“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."

Monday, February 02, 2009

At Davos The Whirled Turns Against US

What do they want from us? On one hand, the US consumers who have driven the world's long bull market are castigated for having done so. On the other hand, any talk of cutting them off from those consumers via protectionist trade policies are met with fighting talk. You can't win for losing.
International Herald Tribune
In time of crisis, looking to U.S. with wariness and hope
By Nelson D. Schwartz
Sunday, February 1, 2009

DAVOS, Switzerland: This was supposed to be the year the United States came in from the cold at the annual gathering of world leaders here. But instead of receiving a warm embrace, American policies were rebuked again and again in rhetoric that recalled the anger of the Bush years - except the ire this time was mostly directed at Washington's economic failings, rather than its diplomatic ones.

There is a deep reservoir of good will for President Barack Obama personally and the change in direction he represents. But his administration is about to discover that the rest of the world does not seem to be in a hurry to forgive and forget - and that it sees a new threat in the form of U.S. protectionism.

Despite the pledges to encourage international trade and economic cooperation that accompanied the closing sessions of the gathering, the World Economic Forum, on Sunday, there were clear signs that deep divisions between the United States and the rest of the world remained.

"There is such a level of concern, despair and anxiety that as welcome as the new president is, no one is inclined to cut the U.S. much slack," said Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Or as Niall Ferguson, the Harvard historian, put it, "If GM got a new CEO, does that mean people would suddenly want to buy their cars?"

The criticism did not come only from the usual suspects, like Prime Ministers Vladimir Putin of Russia and Wen Jiabao of China, who both decried a long pattern of excessive consumption, risky borrowing and inadequate regulation in the United States.

More significant, the brickbats also came from economic and political leaders of European allies like Germany and France.

Whether the issue was the recent bailout for the American auto industry or provisions favoring U.S. steel producers in the stimulus package now being debated on Capitol Hill, overseas observers warned that any move toward protectionism would have serious consequences for Washington and the rest of the world.

"We must not allow market forces to be completely distorted," Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, warned in a speech on Wednesday. "For instance, I am very wary of seeing subsidies injected into the U.S. auto industry. That could lead to distortion and protectionism."

By the weekend, as word of the "Buy American" proposal spread through Davos, the tone had become sharper.

"It's extremely preoccupying that one of the first acts of the new Obama administration could be a measure that is clearly protectionist and a distortion of competition," said Anne-Marie Idrac, the French trade minister.

She said it was a "very bad sign that goes against" earlier statements opposing protectionism by the leaders of the world's 20 largest economies.

Idrac demanded immediate action by Pascal Lamy, director general of the World Trade Organization.

Lamy, also at Davos, declined to be drawn into the battle. "If there is a breach of the rules," he said, it would be dealt with by WTO member nations' bringing action against the United States under the trade group's rules.

"I am not that big cop," he added.

For all the global affection for Obama, Washington sent a relatively low-profile contingent to Davos, with Valerie Jarrett, a White House adviser, serving as the administration's headliner here.

Jarrett did not address the issue of protectionism directly in her brief speech on Thursday, preferring to stick with the big picture as well as Obama's connection to Chicago, her hometown.

Instead, the task of defending American economic policy fell to attendees like Representative Brian Baird, a Democrat from Washington State, who has served in Congress for the last decade.

"The steel issue is vastly overplayed here," he said. "Even Adam Smith himself said certain key industries deserved to have protection."

Noting that his district is home to two steel plants - down from three a few years ago - he added, "Steel is one of those industries."

He suggested that this was not the time to push free-trade rhetoric on U.S. taxpayers already worried about surging levels of unemployment.

"If you want to kill the WTO, that would be the way to do it," he said.

Representative Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat from New York, also took a pragmatic view.

"In order to pass a piece of legislation, items are added that are necessary to secure the votes," she said.

Davos has always stood for globalization, and the benefits of free trade are an article of faith at the meetings. But even Davos die-hards admit that national economic interests have come to the fore amid the global downturn, and voter support for easing trade barriers is at a low ebb.

To be sure, for all the foreign criticism over the help for the Detroit automakers, European countries including France, Britain and Sweden have offered up billions in aid for local auto manufacturers.

But beyond the public sparring over these and other specific concerns, many overseas observers are also privately concerned about how the U.S. government will pay for Obama's proposed stimulus package, which could ultimately cost $1 trillion.

A binge of new borrowing by Washington could effectively crowd out other borrowers by pushing interest rates higher over the long term, and would be especially painful for developing countries that rely on foreign capital.

At the same time, printing more dollars could undermine the value of both the dollar and the many currencies around the world pegged to it, stoking inflation when the global economy eventually begins to recover.

Ernesto Zedillo, the former president of Mexico who helped steer his country through a financial crisis in 1994, said developing countries were already finding it harder to raise capital without competing with increased U.S. borrowing.

And his country does not have the option of printing money, he noted, since the Mexican peso is not a global reserve currency like the dollar.

Meanwhile, the current Mexican president, Felipe Calderón, could not resist a swipe at the now-departed administration of George W. Bush. The global finance crisis started in the United States, he said, and coincided with a lack of leadership in that nation.

But for all the complaining from abroad, no other economic power - not Europe, not Japan and not China - seems ready to step up and fill the role traditionally played by the United States.

"The irony of the situation," said Haas, of the Council on Foreign Relations, "is that everyone is still looking to the U.S. for leadership to fix things or at least make things better."

Calderón made exactly that point alongside his criticism of U.S. economic policies.

"The new president has the opportunity to lead his nation and the world," he said.

Katrin Bennhold contributed reporting.
International Herald Tribune Copyright © 2009 The International Herald Tribune |


  1. Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was announced honorable citizen of the Iranian capital, Russian daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta informs. Mayor of Tehran Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf stated officially this decision and sent a letter to Erdoğan, in which, on behalf of the city he governs, thanks the Turkish Prime Minister for the ‘wise and manly action’ during a conference of the World Economic Forum in Davos, when Erdoğan defended the Palestinians in Gaza, reproaching the Israeli President.

    Ghalibaf states that in a moment when many governments prefer to remain silent concerning ‘the Israeli crimes in Gaza’, the people of Turkey should take pride in its brave leader.

    After an emotional speech by Israeli President Shimon Peres in Davos, Erdoğan opposed him in a ‘not less emotional way’, blaming him for the death of innocent people in the Gaza Strip.

    Citizen of Tehran

  2. Like it or not, there is no acceptable alternative to the dollar at this time.

    A concerted decision to turn away from the dollar could only happen during good times, very good times, and sustained good times. That would assume that the rest of the world would be doing good while the US is not, and that is highly unlikely.

    One of the structural economic problems is the disparity between nations that save too little and those who save too much. Countries such as China save a lot of money because the people do not have a social safety net that is credible to them. That savings gets cycled into the US to finance consumption of Chinese goods.

    As the US continues to increase its savings rates, there will be a growing pool of US capital grown at the expense of deferred consumption of Chinese goods. A weaker US would not guarantee a stronger China. It could prove to be just the opposite.

  3. Under the new valuation, the largest note will be a 500-dollar Zimbabwean bill.

    Officially, Zimbabwean inflation was at 231 million percent in July but by some estimates the inflation rate is in the billions of percent, CNN said.

    Many Zimbabwean businesses have begun to accept only foreign currency
    and acting finance minister Patrick Chinamasa last week authorized the use of foreign currency nationally. But even those preferring to use Zimbabwean currency are having difficulty obtaining it, with reports of people camping out at banks in hopes of withdrawing some when banks open.

    Zimbabwe Revalues Its Currency

  4. Local authorities denied that their failure to grit roads in time had led to large numbers of workers staying home. The Local Government Association said it was the responsibility of Transport for London to keep arterial roads and red routes gritted.

    Paul Bettison, chairman of the LGA's environment board, said councils were being used as scapegoats for others' failure. "The claim that it is local authorities' fault that they cannot run services needs to be treated with a huge pinch of gritting salt," he said.

    The London Ambulance Service said it was responding only to "life-threatening" emergency calls. It received more than 650 calls between midnight and 7am yesterday.

    Britain Stops

  5. Decliners were led by rubber product, air transport and securities issues. Major gainers included sea transport, mining and real estate issues.

    Brokers said investor confidence in Tokyo was hurt by the bearish U.S. market mood due to dismal U.S. spending data for December and 2008 as well as by a recent slew of discouraging earnings reports from Japanese companies, especially major high-tech firms.

    But the losses were modest, with the key indexes gradually gathering upward momentum shortly after 9:15 a.m., as investors refrained from aggressive selling while searching for clues about the market's direction. Bargain hunters also stepped in after a two-day losing streak, brokers said.

    Corporate Outlook

  6. Brown said that the sectors of British industry most likely to benefit would include aerospace, hi-tech manufacturing, education and pharmaceuticals.

    "By taking this action now we believe we can expand trade between our two countries immediately and the benefit will flow to British workers and British companies," he said. He described the export boost offered by the Chinese stimulus package as "absolutely crucial to helping the world's economy recovery", because it sent "a signal the world can only move forward out of this recession by trading with each other".

    The need to head off protectionism in the EU and the US has been at the top of Wen's agenda during his three-day visit to the UK. He made clear that he sees Brown, who will be hosting the G20 summit of major and emerging economies in April, as an important ally in support of free trade moderated by greater regulation of international finance.

    British Industry

  7. "Greasy Rider"

    by Greg Melville

    'Two dudes, one fry-oil-powered car, and a cross country search for a greener future.'

    Imagine driving coast-to-coast without stopping at a single gas station.

    Journalist Greg Melville was determined to do it. His college buddy joins him to ride shotgun, and these green-thinking guys--who're in love with the idea of free fuel--set out on an enlightening road trip. Their quest: to be the first to drive cross-country in a french-fry car.

    Will they make it from Vermont to California in a beat-up 1985 Mercedes diesel station wagon powered on vegetable oil collectedd from restaurant grease Dumpsters?

    And can they survive 192 consecutive hours together?

    Traveling over 3,900 miles, they visit the solar-powered Google Headquarters; the National Ethanol Council; the wind turbines of Minnesota; the National Renewalable Energy Lab; an "eco-friendly" Wal-Mart(!); and the world's largest geothermal heating system.

    Part adventure and part investigation into what we're doing (or not doing) to preserve the planet, "Greasy Rider" is upbeat, funny, and full of surprising revelations about sustainable measures within our reach.

    from the back jacket

    Thought of Mat, WiO, Rufus and some others when I saw this book at the library, so I picked it up. Will make a report, if it deserves it.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Department Of Agriculture

    $44,000,000 - Agriculture Buildings and Facilities and Rental Payments; $209,000,000 - Agricultural Research Service Buildings and Facilities; $245,000,000 - Farm Service Agency Salaries and Expenses; $350,000,000 - Natural Resources Conservation Service Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations; $50,000,000 - Watershed Rehabilitation Program; $5,838,000,000 - Rural Development Programs, Rural Community Advancement Program; $22,129,000,000 - Rural Housing Service, Rural Housing Insurance Fund Program Account; $2,825,000,000 - Rural Utilities Service, Distance Learning, Telemedicine, and Broadband Program; $100,000,000 - Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children; $150,000,000 - Emergency Food Assistance Program" (This includes grants for Puerto Rico and American Samoa); $300,000,000 - Administrative Expenses ($150,000,000 each in '09 & '10); $650,000,000 - Forest Service, Capital Improvement and Maintenance; $840,000,000 - Wildland Fire Management

    Department Of Commerce

    $250,000,000 - Economic Development Administration, Economic Development Assistance Program; $1,000,000,000 - Bureau of the Census, Periodic Censuses and Programs (additional funding); $350,000,000 - National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Salaries and Expenses; $2,825,000,000 - Wireless and Broadband Deployment Grant Programs; $650,000,000 - Digital-To-Analog Converter Box Program; $100,000,000 - National Institute of Standards and Technology Scientific and Technical Research and Services; $100,000,000 - Industrial Technology Services

    $300,000,000 - Construction of Research Facilities; $400,000,000 - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Operations, Research and Facilities; $600,000,000 - Procurement, Acquisition and Construction (includes not less than $140,000,000 for "climate data modeling")

    Department Of Justice (DoJ)

    $3,000,000,000 - State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance; $1,000,000,000 - Community Oriented Policing Services

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

    $400,000,000 - Science (not less than $250,000,000 "shall be solely for accelerating the development of the tier 1 set of Earth science climate research missions); $150,000,000 - Aeronautics; $50,000,000 - Cross Agency Support Programs (restoration and mitigation of NASA infrastructure and facilities damaged during 2008 disasters)

    National Science Foundation

    $2,500,000,000 - Research and Related Activities; $100,000,000 - Education and Human Resources; $400,000,000 - Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction

    Department Of Defense

    $4,500,000,000 - Facility Infrastructure Investments; $350,000,000 - Energy Research and Development; $920,000,000 - Military Construction, Army; $350,000,000 - Military Construction, Navy & Marine Corps; $260,000,000 - Military Construction, Air Force; $3,750,000,000 - Military Construction, Defense-Wide; $140,000,000 - Military Construction, Army National Guard; $70,000,000 - Military Construction, Air National Guard; $100,000,000 - Military Construction, Army Reserve; $30,000,000 - Military Construction, Navy Reserve; $60,000,000 - Military Construction, Air Force Reserve; $300,000,000 - Department of Defense Base Closure Account 1990

    Department Of Veterans Affairs (VA)

    $950,000,000 - Veterans Health Administration, Medical Facilities; $50,000,000 - National Cemetery Administration

    Energy And Water

    $2,000,000,000 - Army Corps of Engineers, Civil Construction; $250,000,000 - Mississippi River and Tributaries; $2,225,000,000 - Operation and Maintenance; $25,000,000 - Regulatory Program

    Department Of Energy

    $18,500,000,000 - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy; $4,500,000,000 -; $1,000,000,000 - Advanced Battery Loan Guarantee Program; $500,000,000 - Institutional Loan Guarantee Program; $8,000,000,000 - Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program; $2,400,000,000 - Fossil Energy; $2,000,000,000 - Science (weird science?)

    Environmental And Other Defense Activities

    $500,000,000 - Defense Environmental Cleanup

    Borrowing Authorities

    $3,250,000,000 - Western Area Power Administration; $3,250,000,000 - Bonneville Power Administration

    General Services Administration

    $7,700,000,000 - Federal Buildings Fund; $600,000,000 - Energy Efficient Federal Motor Vehicle Fleet Procurement (no mention of buying only American cars)

    Small Business Administration

    $426,000,000 - Business Loans Program Account

    Department Of Homeland Security

    $100,000,000 - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (non-intrusive detection technology at sea ports of entry); $150,000,000 - Repair and Construct Inspections Facilities (at land border points of entry); $500,000,000 - Aviation Security; $150,000,000 - Coast Guard, (alteration of bridges); $200,000,000 - FEMA, Emergency Food & Shelter

    Department Of The Interior

    $500,000,000 - Bureau of Reclamation, Water and Related Resources; $325,000,000 - Bureau of Land Management, Construction (for priority road, bridge and trail repair or decommissioning); $300,000,000 - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Construction (for priority road and bridge replacement and repair); $1,700,000,000 - National Park Service Construction; $200,000,000 - National Mall Revitalization Fund (half of that requires matching private funds); $100,000,000 - National Park Service Centennial Challenge (signature projects and programs); $200,000,000 - U.S. Geological Survey for Surveys, Investigations and Research; $500,000,000 - Bureau of Indian Affairs, Construction; $800,000,000 - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Hazardous Substance Superfund; $200,000,000 - EPA, Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund Program; $8,400,000,000 - State and Tribal Assistance Grants ($6 bln, Clean Water State Revolving Funds; $2 bln, Drinking Water State Revolving Funds; $300 mil, Title VII, Subtitle G, Energy Policy Act of 2005; $100 mil, Comprehensive environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980)

    Department Of Health And Human Services (HSS)

    $550,000,000 - Indian Health Service; $2,188,000,000 - Health Resources and Services; $462,000,000 - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Disease Control, Research and Training; $1,500,000,000 - National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Center for Research Resources; $1,500,000,000 - NIH, Office of the Director; $500,000,000 - NIH, Buildings & Facilities; $700,000,000 - Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; $400,000,000 - Discretionary Funds, Secretary of HHS (Tom Daschle won't have to pay taxes on this); $1,000,000,000 - Administration for Children and Families, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance; $2,000,000,000 - Payments to States for the Child Care and Development Block Grant; $3,200,000,000 - Children and Families Services Program; $200,000,000 - Administration on Aging, Aging Services Programs; $2,000,000,000 - Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology; $900,000,000 - Public Health & Social Services Emergency Fund (three parts for advanced R&D, prepare for influenza pandemic, improve IT at the Department of HHS); $3,000,000,000 - HHS Prevention and Wellness Fund

    Department Of Education

    $13,000,000,000 - Education for the Disadvantaged; $100,000,000 - Impact Aid (Title VII of the elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965); $1,000,000,000 - School Improvement Program; $200,000,000 - Innovation and Improvement; $13,000,000,000 - Special Education (ref. IDEA, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act); $16,126,000,000 - Student Financial Assistance; $50,000,000 - Student Aid Administration; $100,000,000 - Higher Education; $250,000,000 - Institute of Education Sciences; $14,000,000,000 - School Modernization, Renovation, and Repair; $6,000,000,000 - Higher Education Modernization, Renovation, and Repair; $79,000,000,000 - State Fiscal Stabilization Fund

    Corporation For National And Community Service

    $160,000,000 - Operating Expenses; $40,000,000 - National Service Trust

    Social Security Administration

    $900,000,000 - Limitation on Administrative Expenses

    Smithsonian Institute

    $150,000,000 - Facilities Capital

    National Foundation For The Arts And The Humanities

    $50,000,000 - National Endowment for the Arts

    Department Of Labor

    $4,000,000,000 - Employment and Training Administration; $120,000,000 - Community Service Employment For Older Americans; $500,000,000 - State Unemployment Insurance and Employment Service Operations; $80,000,000 - Departmental Management; $300,000,000 - Office of the Job Corps

    Department Of State

    $276,000,000 - Administration of Foreign Affairs, Capital Investment Fund; $224,000,000 - International Boundary and Water Commission, U.S. and Mexico, Construction

    Department Of Transportation

    $3,000,000,000 - Federal Aviation Administration, Grants-in-Aid for Airports;

    $30,000,000,000 - Federal Highway Administration, Highway Infrastructure Investment; $300,000,000 - Federal Railroad Administration, Capital Assistance for Intercity Passenger Rail Service; $800,000,000 - Capital and Debt Service Grant to the Railroad Passenger Corporation; $6,000,000,0000 - Federal Transit Administration, Transit Capital Assistance; $2,000,000,000 - Fixed Guideway Infrastructure Investment; $1,000,000,000 - Grants at the discretion of the Secretary of Transportation

    Department Of Housing & Urban Development

    $5,000,000,000 - Public & Indian Housing, Public Housing Capital Fund; $2,500,000,000 - Elderly, Disabled, and Section 8 Assisted Housing, Energy Retrofit; $500,000,000 - Native American Housing Block Grants; $1,000,000,000 - Community Planning & Development, Community Development Fund; $4,190,000,000 - Neighborhood Stabilization Activities (ACORN money here?); Community Development Fund; $1,500,000,000 - Home Investment Partnerships Program; $10,000,000 - Self-Help & Assisted Homeownership Opportunity Program; $1,500,000,000 - Homeless Assistance Grants; $100,000,000 - Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control, Lead Hazard Reduction

    Whew! Boar-a-rama. Hog heaven.

    Rest assured, though, that all these expenditures will be closely monitored to prevent fraud and wasteful spending. There's 198,400,000 allocated for Inspector Generals of federal departments and agencies. The Government Accounting Office will have another $25,000,000 to follow the money flowing from the swinery.

    And, in case you're concerned about such things, breathe easy because, according to Sec. 1109. PROHIBITED USES:

    None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available in the Act may be used for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, or swimming pool.

    from "American Thinker"

  10. 2164th said...

    "Like it or not, there is no acceptable alternative to the dollar at this time."

    Say what? No alternative? Sure there is - the world is filled with currencies. Like so many things financial what governs things is confidence. There are a lot of American dollars out there, loads and loads and loads. Yes, the US dollar has served as the international exchange currency and that has given the US a lot of latitude to run current account deficits without suffering what most nations suffer when they do the same. Similarly the US has had a lot of latitude to print money without suffering as others. This is simply because the confidence the US dollar has enjoyed. There are many reasons to doubt the underpinnings for that confidence and it displays a large amount of hubris to think "there are no acceptable alternatives". Think of it this way, ANY other currency could be construed as acceptable. I think the US dollar is considerably overvalued at the moment and given the yield on US treasuries I think it is folly to park needed cash in that security. I am not alone in that thought. Let us hope the devaluation is orderly. There is also much pent up anger in the world and a protectionist United States would be seen as particularly grievous given the past decades of preaching the US has done for open markets. The US financial system is on its knees, the US consumer is on its knees and the rest of the world will have little patience for the whining of the US and will meet, reluctantly, any protectionist measure with measures of their own.

    Put the shoe on the other foot as they say. Take Germany for example and think of how they view how the US auto manufacturers are to be subsidized and thus impeding their sales. Japan too. Think they will sit idly by as their industries are undermined? Nope, they'll engage in the race to the bottom. Up here, how will the Canadians respond to Buy American Steel cutting out Canadian Steel? First step is to ask for an exemption. If that doesn't happen...'s a bad path to tread.

  11. Looks like the roads are the big winner, Bob.

  12. The global slowdown is taking a toll on China, claiming the jobs of an estimated 20 million migrant workers and dimming their prospects as they set out in search of work after the New Year holiday.


    This week, migrants are setting out to look for jobs. How much work is available -- and how the government handles the disappointment of those who can't find any -- will help determine how much the crisis strains China's system.


    Central-government officials have in recent weeks asked companies to avoid layoffs if at all possible, and have stepped up subsidies and training programs directed at migrant workers. The government is also stepping up monitoring of job losses, since China's official unemployment statistics don't cover migrant workers and hence have shown little change despite the economic turmoil.

    Jobless Ranks Soar

  13. A breakthrough came with the development of the Nodong missile, with a range of up to 800 miles. It is still an inaccurate weapon, but it could potentially be used to carry nuclear or chemical warheads.

    This was the weapons said to have been purchased in blueprint form by Benazir Bhutto, then the Prime Minister of Pakistan, in 1993.

    North Korea’s most shocking ballistic gesture came in 1998 when it test-fired a new three-stage long-range missile into the Pacific Ocean. The course of the so called Taepodong took it over the north coast of Japan; even more alarmingly, its range approached that of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

    Long Range Missile

  14. One option for cooperation would be the creation of a Public Energy Fund that would function like a foreign aid program. The fund could purchase U.S. technologies (creating U.S. jobs) and, with appropriate IP protection, provide them to developing countries, particularly China, at a discount, making China part of the solution.

    Reducing the clout of unsavoury regimes funded by petrodollars and saving the world from runaway climate change could be added pluses.

    Mao Zedong did not, in the end, turn the East red. But maybe—just maybe—President Obama can turn the East green.

    Turning the East Green

  15. Farm Service Agency Salaries and Expenses; $350,000,000

    My friends at FSA get a raise.

    Natural Resources Conservation Service Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations; $50,000,000

    There! Bingo! Maybe I can score there. I've been wondering where I might get my snout into the trough.
    Farm Ponds! Maybe that's my ticket. Just a year ago or so I asked if they had any money these days for help on farm dams and ponds, but, no longer, county has hundreds of them. So I put the idea aside, until recently, thinking, life is short, I'll pay for it all myself. I can sit there and shoot ducks, and sip brandy. Get a retriever dog. Get the wife a duck recipe. But maybe the money will open up again. And I can help out in stimulating America too! But not with my own money:)

  16. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan exploded during a public discussion with Israeli President Shimon Peres at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week. Erdogan did not blow up at Peres, but rather at the moderator, Washington Post columnist and associate editor David Ignatius, whom Erdogan accused of giving more time to Peres.


    In World War II, both Axis and Allies wooed and subverted Turkey. But the country managed — with difficulty — to maintain neutrality, thereby avoiding another national catastrophe.


    There is a second vision of Turkey, however: that of Turkey as a Muslim power with responsibilities beyond guaranteeing its own national security. This viewpoint would of course break the country’s relationship with Israel and the United States.

    Turkish State

  17. How giving a raise to FSA salaries creates any new jobs I can't figure.

    Maybe they mean salaries for new unneeded employees.

    These days, no one goes to the FSA office anymore. It's all done through mail, e-mail or the internet forms of USDA.

  18. FSA though, last I was in, had some really nifty computers and nifty programs, that I was shown.

  19. On Monday, House Republican leaders put out a list of what they call wasteful provisions in the Senate version of the nearly $900 billion stimulus bill that is being debated:

    • $2 billion earmark to re-start FutureGen, a near-zero emissions coal power plant in Illinois that the Department of Energy defunded last year because it said the project was inefficient.


    • $1.4 billion for rural waste disposal programs.


    • $6 billion to turn federal buildings into "green" buildings.

    Stimulus Bill

  20. heheheheharharhar--

    • $88 million for the Coast Guard to design a new polar icebreaker (arctic ship).


    ah, shit, an' here I thought the ice it twas ameltin'

  21. • A $246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to buy motion picture film.

  22. $110 million to the Farm Service Agency to upgrade computer systems.

    jeez, I was just complimenting FSA on what great computers they already have.

  23. Ash disagrees:

    "Say what? No alternative? Sure there is - the world is filled with currencies. Like so many things financial what governs things is confidence. There are a lot of American dollars out there, loads and loads and loads. Yes, the US dollar has served as the international exchange currency and that has given the US a lot of latitude to run current account deficits without suffering what most nations suffer when they do the same. Similarly the US has had a lot of latitude to print money without suffering as others. This is simply because the confidence the US dollar has enjoyed. There are many reasons to doubt the underpinnings for that confidence and it displays a large amount of hubris to think "there are no acceptable alternatives".

    I can understand your indignation. Within your indignation lies the problem.

    There simply is no currency large enough to replace the dollar because there is no economy large enough that can sustain itself and expand in volume to replace the dollar while the US is in recession.

    If the Titanic takes on enough water and starts listing, a few fortunate survivors can jump ship and get into a few lifeboats, but as the numbers multiply and one boat takes on too many desperate survivors, that boat will become overwhelmed and will soon find itself sinking. The euro was a recent example as well as the yen. Everyone wanted them and their value rose so fast compared to the dollar that their economies became hostage to the demand for their currency. Their economies started sinking because their products became too expensive.

    Your indignation will get worse as theUS seigniorage becomes more obvious. All governments play the game if they can.

    The €500 note is an example. It is a source of seigniorage revenue for the European Central Bank, particularly because no other major central bank issues currency in such large denomination, They can keep printing them for awhile, but to do so with the idea of replacing the dollar would expose the € to the same inflation as the dollar.

    Hubris has nothing to do with it.

  24. Wayyyyy off topic this audio clip of Christian Bale flipping out on a set worker while filming a movie.

    Listen to the entire thing and you understand why he is rightfully upset. The set worker, obviously responsible for lighting, was oblivious to Bale's complaint.

  25. Fuck the Germans. Our automakers have to provide health insurance to their workers. The Kraut buggymakers don't.

    Fuck the Fwench. They're our oldest enemies.

    Good luck to the "Messiah." It's HIS turn in the barrel.

    This is the benefit of the WTO. It gives an outlet for the assholes to "Vent."

    They're going to wail against the US till the end of time, regardless of who the President is. It's a free shot.

  26. It's good publicity for this Bale fellow, be all over the tabloids---shows his intensity, dedication to his art etc.

    Like his father, David, Bale is known as an activist, and is a supporter of activism and animal welfare groups such as Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund.[9] He has been a vegetarian since age six when he read Charlotte's Web and made the connection between animals and meat.

    Probably a supporter of reintroduction of wolves in Idaho, too. Carnivores against the elk, those vegetarians.

    Probably wants to take away my hunting license.

  27. It's not fair, I tell you, Al Capone going to jail, and Geithner going to Treasury.

  28. FRANKFORT, Ky. – Gov. Steve Beshear (beh-SHEER) is raising his state's death toll to 24 in a storm that caked several states in ice last week.

    That means at least 55 people have died in the storm nationwide.

    Beshear says in a letter to President Barack Obama released Monday that 10 of the deaths were from carbon monoxide poisoning and at least nine others from hypothermia.

    The governor's office isn't giving details on the individual deaths.

    Some people are getting ticked off-

    118. nadadhimmi:

    Obama is BLACK, the news media will NEVER!!! find fault with anything he does. His race endemnifies him against criticism for his policies, lest one be called racists. The Kentucky po white trash have just been kicked in the teeth by the mess-iah. He keeps the White House at 85 degrees, eats $100/lb steak that I’ve never heard of, while white people he doesn’t give a shit about literally freeze to death in their homes. He is a black racist and supremecist of the worst ilk. I wonder if his fancy-ass steak goes well with Arugala?

    After all the Bush bashing over Katrina, I can't help but kind of like the sound of some of it, though that's a pretty extreme example.

  29. Davos Outburst

    Turkey's Erdogan turns outburst against Perez to his own domestic advantage, uses Davos as a stage.

  30. Traveling over 3,900 miles, they visit the solar-powered Google Headquarters; the National Ethanol Council; the wind turbines of Minnesota; the National Renewalable Energy Lab; an "eco-friendly" Wal-Mart(!); and the world's largest geothermal heating system.