ThinkFast: February 13, 2008

Steven Spielberg announced yesterday that “he was withdrawing as an artistic adviser to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, after almost a year of trying unsuccessfully to prod President Hu Jintao of China to do more to try to end Sudan’s attacks in the Darfur region.”

House Democratic leaders “plan to force a vote as early as Thursday on holding Joshua B. Bolten, White House chief of staff, and Harriet E. Miers, former White House counsel, in contempt of Congress.” At the direction of the White House, Bolten and Miers last year refused to comply with subpoenas in U.S. attorneys probe.

In his first trip overseas since taking office, “Attorney General Michael Mukasey met Wednesday with the head of Iraq’s judicial council during a quick trip to Baghdad to review U.S. efforts to help build the nation’s legal system.” Mukasey also met with top U.S. officials in Iraq.

“A Bush administration plan to crack down on contract fraud has a multibillion-dollar loophole: The proposal to force companies to report abuse of taxpayer money will not apply to work overseas, including projects to secure and rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan.”


“Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) joined several House Republicans Tuesday by promising not to request any earmarks in appropriations bills this year. ‘We have a problem in Congress,’ said Waxman in a statement.” Waxman praised House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-WI) for cutting down on earmarks last year, but said more needs to be done.

In a letter to the Justice Department’s Inspector General yesterday, Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) called for “an investigation into the role DOJ officials have played in authorizing the use of waterboarding during interrogations.” In their letter, the senators note that Attorney General Michael Mukasey “refused to conduct his own inquiry into the matter.”

“The Defense Department is displaying a ‘precipitous decrease in attention’ to the security and control of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, according to a Defense Science Board task force.” “The decline in DoD focus has been more pronounced than realized and too extreme to be acceptable,” said the task force’s chairman, retired Air Force Gen. Larry D. Welch, in testimony yesterday.

The Writers Guild of America returns to work today, ending a “devastating, three-month walkout that brought the entertainment industry to a standstill.” More on the details of the agreement here.

Yesterday, the Treasury Department announced that the “federal budget deficit is running at a pace that is more than double last year’s imbalance through the first four months of the budget year.” Although “the budget was in surplus in January, but totals $87.7 billion so far this budget year, double the $42.2 billion imbalance recorded during the same period in 2007.”


And finally: President Bush “was coasting through a list of greetings for prominent African-American leaders at a White House ceremony yesterday afternoon when he came to one of his fiercest critics, the Reverend Al Sharpton. ‘Rev. Al Sharpton, and his wife, Dominique — Reverend, it’s good to see you,’ Mr. Bush said.” The problem? The 21-year old Dominique is Sharpton’s daughter, not his wife. An attendee “quickly shouted a correction to the president, who winced as the audience broke out in laughter.”

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