ThinkFast: July 31, 2009


Col. Timothy Reese, an adviser to the Iraqi military’s Baghdad command, recently wrote a blunt memo stating that it is time “for the U.S. to declare victory and go home.” “Extending the American military presence beyond August 2010, he argues, will do little to improve the Iraqis’ military performance while fueling growing resentment of Americans.”

Karl Rove went on a public relations offensive yesterday, “saying he did nothing wrong in the controversial firings of nine U.S. attorneys.” His comments “prompted immediate calls of foul play by congressional Democrats, who accused him of sidestepping an agreement not to discuss” his testimony to the House Judiciary Committee. “It’s hardly surprising…that selectively leaked documents would serve his version of events,” a committee spokesman said. 

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) is still undecided on whether or not he will vote to confirm Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. “I have no idea,” Baucus said. “I haven’t paid any attention and I haven’t announced. … I’ve been so busy with healthcare.” Baucus joins other Democratic senators who are waffling in the face of pressure from the National Rifle Association.

The Washington Post notes that “Blue Dogs receive significantly more money — about 25 percent — from the health-care and insurance sectors than other Democrats, putting them closer to Republicans in attracting industry support.”

President Obama described yesterday’s “beer summit” as “a friendly, thoughtful conversation.” “What you had today was two gentlemen who agreed to disagree on a particular issue,” Sergeant James Crowley said. Professor Henry Louis Gates said, “We’ve learned that we can have our differences without demonizing one another.”

The government’s $1 billion “cash for clunkers” program is turning out to be more popular than officials anticipated and has used up nearly all its funds just a week after it launched. Drivers receive vouchers up to $4,500 for trading in “gas-guzzling cars for more fuel-efficient models.” Obama administration officials are reportedly “evaluating all options” to keep the program running.

Yesterday, the House passed a $636.3 billion military spending bill “that preserved funding for a new presidential helicopter” which the White House opposes. But following the Senate’s lead, the House did strike hundreds of millions of dollars for the production of F-22s.

President Obama said yesterday that second quarter GDP numbers “would show the economy contracted and job losses were still a ‘huge’ problem.” He also said credit and banking systems have begun to stabilize and that economists agree that the economy had seen a “significant slowing down of the contraction over the last several months.”

Politico reports that, when President Obama invited a handful of leading CEOs to the White House for lunch, he made them pay for it. “White House staffers collected credit card numbers for each executive and carefully billed them for the cost of the meal with the president.”

And finally: Next Tuesday is President Obama’s 48th birthday. Although the White House website encourages Americans to donate to charity rather than send gifts to the President, The Hill asked lawmakers what they would theoretically give him. “A pair of socks, because [socks] are always a good gift,” said Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC). “A taste of home,” suggested Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL). “Maxwell Street polish sausage, heavy onions, heavy mustard.” Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), known as one of Congress’ “better present-givers,” suggested a “good healthcare bill passed out of the Finance Committee before recess.”

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