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ThinkFast: June 12, 2008

By ThinkProgress on June 12, 2008 at 9:00 am

"ThinkFast: June 12, 2008"

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As Bush arrived in Italy yesterday for meetings with Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi and Pope Benedict XVI, he was greeted by hundreds of anti-war activists and other demonstrators who marched through the capital. The AP writes that these protests show “anti-Bush sentiment over the war in Iraq still lingers.”

A new WSJ/NBC poll finds that, increasingly, voters don’t like President Bush personally. “By 60% to 30%, they have negative views of him, his worst showing ever.” By a majority of 54% to 42%, “voters say they’d prefer a president ‘who will bring greater changes’ over one who is ‘more experienced and tested.’”

Despite fierce opposition by Iraqis to his call for a long-term occupation of Iraq, President Bush yesterday expressed confidence that a status of forces agreement would pass. “Bush said that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ‘appreciates our presence there‘” and suggested much of the opposition “is based on inaccurate media reports and misunderstandings.”

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) “said he’s not going to let his effort to impeach President Bush die a quiet death in committee. He said Wednesday that he’ll bring his resolution back in 30 days if the Judiciary Committee…doesn’t act on it.” “In 30 days, I’ll be joined by many more” members, he said.

On the trail today: Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) is holding a town hall meeting in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, “where he’s expected to push his economic plan to help struggling people like those hard-hit by a downturn in Wisconsin’s paper industry.” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) holds a media availability in Boston at 11:30 am “followed by town hall meetings in Nashua, NH, and New York City.”

“As Bush travels across Europe to gain support for possible new sanctions against Iran, Israeli leaders have been working to lay the psychological foundation for a possible military strike if diplomacy falters. In public threats and private briefings with American decision-makers, Israeli officials have been making the case that a military strike may be the only way to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”

Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) are expected to introduce legislation today that would close “loopholes that lobbyists for foreign clients sometimes use to keep their activities under wraps.” The bill would “require those who meet with American officials outside the country on behalf of foreign politicians to register as lobbyists, a step that existing law does not require.”

A CNN investigation has found “FEMA gave away about $85 million in household goods meant for Hurricane Katrina victims.” FEMA said, “We determined that they were excess to FEMA’s needs; therefore, they are being excessed from FEMA’s inventory.” But Martha Kegel, the head of a New Orleans nonprofit agency, responded, “These are the very things that we are seeking right now.”

Yesterday, the House fell just three votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass an extension of unemployment insurance benefits. House leaders plan to bring the legislation to the floor again today. The legislation will “will be considered under a rule…on the floor, and will only need a simple majority to pass.”

The financial credit crisis is squeezing student loan programs that offer breaks to borrowers who enter critical fields such as nursing and teaching,” as state-backed lenders in at least six states “have dropped or scaled back programs.”

And finally: June seems to be music month on Capitol Hill. On Monday, the House passed legislation honoring recently deceased blues legend Bo Diddley. On Tuesday, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) “introduced a resolution to make September ‘Gospel Music Heritage Month,’” and Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) proposed “a bill honoring country singer Toby Keith’s commitment to the armed forces. “Although the troops have been hearing his hit ‘I Love this Bar,’ our office is so proud of our hometown hero that we hope he’ll be singing, ‘I love this bill,’” Cole’s spokeswoman said.

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

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