ThinkFast: July 23, 2009

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) said Republicans won’t offer a health care bill of their own, breaking a previous promise. Greg Sargent notes that on the House GOP Health Care Solutions Group’s Web site, “you’ll find prominent video of Blunt vowing the GOP is ‘drafting our own legislation.’”

While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) declared yesterday that she had the votes to pass health care legislation, a leading “Blue Dog” Democrat disagreed. “No, I don’t think they have the votes,” said Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR), “arguing if that were the case he and the other six Blue Dogs on the House Energy and Commerce Committee who have been holding up the bill in committee would be under far less pressure.”

White House Counsel Greg Craig released a letter yesterday revealing that 15 health care industry executives participated in a combined 27 meetings at the White House since February. Though the letter was a response to inquires by CREW, the watchdog group called the releases “insufficient,” noting that “the FOIA requires the administration to release the records themselves.”

U.N. officials said the Obama administration is refusing to allow U.N. human rights investigators to interview inmates at Gitmo and to have access to information on secret prisons. Secretary of State Clinton also recently turned down a meeting request from the U.N.’s top anti-torture official. “They said, ‘We are trying to close down the institution. For the time being, we don’t see it as a priority,’” a U.N. official said.


A Bloomberg Global Poll of financial investors and analysts finds attitudes about the new president in Asia and Europe are overwhelmingly positive, with 87 percent approving. In the U.S., by contrast, they are slightly negative. Only 49 percent approve.

A new State Department report says that the U.S. Embassy in Iraq is “significantly overstaffed and needs to be downsized to reflect the reduced American role in the country.” “There is a clear consensus from the top to the bottom of the embassy: The time has come for a significant rightsizing,” says the report from the department’s inspector general.

“Entering a debate that has stirred political tumult in Britain,” Vice President Biden told the BBC to expect more coalition troops to die in Afghanistan but also that the war is “worth the effort.” He said the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region is “a place that, if it doesn’t get straightened out, will continue to wreak havoc on Europe and the United States.”

Glen Peters, a researcher at the Center for International Climate and Environment Research in Oslo, said the U.S. is by far the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases “if consumers in rich nations are given responsibility for energy used to make imported goods.”

President Obama said last night that Cambridge, MA police “acted stupidly” when they arrested Harvard African-American studies professor Henry Louis Gates “even after he showed proof that he lived in the house.” Obama added that it is “just a fact” that blacks and Latinos are disproportionately stopped by police.


And finally: In a lighter moment at last night’s press conference, Obama joked that he would likely get shot if he lost his keys and tried to break into the White House. While discussing the arrest of Professor Gates, Obama tried to put himself in the same position. “I mean, if I was trying to jigger into — well, I guess this is my house now, so it probably wouldn’t happen,” Obama said. “But let’s say my old house in Chicago. Here [in the White House], I’d get shot.” Watch it.