ThinkFast: November 18, 2008

The Bush administration is pushing a last-minute proposal to “grant sweeping new protections to health care providers who oppose abortion and other procedures on religious or moral grounds.” Three officials from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission “said the proposal would overturn 40 years of civil rights law prohibiting job discrimination based on religion.”

“Just weeks before leaving office, the Interior Department’s top lawyer has shifted half a dozen key deputies — including two former political appointees who have been involved in controversial environmental decisions — into senior civil service posts.” The move will “deprive the incoming Obama administration of the chance to install its preferred appointees in some key jobs.”

Over 100 retired generals and admirals called Monday for the “repeal of the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy on gays so they can serve openly.”

“The Pentagon spent about $600 million on more than 1,200 Iraq reconstruction contracts that were eventually canceled,” reports the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, adding that “42% of canceled contracts were terminated because the contractor either failed to deliver or performed poorly.”


The “triple-whammy of injury, unemployment and waiting for disability claims to be processed has forced many veterans into foreclosure, or sent them teetering on its edge, according to veterans’ organizations.” Veterans’ housing troubles are particularly hard to measure because there are no foreclosure statistics “singling out veterans and service members.”Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) announced yesterday that “he would advance a bill early next year calling for universal health care.” Kennedy, who was making his second appearance on Capitol Hill since he began treatment for a malignant brain tumor in June, said that “the president-elect has indicated that this is going to be a priority, and I certainly hope it will.”

Americans are divided on whether the federal government should give “financial assistance to the Big Three U.S. automotive companies,” according to a new Gallup poll. Forty-seven percent of respondents said they favor providing aid while 49 percent oppose it. A slight majority would favor assistance if one or more of the “Big Three” were certain to fail without it.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) is “challenging the idea that the expanded Democratic majority and its leaders will make a hard left turn,” the Hill reports. According to the prepared remarks for a speech at the National Press Club, Hoyer will argue today, “For the first time in decades, we are a true national majority party — and if we want to stay that way, we must govern like one.”

Two advisers to President-elect Barack Obama say his administration is “unlikely to bring criminal charges against government officials who authorized or engaged in harsh interrogations of suspected terrorists” during the Bush administration. As Spencer Ackerman notes, the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act preemptively barred nearly all such prosecutions.

The government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki “is systematically dismissing Iraqi oversight officials, who were installed to fight corruption in Iraqi ministries by order of the American occupation administration.” Officials estimate that anywhere from “a handful to as many as 17” of the 30 ministry inspectors general have been ousted, while several “agreed that seven to nine…had already been dismissed or forced into retirement.”


And finally: Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee is ready to settle old scores. His book, “Do the Right Thing: Inside the Movement That’s Bringing Common Sense Back to America,” hits shelves today and is “filled with sharp words for his fellow Republicans who frustrated his bid for the party’s nomination.” For example, Huckabee writes that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s record was “anything but conservative until he changed the light bulbs in his chandelier in time to run for president.”

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