ThinkFast: February 11, 2008

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"ThinkFast: February 11, 2008"

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In Baghdad today, Defense Secretary Robert Gates “publicly endorsed the concept of ordering a pause in troop withdrawals from Iraq this summer” after the removal of five brigades returns the number of deployed troops to pre-surge levels. “A brief period of consolidation and evaluation probably does make sense,” said Gates after meeting with Gen. David Petraeus.

The Decider failed to decide. A Rand Corp. study of post-war failures in Iraq — which the Army attempted to bury — chided President Bush for failing to make key decisions prior to the war. “Throughout the planning process, tensions between the Defense Department and the State Department were never mediated by the president or his staff,” the report said.

Vice President Cheney is trying to “block the release of video depositions by White House aides” in a lawsuit “by a man who was arrested after he allegedly touched Cheney at a Colorado shopping mall in 2006.” Cheney’s lawyers expressed concern that the videos could “embarrass and even humiliate” the aides if posted to YouTube.

Newly released documents show that a “generous earmark” in 2005 by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) “was manipulated to lead to the purchase of property owned by his former aide, Trevor McCabe, now an Anchorage fisheries lobbyist.” The earmark was meant to ensure that “McCabe would be bailed out of a money-losing real estate venture by U.S. taxpayers.”

“The media have been barred from covering” Karl Rove’s speech to students at Choate Rosemary Hall, a prestigious prep school, today. Rove and the school’s headmaster “decided mutually to exclude the media.” Rove was originally set to speak at the school’s commencement, but his speech was moved to today after student protests.

President Bush will give “Congress a fresh assessment of the troubled economy as he prepares to sign a $168 billion stimulus package into law.” Yesterday, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said the “U.S.’s economic growth rate is expected to slow in the first half of 2008, but it is likely to recover to an acceptable rate in the second quarter of the year.”

Coal utilities and the Bush administration “suffered another setback with a federal appeals court decision,” which “slap[ped] down the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to ‘delist’ mercury from a list of pollutants it is required to control at each power plant.”

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez threatened to cut off oil sales to the United States in an “economic war” if Exxon Mobil Corp. wins court judgments to seize billions of dollars in Venezuelan assets.

“Despite the political minefields that surround the issue,” House Democrats are drafting stopgap immigration reform legislation that would likely include “five-year visas for illegal immigrants who pay fines and pass criminal background checks.”

And finally: Last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was, as always, “full of colorful characters and even more colorful posters, t-shirts and signs.” The DC Examiner photographed the top 10 CPAC signs here.

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

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