Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Even More Random Thoughts

I'm thinking in soundbites nowadays. Here you go:

- Interesting article by the Post's Robert Samuelson on the Fed's role in the economic mess. He seems to suggest that an increase in what he calls "financial populism" is driving the Fed to make monetary policy with only short-term results in mind. I sort of agree with him - I think a lot of people who invest in stocks don't realize that occasional blips happen. Unless you're paid lots of money by an investment firm to day-trade, you're probably investing for retirement or your kids' college or something, and that's a long-term deal. Your stocks may be declining in value now, but over the long term they'll generally increase in value faster than inflation as long as you've managed your risk well (which, if you have a decent financial advisor, you probably are). But people are panicky - they'll watch their portfolio lose consistently for a month and freak out. This is where the demands for the Fed to do something come from.

But you can't absolve the Fed here - their job (this is the entire reason they're not elected officials) is to make unpopular decisions for the long-term financial well-being of the country. For them to give in to popular pressure and mortgage our future on a quick fix is irresponsible, and will just lead to bigger problems down the road.

- State of the Union thoughts: We watched the speech at a friend's house, and after we got home, my wife commented that this was the most boring SotU speech she had ever watched. I had to agree. The most entertaining part of the night was our friend Barnaby's rant about the egregious bill that would give retroactive immunity to telecom companies - and, as it turns out, Dubya himself - for breaking the FISA wiretapping law (and the Constitution, while we're at it). If I hadn't had those four beers, I wouldn't have bothered to listen. Though I did notice his voice crack a little while he was making his immigration comment - think his own party's betrayal on the issue has hurt him any?

Also, I'm pretty sure Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is a robot. She didn't change her vocal inflection or facial expression once during her entire speech. Also, I wonder if she has the same speechwriter as Obama. There were just too many similiarites. It was as if she took an Obama speech and made it as boring as possible. Anyway, Kansas confuses me now - they don't like evolution but they're pro-robot? We didn't evolve from apes but it's perfectly cool if we evolve into androids? I don't get it.

- OK, my Constitutional knowledge is limited at best, but can the Senate do this? I thought all approprations bills had to be introduced in the House first. Anyway, how great is it that the House Republicans and Democrats can both agree with Bush on something, only to have the Senate say "fuck you" simply because it's feeling left out? There isn't a whole lot of difference between the two plans - it's just a quibble on who gets what check in the mail. I think the Senate's just on a power trip.

- Bruce Schneier writes about the false "security vs. privacy" dichotomy that the bullshit peddlers in politics and in the media want to keep selling us. It's often true that the best security measures don't affect privacy at all. I'd be interested to see his evidence for the assertion that the executive's increased snooping powers haven't made us safer, too - anyone with such evidence please leave it in the comments section.


-Dave said...

I think the Senate avoids that constitutional nicety by offering a bill with the same name, voting on the House bill in an almost pro forma fashion, then "amending" it by striking everything after the enacting clause. The Energy Bill last summer said it:

"Resolved, That the bill from the House of Representatives (H.R. 6) entitled ‘‘An Act to reduce our Nation’s dependency on foreign oil by investing in clean, renewable, and alternative energy resources, promoting new emerging energy technologies, developing greater efficiency, and creating a Strategic Energy Efficiency and Renewables Reserve to invest in alternative energy, and for other purposes’’, do pass with the following AMENDMENTS: Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert: (remainder of the bill goes here)."

If you want the long version of the Bill (it's the one I had handy), you can find it HERE.

I agree - it's a silly thing. Even though I like most of the Senate's proposals better, I think they misunderstand the meaning of compromise. It's crafty, but unless it gets (1) taken out in conference, or (2) vetoed, the only way for the Republicans to stop it is to make them filibuster or vote down the proposal in an election year.

Mike said...

I still want a President to use "fucked", as in, "The state of the Union is fucked". That would be awesome.

I'll bet John Kerry would have done it, as long as he was delivering the address to Playboy.