ThinkFast: May 12, 2009

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) is expected to announce Tuesday that he will run next year for the United States Senate. Crist’s announcement “will trigger one of the most chaotic and wide open election seasons ever in Florida.”

A U.S. soldier shot and killed five of his fellow soldiers yesterday at a counseling center at a base outside Baghdad in “the worst such attack” of the six-year Iraq war. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that “such a tragic loss of life at the hands of our own forces is a cause for great and urgent concern.”

Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced yesterday that “he had asked for and requested the resignation of his top commander in Afghanistan, Army General David McKiernan, after only 11 months in that theater.” McKiernan’s removal is “the first time a civilian has fired a wartime commander since President Harry Truman ousted General Douglas MacArthur in 1951.”

Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) has been hosting “lasagna dinners” to allow Blue Dog Democrats to meet with more liberal Democrats and “talk about the details of the looming cap-and-trade bill.” It is not yet clear if Welch’s gatherings “will help jar loose the legislation from committee.”


To pay for its health care plans, the Obama administration yesterday “proposed to raise nearly $60 billion more over 10 years mostly from tightening rules for inheritance taxes affecting the wealthiest estates.” A Treasury official said the tax changes “would hit less than three-tenths of 1 percent of estates in any year.”

“More than 150 car dealers plan to descend on Capitol Hill starting today, in a lobbying push aimed at saving their sales outlets as General Motors and Chrysler move to sharply pare back operations,” reports the Washington Post. GM plans to close 40 percent of its 6,200 dealerships, while Chrysler dealers “fear that 800 to 1,000 of 3,200 sales centers could be shuttered.”

In Pakistan, “mainstream Muslim religious leaders…have formed an alliance to openly oppose the Taliban” which may give “authorities broad-based support to fight militants who have imposed a reign of terror on much of the northwest.”

“The top senators on the Senate Banking Committee have reached a compromise on a bill that would protect consumers from abusive credit card industry practices, increasing the likelihood that the Senate will pass it as early as this week.” The compromise includes a ban on raising rates within the first year a credit card account is opened, among other consumer protections.

Forty-five Blue Dog Democrats in the House “have protested the secretive process by which party leaders in their chamber are developing legislation to remake the health care system.” In a letter to three committee chairman writing the bill, the conservative Democrats said they were “increasingly troubled” by their exclusion from the bill-writing process.


And finally: Vice President Biden thinks his dog is better than Obama’s. Asked by a youngster if he had ever petted a dog, Biden said yes and that his dog, Champ, was the “smartest, coolest dog in the world.” “My dog is smarter than Bo, his dog,” Biden said of Obama’s new pup. “I think so,” Biden added. “Yeah, I do.”

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