ThinkFast: January 28, 2010

A CBS instant poll after last night’s speech found that 83 percent of speech watchers liked President Obama’s proposals and 70 percent said Obama shares their priorities for the country, up from 57 percent before the speech. Forty-eight percent of speech watchers in a CNN poll had a very positive response to the speech while 30 percent had a somewhat positive response.

Republicans held their applause last night when President Obama declared that if bailed-out banks “can afford to hand out big bonuses again, they can afford a modest fee to pay back the taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need.” “Of course, everybody hates the bankers, except the Republicans who sat on their hands when the president called for taxing them,” writes the New York Times’ Gail Collins.

Republican state party chairs unanimously voted to kill a “purity test” that would have denied funding candidates who do not uphold right-wing conservative values. The vote is not binding, and the Republican National Committee will take it up on Friday. Chairman Michael Steele opposes the measure, saying, “Ronald Reagan would be ashamed if the party moved in that direction.”

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner defended the government’s rescue of AIG at a congressional hearing yesterday. Democrats and Republicans alike “pummeled Geithner” for his role in the bailout, but he delivered a “passionate” defense of himself and the action, saying it was necessary to save the financial sector.


According to a new National Wildlife Federation report, this winter’s extreme weather — with heavy snowfall and low temperatures — is a sign of how climate change disrupts long-standing patterns. “It’s very hard for any of us to grasp how this larger warming trend is happening when we’re still having wintry weather,” said National Wildlife Federation climate scientist Amanda Staudt.

White House climate adviser Carol Browner told an audience at a climate and energy forum that the White House is not backing off of its support for a robust climate change bill, although she did not specify a time frame for passage of such a bill. “I think predictions about when something is going to happen in the legislative process are very, very hard to make; you have to just continue working at it,” she said.

“Hackers appear to have infiltrated the Web sites of more than 20 House members overnight, replacing their usual pages with attacks on President Barack Obama.” The home page of one member read: “F — — OBAMA!! Red Eye CREW !!!!! O RESTO E HACKER !!! by HADES; m4V3RiCk; T4ph0d4 — FROM BRASIL.”

The leaders of one of the largest Pashtun tribes in a Taliban stronghold said they have agreed to support the Afghan government, fight insurgents, and attack any Afghan home that harbors Taliban guerrillas. In exchange, U.S. commanders “agreed to channel $1 million in development projects directly to the tribal leaders and bypass the local Afghan government, which is widely seen as corrupt.”

The famed progressive historian and author of A People’s History of The United States, Howard Zinn, passed away last night, at the age of 87. “He’s made an amazing contribution to American intellectual and moral culture,” MIT linguist and activist Noam Chomsky told the Boston Globe. “He’s changed the conscience of America in a highly constructive way.”


And finally: Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) may be one of the most conservative members of the House, but that didn’t stop her from making sure she talked to President Obama at the State of the Union address yesterday. Schmidt “had him sign the State of the Union program” and “chatted” with him about a federal loan guarantee for a uranium-enrichment plant in Ohio.

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