ThinkFast: January 24, 2008

Americans United for Change plans to spend $8.5 million in an effort to “make sure President Bush’s public approval doesn’t improve as his days in the White House come to an end.” The bulk of the money will be spent on advertising that keeps the focus on the Bush administration’s failures.

A new Harris Poll finds that Americans are unhappy with the current state of the union, a few days before President Bush gives his own State of the Union address on Monday. Eighty-one percent of Americans believe “the current state of the country is fair or poor” and 66 percent say the Iraq war is “going poorly.”

A group of nearly 200 “climate experts, scientists, and mayors” will deliver a “State of Climate” assessment today, ahead of Bush’s State of the Union speech. “[T]oday our nation stands virtually alone in the world community in refusing to accept the need for decisive action,” they report. “We regret to report that the state of the nation’s climate policy is poor.”

“I am a Republican, and at times I’m embarrassed by the lack of cooperation that this president and his appointees have had with the legislative branch,” said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) in a hearing yesterday. “There is a seething resentment by members of Congress who are Republicans by the fact that this administration has not even cooperated with us.”


American-backed Sunni militias “are being hit with a wave of assassinations and bomb attacks, threatening a fragile linchpin of the military’s strategy to pacify the nation.” American officials warn that the “recent onslaught is jeopardizing” security gains that have been made.

After meeting with military officials, Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO) opened an Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday stating, “We currently risk a strategic failure in Afghanistan.”

“Bipartisan unity” on the House investigation into the destruction of the CIA’s torture tapes has been “shredded” by “squabbling and dissension.” House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) and Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) “are at odds over witness lists, cooperating with the Senate and the very direction of the investigation itself.”

Writing in the WSJ, former President Bill Clinton and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) advocate “helping the ‘unbanked’ enter the financial mainstream by opening checking and savings accounts.” Americans spend $8 billion annually “at check-cashing outlets, payday lenders and pawnshops on basic financial services” that most can get from checking accounts.

A McKinsey report finds, “at an oil price of $70 a barrel, the six nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council would earn a cumulative $6.2 trillion by 2020, or more than triple the amount they earned from 1993 through 2006. Decisions by Gulf leaders on how to use this wealth will have global repercussions for decades.”


And finally: Striking writers yesterday performed a mock debate on Capitol Hill for members of Congress and the media. The forum was moderated by former White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers. Representing the Writers Guild of America cause were writers from The Daily Show, and on the network executive side were Colbert Report writers. While lawmakers raised “serious issues,” “they also couldn’t resist doing a little stand-up.”

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