ThinkFast: February 22, 2008

“Not since the Depression has a larger share of Americans owed more on their homes than they are worth,” reports the New York Times, as Congress weighs various proposals to help the “8.8 million homeowners, or 10.3 percent of the total,” who “are underwater.”

Despite his rhetoric against lobbyists and special interests, “virtually every one” of Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) “closest advisers” are “part of the Washington lobbying culture.” McCain’s campaign manager, chief political adviser, and other senior advisers are all current or former lobbyists. Some are still being paid by lobbying firms while working on the campaign.

Former Gitmo prosecutor Air Force Col. Morris Davis, who resigned over political interference in the military tribunals, has agreed to appear at a hearing for defendant Salim Hamdan. “I’m more than happy to testify,” Davis said. He called it “an opportunity to tell the truth.”

In “the first confirmed ground operation by the Turkish military into Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion,” as many as 10,000 Turkish troops pursued separatist Kurdish rebels across the border into Iraq yesterday. The operation raises concerns of a wider conflict between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurds.


Influential Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr ordered his Mahdi Army militia on Friday to extend a ceasefire for another six months. Those who honor Sadr’s “pledge will be treated with respect and restrain,” the U.S. military said.

Several hundred Serb demonstrators, “incensed by the U.S. recognition of Kosovo’s independence, overran and burned part of the American Embassy in the Serbian capital of Belgrade on Thursday.” The EU said the attacks “risked harming efforts to bring the Balkan nation closer to the EU.”

Yesterday, Congress held a bipartisan meeting to broker a compromise on surveillance legislation. Republican lawmakers, however, prevented their staffs from attending. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) responded by noting conservatives want “to have a political issue rather than a strong new FISA bill in place as quickly as possible.”

A “surge of immigrants” are going to court “to force U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to complete their background checks and act” on their citizenship applications, which are often delayed for several years. In 2005, there were 4,400 suits filed against USCIS “over delayed name checks,” up from 270 in 2005.

And finally: Last weekend, Janet Huckabee, wife of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, had a room booked at the MGM Grand hotel in Las Vegas. She was in town “to root for fellow Arkansan and friend Jermain Taylor,” who was boxing against Kelly Pavlik. At the last minute, however, “plans changed” and Huckabee ended up staying at “the pride of Sin City, the Hooters Casino Hotel.” “It was the only thing, quite frankly, that was available,” said Huckabee.

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