ThinkFast: May 8, 2008


Marriott International is considering opening a hotel in Baghdad‘s fortified Green Zone in response “to a request from U.S. government officials who are eager to help revive Iraq with foreign investment and economic activity.” The company’s chief executive, Bill Marriott, is said to be “considering the deal but is concerned about safety issues.”

According to Pentagon records, “[m]ore than 43,000 U.S. troops listed as medically unfit for combat in the weeks before their scheduled deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan since 2003 were sent anyway.” Veterans groups say this “reliance on troops found medically ‘non-deployable’ is another sign of stress placed on a military that has sent 1.6 million servicemembers to the war zones.”

At Fort Bragg yesterday, Army Secretary Peter Geren said “that the Army has appropriated $248 million in emergency funds to fix problems found during inspections of 148,000 rooms at bases worldwide over the past two weeks.” At the same time, “military leaders concede the housing situation as a whole is deplorable despite the millions spent over the decades” to fix the old structures.

Yesterday, Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) called on Office of Special Counsel chief Scott Bloch to resign, “one day after nearly two dozen FBI agents raided OSC headquarters” in a probe of Bloch’s activities. “[I]t’s hard to believe he can continue to operate effectively,” Davis said.

Humanitarian groups have said that “[e]ntire sections of Baghdad’s embattled Sadr City district have been largely abandoned by civilians fleeing a US-led showdown with Shi’ite militias.” The agencies have reported that “[l]acking adequate food or medicine, many of the evacuees and those still besieged in their homes are seeking help.”

“The White House and Senate Republicans signaled Tuesday that they would allow an up-or-down vote on Republican FEC nominee Hans von Spakovsky, clearing the way for possible confirmation of other nominees to the agency.” Democrats had demanded the chance to vote on Spakovsky separately from other judicial nominees.

In March, consumer borrowing rose “at the fastest pace in four months, more than double the increase of the previous month, in what was seen as a sign of rising economic stress.” The increase in consumer debt also hit $15.3 billion at an annual rate in March, “much bigger than the $6 billion increase that economists had been expecting.”

“Americans rank last in a new National Geographic-sponsored survey released Wednesday that compares environmental consumption habits in 14 countries,” as U.S. residents were the “least likely to choose the greener option in three out of four categories — housing, transportation and consumer goods.”

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt “acknowledged gaps in the capability of U.S. hospitals to deal with a mass-casualty terrorist attack or other disaster” yesterday, but supported President Bush’s proposed deep cuts in Medicaid funding. House Democrats called the cuts “irresponsible” because they would further weaken emergency rooms.

And finally: Yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) appeared on “The Daily Show,” where he joked that his Secret Service Code name is “jerk.” During the taping, McCain pretended to walk off the set when host Jon Stewart “pressed him on whether President Bush is more of a liability for him than the Rev. Jeremiah Wright is for Obama. Then McCain fiddled with his microphone and mouthed ‘technical difficulties’ into the camera.”

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