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ThinkFast: February 22, 2007

14,000 National Guard troops will return to Iraq next year, “shortening their time between deployments to meet the demands of President Bush’s buildup.” “The accelerated timetable illustrates the cascading effect” Bush’s escalation plan is putting on the entire armed forces.

Lobbying restrictions on the “revolving door” are “completely ineffectual.” Five of the 39 ex-lawmakers who lost in November are now at firms that lobby Congress, including Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT), who said last year that “Congress is not for sale.”

$36 billion: Amount the military needs for equipment and reconstruction costs, “denied earlier by the administration in its $481 billion defense appropriations request for the new fiscal year.” Among the requests are “more than 5,000 armored vehicles [and] another $153 million for systems that defend against the deadly improvised explosive devices in Iraq.”

“I would assess this administration’s record on global warming as terrible,” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said yesterday. He pronounced himself “very happy to see the president mention global warming and a renewed commitment from the administration to this issue.” But he added tartly: “It’s long overdue.”

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Rep. Thomas M. Davis (R-VA), the top Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, “blasted the Army yesterday, saying in a statement that it has known for years about shortcomings at Walter Reed.

Army Vice Chief of Staff Richard Cody yesterday said that a “breakdown in leadership” was responsible for the poor conditions of Walter Reed’s outpatient facilities. “I’ll take responsibility and I’ll make sure that it’s fixed,” Cody promised.

Spurred by online activists, five state legislatures moved last week to oppose Bush’s Iraq war strategy. The Vermont legislature, Iowa and California Senates, legislators in Maine, and the Boston City Council have all taken action to express their opposition to escalation in Iraq. The moves “illustrate the war’s unpopularity among elected officials at all levels.”

At least 10 people have been arrested in protests ahead of Vice President Cheney’s arrival in Australia. Cheney will be meeting with Prime Minister John Howard, who has been a staunch supporter of the war in Iraq. More than 70 percent of Australians believe the war in Iraq was not worth fighting.

And finally: DHS unveils one heckuva website. A DHS press release said the new site aimed to help travelers stuck on no-fly lists — https://dhs.gov/trip — was “an easy to use and easy to access online location.” “The only hitch: DHS provided a Web address that didn’t work.” The URL for the correct address, which the public will likely find a tad more difficult to remember, is here.