ThinkFast: May 9, 2011

A military study has found that the psychological strain on U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan is at a five-year high. The survey reports the lowest morale since 2005, with the most severe mental health strain existing among veterans that have had three or more deployments. “We’re an Army that’s in uncharted territory here,” says Gen. Peter Chiarelli, Army vice chief of staff.

White House National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said Sunday that he has not “seen any evidence at least to date that the political, military, or intelligence leadership of Pakistan knew about Osama bin Laden.” Nonetheless, Donilon stressed that the United States would be working with Pakistan to investigate how Bin Laden was able to encamp in a major suburb of Islamabad, Pakistan.

Wall Street leaders will pressure House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) tonight “to provide reassurance that Congress will raise the U.S. debt limit” after his speech to the Economic Club of New York. While Boehner will take credit for “forcing Democrats to the table to negotiate spending cuts,” Wall Street wants assurances that “when it comes down to brass tracks they are going to raise that debt ceiling.”

“Senate Democrats say they will move forward this week with a plan that would eliminate tax breaks for big oil companies and divert the savings to offset the deficit.” “Big Oil certainly doesn’t need the collective money of taxpayers in this country,” said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ).

Tea Party favorite Rep. Allen West (R-FL) voted against a bill scrapping a small piece of health care reform last week, a surprising break from the GOP’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act piece by piece. “He questions what the goal is of chipping away like this if it’s almost certain that the Senate is not going to take it up,” a West spokesperson said.

The Department of Transportation will award 15 states with $2 billion in high-speed rail funding that Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) rejected. Despite his predecessor’s approval of the project and a state report indicating “the rail line would be profitable,” Scott passed on the $2.4 billion over concerns of being “locked into years of operating subsidies.”

In the latest efforts to curb union influence, lawmakers in Missouri and New Hampshire are attempting to advance right-to-work laws through legislatures this year. Right-to-work laws exist in 22 states, and they were proposed in 18 states this year. New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch (D) has promised to veto a right-to-work bill if it passes.

Bahrain’s rulers, eager to continue to suppress a pro-democracy movement, have been following a policy of systematically bulldozing mosques frequented by Shiite Muslims. Although the government has “bulldozed dozens of mosques,” the “Obama administration has said nothing in public” about the destruction of the country’s mosques, some of which are hundreds of years old.

And finally: Golf Digest magazine is hoping to capitalize on two national leaders’ love of the sport by organizing a golf match between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). The publication has even already made about 10,000 Obama-Boehner “Let’s Play Golf!” buttons. Boehner told “60 Minutes” last year that he has talked “several times” with the president about playing golf, “It just hasn’t happened yet.”

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