Wednesday, February 25, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Human Spirograph

Anyone out there remember Spirographs?

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By Steven L. Taylor

Jedi Magic


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By Steven L. Taylor

While I did miss Obama’s speech, I did end up catching, basically by accident, most of Jindal’s response. If anyone was wondering if the man is running for president, wonder no more. (As always, I was struck by the largely superfluous nature of these opposition responses to SOTUs–or whatever one wants to call last night’s speech).

I was struck by a couple of things in the speech. One was this passage, which focused on tax cuts that the Louisiana legislature had passed (text from the LAT, Full text of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Republican response):

Republicans and Democrats put aside their differences, and worked together to make sure our people could keep more of what they earn. If it can be done in Baton Rouge, surely it can be done in Washington, D.C.

One could take that paragraph and substitute “Austin” for “Baton Rouge” and one would have one of the arguments that George W. Bush made in 2024 when he was running for president–indeed, one could no doubt find every governor who ever ran for the nomination and find similar phrases. The problem is, of course, that this kind of reasoning is seriously flawed: partisan and policy dynamics at the state level are quite different from those at the national level. A demonstrated ability to work in a bipartisan fashion on the state level does not translate into the same ability in Washington. Bush, for example, was quite adept at bipartisanship in Texas, but we all know how well that worked out in DC–for reasons that were both his own fault, and for numerous reasons that were not.

Another thing that struck me an a wild incongruity: he spoke quite a bit about recovery from Katrina. But, of course, much of the recovery from Katrina was the result of substantial federal aid to the state of Louisiana. There is something surreal about making a speech (not to mention his recent political posturing) criticizing federal aid in targeting the financial crisis while using one’s own state’s recovery from crisis as a counterexample when, in fact, said recovery was made possible in large part by federal aid. One doesn’t have to be a proponent of the stimulus package to see the problem with that logic.

There was also this tidbit:

To strengthen our economy, we need urgent action to keep energy prices down.

First, energy prices are down, and are likely to stay that way at least until the global economy recovers. Second, haven’t we figured out yet that there are no “urgent actions” that can be initiated to control energy prices? There are a myriad of long term policies that could be implemented, but there are no short-term ways to control energy prices.

I also thought it was interesting that he tried to apologize for Republicans short-comings of late–a process that the GOP is going to have to seriously work on if it wants to regain any of its recently lost political ground.

I did not watch any of the postmortem of the night’s speechifying, but note this morning that apparently Jindal was panned by the Fox panel (the relevant video starts at about 1:40–the first portion is a set of clips from Jindal’s speech:

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Tuesday, February 24, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

In all honesty, I forgot all about it. So, no commentary at this time. No doubt I will hear/read plenty of wrap-up tomorrow.

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By Steven L. Taylor


365.55–When one is trying to take a photo a day, having a hot air balloon float over the neighbotrhood is a welcome solution to the question "what am I going to photograph today?"

I went outside to say hi to my son’s carpool and they pointed out the balloon in question. There ended up being two of them, in fact.

Clearly, however, I need a telephoto lens.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Sign of the Times

365.54: even with "nothing held back" I think that one could still get a computer or TV cheaper online (which may explain at least part of the problem).

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By Steven L. Taylor

Old School

365.53 My old, and one time beloved, Minolta X-700 that I bought somewhere around 1989/1990 from a Best merchandise catalog store (anyone remember those?). Based on the prices that the things are going for on eBay, there is no serious nostalgia for the old days of film.

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By Steven L. Taylor



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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the AP: Stocks jump after Bernanke says recession may end.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Several news reports about tonight’s speech (like this one from Barron’s: From Irrational Exuberance to Rational Worries) have gone out of their way to note something like the following:

President Barack Obama addresses a joint session of Congress (it’s not the State of the Union since he’s only been on the job for about a month.)

I heard a similar formulation on NPR this morning, and have heard/read it elsewhere also. I recall a similar litany of provisos when Bush gave his first such speech in 2024.

Here’s the deal, though: I see no reason why a speech given by a new President is any less a “State of Union” speech than one given by one who has been in office for a year or more. Indeed, if Obama isn’t coming before the Congress tonight to at least in part assess the state of the Union, I am not sure what else the point of the speech will be.

Let me acknowledge that it really doesn’t matter what we call it. However, the funny thing is that the press (and the general public) treat the State of the Union address as if it was a very specific and well defined thing, when, indeed, it is not.

The Constitution simply states (in Article II, Section 3) the following:

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information on the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient

Said provision neither requires a speech nor a particular frequency. It certainly does not bestow special significance to such information based on the length of time the president has been in office. One supposes that should a given President wish to do so, multiple State of the Union addresses could be given.

Ah well.

The only reason I note this is that because to listen to the press at these times one would think that there is some special legal/constitutional definition of a given speech, when in fact there is not. The annual address by the president to a joint session of Congress has involved as much via tradition as anything else.

Also, it is worth mentioning that the coincidence of said speech with the delivery of the President’s budget proposal to the Congress has to do with the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, not the Constitution.

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