“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Obama Takes Off the Velvet Glove with Automakers

"Yes boss"

Obama aide promotes job plan, warns automakers

By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press Writers – Yahoo News

WASHINGTON – After more than two weeks of virtual silence on the economy, President-elect Barack Obama's transition team burst on the scene with new ambition and urgency Sunday, demanding swift passage by Congress of a massive two-year spending and tax-cutting recovery program.

Obama aides called on lawmakers to pass, by the Jan. 20 inauguration, legislation that meets Obama's two-year goal of saving or creating 2.5 million jobs. Democratic congressional leaders said they would get to work when Congress convenes Jan. 6.
Though Obama aides declined to discuss a total cost, it probably would far exceed the $175 billion he proposed during the campaign, but would not immediately seek to raise taxes on the rich. Some economists and lawmakers have argued for a two-year plan as large as $700 billion, equal to the Wall Street bailout Congress approved last month.

With the wounded economy worsening, the Obama team's new assertiveness was a recognition he needed to soothe financial markets with signs of leadership. It also foreshadowed a more hands-on role by Obama to influence congressional action during the final weeks of the transition.

Obama planned to introduce his economic team on Monday, including Timothy Geithner as treasury secretary and Lawrence Summers as head of the National Economic Council. Obama also has settled on New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as his commerce secretary.

"We don't have time to waste here, " Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said. "We want to hit the ground running on January 20th." Echoing that, the second-ranking House Democrat, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, said, `We expect to have during the first couple of weeks of January a package for the president's consideration when he takes office."

Added Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee: "We're out with the dithering. We're in with a bang."

Obama's team didn't limit itself to the long-term economic recovery. Axelrod warned automakers, seeking billions in government help to stave off collapse, to devise a plan to retool and restructure by next month. Otherwise, he said, "there is very little taxpayers can do to help them."

Axelrod couldn't resist taking a jab at the Big Three executives, who left Congress empty-handed last week after flying into Washington in corporate jets and pleading for money. "I hope that they will come back to Washington in early December — on commercial flights — with a plan," he said.

The emphasis on the economy began Saturday when Obama outlined the framework of a plan to save or create 2.5 million jobs by the end of 2010. The scope of the recovery package is far more ambitious than what Obama had spelled out during his presidential campaign, when he proposed $175 billion of spending and tax-cutting stimulus. The new one will be significantly larger and would incorporate his campaign ideas for new jobs in environmentally friendly technologies — the "green economy." It also would include his proposals for tax relief for middle- and lower-income workers.

But there were no plans to balance the tax cuts with an immediate tax increase on the wealthy. During the campaign, Obama said he would pay for increased tax relief by raising taxes on people making more than $250,000.

"There won't be any tax increases in the January package," said one Obama aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the details of the Obama package have not been fleshed out.

Obama could delay any tax increase to 2011, when current Bush administration tax cuts expire.House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio urged Obama to make that explicit. "Why wouldn't we have the president-elect say, `I am not going to raise taxes on any American in my first two years in office?'"

In a sign of where the congressional debate might lead, Boehner called for lowering capital gains and corporate income taxes.

Some economists have endorsed spending up to $600 billion to revive the economy. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and former labor Secretary Robert Reich, a member of Obama's economic advisory board, both suggested $500 billion to $700 billion.

"I don't know what the number is going to be, but it's going to be a big number," Goolsbee said. "It has to be. The point is to, kind of, get people back on track and startle the thing into submission."

While Obama in the weekend Democratic radio address said his plan "will mean 2.5 million more jobs by January of 2011," aides said the figure was a net sum of jobs created and jobs saved that would otherwise disappear without government help.
The adviser who spoke on condition of anonymity said the plan would likely slow down job losses in 2009, but that new jobs probably would not be evident until 2010.
Obama's plan is both an economic and a political blueprint. By not including tax increases, he silences one potential Republican objection to his plan. If successful, the scope of his plan would set the stage for his other legislative goals, including expanded health care, permanent changes in tax rates and a comprehensive overhaul of energy policy.

"This package is designed to be a down payment to get his entire agenda started," the aide said.

Axelrod appeared on "Fox News Sunday" and ABC's "This Week." Schumer was on ABC, Hoyer and Boehner on Fox and Goolsbee was interviewed on "Face the Nation" on CBS. Reich appeared on "Late Edition" on CNN.


  1. There's a garden, what a garden,
    Only happy faces bloom there,
    And there's never any room there,
    For a worry or a gloom there
    Oh there's music and there's dancing,
    And a lot of sweet romancing
    When they play the polka
    They all get in the swing

    Every time they hear that oom-pa-pa,
    Everybody feels so tra-la-la
    They want to throw their cares away,
    They all go lah-de-ah-de-ay
    Then they hear a rumble on the floor, the floor,
    It's the big surprise they're waiting for
    And all the couples form a ring,
    For miles around you'll hear them sing...

    Roll out the barrel, we'll have a barrel of fun
    Roll out the barrel, we've got the blues on the run
    Zing boom tararrel, ring out a song of good cheer
    Now's the time to roll the barrel, for the gang's all here.

  2. Look at the irony. Obama inherits a generational financial disaster and will be able to put into affect spending programs beyond any liberals wildest dreams.

    "(Obama)Seeking to provide some relief to Americans worried about their futures, he outlined an ambitious initiative of public works programmes that would rebuild roads and bridges, modernise schools and create alternative energy sources. Estimates by other Democrats and economists say the president-elect's plan will cost up to $700 billion (£466 billion)."

  3. Yeah, and maybe we really sold the EB to Dutch investors!

  4. No one is yet proposing a cut to the defense budget. I wonder why that might be.

  5. It's beginning to look like these guys are all fearful of a depression, so they figure we may as crank up the presses.

    We'll soon see money so fresh, the ink will still smudge.

  6. War is what we need....

    War spending revitalizes a crushed economy...

    Will the Messiah start bombing in Iran Jan 21st?

    He spoketh about the long, hard road ahead...

    Sacrifice will be demanded by the masses to toil for the State...

    All Praise the "O"!



  7. The Military Insustrial Complex, that Ike warned US about, mat. That's the why.

    Lester Crown, the personification of General Dynamics, exemplifies the who.

    They provide the core support to Federal Socialism.

  8. From Debka...

    Hizballah’s military maneuver Saturday, Nov. 22, in an area south of the Litani River barred by the UN, gave Iran’s Al Qods chief, Gen. Qassem Suleimani, a chance to personally check on its Lebanese proxy’s ability to draw up battle lines at speed against a potential Israeli tank incursion of the Beqaa Valley. As of Saturday, Iran, Syria and the Lebanese Hizballah are tightly meshed into a combined Tehran-led front against any war contingency, bringing the Iranian peril right up to Israel's back door.

    Yep, it's going to be Kumbaya Time REAL SOON...

    BTW, during the "ceasefire" Hamas has shot off over 2300 rockets & missiles... (including the new Grad (Iranian built) Missiles)

    IAEA just reported that Syria did infact have a atomic reactor at the site that was bombed...

    that Iran has enough NUKE material to make a bomb already (3 more by the end of next year)

    Yep... the O will bring change...

    I see the Mullahs of Iran opening a Israeli Real Estate office in Tehran real soon...

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. More likely that Obamasan will bomb Iran post 20 January than it is GW Bush will bomb Iran before 20 January.

    But not until late '09 or really early in '10. If he does bomb them, after they have "talked".

  11. also news we can not use since the head in the sand culture of America only cares that the Messiah likes corned beef...

    Code Pink is in Iran....

    Iran hangs alleged Israeli spy Ali Ashtari........

    Yep the Faith of Peace....

  12. Given the fact that the Obama administration is ready to negotiate with the Taliban in Afghanistan and even with Hamas in Palestine, Obama would have an entirely legitimate claim to ask Turkey to at least negotiate with the DTP. Such expectations would split Turkey into two camps.

    This is the point at which anti-Americanism in Turkey would skyrocket once again. If the US wants Turkey to negotiate with the PKK or the DTP, it would produce more anti-Americanism than ever.

    On the other hand, Obama's potential failure to address the PKK problem would continue to feed anti-American sentiment among the Turkish population, as well.

    Obama and the PKK

  13. hey provide the core support to Federal Socialism.

    They are Federal Socialism. Commies, to be blunt.

  14. 24 Kicks off a new season in eight minutes with a two hour episode. Jack Bauer will be in Africa and a woman president will be in the White House...

  15. On a recent Saturday night, 200 or so members of Washington, DC's Uighur community gathered at the Northern Virginia Community College cultural center to celebrate Nation's Day. The event commemorated the Central Asian ethnic group's creation of the Republic of East Turkistan and declaration of independence from China—twice (once in 1933 and again in 1944).


    Depending on how the DC Appellate Court responds to Monday's arguments, Ilshat Hassan could soon have a new roommate. A member of the Uyghur American Association (the UAA uses an alternative spelling of Uighur), Hassan had been a teacher for 15 years in China before he came to the United States and received political asylum.


    Turdi Ghoja, one of the founders of the UAA, said the families who have volunteered to take in the detainees don't believe they present any risk to the community. "Uighurs, no matter where they live, we assume we know them," he said, noting that people have volunteered because they recognize that "It could be me.

    Detainee Next Door

  16. Man. Pete Schiff is more and more right every day.

    The Keynesian model is toast. With SS and Medicare, we're too deep in the hole to do any of this crap.

    This crash is going to suck the big one.

    I almost feel sorry for Obamasan. Almost.

  17. Gold rallied sharply Thursday, and is rallying again at the time of this writing on Friday -- it's now broken above the significant resistance range of 740-750, and is currently testing the $800 level. While the technical outlook on the daily chart still looks a bit bearish for gold, some major fundamental news of late suggests the bull market may be ready to resume.


    * Iran recently switched to gold reserves.

    * China is massively increasing its gold reserves.

    * Perth mint, one of the most prominent gold mints in Australia, has suspended orders.

    Investors Switching to Gold?

  18. The more I think about this strategy, the more I am convinced of the political cleverness. If the economy were doing so-so, Obama and the Democrats would have to temper their spending. Not now.

    They can and will spend on everyone of their favorite projects, windmills to libraries and day care centers. You can guarantee the jobs created will be favorable to the unions and the rest of the Democratic constituency, and the Democrats can claim and say the Republicans and Bush made us do it.

    Here comes the best part.

    They do not have the money to do it so they have to go the most inflationary route, which means printing it, and that will work unless they seriously overshoot the spending and that cause an accelerating inflation, so then what? Well they then get to fulfill another promise, they will raise taxes to bring down inflation and reduce the deficit.

  19. What depresses me almost as much as Obama, is, we just can't get rid of the damned Clintons. Just can't get rid of 'em. Sam, remember how we moaned about Hillary? Well, we got Obama, and Hillary too, SOS, the Daily Double. Jackpot.


    An intelligent man in this climate would figure a way to get in line for the money handouts, somehow.

    Inflate the currency. I think that's it. Sometime ago, when things were better, even then my realtor was saying, they're going to have to inflate the currency.

  20. They'll be raising the minimum wage right along. We're going to have inflation.

    But gas prices are down, temporarily. We just filled 'er up at $1.59 9/10 here. Beats $4.00. It's those dang speculators again. We need an excess profits tax!

  21. Can't get rid of any of them. Not even a brain tumor takes Ted Kennedy out. Dodd, Barney, the boys, that asshole from Harlem who writes the tax code but doesn't pay his. Just can't get rid of any of them.

  22. Can't get rid of any of them. Not even a brain tumor takes Ted Kennedy out. Dodd, Barney, the boys, that asshole from Harlem who writes the tax code but doesn't pay his. Just can't get rid of any of them.

    Waiting to say hello.

  23. Government working on Citigroup rescue

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The government was weighing a plan on Sunday to rescue Citigroup Inc., whose stock has been hammered on worries about its financial health.

    The Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve have been in discussions over the weekend to devise a strategy to stabilize the company, according to people familiar with the talks. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were ongoing.

    One option being considered is taking some of the risky assets held by Citigroup off
    its balance sheet, a move that would give the company more breathing room and put it in a better position to raise capital. It was unclear, however, exactly how that option might be structured, the people said. Another option would be for the government to make another cash injection into the company.


  24. One option being considered is taking some of the risky assets held by Citigroup off
    its balance sheet

    Just kinda, you know, remove the bad shit. That 'dodgey debt' stuff.
    Strechard, a man after my own heart.

  25. I remember, Bob. Strange shit, indeed. We got the double-whammy.

  26. The dollar fell 0.8 percent from U.S. trade on Friday to 95.18 yen, and the euro was down 0.7 percent at 120.01 yen.

    Gold retreated to $792.05 from New York's notional close of $799.45 on Friday after safe-haven buying had earlier in the session kept alive a rally that saw prices gain more than 7 percent to their highest in five weeks.

    Oil prices rose 37 cents to $50.30 a barrel, giving up some of the earlier gains of more than 2 percent. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries meets on Saturday in Cairo amid speculation it could cut production.

    Citigroup Worries

  27. NOVEMBER 18, 2008, 4:33 AM
    Company With Hybrid Battery Solution to Seek Billions From Energy Department

    Updated 11/20/08 10:34 a.m.

    AFS Trinity, a company in Bellevue, Wash., thinks it has licked the battery-life problem for hybrid cars, with its extra-large capacitors. (Image: AFS Trinity)
    The stumbling block for the plug-in hybrid, a vehicle designed to travel its first 40 miles or so every day on battery power, and the rest on gasoline, is the battery — particularly its durability.

    For a long life, batteries typically need to be charged and discharged slowly, but electric cars make high demands on the battery — and not only when accelerating from a stop. They also use “regenerative braking,” where the drive motor is reversed, turning momentum back into current when the driver wants to slow down.

    So in both acceleration and deceleration, the current flow can be so large it causes internal heating in the battery, shortening its life.

    AFS Trinity Power, a small company in Bellevue, Wash., says it has the problem licked. In January, the company rolled out a small S.U.V. that uses lithium-ion batteries nursed along by common electrical storage devices called capacitors.

    Capacitors take a trickle of energy and store it up so it can be released in great bursts. They can also take a huge slug of energy quickly, and then deliver it slowly. This is at the heart of AFS Trinity’s innovation.

    Electrically speaking, the capacitors, which look like an 18-pack of shrink-wrapped Red Bull cans, sit between the batteries and the wheels, so the flow into or out of the batteries is always fairly gentle, even if the car is making jackrabbit starts or panic stops.

    Together, they store very little energy — less than one kilowatt-hour, a tiny fraction of what the lithium-ion batteries do — but they can charge and discharge almost instantly, almost forever, without damaging themselves, said Edward W. Furia, chief executive of AFS Trinity.

    His company calls its capacitors, which are larger than most in use, “ultra capacitors.” The combined system in the company’s prototype “has been going and going and going,” Mr. Furia said.

    AFS Trinity announced on Monday that it had put the electric system through a ten-month test in which it was charged from a wall socket and then discharged in a pattern typical of a 40-mile drive, including accelerations and regenerative braking.

    The testing, carried out by an independent lab, Mobile Power Solutions, of Beaverton, Ore., found that the buffered batteries lasted through 3,800 cycles, which would be more than 12 years for a car charged six times a week.

    Unbuffered, the batteries lasted only 500 cycles — equivalent to less than two years.

    Of course, most cars do not go 40 miles on most days, so gasoline use would often be zero. And while there is no accepted methodology yet for figuring the gas mileage of a plug-in hybrid, it could conceivably save many drivers several gallons of gas each week.

    For its part, General Motors has been aiming for a plug-in hybrid sedan — the Volt — but has not yet settled on a battery, and durability has been one of the biggest issues. Given its current financial woes, a product that requires replacement under warranty in a few short years is hardly what the company needs now.

    On Tuesday, the AFS Trinity said it plans to apply for a $2.5 billion loan from the Energy Department, under the $25 billion loan program created as part of last year’s energy bill.

    Common belief has been that the money would go entirely to the Big 3 automakers, but AFS Trinity, and a partner, Ricardo, a British auto design company, believe they could take a factory that has been shut down — or will be soon — and convert it to build S.U.V.s with their electric system.

    The company is showing off its “Extreme Hybrid” prototypes this week in Los Angeles. (Update 11/20: The vehicle is on display concurrent with the Los Angeles Auto Show, but in a nearby exhibition hall, not at the show itself.)

  28. Interesting, Mat.

    I got to tell you, the Bellevue, Washington, where your company is located, isn't the old Bellevue, Washington I used to know. Man, what a change.

  29. No doubt.

    Bellevue had already gone crazy when I left in '94.

    I remember the Bellevue of old. John Danz theatre with the bowling alley next door. Right in the heart of downtown. I think I watched Star Trek I there.

  30. Hilton Hotel, highrises, shit, couldn't believe it.

    There's an eight lane to the top of Snoqualamie Pass.

  31. Yep, doesn't take long to get to the slopes. :)

  32. ...And while there is no accepted methodology yet for figuring the gas mileage of a plug-in hybrid, it could conceivably save many drivers several gallons of gas each week.

    Fella obviously doesn't read EB.

    Mat has told us that ev's can get 600 mi/gal.

  33. Mat has told us that ev's can get 600 mi/gal.

    It's not hard to do the math. EV miles cost 1/10th to 1/100th the cost gasoline miles.