ThinkFast: October 29, 2009

President Obama traveled to the Dover Air Force Base very early this morning to meet the flag-draped caskets of 18 Americans killed in military service in Afghanistan this week. Reporters witnessed Obama standing at attention and saluting the coffin of Army Sergeant Dale R. Griffin, whose family consented to media coverage.

President Obama “is considering sending large numbers of additional U.S. forces to Afghanistan next year but fewer than his war commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, prefers.” Under what one official described as “McChrystal Light,” the General would be given less than the 40,000 forces he asked for with a narrowed mission of “protecting Afghan cities and key infrastructure.”

Speaking in Pakistan yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned a market bombing that killed more than 100 people. “These attacks on innocent people are cowardly,” she said. “They are not courageous. They are cowardly. If the people behind these attacks were so sure of their beliefs, let them join the political process.”

In a sign that the economy is improving, the Commerce Department reported this morning that “the economy grew at a 3.5 percent pace in the third quarter, the best showing in two years.”


Under pressure from conservative Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) “has decided to propose a government-run insurance plan that would negotiate rates with doctors and hospitals, rather than using prices set by the government.” Pelosi was unable to get the votes needed to pass a bill with a “robust” public option. The bill would cost “less than the $900 billion ceiling suggested by President Obama.”

Time’s Amy Sullivan reports that the conservative organization Focus on the Family, which is opposing the use of federal funding for health plans that cover abortion, provides its employees health insurance through Principal, an insurance company that covers “abortion services.” Sullivan notes that this means Focus’ employees pay premiums to a company that funds abortions.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs met with Fox News executive Michael Clemente yesterday at the White House. Though “there were no details” released about the meeting, FishBowlDC reported that a “truce” may have been reached.

“Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) broke down in tears several times on the House floor Wednesday afternoon as he read letters from people who said their loved ones died because they were uninsured.” Calling for Congress to finish their “work of universal health care in America,” Grayson concluded his remarks by saying, “for God’s sake, I look forward to a time when we have finally done our jobs.”

President Obama told federal agencies not to award Recovery Act funds to “contractors with troubled histories.” But the Washington Post reports that “33 federal departments and agencies have awarded more than $1.2 billion in stimulus contracts to at least 30 companies” ranked “as among the most egregious offenders of state and federal laws” according to the Project on Government and Oversight.


And finally: Last month, former House speaker Newt Gingrich retracted an “Entrepreneur of the Year” award he had accidentally bestowed upon Dallas strip club owner Dawn Rizos and refunded $5,000 donation she made to his group, American Solutions for Winning the Future. Rizos called the mix-up “disappointing.” Rizos is instead using that $5,000 to build a shelter for unwanted pit bulls, calling it “Newt’s Nook: A Home For Pit Bulls.” “At first our feelings were hurt,” said Rizos. “But then we figured at least we could make something positive out of his bad manners.” Her office added that Gingrich is always welcome to the strip club.

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