ThinkFast: June 10, 2008

“The White House had stronger ties to disgraced superlobbyist Jack Abramoff than it has publicly admitted,” according to House Oversight Committee report. “President Bush himself met Abramoff on at least six occasions, the report said, citing White House documents; the White House had previously acknowledged only two.”

Iraqi lawmakers say that the Bush administration is “demanding 58 bases as part of a proposed ‘status of forces’ agreement that will allow U.S. troops to remain in the country indefinitely.” Jalal al Din al Saghir, a leading lawmaker from the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, called the deal “more abominable than the occupation.”

The Campaign for a New American Policy on Iran, which bills itself as “transpartisan,” is launching a drive today to head off an American military attack on Iran by pushing for high-level negotiations with Tehran. Carah Ong, a campaign organizer, said the goal is to “raise the fact that a military attack is likely and it needs to be prevented.”

In a 6–3 decision, the “Supreme Court on Monday limited the rights of public employees, ruling that a state worker who said she was fired by a supervisor who was out to ‘get rid of’ her could not sue the government for denying her equal protection of the laws.”

On the trail today: Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) continues the “Change That Works For You” tour in St. Louis where he will work a morning shift at a local hospital. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) gives the keynote address to the National Small Business Summit in Washington D.C. and then travels to New York City.

A new Human Rights Watch report found that “[o]ver two-thirds of the detainees in the Guantanamo Bay prison are suffering from or at risk of mental problems because they are kept isolated in small cells with little light or fresh air.” The report said that “[d]etainees held in this manner include many that have not been charged with crimes and have already been cleared for release or transfer.”

Senate Republicans “are hungry” for the advice of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, hoping he can be an election guru in “the harshest climate for their party in over a decade.” The Hill reports that Gingrich “is quietly expanding his influence in the upper chamber, where he is selling ideas on refurbishing the GOP’s image.”

Lobbyists may be one of the only groups who don’t mind high oil prices. Since gas prices have been on the rise, lobbyists have found steady employment fending off “a variety of legislation that would do everything from opening OPEC up to antitrust lawsuits” to taxing “windfall profits” the industry now gets and redirecting the money to promote renewable energy.

The Senate is expected to vote today “on whether to consider a windfall profits tax against the five largest U.S. oil companies and rescind $17 billion in tax breaks the companies expect to enjoy over the next decade.”

The BBC reports that the “final withdrawal of British troops from Iraq could be announced by the end of the year.” The UK still has approximately 4,000 troops in the country, down from a peak of 26,000 in 2003.

And finally: During rough weather last week, Capitol police instructed everyone “to get away from the windows because of an approaching tornado.” But the Hill reports that Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) refused to comply, using the chance to break the building’s no-smoking rules. Rahall stood just “inside the balcony door to the Speaker’s Lobby, puffing away on his stogie. … At one point he stood outside and jumped at a startling crack of thunder. Still, he never once put out the cigar.” Rahall said he was never afraid of the tornado, “just nervous about finishing my cigar.”

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