ThinkFast: September 2, 2008

64 percent: People concerned that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) “would pursue policies that are too similar to what George W. Bush has pursued,” according to a new USA Today/Gallup poll. Forty-seven percent fall into the “very concerned” category and 17 percent rate themselves “somewhat concerned.”

Hurricane Gustav struck the Gulf Coast with less strength than feared, “sparing New Orleans and the world’s densest concentration of oil-and-gas facilities.” While the emergency response effort went largely as planned, “officials said that at least seven people were killed” in the storm.

The death of a sailor in Afghanistan over the weekend marked the “500th U.S. service member to die in that country since the war there began in 2001.”

The Justice Department’s inspector general says Alberto Gonzales improperly handled classified materials about national security programs, including the Bush administration’s warantless wiretapping program, during his tenure as Attorney General. However, “officials in the Justice Department’s national security division looked at the inspector general’s report but did not find a case to prosecute.”


On the trail today: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is scheduled to make a public appearance in Philadelphia and will then head to Cleveland, OH. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) is in Chicago with no public events scheduled. Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar have been released from police custody in St. Paul, following their arrest while covering demonstrations at the Republican convention. According to Democracy Now!, all three were “violently manhandled by law enforcement officers.”

“While it’s possible” the McCain campaign called some people in Alaska to vet Gov. Sarah Palin, “there was no sign of it,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “A Republican with ties to the campaign said the team assigned to vet Ms. Palin in Alaska had not arrived there until Thursday,” just one day before McCain announced Palin as his vice presidential pick.

As mayor of Wasilla, AK, Gov. Sarah Palin hired a lobbying firm to secure nearly $27 million in federal earmarks. The Anchorage-based firm has “close ties” to Rep. Don Young (R) and Sen. Ted Stevens (R), who was indicted in July. “The Wasilla account was handled by the former chief of staff to Stevens, Steven W. Silver, who is a partner in the firm.”

Ten percent of Americans “are unemployed, discouraged from seeking work or underemployed,” up 25 percent from last year, according to a Rutgers University labor scorecard. The report also found that “median weekly earnings for American workers have not grown in real terms over the last eight years” and “the federal minimum wage is worth 40 cents less per hour, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than it was a decade ago.”

And finally: The “micro-blogging” site Twitter — which allows users to post 140-character messages — has become an invaluable resource during Hurricane Gustav. One New Orleans resident, Robert Peyton, said that even when the power went out, he could still receive messages from the New Orleans Twitter community directly to his smartphone. Peyton added that Twitter was one of the only ways to get accurate updates. “The national broadcasts are just kind of silly and alarmist,” he said.