ThinkFast: May 20, 2008

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"ThinkFast: May 20, 2008"

VoteVets Action Fund will launch a new ad today featuring veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, pressuring Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to support the 21st Century GI Bill. “‘McCain thinks covering a fraction of our education is enough,’ one veteran says. Another one, pictured recovering from head wounds, adds in a voiceover: ‘We didn’t give a fraction in Iraq. We gave 100 percent.’”

115: The number of lobbyists John McCain has either working for him or raising money for him. So far, three of them have resigned. The remaining lobbyists “represent all kinds of industries,” foreign regimes, and are some of McCain’s closest advisers.

President Bush has apologized to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for an American soldier shooting at a Quran, the prime minister’s office said.”

The Louisiana National Guard unit called home after Hurricane Katrina “was ordered yesterday to prepare to return to Iraq for its second tour.” The unit is part of about 40,000 active-duty and National Guard soldiers who Pentagon officials notified yesterday that they will be “deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in the upcoming months and years.”

“Just a few years after the Republican Party launched a highly publicized diversity effort, the GOP is heading into the 2008 election without a single minority candidate with a plausible chance of winning a campaign for the House, the Senate or governor,” notes the Politico. This dry spell is the longest since the 1980s.

Only one in five detainees in U.S. custody in Iraq are members of the main extremist groups fighting U.S. and Iraqi forces, while many of the rest can be reintegrated back into society, according to U.S. military statistics and interviews.” The U.S. military indicated it would seek to release more of the average men caught in the fighting.

Blackwater “has run into heavy local resistance to its efforts to set up military and law-enforcement training facilities near San Diego’s major Navy bases.” Mayor Jerry Sanders “is moving to stop the company over permit problems,” stating it didn’t get the “scrutiny appropriate for a facility for firearms training.”

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) is “not expected back at work in the Senate this week” as doctors continue to search for the cause of a weekend seizure that put him in the hospital. Kennedy’s office says that “he’s doing well and anxious to get back to work,” but doctors are still evaluating him and his staff expects “the senator to remain in the hospital for a couple of days.”

Mired in scandal, Rep. Vito Fossella (R-NY) has announced that he will not be seeking re-election this fall. In his statement, he cited the “need to concentrate on healing the wounds that I have caused to my wife and family.”

And finally: In the next month, at least two groups are planning on holding ice cream socials for staffers on Capitol Hill. However, organizing these events is tricky under the new ethics regulations. For example, attendees will “get no more than a single scoop at a time. … Cones and disposable cups with plastic spoons will be used — not fancy plates and silverware — for fear the event might turn into something approaching a meal, which would be forbidden.”

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