All eyes are on the economy:
Gas, Food Spur Inflation Jump in 2007
Financial Adviser's Biggest Concern: A Democrat In The White House
US Triple "A" Credit Rating Under Threat
Giant Write-Down Is Seen For Merrill Lynch
Bank Of America May Acquire Countrywide
American Express Has $275 Million Charge For Quarter
Wealthy May Be Next In Line In US Home Crisis
CitiGroup Could Write Down $24 Billion, Lay Off 20,000 Workers
Conflicting Interests Present Hurdles To Stimulus Package
Now a little commentary. First off, things ain't what they used to be. Democrats of yore could simply tell everyone how bad things were and then hide in the shadow of FDR as they proposed big government spending programs that would surely "stimulate" the economy, just as FDR saved us from the ravages of the Great Depression. But things aren't so simple today. After repeatedly blasting President Bush over a growing budget deficit, it is difficult for Democrats to propose huge immediate spending increases with no way to "pay" for them. And after the truly lackluster performance of the Democratic congressional leadership last year, there are a lot of Democratic constituents and special interest groups who are going to be demanding quite a bit more than a "fair share" of the Congressional pork spread this year. Decisions, decisions.
Compared to previous years (e.g. 1980, 13.6% inflation, or 1982, 9.7% unemployment), our current economic situation is not so bad. Twenty five years ago we were so used to double-digit inflation, double-digit unemployment in large cities, and 18% mortgage interest rates, many people simply gave up and settled on the notion that things would never be any better. But we have been used to "good news" for so long now that any change in those trends causes people to panic.
I believe that we are headed into an economic slowdown. High gasoline prices have finally impacted clothing and food prices. The price of oil has kept the cost of gasoline, diesel fuel, and other petroleum derivatives at record high levels. And the meltdown of the housing and mortgage bubble will cause banks to be very cautious (read: stingy) in their lending. All of these things will hurt us in 2008, but their effect will not come close to the misery of 25 to 30 years ago.
More nanny state madness:
California wants to control home thermostats - this is what happens when government regulates your fuel and energy supply
Organs to be taken without consent (in UK) - this is what happens when you sign the care of your body over to the government
Obama's Farrakhan Test - Richard Cohen from The Washington Post asks tough questions about Barak Obama's pastor and spiritual mentor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ. I mentioned this uncomfortable subject in a blog post nearly a year ago.
General: Anbar Ready For Handover - "Iraq's western province of Anbar, hotbed of the Sunni Arab insurgency for the first four years of the war, will be returned to Iraqi control in March, a senior U.S. general said Thursday."
Three Iraqi Heroes Sacrifice Their Lives For Fellow Soldiers and Civilians - make sure you read this one