ThinkFast AM: June 16, 2006

Vice President Dick Cheney claimed that the Iraq war was “in part responsible” for the absence of terrorist attacks in the United States since the September 11, 2001 strikes. The State Department reported in April that the number of terrorist attacks worldwide increased nearly fourfold in 2005.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the flag-burning amendment yesterday. The 11–7 vote “was supported by all committee Republicans and opposed by all but one Democrat — Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California.”

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, and Education yesterday “voted to eliminate $115 million in federal funding for public broadcasting” like NPR and PBS, representing “a 23 percent decrease in the previously-approved 2007 appropriation.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter is upset that he has not received a response to his request that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testify before his committee on the NSA’s warrantless spying programs. Specter said yesterday, “I will ask for authorization for a subpoena if we do not get an adequate response.”


59: Percentage of Americans who say climate change warrants “some action” or “immediate” steps, up from 51% in 1999, according to a WSJ/NBC poll.

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor has documented in a U.N. report “thousands of alleged direct killings of civilians” and “a significant number of large scale massacres” in Darfur. The ICC “also registered hundreds of alleged cases of rape.”

The Smithsonian has removed an exhibit featuring a “rare surviving example” of the battery-powered car that is the focus of the new filmWho Killed the Electric Car?” The movie shows how General Motors “created a dynamic battery-powered auto that drivers loved, only to crush it to smithereens.” GM is one of the Smithsonian’s “biggest contributors.”

A new Congressional Research Service report finds that since World War II, “the government has typically used emergency supplemental appropriations bills to fund ongoing military operations only sparingly, switching to regular annual budget submissions as soon as a better picture of costs were known.” In related news, the Senate passed the ninth emergency supplemental bill since 9/11.

A 74-page Pentagon briefing book with talking points on Iraq may be illegal. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) sent a letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld complaining that his office had spent “taxpayer dollars to produce partisan political documents,” possibly in violation of laws prohibiting the Executive Branch from using taxpayer dollars for lobbying and propaganda activities.


And finally: Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) may be “one of the stalwart votes for ‘kid-friendly’ regulation in entertainment,” but that doesn’t mean he can’t enjoy a good video game. “I’ll have to confess, Mr. Chairman, that I am also a video game player. I have worked my way up to Civilization IV. I haven’t yet been able to beat it but I at least understand the fundamentals of it.”What did we miss? Let us know in the comments section.