Tuesday, February 24, 2009

State of the Union

I liked Obama's speech tonight. At first I thought it was just an updated version of speeches I've heard him give many times. But as it went on I found him specific in his strategy, comprehensive and inspiring. Good stuff. I'm not sure he can pull it all off, but I like what he's doing. Energy, health care and education with transparency and accountability. Hard to argue with that.

Apparently everyone got a pamphlet which I assume contained the speech. I wonder why so many people were referring to it instead of just listening to the orator in the room. Particularly Joe Biden and Nancy Peolosi who were behind Obama, should not have been looking down reading during the speech. I also noticed that the Supreme Court doesn't stand and applaud as the rest of Congress does.


DKB said...

The Supreme Court sits because Scalia can't find instructions in the Constitution requiring him to stand.

Howard said...


Irina said...

Do you also agree with his intent to continue propping up our pathetic car industry? His apparent unwillingness to even consider investment in nuclear energy? The glaring derth of numbers and facts?..

Howard said...

Well I do want more data but I suspect it's coming. He's been in office for only 38 days and his staff had to switch from macs to pcs :) Speed is important but so is correctness and I think he used this speech to get the people on his side and try to get congress to act more rationally (GOP more constructively and Dems more inclusive and less wasteful).

Recovery.gov, if it does what it promises, will have more data in an accessible form than we've ever had for federal spending programs. Geithner's stress test is about getting data from private institutions that haven't been regulated enough for 8+ years.

Our car industry has been pathetic, but even so, it's still one of the largest US industries. Lots of people bought their enormous gas guzzling cars well until the price of gas went to $4. I suspect to lots of municipalities stopped buy fleet cars from them because of the recession. GM was doing very in China and has a huge investment in the electric Volt. In a world with credit, they might be able to last until they can try that strategy. I'm ok with helping until the credit markets exist again. But doing it right. The federal government actually made money on the Chrystler bailout of the 80s.

I think the other transportation industries are more pathetic, rail and air. But I'm ok with federally funding them like other countries do because they inhernetly don't seem to be profitable. I don't like the mix of public and private though, I think that's probably the most expensive option. Well what I really don't like is bailout money with no restructuring (or evidence why it isn't needed).

I'm not sure where Obama stands on nuclear. Either way, building new plants is definitely long term. What I prefer would be fusion research. Bush did promise to increase funding to it, but I have no idea if it actually happened. When I toured the MIT fusion reactor in the early 90s, they were doing well, operating on a shoestring budget and felt all the basic science was known but there were about 10 years of engineering projects to work out. I don't know what the current state is.

The fact that he said he wanted to make cuts to subsidizing agribusiness means to me that he's looking at facts and wants to put rational policies in place. Saving $2 trillion over 10 years in cuts is a big number and I'm curious about the details, but that's promising.

Not every speech has to be as wonkish as Clinton's. Unlike W. I get the impression that Obama knows the facts he just doesn't express the details in public speaking. From what I understand from his constitutional law students, this is the opposite of the way he was in class. Hence I think it's a conscious choice as a communications style, one I don't particularly disagree with, but yes we need to find out the details. At only 38 days I see signs that keep me hopeful.