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ThinkFast: July 16, 2008

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"ThinkFast: July 16, 2008"

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The Pentagon has announced an end to the surge in Iraq, as “the last of the five additional combat brigades sent in by President Bush last year has left the country.” But “150,000 U.S. troops remain, as many as 15,000 more than before the buildup began.” Gen. David Petraeus now begins his “45-day evaluation period” in order to “determine how many more troops he could send home.”

The Congress voted to override President Bush’s veto of a Medicare bill “aimed at forestalling an 11 percent cut in payments to doctors taking care of Medicare patients.” The House “voted 383 to 41 to override the veto, while the Senate voted 70 to 26.”

In Afghanistan, “the killing of civilians in foreign military airstrikes is shattering Afghans’ support for keeping international troops in their troubled land and driving angry young men into the arms of the Taliban.” A spokesperson for NATO explained, “There is a perception problem.”

President Bush tried to “calm consumers” troubled by the economy, “but his words had little effect.” By the end of the day on Tuesday, “the Dow had closed at its lowest level in two years,” and “the government reported that prices had jumped at their sharpest pace in 27 years.”

On the trail today: Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) will be at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN, discussing emerging national security issues at a Summit on Confronting 21st Century Threats. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will be attending a fundraiser in Ashland, NE, and will be addressing the NAACP’s annual convention in Cincinnati, OH.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates warned yesterday against “creeping militarization.” He argued that the military option should be subordinate to diplomacy because “we cannot kill or capture our way to victory.”

The Massachusetts State Senate “voted swiftly and unanimously yesterday to strike down a 95-year-old law that blocks gay and lesbian couples from…being married” there. If the repeal passes the State House and is signed by the Governor, Massachusetts will become the second state “to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry regardless of their place of residence.”

“Merrill Lynch has warned that the United States could face a foreign ‘financing crisis’ within months as the full consequences of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage debacle spread through the world.”

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) is in trouble with his “GOP colleagues”
who complain that “his stalling tactics on the Senate floor have gone too far.” DeMint recently scheduled and then missed a vote on President Bush’s global AIDS program, tried to delay the housing bill and has previously tried to “block an immigration measure and a bill to beef up lobbying and ethics rules.”

And Finally: The Lion of the Senate, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), is the subject of a new ballad by his conservative colleague from Utah, Sen. Orin Hatch (R-UT). Hatch, who has “written hundreds of songs on patriotic themes – with such titles as ‘Freedom’s Light’ and ‘I Love Old Glory,’” wrote the song as a tribute to “Kennedy’s heroic return to the Senate.” The ode may be played at next month’s Democratic convention “as a living example of a brotherhood that transcends party lines.”

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

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