Wednesday, January 27, 2010

liveblogging of State of the Union

9:00: Cannot remember how to work TV, due to not having watched anything but Netflix DVDs for four months.

9:01: Yell at Pnin to come upstairs and fix the TV. Pnin fixes it.

9:02: Start flipping around channels, trying to get to one that has the State of the Union. It occurs to me how much dumber the rest of the country that does not obsessively read the Volokh Conspiracy and the Atlantic is. Apparently, people are fascinated by thin, beautiful, and vapid teenagers, and also grotesquely, by the morbidly obese. Recall reading piece in Dartmouth Review kvetching about the anti-intellectualism of confusing St. Augustine of Hippo w/St. Augustine of Canterbury. Remember having read it and thought, "Yes, but, like, dude, what about reality television?" Renew this thought.

9:10: Am frightened by Sarah Palin's eye makeup. Perhaps more so than I am by her ignorance.

9:15: Grandiloquent historical appeal. Passing the health care bill is like the Civil War. Or someting.

9:17: Is doing annoying thing where he cites to specific towns in key battleground cities that are having hard times.

9:19: He's "never been more hopeful about America's future than tonight."

9:20: The American people need "a government that matches their decency." I agree, but I don't think that that phrase means what Obama thinks it means.

9:21: Now he's talking about shoring up banks.

We all hated the bank bailout.

Me: Didn't he vote for it?

Ilya: Yes.

Obama: I hated it like a root canal.

Me: What was the polling on it?

Ilya: 60/40.

Hm. Root canals don't poll that well.

9:22: We've recovered most of what we spent

Me: Did we, really?

Ilya: That's an exaggeration.

Biden is grinning.

Everyone is standing up applauding.

9:23: If we're going to have an anti-bank populist for president instead, couldn't we please have Andrew Jackson instead?

9:24: Did we cut taxes for 95% of working families, Ilya?

Ilya: Probably not, though a lot depends on definitions.

9:25: I think Megan McArdle had a good post on the 2,000,000 figure of people working who otherwise woudln't be. Will Google shortly.

9:27: Can't find post. Maybe it was someone else. Wake up briefly because O. has just started calling for a new jobs bill.

Am briefly debating abbreviating his initials as "BHO," then realize that I generally stop reading anything by a conservative who uses the Hussein.

9:28: The "small business" thing reminds me of my old job.

He is pandering to Allentown, Pennsylvania. Oh good. My parents will be flattered to know that they're real Americans.

9:29: Something with banks and credits. Couldn't he just do an across the board payroll tax holiday? Wouldn't that be better?

Also, a tax credit to businesses that hire people or raise wages. But would it not make more economic sense for some to invest in capital or r and d instead? Thus, payroll tax holiday, rathe than futzing around with jobs.

9:30: Eliminate capital gains tax on all small businesses. This is actually something I think I might be able to support.

He's building infrastructure.

9:31: You could also just create jobs by paying people to dig holes and then fill them in again.

9:32: Or you could just have a tax policy that treated out sourcing and in sourcing equally. And not be a bloody protectionist. Grrr.

Calls for Senate to pass jobs bill.

9:33: Can't afford another "expansion." I am thinking of the Hayek rap video. I normally try to disassociate myself with "End the Fed" libertarians, as they seem kind of crankish, and I am somewhat invested in trying to be reasonable and Vulcanish and not a crank. But maybe they are right about the boom and bust cycles. C.F. the Keynes v. Hayek rap video that like every one of my Facebook friends has posted to her news feed in the last two days.

9:36: What financial info do consumers need that they do not already have? What are they not disclosing to the SEC? Are they already not one of the most regulated sectors of the economy?

Also, miracles of aggregation?

9:37: Can we just leave innovators alone? Can we not encourage them that way?

9:38: I may actually be sort of okay with expanding the use of nuclear power. And at least he says "nuclear" right.

Also, w/opening new offshore areas for drilling.

9:40: More stupid protectionism about keeping jobs in the country.

9:41: There is truth to what he just said about trade deals.

I'm fine with enforcing the rules and making sure trade partners live with the rules. I say this. Ilya points out that this is a code word of protectionism. As opposed to the non-code words for protectionism he's been using all evening.

9:42: National competition to raise schools. Will fund only "success." This is problematic: it's hard to divert away money from schools that are struggling and failing. Poor kids tug on people's heartstrings. Even mine. But if he actually follows through on this, I might support it.

9:44: He has causation backwards re: education, I fear. The reason college grads do well is in part because they're a disproportionately talented group.

9:45: This thing about student loans is kind of pandering to me, but I'm not buying it.

9:46: Why do we want to encourage re-financing of mortgages, exactly?

At minute 36: Finally, health care. Notice how he ducked it til now.

9:47: He didn't take on health care because it was good politics. Ilya: maybe he THOUGHT it was good politics, but he was wrong.

9:48: Michelle Obama is taking on the problem of childhood obesity. Ah, the nanny state.

9:49: How do you extend coverage and drive premiums down? Only if more healthy people come in, Ilya says. But if the people who don't have health insurance are disproportionately unhealthy are out of the pool, should not the opposite happen?

9:50: Americans will lose their health insurance during this speech. Briefly picture my commissioner firing me in a fit of displeasure, possibly incurred by having to listen to this speech; shiver at prospect. Take sip of drink to feel better.

9:51: If anyone has a better idea for how to reform health care... I want to be the Cato publicity coordinator right now. HELP PEOPLE BUY INSURANCE ACROSS STATE LINES. SEVER INSURANCE FROM EMPLOYMENT. Ilya points out McConnell is smirking. I can never remember which McConnell is the federal judge and which one is the Senator.

9:53: Did the wars drive up the deficit that much? Ilya points out, at least he mentioned the prescription drug benefit.

9:53: Obama: CRISIS! Thus... LEVIATHAN! (With apologies to Higgs.

9:54: Is freezing government spending, except for the huge entitlement programs that he isn't. This is kind of against self-interest to care.

9:56: Bipartisan commission to reform Social Security. Ilya: what was wrong with the one chaired by Daniel Patrick Moynihan a decade ago, except that it recommended privatization? Also, it is against interest for me to say too much about the words "bipartisan commission."

9:57: There are random women in the audience wearing bright yellow suits. Am thinking of Nicole Kidman in Kill Bill.

9:58: No, we didn't cut spending for eight years. We INCREASED IT, as you JUST SAID A FEW MINUTES AGO.

9:59: Common sense. You, sir, are no Thomas Paine.

10:00: I don't know what I think of stepped up lobbying disclosure laws. And people organized as lobbying organizations are people too for First Amendment purposes.

10:01: Ilya: so you, Mr. Obama, should not be influencing elections, since you're among America's most powerful entities.

10:02: Congress publish earmark requests online. A minor gimmick. Ilya: this is not bad, but it won't change anything.

"None of these things will happen if we don't reform how we work with one another." Ilya: then don't reform anything.

10:03: We disagree about the role of government in our lives. Well... yes.

10:04: Well... the parties are vicious because the stakes are so high. And the more powerful government, the higher the stakes.

10:06: Monthly meetings with both Democratic and Republican leadership. Ilya: it would be fun to be at one of those meetings. Yes.

10:07: Ilya: is not protecting our people one of our values?

I have always felt sort of bad for Janet Napolitano. Her remarks about the system may have been inartful, but I worry she was right. Optimal number of terrorist attacks may be higher than zero, hard truth though that is.

10:08: Nancy Pelosi looks a bit maternal as she's looking over his shoulder.

10:09: Combat troops out of Iraq by August. Are combat troops the same thing as troops? Ilya: they are not, in fact, the same thing.

The war is ending, and all the troops are coming home. Eventually. Note the lack of an end date.

10:10: Suddenly start wondering: what writers do I like are liveblogging this?

10:11: When she's not fighting childhood obesity, MO is helping military families. Because politicians opposed military families before this, as Ilya says.

10:12: I don't actually know anything about security policy, so this part of the speech is sort of tolerable.

10:14: Haiti. Who is dude the camera is zeroing in on? Ilya; maybe Haitian ambassador.

10:15: Ilya: exit rights! Let the Haitians vote with their feet! You know, we stand on the side of freedom and dignity, except when letting people come here.

The Constitution doesn't actually say anything about people being created equal. Just to be clear.

10:16: There were two sentences about civil rights. I screamed and writhed in physical pain and could not type because of said writhing. So there's no substantive commentary on them.

10:17: Or we could have an immigration policy that is actually logical and therefore enforceable, and then we could enforce it. That could work, too.

10:18: Democratic v. Republican values -- echoes of Washington's Farewell Address. Say what you will, he's a good rhetorician.

10:19: Sometimes, bankers take risks, and they get rich. And they invest their profits! Or spend them and funnel them into the economy! And that is wonderful.

10:20: Returning to broadly historical theme.

10:22: Ilya and I are getting distracted from all the high-minded rhetoric and are looking at Google Image photos of Scott Brown on my laptop.

Also, camera zeroing in on Harry Reid.

10:23: I want to be one of those people who is inspired by politicians. I envy supporters their euphoria. I haven't been since the mid-90s, when I defended Thornburgh against Wofford. Someday, I will get excited about an actual politician. Today is not that day.

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