ThinkFast: March 10, 2011

In a bold and unexpected move, Wisconsin Senate Republicans moved the state’s anti-union bill outside of fiscal rules — which allowed it to bypass quorum requirements — and passed it along an 18–1 vote. The bill’s passage sent shockwaves across the state, with pro-labor protesters planning to march on the capitol today and some labor leaders discussing the possibility of a general strike.

Republicans in the Ohio state House are expected to easily pass this week a bill that would strip public sector employees of many of their rights to collectively bargain. The bill, which goes farther than Wisconsin’s anti-union bill in some respects, already passed the Senate by a razor-thin margin despite massive protests from labor groups and their allies.

While some GOP leaders have distanced themselves from Rep. Peter King’s (R-NY) planned hearings into domestic Muslim radicalization, the freshman Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee are all standing behind King. “There are few people in Congress who understand the dangerous impact of radical Islam like Pete King,” said Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI).

A new USA Today/Gallup Poll found “most Americans do not believe U.S. Muslims are too extreme in their religious beliefs, yet a majority also finds it appropriate that Congress examine the radicalization of some members of the Muslim community.” Fifty-two percent of Americans said Rep. Peter King’s (R-NY) anti-Muslim hearing is appropriate, while 38 percent said it is inappropriate.


The White House yesterday affirmed its support of NPR and public broadcasting, only hours after NPR President Vivian Schiller resigned amid a controversy generated by conservative activists. “In an era where tough choices have to be made, including the ones this president laid out in his proposed 2012 budget, there remains a need to support public broadcasting and NPR,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

The Republican House of Representatives will defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court, following an announcement last week from the Obama administration that it would no longer defend the law that bans recognition of same-sex marriages. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) said the general counsel of the House will initiate a legal defense.

The UN said yesterday that civilian casualties increased last year in Afghanistan mainly due to a sharp jump in assassinations and a rise in suicide bombings and IEDs. The UN attributed 75 percent of the deaths to forces trying to destabilize the country — a 28 percent increase from 2009. NATO and allied military operations accounted for 16 percent of the total, a 26 percent decrease from 2009.

And finally: While there are many unknown unknowns and known unknowns, one known known is that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will not be “America’s Next Top Model.” Nonetheless, the man known more for standing at his desk than standing on the catwalk posed with “Model” host Tyra Banks yesterday, posting a photo of the odd duo on his Facebook page.

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