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ThinkFast: May 5, 2006

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"ThinkFast: May 5, 2006"

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The Bush administration is refusing to talk directly with a host of regimes it criticizes, including Iran, Syria, and the Palestinian government led by Hamas. Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage criticized this approach: “[D]iplomacy is not simply meant for our friends. It is meant for our enemies. “¦ In fact, our enemies need diplomatic engagement more. We ought to have sufficient self-confidence in the correctness of our policy and the ability of our diplomats.”

33: Approval rating of President Bush, his lowest ever as recorded by an AP-Ipsos poll. Bush has also lost the support of his base: “Forty-five percent of self-described conservatives now disapprove of the president.”

The House yesterday overwhelmingly approved a $7.4 billion port security bill, though conservatives bowed to industry and “blocked consideration of a Democratic amendment that would have required that all cargo be screened before it leaves foreign ports for the United States.”

A sad commentary on the way Americans must carry themselves abroad: “The official team bus to be used by the United States during the World Cup will not bear a flag for security reasons. The 32 official buses were presented Thursday in Frankfurt and the other 31 buses have large national flags of the teams painted on rear sides.”

“Under intense pressure,” Rep. Charles H. Taylor (R-NC) has agreed to “drop his effort to block federal funds for a memorial to the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93.”

Students at the Broad Creek Middle School in North Carolina write to Mark Rey, under secretary of agriculture, to protest his proposal to sell 309,000 acres of National Forest land. “What is the deal with cutting down the Croatan National Forest? … How would you like it if we cut down some trees around your house?” Meanwhile, President Bush’s nominee to be the next Secretary of the Interior distanced himself from the proposed sale.

Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) says “he’s not surprised by allegations of prostitution” in former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham’s case. “If I’m trying to connect dots, this is not a surprising outcome.”

Cheney friend and Petroleum Finance Corporation head J. Robinson West candidly discusses the effects of peak oil: “Worldwide production will peak. The result will be skyrocketing prices, with a huge, sustained economic shock. … For the last 20 years, U.S. policy has discouraged production and encouraged consumption. If we dither any more, we will pay a terrible price, the economic equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane.”

The federal government’s no-fly list continues to malfunction, often trapping government officials with security clearances. Examples: an active-duty Army officer who holds a top-secret clearance, a State Department diplomat, and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA).

Poor women in America are increasingly likely to have unwanted pregnancies,” a new study shows. Asked to explain the trend, authors “noted that some state and federal reproductive health programs have been cut or made more restrictive in recent years.” Analysts suspect the shift to abstinence-only education “is leading to less use of contraceptives and more unintended pregnancies.”

And finally: Yesterday the Do-Nothing Congress tried to prove it does more than nothing. The House Government Reform Committee took up the important business of approving H. Res. 753, commending “American craft brewers;” H. Con. Res. 399, recognizing “the 30th anniversary of the victory of United States winemakers at the 1976 Paris Wine Tasting;” and H. Res. 327, affirming support for “the goals and ideals of National Passport Month.”

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