ThinkFast: May 27, 2010

Escalating his administration’s response to the disastrous Gulf oil spill,” President Obama plans to announce today that “a moratorium on new deepwater oil drilling permits will be continued for six months while a presidential commission investigates.” He will also issue “delays in exploration and drilling off the coasts of Alaska, and the cancellation of leases off the coast of Virginia.”

Countering the criticism of Republican senators, the Supreme Court’s “most outspoken conservative,” Justice Antonin Scalia, praised Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan for not having served as a judge. “When I first came to the Supreme Court, three of my colleagues had never been a federal judge,” Scalia said yesterday. “I am happy to see that this latest nominee is not a federal judge – and not a judge at all,” he added.

President Obama’s decision to deploy up to 1,200 National Guard troops to the Mexican border has “confounded allies who say he is squandering his chance to address” immigration comprehensively. “I’m trying to reconcile the stated belief of this president when he was a candidate, what he has said publicly — as recently as a naturalization ceremony last month — and what his actions are,” said Angela Kelley, vice president for immigration policy at the Center for American Progress.

According to White House’s new national security strategy, military power alone will not sustain American global influence. U.S. leadership will also depend on expanding international partnerships beyond its traditional allies and building global institutions. The strategy calls for maintaining a strong economy and committing to “education, clean energy, science and technology, and a reduced federal deficit.”

A new USA Today/Gallup poll finds that 60 percent of Americans say the federal government is doing a “poor” or “very poor” job handling the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Fifty-three percent said the same about President Obama’s handling of the spill. Fifty percent said protecting the environment now should be a higher priority than promoting economic growth.

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) said that an internal BP document shows that the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster may be leaking 14,000 barrels of oil a day into the ocean. BP has so far denied that the flow rate is accurate.

Democrats and the White House are scrambling “to line up support for $23 billion in federal aid to avert an estimated 100,000 or more school layoffs in a brutal year for education budgets coast to coast.” “We desperately need Congress to act — to recognize the emergency for what it is,” said. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “We have to keep hundreds of thousands of teachers teaching.”

Senate Armed Services Committee member Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) will support the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, he announced last night. Byrd’s support was won with the insertion of language that would “give Congress an additional 60 days to thoroughly review the implementation policy once certified.”

House Democrats say they have the votes to pass their new campaign finance reform bill. The bill, known as the DISCLOSE Act, now has 114 co-sponsors and will be voted on either at the end of this week or after the Memorial Day weekend.

And finally: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) reveals that one of her “most embarrassing moments” in office came when, “while presiding over the Senate, a page handed her a note signed ‘Anonymous’ that read, ‘Pull up your shirt.'” The incident evidently “became a joke” among some senators such as Jon Tester (D-MT). The next time Klobuchar presided over the chamber, “she got a second anonymous note. ‘Your earrings don’t match,’ it read. ‘When she looked up, Tester was cracking up in the back row.'”

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