ThinkFast: May 24, 2011

President Obama said today that he will visit tornado-ravaged Missouri on Sunday after he finishes his tour in Europe. Calling the 116 deaths “devastating and heartbreaking,” Obama said, “we are going to do absolutely everything we can to make sure that they recover.”

House Republicans are planning to make deep cuts to domestic nutrition programs and international food assistance, cutting $832 million -– or 12 percent –- from a federal program that provides food for low-income mothers and children. The bill would also cut 12 percent from the Food and Drug Administration.

“In the heaviest attack yet on the capital” of Libya, NATO warplanes struck at least 15 targets in central Tripoli early this morning, with most of the airstrikes concentrated on an area around dictator Muammar Qaddafi’s compound. Meanwhile, lawmakers introduced bi-partisan legislation to provide Congressional authorization for the U.S. involvement.

Freshman Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) said Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) should be “ashamed of himself” for coming out against the Medicare-ending House Republican Budget. Brown wrote an op-ed in Politico yesterday explaining his oppostion, prompting Walsh to issue a warning on Fox News to “any Republican that doesn’t vote for this.”

House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (D-CA) so far “isn’t the boogeyman Democrats expected.” Issa announced in January he would launch six major investigations in the next three months, but so far, he’s off to a slower start, focusing on more “mundane, bureaucratic policies” that don’t attract big headlines.

Claiming a “blanket exemption from discussing parts of his career he doesn’t want to address,” GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said yesterday that he doesn’t plan to answer “gotcha” questions or “allow the press to pin him down on every detail of his political and personal record.”

Sarah Palin’s team is pushing back against former aide Frank Bailey’s new book, “Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin,” a behind-the-scenes look at Palin’s two years as governor of Alaska. Palin’s team called Bailey a disgruntled former employee — he was left off her vice presidential campaign — and said the book “belongs on the fiction shelves.”

In a 5-4 decision yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled that conditions in California prisons have gotten so bad they violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Justices described a prison system that produced “needless suffering and death,” and ordered state officials to cut the prison population by 30,000.

And finally: Former President Bush was nearly hit by a foul ball last night at a Texas Rangers game. “The ball hit the ledge just feet in front of the former first couple,” but both the batter and the Bushes “had a good laugh about it afterwards, while a man who appeared to be part of Bush’s Secret Service detail looked on nervously behind the couple.”