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ThinkFast: December 15, 2006

“President Bush will be there this afternoon as the Pentagon rolls out a full-honors goodbye ceremony for Donald Rumsfeld.”

Sen. Bill Nelson’s (D-FL) meeting yesterday with Syrian President Assad was “inappropriate and undermined democracy in the region,” the White House said. Three more senators, including Arlen Specter (R-PA), will visit Syria soon. Meanwhile, the White House hedged yesterday when asked whether neocon darling Ahmad Chalabi was reaching out to Syria on behalf of the U.S.

White House press secretary Tony Snow apologized yesterday to NBC News correspondent David Gregory, whom he accused last week for posing “partisan” questions at a briefing for journalists. “I’ve thought a lot about that, and I was wrong,” Snow said.

C-SPAN has asked incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to change rules kept in place by conservatives that require camera operators to take “static, head-on shots of the representative who’s speaking at the podium,” instead of “taking individual reaction shots” or panning the House chamber.

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New Zogby poll shows that “Arab attitudes toward American people, products and culture grew increasingly negative last year,” in large part from U.S. policy toward Iraq and the Palestinian conflict.

“By slipping four sentences into a big bill passed last week,” outgoing House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) “secured a major change in Medicare policy avidly sought by a few health insurers, in particular a multinational company with headquarters in his home state, Illinois.” The provision “showed up mysteriously after House and Senate negotiators had finished writing the bill.”

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday rejected the Iraq Study Group’s recommendation that the United States engage in talks with Syria in Iran, stating, “If they have an interest in a stable Iraq, they will do it anyway.”

“Warning that the active-duty Army ‘will break’ under the strain of today’s war-zone rotations, the nation’s top Army general yesterday called for expanding the force by 7,000 or more soldiers a year and lifting Pentagon restrictions on involuntary call-ups of Army National Guard and Army Reserve troops.” The idea of escalating troop levels is “running into strong opposition in Baghdad. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has flatly told Gen. George Casey, the top American military commander in Iraq, that he doesn’t want more U.S. personnel deployed to the country, according to U.S. military officials.”

And finally: Politicians are about as ethical as car salesmen, according to the “annual Gallup survey on how the public ranks various professions in terms of ‘honesty and ethical standards.’” Seven percent of Americans rated the ethics of car salesmen highly, with congressmen getting 14 percent and senators 15 percent. Nurses rated the highest with 84 percent.

What did we miss? Let us know in the comments section.