President-elect Barack Obama said today that there is "no pride of authorship" on his economic stimulus package. For good or bad, in regard to that particular initiative, this seems to me what a President should sound like. Let's hope he means it, and that this m.o. extends to all aspects of his Presidency. (appx 3 mins)...
As I've recently been consulted by Obama's team overseeing transition review of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), and have offered what I believe to be some good ideas about serious reform for the so-far dreadfully-failed commission, I'll hope he means what he says in the above about accepting such ideas and putting them into practice. We shall see, but the words said above sound very good to my ears.
I suspect GM's stock price would shoot back up upon such an announcement, and there would be unprecedented anticipation for how Apple's co-founder, the visionary Steve Jobs, might bring the same type of innovation to the American automobile industry that he brought to the computer and communications and music industry.
Would it be enough and in time to save them? That I couldn't tell ya, but it'd be just about the best chance they'd have, I'd venture.
While I'm focused on this point, allow me to link back to my recent article asking why Congress hasn't asked GM about their popular, fully-electric car, the EV1, before trying to give them billions of dollars.
The company introduced the EV1 in California in 1996, before killing it inexplicably three years later and, literally, shredding every last one of the much-sought-after vehicles. Several excellent comments left by readers on that article, also look into the related mystery of Texaco having purchased the patent for the second generation battery for the car. The purchase occurred at nearly the same time as the EV1 was taken off the market. The new battery technology is said to have had a superbly long life on a single charge. The purchase effectively took the battery off the market --- has it been heard from since?
Texaco itself was purchased by Chevron just days after they'd bought the rights to the battery in 2000. At the time of the purchase, as coincidence would have it, Condoleeza Rice was on Chevron's board, and Andy Card was GM's VP of Government Relations, according to Wikipedia, where he served until he was selected as George W. Bush's Chief of Staff. Prior to that, from '93 to '98, Card had been President and CEO of the American Automobile Manufacturers Assoc. (AAMA), representing GM, Ford and Chrysler. All just coincidences, of course.
But back to the main point of this item...If Steve Jobs is disinclined to leave Apple, the company he co-founded, in order to take the reins as CEO of the floundering GM, then I suppose I could revise the headline of this piece to read instead:
How to Save the American Automobile Industry in Three Words:
'The Apple iCar'
UPDATE 12/11/08: Looks like a few others were having the same idea just about the time that I was, and in a bit more detail...
I haven't been able to watch all of the Capitol Hill hearings with the Big 3 automaker CEOs, but caught a fair portion. I've yet to hear anybody ask GM CEO Rick Wagoner why the hell his company killed their perfectly good, and rather popular, fully electric car which was introduced in CA in 1996.
The EV1 was much beloved by its owners (leasers, actually, since they were not allowed to buy them). There were waiting lists to be able to get one, before finally, three years later, with little or no explanation, GM announced they would not be renewing any of the leases on those cars and those who used them would have no recourse but to give them back.
Customers were outraged, heartbroken even. Many had tried to buy them outright --- and even sign contracts that they'd not hold GM accountable for any future problems or repairs --- but they were all turned down. When the devoted customers learned the planned fate of the cars --- and discovered, by helicopter, that they were all being rounded up in the desert --- they took up a round-the-clock, 24/7 vigil in an effort to block what GM had planned for them.
Incredibly, not only had GM taken back the cars, they were actually sending them, in perfectly good working order, to be shredded --- yes, literally shredded. As EV1 supporters tried to physically block the movement of cars to the shredder, they were threatened with arrest if they didn't get out of the way to allow the perfectly usable, and almost brand new cars to be taken out by trucks to be completely destroyed.
Why? That was never really made clear, at least not in the excellent 2006 documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? which detailed the entire heartbreaking tale of the cars which ran quickly and quietly, and without a drop of gasoline. Here's a short teaser for the film...
So, as promises of the Chevy Volt for 2010 have been well advertised, has Wagoner been publicly asked about the shameful EV1 chapter, and why his company can't just start making them again --- like tomorrow? Surely they didn't shred the blueprints for the cars as well, did they? If anyone has asked him, even about why the hell they destroyed them in the first place, I've not seen it. But with everything that's going on right now, and with GM's hat-in-hand, threatening "bankruptcy within the month" if they don't get billions of dollars pronto, it sure seems like someone oughta bring up the still unanswered questions of the EV1.
After Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) discusses the bailout as if it's something "they" are doing (as opposed to her, a member of the U.S. Congress) Ashton Kutcher called her on it on Friday's HBO's Real Time w/ Bill Maher, before going on to make a very significant point about the insane way this economic "bailout" is being carried out.
"With all due respect, you're in a position to do something very significant about it. We're all in a position to do something very significant about it," he tells the Congresswoman, before the actor/producer of Punk'd goes on to declare, deadly seriously, in reply to Maher: "They're punking us right now!" (appx. 2 mins)...
I'll tell ya, I was really impressed with Kutcher every time he opened his mouth on the show last Friday. I hope he keeps talking. Clearly, he's been paying very close attention to what's really going on out here. And, to that end, we'll have another clip of him from the same show later today, which offers some pretty good evidence that he must be a BRAD BLOG reader. Stay tuned...
The emerging meme last week from the conservative corner is that the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) is to blame for the economic meltdown on Wall Street. The CRA was intended to confront decades of institutionalized discriminatory lending practices by banks in refusing loans to women and minorities. The twisted logic behind this newest meme is that the CRA forced formerly prudent lenders to abandon their previously cautious ways, and forced them to throw sound lending practices out the window because that's what the law demanded, and gosh, it's not their fault that they made bad loans in the bargain.
You may not be surprised to learn that's not the case. Read below, in full, for some facts that counter the insidious prejudice --- with racism at its heart --- inherent in the latest lie drummed up in the conservative blame game. You'd think they couldn't cry "Political Correctness made me do it!" with a straight face, but alas, they do...
Guest Editorial by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review.
The bailout of Wall Street is the rancid pickle on an economic crap sandwich that is a result of 30 years of conservative deregulation/trickle-down ideology. The fact that the Bush appointees who devised the original bailout plan are from the same gene pool as the neo-cons, cronies and heckuva-jobbers who turned America into a torture state, spied on Americans, drowned New Orleans, stole two national elections, corrupted the Department of Justice and took the country to war on the false pretext of bringing democracy to Iraq but then screwed up their true intent --- to steal its oil --- should have been reason enough to kill the plan on sight.
But that's not going to happen. As inept and ineffectual as they are at everything else, the Bush team is highly practiced at forcing Congress to act in haste. Six years ago this month, Karl Rove and the White House political shop "created a reality," as one of them has described it, that there was an urgent need to push the Iraq war resolution through Congress just days before the midterm elections. Now we know that the only urgency was Rove's need to get Senate Democrats who were potential Bush rivals in the 2004 presidential election on the record about the war before the election. Iraq post-invasion has been a disaster, but the vote on the resolution was stunningly successful in hobbling the campaigns of both John Kerry and Hillary Clinton.
Now, in what is either a horrendous coincidence or the most elaborate (and apparently botched) October Surprise in presidential campaign history, as Bush prepares to slouch off to Crawford for good, he is pushing one last crisis down our throats. As with his invasion of Iraq, it will probably be years before we know if this latest crisis is "real," or if it was fumbled attempt by the White House to change the game in John McCain's favor.
It certainly feels like we're being played again...
Americans - most notably right-leaning Americans - used to issue dire warnings about sliding down "the slippery slope" on any number of hot-button political issues. From the slippery slope of same-sex marriage to the slippery slope of gun control to the slippery slope of abortion rights to the slippery slope of immigration and on and on, various political interest groups in America guarded that slope, with no small amount of zeal, lest any of us find our God-given rights or once-vaunted rule of law lost for good before we even noticed.
Bad news. We've lost our God-given rights, at least our constitutional ones, and certainly the rule of law. The US is now in full-plummet down the slippery slope, due, in no small part, to a lack of courage, willingness, interest and imagination of those who might have kept it from happening long ago.
Under the proposed bailout legislation (according to Henry Paulson, Secretary of the Treasury), the US Treasury or agents thereof could acquire Microsoft for one US dollar, with no legal recourse for Microsoft or even its shareholders.
Here is the text of proposed legislation and here is what the Treasury Department claims the legislation will allow it to do, and here is how Paulson (or his successor) could own Microsoft...for a buck...
Telegraphing panic over the economic crisis to his fear-addicted followers, John McCain has announced he is suspending his campaign and that he wants to delay the debate Friday night, according to Washington Post...
Republican presidential nominee John McCain this afternoon said he would suspend his presidential campaign tomorrow to return to Washington and help reach agreement on a plan to solve the financial crisis on Wall Street, and called for a delay of Friday night's presidential debate.
"It has become clear that no consensus has developed to support the Administration's proposal,'' McCain said in a brief statement to reporters. "I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently stands, and we are running out of time.''
It's not as if John McCain has announced any sort of definitive measure to resolve the crisis that he needs to be in Washington to push --- or that he has a record of providing leadership on the economy in the past. (Quite the opposite, in fact. He was an advocate of the deregulation that underlies the failures.)
More importantly, if John McCain can't juggle a debate with Barack Obama while simultaneously working on the economic collapse, how can he possibly handle the multiple world crises that inevitably come with the presidency?
It's likely that what's really going on here is that the campaign has seen some dire polling numbers --- today even the new Fox "News" poll shows Obama support widening nationally, with a full 6-point lead, 45% to 39%, beyond the poll's margin of error --- and they want to push the debate forward, with the hope that the issues that are dragging him down have turned around.
(Please note, however, in re: the Fox "News" poll released today, FNC's "Fox News Polls Home" on their website currently ledes with a headline screaming that "McCain Leads Obama 45% to 42%". Click on that top headline, and one finds that it's headlined Sept. 10. Guess they're in no rush to update their polls page for some reason.)
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Nouriel Roubini, RGE Monitor, who accurately predicted the current economic crisis: "Last week we argued that, with the nationalization of Fannie and Freddie, comrades Bush, Paulson and Bernanke had started transforming the USA into the USSRA (United Socialist State Republic of America). This transformation of the USA into a country where there is socialism for the rich, the well connected and Wall Street (i.e. where profits are privatized and losses are socialized) continues … with the nationalization of AIG."
Atrios: "The entire financial system is practically collapsing and they're lamenting the possibility of more regulation...People who prattle on about 'the free market' are usually too stupid to have a clue how complicated and pervasive the "rules" had to be to to get a well-functioning modern market system: sophisticated concepts of contracts and enforcement, property rights, legal entities, proper accounting, bankruptcy, limited liability, etc... etc..., did not descend from the heavens but were, in fact, created."
Matt Yglesias: "Who knew the 'Washington Consensus' would die in Washington, DC under a Republican President in a mad fit of bailouts and nationalizations?"