports that Republican senators are disappointed that Judge Sonia Sotomayor “isn’t serving as the political lightning rod some in their party had hoped she would be.” Sen. John Thune (R-SD) said, “She doesn’t have the punch out there in terms of fundraising and recruiting, I think — at least so far.”

According to the latest NYT/CBS poll, 72 percent of Americans support creating a public health insurance option, and 57 percent are willing to pay higher taxes to cover all Americans. “Half of those questioned said they thought government would be better at providing medical coverage than private insurers, up from 30 percent in polls conducted in 2007.”

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the new U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said over the weekend that “he would sharply restrict the use of air strikes…in an effort to reduce the civilian deaths that he said were undermining the American-led mission.” McChrystal said he would only allow their use in firefights with the Taliban to “prevent American and other coalition troops from being overrun.”


Welfare rolls “are climbing across the country for the first time since President Bill Clinton signed” reform legislation. According to a WSJ/National Conference of State Legislatures survey, 23 of the 30 largest states, “which account for more than 88% of the nation’s total population, see welfare caseloads above year-ago levels.” The biggest increases are in states with some of the worst jobless rates.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) — who denies that climate change will impact agriculture — wants House Democrats to “soften” the Waxman-Markey clean energy legislation’s impact on “coal-burning power plants,” “scale back existing regulation of ethanol,” and make other changes that could “steer huge sums of money to farmers.”

Since admitting to an extramarital affair with a former aide, Sen. John Ensign’s (R-NV) approval ratings have plummeted to 39 percent, “a drop of 14 percentage points from a month ago.” Additionally, the percentage “who regarded Ensign unfavorably, 37 percent, was up 19 points from a month ago, when just 18 percent viewed him negatively.”

In an interview with CBS, President Obama defended his administration’s proposal to give the Fed new powers to oversee systemic risks to the economy. Obama said he wants an overseer that “is accountable and clear when it comes to these large systemic firms that could potentially bring down the entire financial system. The Fed has the expertise and the credibility I think to do it.”

California lawmakers are focused on closing a $24 billion gap in the state budget. “While Democrats struggle to preserve programs for the state’s neediest residents,” Republicans are trying to “force large cuts that will have an effect on policies like health care for children in poor families and the early release of thousands of prisoners.”


And finally: The White House tennis court is currently being refashioned into a basketball court for President Obama, who plans to take advantage of the new facilities to “summon the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James and possibly other NBA stars to the White House to shoot some hoops.” When asked by Bloomberg News whether he would be joining the game, Obama replied, “Of course. It’s my court.

Sign up here to receive our daily e-newsletter, The Progress Report.