ThinkFast: January 25, 2010

Make them filibuster,” Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA) advised Democrats in how to deal with Republicans. “My message to those Democrats is don’t be afraid. … Make the American people look at a modern day spectacle of what a filibuster would entail. I think it’s time to call their bluff.”

South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer said that he “could have chosen his words more carefully when he compared people who take public assistance to stray animals,” but that “he doesn’t need to apologize.” “This is out of love and compassion,” Bauer said. “If I have to take a hit, then fine. … I will take short-term pain for long-term gain.”

A new Gallup survey reports that Obama has the most polarized poll ratings of any first-year president. A 65 percentage-point gap exists between Democrats’ (88%) and Republicans’ (23%) approval for Barack Obama, exceeding the prior high of 52 points for President Clinton.

Richard Socarides, a former adviser to President Clinton on gay issues, criticizes the Obama “administration’s willingness to treat gay Americans as second-class citizens.” Obama’s delay in repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell “is especially troubling,” he writes, because it shows the president’s “oversensitivity to a dwindling minority of bigots on this issue.”

In his State of the Union address this week, President Obama will propose “a package of modest initiatives intended to help middle-class families, including tax credits for child care, caps on some student loan payments,” and other retirement incentives. The proposal also includes “money for programs to help families care for elderly relatives.”

“Nearly three out of four Americans think that at least half of the money spent in the federal stimulus plan has been wasted,” according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll. Sixty-three percent said “that projects in the plan were included for purely political reasons and will have no economic benefit” while just 36 percent say the projects will benefit the economy.

“Energy companies significantly increased their lobbying expenditures last year” as Congress deliberated over climate change legislation. One group, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), which lobbies for electric utilities, spent nearly $10.5 million, an increase of nearly 40 percent from what the group spent in 2008.

Halliburton’s “quarterly profit fell by nearly half from last year on weaker drilling activity and lower prices for its oilfield services.” However the energy services giant said its North American natural gas markets may be on the rebound as revenue from those markets increased from the third quarter.

Iraq “has signed a final deal with U.S. and European oil giants Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC to develop a major oil field in the south.” Under the deal, the consortium will develop the field for $1.9 for every barrel produced.

And finally: “Rush Limbaugh! The Musical.” Featuring popular Broadway musicals, the musical promises to take us back to Rush’s humble beginnings and follows his ascent to conservative dominance.

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