ThinkFast: November 17, 2008

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"ThinkFast: November 17, 2008"

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Former Sen. Phil Gramm, who once said subprime loans were “the American dream in action” and declared recently that America has “become a nation of whiners,” has no remorse over pushing deregulation throughout this career. Rejecting “this idea afloat that if you had more regulation you would have fewer mistakes,” Gramm told the New York Times, “The markets have worked better than you might have thought.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Sarah Palin won’t be the next leader of the Republican party. “I think that she is going to be a significant player,” said Gingrich during an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “But she’s going to be one of 20 or 30 significant players. She’s not going to be the de facto leader.”

On Election Day, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced a Dec. 19 auction of more than 50,000 acres of oil and gas parcels alongside or within view of three national parks in Utah. Environmentalists are calling the move a Bush administration “fire sale” for the oil and gas industry, while the National Park Service’s top official in the state said it was “shocking and disturbing.”

According to a new National Association of Business Economists’ poll of 50 professional forecasters, the “U.S. economy is in recession and will contract at a faster pace in the fourth quarter, extending the decline into early 2009 as high unemployment crimps consumer spending.” Preliminary government estimates showed GDP contracted 0.3 percent in the third quarter.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said he would “welcome” and “support” a meeting between President-elect Barack Obama and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il if Obama were to take such a step after taking office.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani did not rule out running for governor of New York. “I don’t know if I’d be interested in it, but I’ll think about it when the right time comes along,” Giuliani said.

41 percent of Americans believe that the “Secretary of the Treasury will be the Obama administration member who will matter most to the country’s future,” according to a new CNN/Opinion Research poll. By contrast, 25 percent believe the Secretary of State will matter most, while 25 percent believe that the Secretary of Defense will be most important.

On the eve of the election, President-elect Obama wrote a series of letters to federal workers offering “detailed descriptions of how he intends to add muscle to specific government programs, give new power to bureaucrats and roll back some Bush administration policies.”

The U.S. military is now barring “Iraqi interpreters working with American troops in Baghdad from wearing ski masks to disguise themselves, prompting some to resign and others to bare their faces even though they fear it could get them killed.” Lt. Col. Steve Stover, a spokesman for the U.S. military, simply responded that Iraqis dissatisfied with the policy “can seek alternative employment.”

And finally: An Obama baby boom? Newsweek writes, “In the hours and days since Obama’s victory, many of his exhilarated supporters have been, shall we say, in the mood for love. And though it’s too soon to know for sure, experts aren’t ruling out the possibility of an Obama baby boom — the kind of blip in the national birth rate that often follows a seismic event.” Abbi Whitaker of Reno, NV, for example, said that on election night, she and her husband “managed to down a bottle and a half of wine in celebration and he was all about making an ‘Obama election baby.’

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