Will Barack Obama try to introduce a "New" New Deal? -- Amity Shales notes that the Great Depression gave Democrats a platform from which they could launch a variety of progressive "reforms," many of which had been pet agenda items for over a decade and had little or nothing to do with economic stimulus. Supporters of more government intervention in the economy should also read this report from UCLA, which states that many of FDR's New Deal programs (specifically artificial wage and price controlls) actually served to lengthen the Great Depression.
And now The New York Times is riffing on the same theme... But wait a minute - are these stories honest conclusions drawn from historical research, or are we seeing further proof that the media is attempting to soften criticism of the Obama administration if they can't keep their promises of tax cuts and prosperity?
Big 3 bailout on hold for now -- The Senate has decided to postpone any government financial aid for the Big Three automakers. The fact that their CEO's flew to Washington DC aboard mega-expensive luxury charter jets in order to plead en forma pauperis before Congress didn't help. And president-elect Obama is staying far away from the issue.
Powerline blog notes an eerie similarity between the current financial woes of the Big Three, and a coming financial disaster for our own government:
The real story is the frightening extent to which Detroit is just the New Deal U.S. in microcosm...the Big 3 became essentially private versions of the middle class welfare state...social agencies for providing non-market validated income, health and retirement benefits, with a sideline of making cars....and now the model is unsustainable. In part it is because of the burden of the retired UAW workforce, which now vastly outnumbers the actual working members. As of 2007, the UAW represented 180,681 members at Chrysler, Ford and General Motors; it also represented 419,621 retired members and 120,723 surviving spouses.
This is not dissimilar to Social Security and Medicare for the U.S. economy as a whole. Both of these entitlement programs are unfunded liabilities of the U.S. government, politically, if not legally, and, on a current basis, consume almost 50% of the $3 trillion federal budget. They were viable on a pay-as-you-go basis only at inception and as long as the ratio of workers to beneficiaries is high. Neither condition obtains today. So it becomes an interesting question and rather soon I think: when the U.S. government becomes like Detroit...who does the bailing out?
Sign of the apocalypse? -- Religious extremists often view the election of one political candidate or another as a choice that will bring either blessings or punishment from God. But did you know that Shia Islam might be reserving a very special place for Barack Obama?
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a devoted follower of Shia Islam and an ardent believer in the end times teaching of Shia (yes, Virginia, there are other "end times" teachings besides The Revelation) which revolves around the appearance of the Mahdi, a Messianic figure who will deliver the entire world into the kingdom of Islam. Noted Muslim author Amir Taheri pointed out a curious chain of events a few weeks ago that is linked directly to the Obama presidency:
Is Barack Obama the "promised warrior" coming to help the Hidden Imam of Shiite Muslims conquer the world?
The question has made the rounds in Iran since last month, when a pro-government Web site published a Hadith (or tradition) from a Shiite text of the 17th century. The tradition comes from Bahar al-Anvar (meaning Oceans of Light) by Mullah Majlisi, a magnum opus in 132 volumes and the basis of modern Shiite Islam.
According to the tradition, Imam Ali Ibn Abi-Talib (the prophet's cousin and son-in-law) prophesied that at the End of Times and just before the return of the Mahdi, the Ultimate Saviour, a "tall black man will assume the reins of government in the West." Commanding "the strongest army on earth," the new ruler in the West will carry "a clear sign" from the third imam, whose name was Hussein Ibn Ali. The tradition concludes: "Shiites should have no doubt that he is with us."
In a curious coincidence Obama's first and second names--Barack Hussein--mean "the blessing of Hussein" in Arabic and Persian. His family name, Obama, written in the Persian alphabet, reads O Ba Ma, which means "he is with us," the magic formula in Majlisi's tradition.
Liberals enjoy making fun of Christian evangelicals and their "Left Behind" mania. Let's see how they respond to the politicization of eschatological teachings from another major religious tradition, particularly one that involves their own Savior.
Of course George W. Bush had nothing to do with the current cooling trend, just like Bill Clinton had nothing to do with the warming trend of the 1990's. But Bush does deserve credit for slyly robbing the environmental Chicken Littles of any opportunity to credit the Kyoto Protocol with the current global temperature decline.
Truthfully, there are no current human initiatives that can be credited with any sort of global temperature offset. That's fantastic news, because the last thing we need is a bunch of loony Gaia worshipers thinking that they have successfully appeased their Goddess.
That's not to say they won't keep trying however. Two weeks ago, NASA's GISS team, lead by Al Gore's chief environmental high priest Dr. James Hanson, announced that October 2008 was the warmest month ever measured. Their claim was immediately debunked after investigators discovered that much of their data from Russia and elsewhere were not real measurement data at all, but estimates derived from carrying over previous month's temperatures.
And in real scientific news, scientists working in Antarctica believe that they have detected special electron-positron particle pairs that can only emerge from weak interactions between massive particles of so-called "dark matter." Dark matter is thought to comprise up to 25% of the known universe, but it has been virtually impossible to detect because it has zero interactivity with light.
Here's your 'well duh!' blood-boiler of the day -- If you thought that selling bonds comprised of shares in risky mortgages was bad, then you should read this account of "tobacco bonds," municipal bonds sold by states to raise money in lieu of tobacco settlement cash; but with the current economic downturn, and the steadily shrinking supply of smokers, the tobacco companies can't pay out the money to cover the bond debts. And if that's not bad enough, only one third of the tobacco settlement money was spent by states on health issues and tobacco control programs. Arrrgh!