ThinkFast AM: June 30, 2006

The Senate “agreed yesterday to schedule a vote on a package of bills that would loosen President Bush’s five-year-old restrictions on human embryonic stem cell research.”

In a “swipe at the media aimed primarily at The New York Times,” the House voted yesterday to condemn media organizations that had disclosed the Bush administration’s program tracking financial records.

President Bush has nominated Peter D. Keisler for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Keisler is currently a senior Justice Department official and defended the administration’s policy of military tribunals, which was overturned yesterday by the Supreme Court.

Former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke says the administration wants the “public to believe that it had not already occurred to every terrorist on the planet that his telephone was probably monitored and his international bank transfers subject to scrutiny.” “How gullible does the administration take the American citizenry to be?” Clarke wonders.

“Prospects for a swift renewal of the Voting Rights Act faded on Thursday as lawmakers called for new congressional hearings.” If not renewed, provision of the landmark 1965 civil rights legislation will expire at the end of 2007.

Time Magazine asks, “Is BP Really That Green?” “The question has come into stark relief following a series of environmental and safety lapses — and, as of this week, federal charges of price-fixing — which have muddied up the company’s carefully cultivated image.”

“China’s Internet regulators are stepping up controls on blogs and search engines to block material it considers unlawful or immoral.”

Salmon baby food: Sen. Ted Stevens’s (R-AK) newest $450,000 earmark in the fiscal 2007 Agriculture spending bill. “This is a cannery cartel at our [taxpayers’] expense,” said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste.

“The Bush administration has been unable to muster even half of the 2,500 National Guardsmen it planned to have on the Mexican border by the end of June. … Some state officials have argued that they cannot free up Guardsmen because of flooding in the East, wildfires in the West or the prospect of hurricanes in the South.”

And finally: Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) is taking his colleagues back 2 skool. He has introduced a resolution that “would require every member of Congress and each person on their staff to read the Constitution at least once per year.”