Reform By the (Poll) Numbers

A quick Q-and-A about Senator Jeanne Shaheen's (D-NH) op-ed in today's edition of my local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat, advocating the financial "reform" bill currently before the Senate:

  • How many words are there in the op-ed?

  • I count 524.

  • Does anything in the op-ed stick out?

  • Yes. Just in case you had any doubt about the Official Democratic Party Scapegoat du Jour: the phrase "Wall Street" appears 13 times, accounting for nearly 5% of Senator Jeanne's total word count.

  • What is the probability that Senator Jeanne is tuning her transparently phony rhetoric in response to polls?

  • Approximately 100%:
    … if you had any questions about why politicians choose to beat up on Wall Street rather than the banking system, it's because that plays better.

    Asked if they favored Congress passing a law to regulate "large banks and major financial institutions," 46% of Americans said yes, and 43% said they did not. But when Gallup asked if they favored new regs on "Wall Street banks and Wall Street financial institutions," those saying yes jumped to 50%, and those opposing dropped to just 36%.

  • How many times does Senator Jeanne mention "Fannie Mae" or "Freddie Mac"?

  • Zero point zero.

  • How did Senator Jeanne vote on the McCain/Shelby/Gregg Amendment that would "wind down" Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over a two year period?

  • NAY.

  • Why is reform of Fannie and Freddie important?

  • A good explanation from the WSJ last week:
    Unreformed, they are sure to kill taxpayers again. Only yesterday, Freddie said it lost $8 billion in the first quarter, requested another $10.6 billion from Uncle Sam, and warned that it would need more in the future. This comes on top of the $126.9 billion that Fan and Fred had already lost through the end of 2009. The duo are by far the biggest losers of the entire financial panic--bigger than AIG, Citigroup and the rest.

    From the 2008 meltdown through 2020, the toxic twins will cost taxpayers close to $380 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office's cautious estimate. The Obama Administration won't even put the companies on budget for fear of the deficit impact, but it realizes the problem because last Christmas Eve it raised the $400 billion cap on their potential taxpayer losses to . . . infinity.

  • Can we go on like this?

  • Well, according to Tim Cavanaugh at Reason:
    We can't go on like this. Leaving taxpayers on the hook for this continuing disaster isn't just unfair. It's economically ruinous. And nobody in the Treasury Department, the Fed, or the administration has anything resembling an exit strategy.

  • Does Senator Jeanne have an exit strategy?

  • Ha.

  • Did Senator Jeanne do anything about Freddie or Fannie?

  • Not really. The Senate passed (and Senator Jeanne voted for) instead: "To require the Secretary of the Treasury to conduct a study on ending the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and reforming the housing finance system."

  • Conduct a study? What has the Secretary of the Treasury been doing all this time?

  • Um. Apparently not studying? But (nevertheless) providing Fannie and Freddie with a blank check written against the taxpayer.

Last Modified 2010-05-12 7:48 PM EST

The Blind Side

stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Good news: Netflix has bought more DVDs, and we're actually starting to see recent movies again. This one, for example.

And unless you've been living in a cave, you already know the general plot: African-American youngster Michael Oher, huge and homeless, has been shoehorned into a private Christian school in Memphis, in hopes of his future athletic prowess. But his academics are poor, and his domestic situation doesn't improve.

One night, walking aimlessly in the cold rain, he's noticed by Leigh Anne Tuohy. She's rich, and a hard-nosed force of nature. (When they speak of She Who Must Be Obeyed, it is She they speak of.) But she's also a Christian who happens to take her Christian obligations seriously. She offers him a ride, a sofa for the night. And, eventually, … well, you know how these things turn out.

Sandra Bullock (you might have heard) won herself a Best Actress Oscar here, and little wonder: without her, the flick probably would have wound up a Movie of the Week on the Lifetime Channel. Ms. Bullock can communicate volumes by lifting one eyebrow a couple millimeters, or the merest hint of a smile.

Everybody else is pretty-to-very good, even country singer Tim McGraw as Leigh Anne's husband, fast food tycoon Sean Tuohy. The general plot is completely predictable, but the details are engaging and well-executed.

Last Modified 2012-10-03 1:57 PM EST