ThinkFast: May 14, 2010

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA)

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) said that he “will launch a formal inquiry” into “how much oil is gushing into the Gulf of Mexico after learning of independent estimates that are significantly higher than the amount BP officials have provided.” “I am concerned that an underestimation of the oil spill’s flow may be impeding the ability to solve the leak and handle the management of the disaster,” said Markey in a statement.

The “Minerals Management Service gave permission to BP and dozens of other oil companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico without first getting required permits from another agency that assesses threats to endangered species,” including the Deepwater Horizon site that just exploded. Under current law, the agency is required to get these permits.

Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) defended Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan from right-wing attacks that she is hostile to the military. “It is clear to me…that she is supportive of the men and women who are fighting to protect us and very supportive of the military as a whole,” said Brown, who is a JAG.

New York lawmakers have been up in arms about a supposed cut to the state’s federal funding for homeland security, but the Atlantic reported yesterday that New York barely touched the money it is currently alloted. “Of the state’s $49 million grant for port security in 2009, a paltry $4,470 has been withdrawn. And none of the $147 million transit security grant has been drawn down,” the New York Daily News confirmed.

Senate Republicans are trying to “reignite the health care debate” with a new coordinated campaign based around the slogan “second opinion.” The message will be communicated “on multiple fronts, including on the Senate floor, in press conferences, via the Internet and through television and radio appearances.”

President Obama’s nominee to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Don Berwick, is facing an assault from GOP senators who are recycling their scare-mongering rhetoric that the administration intends to ration health care. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) said, “It’s no secret that the national Republican Party has tried to crank up the attack machine and make his nomination a distorted referendum on reform.’’

The foreign secretary for Britain’s new coalition government, William Hague, will meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today, delivering a message that “there will be no weakening in” the United Kingdom’s “stance against Iran and offering early support over Afghanistan.” Hague’s visit “is intended to send a signal that the coalition wants the relationship with the US to be as strong as ever.”

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) has formed a task force to of tourism and business leaders “to help the state’s struggling tourism industry in the face of what she called ‘mistruths’ about the state’s controversial new law targeting illegal immigration.” She said that this “truth-telling” task force will develop ways to “rebrand or reposition Arizona’s brand.”

Violent Afghan protests erupted in the eastern province of Nangarhar following the killing of eleven civilians during a night raid there. “I hate this stupid Karzai, this stupid governor,” said one Afghan whose relatives were killed. “My uncle and cousins were not Taliban so why did they kill them?”

And finally: Yesterday, President Obama was in Buffalo, NY for a speech on the role of small businesses as the “backbone” of the U.S. economy. But first, he stopped at local favorite Duff’s for some spicy chicken wings, with one woman there telling him, “You’re a hottie with a smokin’ little body.”

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