ThinkFast: November 14, 2008

CIA Director Michael Hayden said yesterday that al-Qaeda remains the greatest threat to the U.S. “but Iraq is no longer the central front” in the broader struggle against terrorism. He added that “its leaders are building closer ties to regional militant groups in order to launch attacks in Africa and Europe and on the Arabian Peninsula.”

Putting aside his earlier criticisms of Sen. Saxby Chambliss’s dirty campaign tactics, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) yesterday showed up for a campaign appearance for the Georgia Republican, who is locked in a tough runoff election. In his first campaign appearance since Nov. 4, McCain praised Chambliss for his work on agriculture, national security, and spending reduction.

Some Republican governors were not happy about yesterday’s Palin-centric press conference, at the Republican Governors Association. “One called it awkward,” CNN reports, while another described the event as “odd” and “weird,” and said it “unfortunately sent a message that she was the de facto leader of the party.”

Yesterday, Rahm Emanuel — the incoming White House chief of staff — apologized for his father’s remarks against Arabs. Emanuel called Mary Rose Oakar, President of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, to apologize on behalf of his family and offered to meet with representatives of the Arab-American community at an appropriate time in the future.


“The number of U.S. workers drawing jobless benefits hit a 25-year high this month.” The Labor Department said jobless claims rose “by an unexpectedly steep 32,000 last week to 516,000, the highest since the weeks following the September 11, 2001 attacks.”Foreclosures in October rose 25 percent from last year, according to RealtyTrac, meaning “one in every 452 U.S. housing units received a foreclosure filing” last month. Meanwhile, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. released a plan to prevent 1.5 million foreclosures “by offering financial incentives to companies that agree to sharply reduce monthly payments on mortgage loans.

Democratic congressional leaders appeared to concede yesterday that “they would face potentially insurmountable Republican opposition” to a proposed $25 billion auto industry bailout when they meet for a lame-duck session next week.

PhRMA, the nation’s largest pharmaceutical lobbying group, “is preparing a multimillion-dollar public relations campaign to tout the importance of free-market health care and undercut an expected push by the Obama administration for price controls of prescription drugs.”

Judge Barbara L. Neilson of Minnesota threw out a lawsuit Thursday against Al Franken by Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN). Coleman claimed Franken defamed him by calling him the “fourth most corrupt” senator, according to CREW. Franken’s reference of CREW was “substantially accurate, if not literally true,” according to Nielson.

And finally: The New York Times reports on how life for the Obama family has “changed forever.” For example, for the past 14 years, Barack Obama has been going to the same barber at the Hyde Park Hair Salon. “But when he wanted a trim this week, the Secret Service took one look at the shop’s large plate-glass windows and the gawking tourists eager for a glimpse of the president-elect and the plan quickly changed. If Mr. Obama could no longer come to the barber, the barber would come to him and cut his hair at a friend’s apartment.”

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