First, Fed officials fire back (weakly) on the weak-dollar/strong-dollar dichotomy. Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher said: “On the other hand, in terms of its inflationary input, unless it becomes disorderly, a depreciating dollar -- a gradually depreciating dollar -- doesn't necessarily add an enormous inflation impulse.” It’s disappointing to see him defend it in terms of inflation (like, who gives a shit about inflation generally now?), and I guess….well, I can’t find the upside. Just generally disappointing.
This doesn’t represent a 180-degree turn in my thinking, but I find the Iraqi VP’s decision to veto the recently-passed election law to be discouraging. For one, it’s crazy that Iraq has two VPs, either of whom can veto a law. That’s just a terrible system. And then there’s his reasoning: “[VP] Hashimi's veto introduces a fresh hitch. An Arab Sunni, he has demanded that the legislation be amended to allow more special seats to be set aside to represent Iraqis who have fled the country. The law stipulates that a given number of special parliamentary seats be reserved for particular groups, including minorities, internally displaced Iraqis and refugees in other countries.” As I understand it, the majority of Iraqi refugees are Sunni and….well, you can figure out the rest. And of course, this isn’t Democrat v. Republican; it’s sectarian political jousting. These things rarely end well.
More conflicts between Michelle Rhee and the D.C. Teachers Union. I guess I’m skeptical of the education reformers. They have a monomaniacal focus on teachers and their performance. In fact, anyone applying to Teach for America will quickly find this out—you’re assigned slanted articles on how teacher performance is basically the end-all, be-all of student performance, and then quizzed in interview as to how much you agree with these slanted articles in an interview that becomes very uncomfortable if you show the slightest bit of flexibility in your thinking re: teacher performance. Now, teaching performance is important—no question about it!—and teaching performance in many of our cities is abysmally low—also not something I’m questioning!—but common sense practically dictates that there’s more to it than that. I mean, for example, Jamie Oliver and school lunches. It’s a big problem, so let’s not reduce things.
The Wall Street Journal notes that Obama made some key concessions on Chinese jets. I guess it’s not terrible in theory, if you get something in return, but, geez, aerospace is one of the last manufacturing areas the U.S. has an edge in (and with the delays in the Dreamliner….maybe not for long), and you’d hate to see the Chinese come in and destroy everyone there too.
This New York Observer column compares Obama’s political travails to Reagan’s. It’s plausible, I guess, but the historical analogies game is often less than informative. The unemployment rate doesn’t care that Obama’s a good speaker. (Note: crucial difference between Obama recession and Reagan recession: the Reagan recession was Fed-induced to break inflation; the Obama recession is the result of structural factors that the political system has as yet shown little will to confront or change. So, uh, slight flaw with this analogy.)
I like this news that Sen. Dianne Feinstein is acting to curb emissions on TVs. As has been well-covered, personal gadgets are greedy for electricity. But it’s a good example of how powerful Senators are. They really are little princes and princesses making a ton of policy in idiosyncratic directions, in a way that you wouldn’t have in other governments. Mostly, for the worse. Sometimes, for the better.