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ThinkFast: November 4, 2009

Concerns over jobs and the economy helped propel Republicans to sweep the gubernatorial contests in New Jersey and Virginia. In Virginia, Governor-elect Bob McDonnell pledged “a wise and frugal government” and to keep taxes, regulation and litigation “to a minimum.” In New Jersey, Governor-elect Chris Christie pledged to cut regulations and spending and “get government back under control.”

In New York’s 23rd congressional district, Bill Owens scored a historic victory by becoming the first Democrat to carry the district since the mid-19th century. In California, Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, who “never retreated from his support of progressive policies” during the campaign, easily won a special election.

Fifty-three percent of Maine voters chose to repeal the state’s same-sex marriage law yesterday, with 47 percent voting against the proposition. There was brighter news for gay rights advocates in Washington state, where voters narrowly approved Referendum 71 granting “registered domestic partners additional state-granted rights currently given only to married couples.”

On a 344 to 36 vote, the House yesterday rejected a U.N. report that accuses Israeli and Palestinian forces of war crimes during last year’s war in the Gaza Strip as “irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy.” The nonbinding resolution urges the Obama administration “to oppose unequivocally any endorsement” of the report.

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The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has set aside an earlier ruling that would have allowed five victims of the U.S. rendition program to sue the U.S. government. At the behest of the Obama administration’s Department of Justice, the case will be re-heard before an 11-judge panel December 15th.

Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton will be squaring off for their second public debate on Feb. 25 at Radio City Music Hall. The event is being billed as an “uncensored, unedited and unpredictable” forum.

The British government announced yesterday that it will be breaking up major banks that were bailed out by taxpayers. “There are lessons here for the United States,” said Richard Portes, an economics professor at the London Business School. “The supposed economies of scale of massive financial institutions are outweighed by the difficulties in controlling risk inside them.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs is pledging $3.2 billion with the goal of curbing the number of homeless veterans within five years. “No one who has served this nation as veterans should ever be living on the streets,” said VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, adding that the plan is focused “on preventing as it does on rescuing those who live on the streets.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said the Senate may not meet President Obama’s goal of passing a health care bill by the end of the year. “We’re not going to be bound by any timelines,” he said. Republicans have mapped out a strategy to “delay, define and derail” the bill.

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And finally: President Bush has lost his touch: While he may have been booed throwing pitches during his presidency, at least they made it to the plate. But at Game 3 of Japan’s World Series yesterday, Bush managed only a dirtball.

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