ThinkFast: May 17, 2006

The White House reversed its position yesterday and “agreed to brief all members of the House and Senate intelligence committees” on their warrantless domestic spying program, “just as the architect of the program is facing a contentious confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill.” The administration is backing away from its claim that the “decision to restrict these briefings to a select group of members of Congress is in keeping with longstanding tradition when dealing with matters of extreme sensitivity…and it’s perfectly legal.”

The National Climatic Data Center found that last April “was the hottest ever in the United States, according to records going back to 1895.”

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) accused Bush’s choice for deputy CIA director, Stephen Kappes, of “gross insubordination.” Hoekstra claimed former Director Porter Goss had “real concerns” about Kappes, whom he once fired, because he asked him to “do certain things or to stop from doing certain types of things, and the guy refused.”

“Seven members of the Congressional Black Caucus were arrested at the Embassy of Sudan on Tuesday while protesting conditions in the nation’s Darfur region.” “Enough is enough,” said Rep. John Lewis, (D-GA). “We must do all we can to stop the violence.” Click here to see video of the protest.

Despite the anti-lobbyist rhetoric coming from Capitol Hill, lawmakers continue to ask lobbyists for money. “The Speaker [Dennis Hastert (R-IL)]…said we need to minimize our contact with lobbyists, implying something is not right,” said one lobbyist. But just this week, he received a fundraiser invitation from Hastert where the “suggested minimum contribution” was $2,500. “How dare he ask us for money.”

33: Bush approval rating according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, another record low. 66 percent disapprove of his handling of Iraq, a record high. 69 percent believe the nation is on the wrong track.

President Bush plans to sign a bill today extending $70 billion in tax cuts. “It is the latest “” and perhaps finest “” example of the perpetual motion machine that passes for tax policy in Congress and the Bush administration: making the tax code ever more complex and easier for those with squadrons of tax lawyers to exploit.”

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) said yesterday that he would get the Senate to waive the penalty for the elderly adults and Americans with disabilities who missed the May 15 deadline to sign up for the Medicare prescription drug benefit. (President Bush has come out against this measure.)

A day after BellSouth denied it helped the NSA compile a phone records database, Verizon Communications Inc. claimed it also did not give the government records of millions of phone calls. Meanwhile, BellSouth and AT&T were added to a class-action lawsuit against Verizon that alleges the companies illegally participated in an NSA domestic surveillance program.

And finally: flashcards designed to help applicants for U.S. citizenship learn basic civics fails to mention a fundamental First Amendment freedom — the freedom of the press. Alfonso Aguilar, director of the office of citizenship at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, said, “The person who developed the test was not necessarily a civics or constitutional scholar.”

What did we miss? Let us know in the comments section.