"ThinkFast: May 16, 2008"
Yesterday, VoteVets and CREW released an email showing attempts by the VA employees to refrain from diagnosing veterans with PTSD. VA Secretary James Peake responded by claiming that the “e-mail did come from a VA facility, but said it’s not official policy.” Iraq war vet Brandon Friedman writes, “You’ll have to forgive me for not giving Secretary Peake the benefit of the doubt on this one.”
Former Assistant Secretary of Defense under Ronald Reagan, Lawrence Korb, writes, “By now, Mr. Reagan would most likely have redeployed our forces from Iraq as he did from Lebanon. But if he stayed, he would have implemented a draft.”
Yesterday, House Democrats, along with some Republicans, “approved an expansive new veterans education benefit that would be paid for by a tax on affluent Americans.” According to the tax plan, “individuals earning $500,000 or more would pay a surtax of 0.47 percent on income above $500,000 and the tax would apply to couples on incomes above $1 million.”
The United Service Organizations (USO) has announced that it has joined with Blackwater to help provide amenities to U.S. troops. The controversial contracting company has pledged $2 million over the next four years “to support USO programs and services for the troops, including homecoming celebrations and logistical support for USO entertainment tours.”
“Senator McCain’s current fiscal proposals would increase the federal deficit to its highest level in 25 years and raise the national debt to heights not seen since World War II,” according to a new study by the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) “secured millions in federal funds for a land acquisition program that provided a windfall for an Arizona developer whose executives were major campaign donors, public records show.”
This summer, the Bush administration plans to implement “new air quality rules that will make it easier to build power plants near national parks and wilderness areas, according to rank-and-file agency scientists and park managers who oppose the plan.”
Rep. Don Young (R-AK) “is having trouble getting contributions to his legal defense fund. Young, who is under federal investigation as part of a state bribery probe, established the fund in early January. But “a document filed with the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct shows ‘no activity‘ since” the fund was approved.
Democrats have criticized the Bush administration’s use of spy satellites for “emergency response and other domestic-security needs.” They “are seeking to cut off funding, citing what they say are numerous unanswered questions about its impact on Americans’ privacy and civil liberties.”
And finally: As of Wednesday, conservative activist Grover Norquist is one of the few people who have been on both “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.” Regarding his interview with Stephen Colbert, Norquist said it was “one of the most challenging interviews I’ve ever done because it’s so unpredictable and he’s so bright.” “If any conservatives want to go on, I’d love to brief them,” said Norquist. “It’s less scary and more fun than you think it’s going to be.”
What did we miss? Let us know in the comments section.