ThinkFast: June 26, 2008


75 percent: Americans who “blame President Bush’s economic policies for making the country worse off during the last eight years, according to a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll.”

The number of Americans who would condone torture, at least when used on terrorists in order to save lives, has risen in the past two years to 44 percent, according to a poll.” Still, a majority of Americans think all torture should be banned.

On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment denying money for President Bush’s new “program to expand domestic use of Pentagon spy satellites,” citing concerns about possible civil-liberties abuses. Congress will block the program’s funds until the GAO “completes a report examining civil-liberties and privacy issues related to the domestic use of picture-taking spy satellites.”

U.S. forces in Iraq are facing a “spike in deadly violence.” Yesterday, a roadside bomb killed four soldiers, pushing “to at least nine the number of Americans who have died” in Iraq this week. A car bomb in Mosul also killed 18 people today, wounding 60.

The United States “will lift key trade sanctions against North Korea and remove it from the U.S. terrorism blacklist,” President Bush announced this morning. The move, which is “a remarkable turnaround in policy,” came after North Korea “handed over a long-awaited accounting of its nuclear work to Chinese officials.” “This is the first step. This isn’t the end of the process,” said Bush in a Rose Garden press conference.

On the trail today: Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) will visit Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University “for an event that his campaign is billing as a summit to help America create jobs, improve education and compete in the global economy.” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will kick off a two-day swing through Ohio “with a noon town hall meeting at Xavier University in Cincinnati with undecided voters.”

McCain recently “held a personal meeting with the head of the national gay Republicans organization, the Log Cabin Republicans.” He recently said that he opposed gay marriage; in the past, he has also opposed civil unions.

McCain’s top presidential campaign adviser, Rick Davis, has worked for McCain for nearly eight years and “his relationship with the senator has been a lucrative commodity.” “He and his lobbying firm…have earned handsome fees representing clients who need McCain’s help in the Senate.” He also made money by housing “McCain-related entities” at his firm’s “upscale riverfront office space.”

CQ writes that the Senate may not vote on FISA reform until after the July Fourth recess. “There are two things we have to do before we go home for July Fourth: housing and Medicare,” Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) said Tuesday. “We do not have to do, if the Republicans don’t want to do it, we don’t have to do FISA and we don’t have to do the supplemental” spending measure for the wars.

California will introduce a detailed plan today “to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels in 12 years by requiring more energy-efficient appliances and buildings, lowering vehicle emissions and generating 33 percent of its energy from renewable sources.” The plan, which “is the most comprehensive effort in the country,” would also include a cap-and-trade system.

And finally: Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) “held court” at the Cafe Japone karaoke bar in Washington, DC, on Tuesday night. With “a pink lei around his neck,” Honda “raised his arm and hooted in support of a young staffer as she struggled through Fergie’s ‘Fergalicious.’” Honda, however, choose to sing “Moon River” in honor of his wedding anniversary. Politico reports that Honda first tried karaoke in 2001, “in an effort to overcome his fear of public speaking during his first days as a congressman.”