ThinkFast: January 26, 2011

President Obama urged Americans to “win the future” in his State of the Union address last night, through both increased government investment in key areas, along with some fiscal restraint measures. “Sustaining the American dream has never been about standing pat,” Obama said. “It has required each generation to sacrifice, and struggle, and meet the demands of a new age. Now it’s our turn.”

In his State of the Union address last night, President Obama proposed a five-year discretionary spending freeze, building on his earlier call for a two-year spending freeze. The spending freeze exempts entitlements and the military.

Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) warned earlier this month that President Obama would spew “venom” during his State of the Union Address, but it was Broun whose rhetoric turned toxic on his Twitter feed during the speech. “Mr. President, you don’t believe in the Constitution. You believe in socialism,” the congressman told his 3,000 followers.

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) conceded last night that Senate reformers will be unable to successfully change the filibuster. “We didn’t have the votes,” he told Politico. “But what we’ve achieved is a lot. We’re going to put in place a number of agreements, but we’re going to have a number of votes to see how strong we are on reform.”

The 2008 financial crisis that crippled global economies was avoidable, according to the conclusions of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. Its report blamed a wide array of regulators and elected leaders, including the Bush administration, which the report criticized for having an “inconsistent response” to the crisis.

Senior White House adviser David Plouffe promised yesterday that President Obama will address gun control at a “different venue, different speech, later date.” Plouffe said that while Obama “has been clear about his position” on certain gun issues, he didn’t mention guns in last night’s address because people were more “worried now about the economy” and “how to win the future for America.”

Thousands of protesters in Egypt crowded into Cairo’s Tahrir Square yesterday calling for President Hosni Mubarak to end his 30-year rule — “a cry inspired by the fall of an Arab dictator in Tunisia.” But at around 1 a.m. local time today, security forces moved in, arresting some people, beating others, and filling the square with tear gas.

Pentagon data shows that the number of U.S. troops killed by IEDs in Afghanistan soared by 60 percent last year, while the number of those wounded tripled. Officials said the increased attacks were expected given the surge of troops but “the spike comes despite a fresh wave of war-zone countermeasures.”

Last night, Texas Senate Republicans passed a bill requiring Texans to show photo ID to vote, hailing it as “a safeguard to eliminate voter fraud and ensure integrity of the ballot box.” But Democrats voted unanimously against the bill, joining the NAACP, the League of Women Voters of Texas, and other advocacy groups in believing that the measure “could disenfranchise minorities, the working poor and students.”

And finally: The top leaders of all three branches of the U.S. government gathered at the House of Representatives last night to hear the president’s State of the Union Address, but Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was instead locked in a secret bunker somewhere to serve as the “designated survivor” in case of catastrophe at the Capitol so he could assume the presidency. Salazar’s first act as president if the unthinkable should occur? Bolo ties and cowboy hats for all.

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