Brain Dump

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I saw that one prominent blogger periodically publishes “Tab Dump” posts — lists of links to items he had open in Firefox tabs, but didn’t have time to read or blog.  So I thought I’d do a brain dump post — things floating around in my head that don’t rate their own posts.  This one is mostly political.

Early Obama: the jury is out.  He’s done some excellent things, but he’s also done some very questionable things.  The 2 shiniest examples of the latter are the defense industry lobbyist and Wall Street lobbyist he exempted from his own executive order forbidding such people.  Dumb.  Very dumb.  Both on substantive grounds — his executive order was the right policy — and on political ones.  He’s instantly made himself into a hypocrite, and introduced a whiff of corruption into his administration almost before it was old enough to crawl.  And in 2 departments of the government with existing bad reputations for corruption.  Clean that up, Mr. President.

One thing I liked very much was his interview on Al-Arabiya.  Good strategic thinking, if you ask me.

Stimulus Bill: it looks like we’ll have one.  The House just passed its version.  The version the president eventually signs probably will be quite a bit different, but the same in general outline.  Every Republican in the House voted against it.  Every single one.  I understand that they wanted it to look like a Republican bill, and I do wish the House Dems had made more of an effort to bring them along, but there’s a saying the GOP repeated frequently over the past 8 years: elections have consequences.  (The best line I’ve seen on this bill: “Yes, it’s dangerously compassionate. That doesn’t mean it isn’t good policy.”)

I don’t think any Republicans would have voted for it no matter how many compromises it contained.  They’ve made their political calculation: either the stimulus will succeed, in which case the credit will go to Obama, not them; or it will fail, in which case the blame will fall on Obama.  That leads to the following Pascal’s Wager: either it works and we get no credit for it no matter what, or it fails and we can take credit for having said it would fail and voted against it.  That’s an easy decision for a politician to make.

The question now is whether Obama, et al., can make them pay a price for having opposed it, if it works.  Frankly, I doubt it.

Wall Street: isn’t there some way we can finagle an economic recovery while putting these thieves in the poor house?  These people . . . I hardly ever quote trees, but there is no curse in Elvish, Entish, or the tongues of men for this treachery.

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4 Responses to “Brain Dump”

  1. Michael Lasley Says:

    Yeh…the Republicans are kind of in a fix…If I were in their position, I probably would do what they’re doing. I haven’t kept up on it as I should, but are the Republicans putting forth any ideas of their own? Or are they just in critique mode? And I know the situation is more complicated than “it was their policies that got us here”, as the blame for the crisis is plentiful and can be spread out more fairly than that, but.

    I know the Wall Streeters are smart with money stuff (generally speaking), but they got no sense whatsoever about, you know, when’s a good time to give bonuses to executives. Did all of those firms just eliminate their PR departments at some point last fall?

  2. urbino Says:

    The Republicans have offered their own stimulus bill. It’s mostly permanent tax cuts, with much of the benefit going to the middle class and businesses. The GOP has long argued that those policies would create more jobs and prosperity; and that’s a fine argument to have, but it has nothing to do with stimulating demand during a deep economic recession. Nothing. I can’t quite figure out if many of the House Republicans I’m seeing on the news really don’t understand that fact, or if they’re just being intentionally obtuse.

    I know the Wall Streeters are smart with money stuff

    ISTM the data falsifies that hypothesis.

    There’s a scene in “All the President’s Men” where Woodward is asking Deep Throat, rather incredulously, if a plan that had gone so horribly wrong could possibly have been cooked up by some of the sharpest minds in the White House. Deep Throat looks at him like he’s an idiot and says, “The truth is, these guys just aren’t that bright.”

    I think we just had that moment re Wall Street financial whizzes. The question is whether any of them will pay a price for it. So far, the answer is decidedly in the negative, and it looks like our new Treasury Secretary plans to give the same answer.

  3. michaellasley Says:

    Re: Republicans. That’s the impression — that they weren’t offering much that would help much at this very moment — I’d taken away from watching 30 seconds of Bill O while walking through the student center the other day.

    As for WSers and brains….I didn’t mean to imply that I think we should be asking them how to help fix this situation….but I hate to sit here and say how stupid they are when a few of them, at least, got theirs.

  4. urbino Says:

    Oh, sure, I’ll grant they’re sharp in that pool hustler sort of way.

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