ThinkFast: March 15, 2010

In an interview with The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin, Justice John Paul Stevens –- who will soon turn 90 years old — announced that he plans to retire soon. “You can say I will retire within the next three years. I’m sure of that,” Stevens said. Asked about President Obama, Stevens added, “I have a great admiration for him, and certainly think he’s capable of picking successfully, you know, doing a good job of filling vacancies.”

The Obama administration’s early opportunity to reshape America’s judiciary “appears close to slipping away, due to a combination of White House inattention and Republican opposition,” the Los Angeles Times reports. “It’s just a missed opportunity,” said University of Chicago professor Geoffrey Stone, who signed a letter to Obama late last month urging him to act with “far more energy and dispatch.”

Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren told the Israeli consuls general in a conference call this weekend that the U.S.-Israel relationship is in a “crisis” moment. “The crisis was very serious and we are facing a very difficult period in relations [between the two countries],” Oren was quoted as saying by someone on the call.

“Three people connected to the U.S. Consulate in Mexico’s deadliest city, Ciudad Juarez,” including two U.S. citizens, were shot and killed Sunday. In a statement released the same day, the White House said it “shares in the outrage of the Mexican people at the murders of thousands in Ciudad Juarez and elsewhere in Mexico.”


Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) had “no kind words” for President Obama’s efforts to reform immigration, accusing him yesterday of “paying lip service only for temporary political reasons.” Graham is working with the White House on the issue, “but you wouldn’t know it from his comments.”

“Under the cover of a benign government information-gathering program,” Defense Department official Michael D. Furlong has “set up a network of private contractors in Afghanistan and Pakistan to help track and kill suspected militants.” Some U.S. officials “say they became troubled that Mr. Furlong seemed to be running an off-the-books spy operation” and they are unsure who authorized his work.

Senate Republicans “remain deeply divided” over how to handle earmarks and will meet this week to decide whether to “follow their House counterparts and impose a moratorium on the practice.” “We’re going to discuss it and see what to do. We have different views within our caucus,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN).

Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) is expected today to unveil legislation to overhaul the financial regulatory system. The bill “is likely to be more modest than either the Obama administration’s proposal last summer or a plan Dodd pushed last fall” and is “expected to abandon the stand-alone Consumer Financial Protection Agency.”

A new report from the nonpartisan National Security Archive has found “mixed results” from President Obama’s pledge to make the federal government more transparent. “Agencies are talking the talk, but few yet are walking the walk,” said Thomas S. Blanton, the Archive’s director.


And finally: An extended outtake sequence from “Funny or Die’s Presidential Reunion” is making the rounds on the internet. The clip features George Bush Sr., played by comedian Dana Carvey, mistakenly calling Barack Obama “Borat.”Follow ThinkProgress on Twitter.