By on September 3, 2008

Ten weeks before the Tet Offensive fatally undermined American support for the Vietnam War, General William Westmoreland embarked on a publicity tour to “sell” the ongoing military campaign. In a televised news conference, Westmoreland famously declared that he could see “the light at the end of the tunnel.” In the same sense, GM’s executives continue to express their faith in the automaker’s “turnaround.” This much is to be expected– especially when The General is lobbying for tens of billions of dollars in public funds. But the mainstream automotive media’s complicity is unconscionable.

For decades, the American automotive press has suckled on General Motors’ bounteous teats. Last year alone, before GM’s cash burn mandated some serious back-of the-sofa scrounging, the automaker spent over $2b on advertising. That kind of money buys you a lot of friends. In fact, The General’s formerly free-flowing ad bucks have supported a lifestyle to which automotive journalists became accustomed.

So it’s not surprising to see these jobbing journos share GM execs’ reluctance to face the grim fact that the artist formerly known as the world’s largest automaker is terminally ill. The scribes and suits adhere to the same delusional notion that all new cars are wonderful, but Detroit’s latest are the most wonderful of all. If not now, then soon. One day. Some day.

Of course, the 50 and 60-something white men who have watched The General’s descent from dominance to disaster share a cultural heritage with the men (and a few women) sailing this increasingly strange ship of fools onto the shoals of bankruptcy. This doesn’t excuse these journalists from their duty to serve the public trust. Clinging to the profound, unspoken belief that “what’s good for General Motors is good for America” is a disservice to the consumer and, ultimately, ironically, General Motors.

Mark my words: in these internet-savvy times, the mainstream automotive press’ failure to fully disclose the denial, hypocrisy and greed surrounding the planned GM et al. bailout– cravenly camouflaged as a green initiative– will be the final nail in both lovers’ coffins. To wit, this from Automotive News:

“General Motors’ employee pricing program helped the automaker sell more vehicles in August than in any month of 2008. But sales still were 20.3 percent below the level of August 2007. GM sold 307,285 cars and light trucks in August, up 31.3 percent from July. Trucks and SUVs delivered a big surprise for GM. Although still down from August 2007, GM’s pickups and big SUVs turned in their best sales performances of the year. In August, GM delivered more than 80,000 full-sized Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups.”

Silverado sales? Off 24.8 percent from last August. Sierra? Down 17.1 percent. Incentives? Automotive News mentions the profit-killers, but Edmunds estimates them, at $3965 per GM vehicle. And guess which vehicles have the most cash on the hood (‘cause GM ain’t sayin’ nothin’)?

As one of those 50-something white guys (well, 49, but who’s counting), Automotive News’ article is a frightening reminder of the “body count” battle reports from Vietnam, which invariably painted any and all conflicts as a [relative] U.S. rout. As we all know, the military operation may have been a success, but the South Vietnamese government (and many of our supporters in the region) died. And what’s that bit about history repeating itself?

“‘We’re not indicating or pretending in any way that the truck market is snapping back’ [vice president of GM North America sales, service and marketing Mark] LaNeve said, but the numbers indicate that pickup sales have perhaps bottomed out. LaNeve also said that he thinks overall industry sales may have hit bottom in June or July.

‘I think we saw the bottom and are going to start scratching our way up to numbers that are improving.’”

“Up to numbers that are improving?” On what? When? By how much? Is GM really a publicly-traded company? The automaker’s stunning lack of accountability continues apace. For now. One way or another, there will be a David Halberstram-predicted reckoning.

At the very least, our elected representatives will demand an explanation for the situation that has led GM to call on federal tax money for its survival. Given the prospect of publicly acknowledging their epic mismanagement and personal greed, I wouldn’t be surprised if Rick Wagoner and his mob drift away on the golden parachutes before the show starts. Nor would I be surprised if they don’t; their hubris seems to know no bounds.

Either way, like General Westmoreland, Wagoner, Lutz, Henderson and their obscenely compensated brethren will eventually claim that their stunning defeat was actually a victory in disguise: the unavoidable economic “catharsis” American industry needed. Even worse, many media members will affirm this absurd notion. Rest assured that I, and the new legions of uncorrupted commentators, will not be amongst them.

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58 Comments on “General Motors Death Watch 195: The Oncoming Train...”


  • avatar
    Adub

    The local Hummer/Saturn dealer closed up the Hummer side. I noticed the sign down on my way into work. Certainly not a good sign.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    Guten Tag! Wir, ze germans sind einfach very happY, that your general motors is going for ze bailout. Uns haben more possibilities to keeep engineeren jobs in Deutschland, un sellen euch more unsere Opel floorpans und motoren. Got sein dank that GM spent 2milliarden dollaren on advertising, but not on real hardware. for diesem money you could haben built zwei neu platformen oder 2 motorwerke.Now wir haben more jobs in Germany! Kinda skilled, and higly paid in Euros! Unsere freunde Koreans are sehr happy too, I can`t verstehen them, they said they are going to be rich when GM goes bailout and later fishbelly up!

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Saab, Pontiac, Buick, GMC, Saturn, and (cough! cough!) Hummer.

    The first three have virtually no identity, the fourth is Chevy in drag, and the final two are worth more in real estate than for their actual products.

    So far as I’m concerned, the best thing GM could be given the Congressional/Judicial green light for is phasing out these brands and making Chevy and Cadillac their focus.

    It wouldn’t be the elixir that cures all ills. But it would be a good start.

  • avatar

    jurisb :
    September 3rd, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    Guten Tag! Wir, ze germans sind einfach very happY, that your general motors is going for ze bailout. Uns haben more possibilities to keeep engineeren jobs in Deutschland, un sellen euch more unsere Opel floorpans und motoren. Got sein dank that GM spent 2milliarden dollaren on advertising, but not on real hardware. for diesem money you could haben built zwei neu platformen oder 2 motorwerke.Now wir haben more jobs in Germany! Kinda skilled, and higly paid in Euros! Unsere freunde Koreans are sehr happy too, I can`t verstehen them, they said they are going to be rich when GM goes bailout and later fishbelly up!

    Ahahaha. I laughed.

    I should have cried. But I laughed.

    Still hoping for that Chevy Colorado. Maybe the government will honor the warranty when the company that makes it falls apart.

  • avatar
    bluecon

    How ironic.
    Most people do not realize that South Vietnam fell when the Democrat Congress cut off all US government funding of the South Vietnamese and left them defenseless. The result was the deaths of of millions and a huge embarassment for the USA.

  • avatar
    LenS

    The Tet Offensive isn’t really a good analogy. Militarily, it was a crushing defeat for the communists. The Viet Cong never recovered from their losses during it. From that point forward, the North had to rely on regular NVA units to continue the fight. And the NVA took massive casualties during the Tet Offensive while they tried to repeat Dien Bien Phu at Khe Sanh. It was only in the American press that it turned into a defeat over time, mainly because the scale of the initial attacks was a surprise to the American public. From this point on, the only way the North could win the war was by convincing the US to give up. Fortunately for them, the post-Watergate Congress was quite willing to betray our allies in the South and refuse to honor our prior agreements.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    The sole Hummer dealer here in Las Vegas has announced its closing.

    Las Vegas… the city that invented (or at least perfected) wanton displays of excess and gluttony… won’t buy enough Hummers to keep a single dealer in existence.

    I’d say Hummer is in the coffin, waiting for the lid to be closed.

  • avatar
    Morea

    At the very least, our elected representatives will demand an explanation for the situation that has led GM to call on federal tax money for its survival.

    They will? Don’t be so sure. If Detroit can make it feel like a national crisis few questions will be asked.

  • avatar
    friedclams

    “For decades, the American automotive press has suckled on General Motors’ bounteous breasts.”

    I would have used the word “teats” instead of breasts. I don’t know why, really.

    I do know why: “teats” evokes the image of piglets on a sow.

  • avatar

    friedclams:

    I would have used the word “teats” instead of breasts. I don’t know why, really.

    Tits– I mean, text amended.

  • avatar
    friedclams

    Clearly, we are playing with fire.

  • avatar
    Adamatari

    bluecon, LenS:

    I suggest you guys read a book called “The Sorrow of War”.

    Beyond that, the North Vietnamese fought in more or less constant wars from the end of WWII (when they started kicking out the French) to long after the end of the Vietnam war, in wars with both Cambodia (cleaning up the mess Pol Pot made of the place) and with China (briefly). Literally millions of Vietnamese died in these wars. In particular, in the Vietnam War, the US won nearly every battle but could not go on fighting forever, which the North Vietnamese were fully intending to do. That is why there was no “light at the end of the tunnel”. Victory was never on its way.

    In this same way, the PR spinmeisters at the no longer big 3 continue to claim things will turn around, when there isn’t a lot to suggest that. They claim that with just a bit more money, they could make it work. It’s not working, it hasn’t been working, and they don’t look like they are going to make it work anytime soon.

    However, with GM, there is probably more hope. It doesn’t have enemies relentlessly working finish it off, only competitors relentlessly working to put out the best product. Perhaps with different management, some drastic measures, and some luck, GM could at least stop the slide. But the cheerleaders need to go.

  • avatar
    mel23

    Most people do not realize that South Vietnam fell when the Democrat Congress cut off all US government funding of the South Vietnamese and left them defenseless. The result was the deaths of of millions and a huge embarassment for the USA.

    Correct. However a little more detail is important. France did their colonial thing starting in the mid 1800s. As our own revolutionary war indicates, people don’t like being screwed over by another country, especially one thousands of miles away. People don’t like having their resources plundered etc. The Japanese took real control during WWII, while the Germans were ‘distracting’ the French back home. After the Japanese were defeated, Eisenhower allowed the French to retake control of Vietnam. So much for our democratic ideals. And the US supplied arms to the French in order to suppress the bad old communists per the domino theory. The US gradually took France’s position as French public support waned. Finally the US public had enough and, yes, the Democratic congress reflected this popular sentiment in cutting off funding. But of course as our follies in Iraq show, we have learned zilch, and, like Rome, it’ll be our undoing. Learn from mistakes or repeat them until you hit the rocks. Kinda like GM.

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    It’s kind of funny (in a collapse of an American industry, sort of way) that GM seem to have given up on making a car which will turn its fortunes around (with the exception of the Volt), given up on squeezing their suppliers for cost reductions (that well got tapped out a long time ago) or trying to make meaningful cost reductions within the company. They seem to be focusing all its resources to secure this bailout. Is this going to be documented in the history books of GM? Or will this just be a footnote? I can see the text now:

    “During the early part of the 21st century, GM hit upon a few problems and found it necessary to close plants and reduce the headcount in order to save money. Sadly, this didn’t seem to work. More people started turning away from GM cars to imports. Then, magically they found $50billion and all was well after that!”

    It’ll be like a badly edited film!

    If GM don’t get this bailout, I wonder what their strategy will be, then? Like, Mr Farago reported yesterday, their already giving incentives on 2009 cars and the Volt isn’t going to be the panacea they want, so what’s next?

    Maybe that’s the point in the history book of GM where you skip chapters 2 to 6 and go straight to chapter 7…….

    P.S. “sailing this increasingly strange ship of fools straight onto the shoals of bankruptcy.”

    Shouldn’t that be shores of bankruptcy? Shoals are what fish stay in.

    P.P.S For the record, I hate the “sucking of teats/breasts” analogies. And I mean REALLY hate.

  • avatar
    KrohmDohm

    When will the Automotive News and their cronies wake up and realize the number of cars sold doesn’t matter if no money is made on the transaction? Of course, the board of directors and GM’s major shareholders haven’t grasped that concept yet so why should we expect a journalist to do so?

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    A shoal is also a sandbar.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    P.P.S For the record, I hate the “sucking of teats/breasts” analogies. And I mean REALLY hate.

    How about “Gorging at the trough”, then? I think it’s more fitting, what with the metaphorical slop-bucket standing in for the press-release-and-junket brigade?

  • avatar
    menno

    The teat thing is used by writers to infer total dependence.

    As in welfare dependency (folks who would have been chicken theives in the US or poachers in the UK in the 1800′s), or corporate welfare dependency in this case.

    Gorging at the trough simply implies greed. That goes without saying, re: corporate management in most cases…

    It’s not a reference to the beautiful function of a human mom nursing a helpless babe in arms, Katie.

  • avatar
    gfen

    No, fish are in schools that oftentimes hang out around shoals to forage for food.

    A shoal is basically akin to a sandbar.

  • avatar
    BostonTeaParty

    he says she says, you’re both right. shoal is a sand bar and a grouping of fish.

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    OK, the General’s apparently toast. Now moving on….

    TTAC, how about an article about which mainstream auto companies you think are the _best_ run, with great managers and foresight, and which deserve our patronage? And hopefully one of these will have a decent dealer and service network!

  • avatar
    friedclams

    The Teat Offensive?

  • avatar
    monkeyboy

    I’m a boob man so keep it going.

    I get the analogy with no nausea.

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    Teat Offensive!

    I’m dying here, friedclams. Game over.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    I kind of like kurtamaxxguy’s idea. How about a poll for the all-around best run automotive company along the lines of the 10-best competition?

  • avatar
    200k-min

    TTAC, how about an article about which mainstream auto companies you think are the _best_ run, with great managers and foresight…

    They could do that but my guess is you couldn’t afford the car.

  • avatar
    50merc

    When I saw that reference to Vietnam I knew it would set sparks. After all, many Americans are still arguing about a Civil War that ended 143 years ago. Actually, bluecon and LenS are right, and Adamatari and mel23 are mostly right about Vietnam’s history up through the mid-60′s. But it should be noted that most in the South didn’t want to live under a Communist regime, as proven by the exodus after Saigon fell. The populace of the North had no opportunity to express their preference. The “bad old Communists” were just that: bad. In fact, as horrible as it gets.

    Our involvement in Vietnam was far more complex and noble than the story promoted by Cronkite, Kerry and their admirers. But now they’re “invested in defeat” and its rationale. They can’t admit South Vietnam had acquired by 1973 the ability to defend itself if provided adequate assistance, because that would mean we forfeited what was at hand. They can’t admit the Communist takeover meant death, brutality, poverty and oppression for millions, because that contradicts their own left-wing belief system. And so to this day, terrorists such as Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn are respected figures in Democratic circles.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    50merc:
    The “bad old Communists” were just that: bad. In fact, as horrible as it gets.

    +1. It was horrific.

    But democratic societies don’t do long wars and sacrifice very well. Also, as an ex-infantryman, it pains me to say this: most Americans place little value on the concept of ‘national honor’.

    In the end, had Nixon not been such an a**hole and had to resign, Vietnam would be similar to Korea today…

    That said, Vietnam era sacrifices were not totally in vain. Thailand, Singapore, and Indonesia are (flawed but) relatively free nations today.

  • avatar
    netrun

    Robert, you mention the 50-60 yr olds who have watched GM’s decline. I work with one. He has over 10k in GM stock. That he bought at $50. Plus the rights to buy another 1-2k in GM stock at $45. He doesn’t think he’ll ever need to cash in his stock options.

    His big regret? Not selling the stock when it was at $80.

    Just on his terms alone, GM’s decline has cost him over $400,000 so far and he’s just one of thousands of line workers who are in the same boat.

    It’s criminal that the heads of GM are lying and deceiving everyone while mis-managing the company into the ground. But I agree with you 100% that it’s just as criminal that the people charged with reporting on their “turnaround progress” are so eager to agree with the lies they are given.

    This perpetuates the falsehoods until the truth is covered with so much shit no one can stand the stink to find it.

  • avatar
    50merc

    netrun: “GM’s [stock value] decline has cost [this employee]over $400,000 so far and he’s just one of thousands of line workers who are in the same boat.” It’s tragic. Often, employees get shares as part of the employer’s contribution to 401K plans. Many employees think buying shares is a way to show loyalty. But usually the result is dangerous concentration of investment funds in a single firm.

    In the event of Chapter 11 (let alone 7!), expect the lawsuits to fly. The chief defendants will be GM management and board members, of course. But mutual fund managers and fiduciaries of all kinds will also be under fire for allowing investors, beneficiaries and clients to participate in the GM debacle. Long ago it ceased being a “widows and orphans” holding, and became one for speculators.

    Presumably, those line workers are UAW members. Did no one at Solidarity House feel obliged to warn their members that it isn’t wise to hold stock in a company that they’re already dependent upon for their pension?

  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    Did no one at Solidarity House feel obliged to warn their members that it isn’t wise to hold stock in a company that they’re already dependent upon for their pension?

    Enron.

  • avatar
    friedclams

    Edward Niedermeyer: Sorry.

    I want to address something ihatetrees said:

    “But democratic societies don’t do long wars and sacrifice very well.” To that I say: WWII and the Civil War. Concerning the latter, despite some undemocratic developments such as Lincoln’s suspension of habeus corpus, a free election was still held in 1864 and the Civil War was continued.

    What does this have to do with GM? Lincoln kept the popular mandate in 1864 because he was a gifted, articulate leader who could explain why the terrible sacrifices were necessary and contextualize them into an idea of the national identity. Also, he was lucky to have some well-timed military victories.

    Does GM today have that kind of leadership — or luck?

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    Bill Wade:
    Enron.

    Yeah, Enron. I recall the bleating in the press about poor Enron employees who “lost” their retirement (that had been growing at 80+ percent annually). Not a word about diversification (and stupid investing).

    friedclams:
    “But democratic societies don’t do long wars and sacrifice very well.” To that I say: WWII and the Civil War

    We’re kinda way OT here. But you make good points. The twin tools of censorship and declared total war make things easier. We’ve lacked those post 1945…

  • avatar
    brush

    Perhaps the GM executives need to be apprenticed to their overseas exec’s. I have just read that Holden (source of the G8) is about to export a large RWD luxury sedan to Korea, to be flogged by Holden Daewoo http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24298098-12377,00.html

    Maybe they might learn to embrace outside ideas on how to make money?

  • avatar
    brush

    And then on the other hand, Holden have just anounce a “fuel price cap” on every Holden sold before 31 October 2008. The will give you a debit card linked to a nominated bank account, so when you buy fuel (which at the moment is between ($AUS1.47 and $AUS1.67 a litre) you will only pay $AUS 0.99 a litre for two years or 20,000 km. So on an average of about 9l/100km for a v6 Commodore (G8) that will work out to about 1800 litres at a cost to the buyer of $AUS1782.00 and to the general between $AUS864.00 and $AUS1224 per Commodore, cheaper than a cash discount and looks more helpful to the hip-pocket nerve every week

  • avatar
    Rix

    Two issues.
    1. NEVER NEVER NEVER hold much of your assets in the stock of the company you work for. Even better, avoid stock in the industry you work for. Because if your company or industry tanks, you are gonna need to tap that investment account. If it’s not there, you will end up in a refrigerator box under the bridge instead of living large.

    2. At this point, the only person I can think of who is probably qualified to even try to dig out GM is Sergio Marchionne from FIAT. Mulally is taken.

  • avatar
    geeber

    friedclams: To that I say: WWII and the Civil War. Concerning the latter, despite some undemocratic developments such as Lincoln’s suspension of habeus corpus, a free election was still held in 1864 and the Civil War was continued.

    The Civil War wasn’t universally popular in the North, especially in New York City, which was wracked by anti-draft riots in 1863.

    Well into the summer of 1864, Lincoln actually expected to lose that year’s election, but some well-timed Northern victories strengthened his case, and he was re-elected.

    ihatetrees: Yeah, Enron. I recall the bleating in the press about poor Enron employees who “lost” their retirement (that had been growing at 80+ percent annually). Not a word about diversification (and stupid investing).

    I agree about the need for diversifying one’s portfolio, but, as I recall, weren’t Enron executives touting the stock to employees even as they were dumping it themselves, and weren’t employees forbidden from selling during crucial periods while executives weren’t?

    Those were the biggest points of controversy during the whole mess.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    Just a little bit off topic. Imagine US had to pay her external debt in 1 dollar banknotes. I just calculated the total area of surface it would occupy, considering they would be laid one by one next to each other, they would also occupy oceans and mountains. The total area comes to about that of 3 total earth surfaces. Your task is to calculate what would be the debt surface area of GM ` debt and what country size her debt would occupy, naming a country.Thank you!

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    jurisb Finding the US debt is easy does anyone know what the exact debt load for GM is.
    We couldn’t pay off the US debt in dollars even if you don’t consider the fact it’s lost most of it’s value, there is only about a trillion dollars in circulation, 1/10th what we owe.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    Good Lord. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:

    What is it about automotive enthusiasm that its adherents apparently skew right-wing?

    Between Bedard, Yates and the Bushies who come out of the woodwork here… and don’t even get me started on the flat-out wingnuts who monopolize that big auto site’s non-automotive topics forum.

    I like cars AND I dislike America’s military interventions in both Vietnam and Iraq. There, I said it.

  • avatar
    Honda_Lover

    Madness? THIS IS SPARTA!!!

    tonycd – I object to your term “Bushies”. It’s uncalled for.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    redbarchetta- if `they` can`t get debt back in dollars they will regain it by repossessing assets.Or you wil pay interest on servicing so far that it will choke your all fiscal budget just to service it. Servicing debt today takes already more than the whole allotment to The department of Education. Nice guys, isn`t it? What is the biggest achievement of Asian tiger? Quiet simple. Us annual increase of external debt approaches 1tn $, while servicing the debt approaches 400bn a year, meaning , almost 50 per cent of asian credit they receive back annually, while the total aggregate of the debt doesn`t even shrink! Without a single Minuteman missile!

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    With all these bailouts, I’m glad those who whined about big government interference and regulation are enjoying their crow. Funny how even the mighty go crawling on their hands and knees to the government for help. What the hell, just print up more money.

  • avatar
    50merc

    Redbarchetta: “We couldn’t pay off the US debt in dollars even if you don’t consider the fact it’s lost most of it’s value, there is only about a trillion dollars in circulation, 1/10th what we owe.”

    Sure we could. We’d just have to print a single One-Trillion-Dollar Note. Luckily for us, our debt is denominated in dollars (not Euros, Yen, gold or whatever.) Actually, we wouldn’t even have to crank up the printing press. The Treasury would just write a check on the Federal Reserve. You know, this is how most money comes into existence. (Currency is a small part of the money supply.) A borrower executes a note payable to the bank (which becomes part of the bank’s assets), and the bank credits his checking account (which becomes part of the bank’s liabilities.) Presto! The borrower now has money that didn’t exist before.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    50merc- if that was so why would US even bother to borrow abroad?

  • avatar
    AnalogKid

    Not to beat the Vietnam thing to death, but…

    50merc: “They can’t admit South Vietnam had acquired by 1973 the ability to defend itself if provided adequate assistance”

    “Adequate assistance?” Which means that the South Vietnamese could not defend themselves, unless we were willing to keep troops and dollars there for another ten years, like Bush said we should have.

    The South Vietnamese Government was a corrupt, undemocratic regime that treated their people almost as badly as the communists. Is it any wonder that a large majority of the American people had enough?

    Ironic, though, that not even the Bushies want to be called Bushies anymore.

  • avatar
    folkdancer

    How ironic.
    Most people do not realize that South Vietnam fell when the Democrat Congress cut off all US government funding of the South Vietnamese and left them defenseless. The result was the deaths of of millions and a huge embarassment for the USA.

    You’re right. It is our duty as taxpayers to fund stupid wars, police the world, treat foreigners like lower life forms, and get our soldiers killed so we can listen to speeches telling us how patriotic we are because we support our troops.

    Lisa Ling for President.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Hey netrun, your statement “It’s criminal that the heads of GM are lying and deceiving everyone while mis-managing the company into the ground.” I think very accurately describes the current leadership of the USA and the USA itself.
    It is criminal that the leaders of the nation are lying and deceiving everyone while mis-leading the nation into the ground.
    And both parties deserve equal blame, the Republicans for being the who they are, and the Democrats for capitulating utterly to them.
    The USA is truly fucked. I don’t think either side taking actions that would turn the USA around. I do see one side running us into the ground much faster however.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    GM put all its eggs in the monster vehicle basket yet again after the oil shocks of the 70′s & 80′s, the changing global atmospheric chemistry, and other self evident unsustainable trends. They successfully lobbied the government to stay lax on fuel economy standards. GM deserves to die.
    The Volt is not going to save GM either. Look, just what percentage of Toyota’s sales are hybrids?.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Anyone who thinks that only the right-wing supports an interventionist foreign policy apparently hasn’t studied too much history.

    In World War I, it was the politicians who branded themselves as “progressives” who agitated for American intervention – Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt. The conservatives wanted no part of it (although neither did many who were socialists).

    Prior to World War II, it was the isolationists, who were either Republicans or conservative Democrats, who did not support U.S. involvement until Pearl Harbor made U.S. neutrality impossible to maintain. The true “flip-floppers” were the left-wingers. They wanted no part of the conflict until Germany attacked their darling, the Soviet Union.

    The Vietnam conflict was ardently supported by President Kennedy (who also supported an invasion of Cuba to overthrow Castro – google “Bay of Pigs”) and escalated by Lyndon Johnson. Last time I checked, President Kennedy and President Johnson were hardly right-wingers.

    During the 1990s, President Clinton led the intervention in Bosnia, and later apologized for the U.S. not doing anything to stop the genocide in Rwanda. Those of us with at least a passing knowledge of history realize that “doing something” to stop this type of conflict means intervening with our military.

    (Generally, third-world dictators aren’t deterred from doing bad things to their own people just because George Clooney says mean things about them on Entertainment Tonight. They also aren’t quaking in their boots over the thought of being the subject of unflattering conversations at dinner parties held in Manhattan penthouses or Georgetown townhouses. Stopping them will inevitably involve either shooting them and their supporters, or threatening to shoot them and their supporters, and to be credible such threats must be backed up by a military presence, either in said country or nearby, where it can be rapidly deployed. I know that this is hard for left-wingers to accept – especially those based in Hollywood and Manhattan – but the truth must be spoken.)

    People also forget that, in the run-up to this war, many Democrats were saying, “right war, wrong president.” They wanted Saddam out, but they didn’t want the effort led by George Bush.

    I’m certainly sympathetic to those who don’t want an interventionist foreign policy, but to suggest that this will end by replacing the present occupant of the White House with a Democrat could charitably be described as “naive.”

    And, no, the South Vietnamese government was nearly as bad as the North Vietnamese government, and to suggest otherwise is just plain wrong.

  • avatar
    Adonis

    @geeber

    The Democrat and Republican representatives in Congress are two sides of the same coin. on 90% of the issues, they agree. They talk like this disagree vehemently on television, then join in to give their big company contributors handouts. Case in point: the Detroit 2.8 auto industry, which will soon get itself billions of taxpayer dollars, from your paycheck. Don’t kid yourself.

  • avatar
    friedclams

    No one asked my opinion, but I’ll give it… I like when comments go way OT like this (I was a history major). TTAC readers are generally knowledgeable, opinionated, and respectful, which is rare on the internets. It makes for good reading, and somehow gives me hope…

    OK, as you were.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Geeber,

    great post, for the most part. One small correction, though.

    As an amateur historian, and a huge student (although not necessarily an admirer) of JFK, I can state with high assurance that, for the last two years of his life, he was most certainly NOT an ardent supporter of the Vietnam conflict. AAMOF, Kennedy kept looking for a way to get out of Vietnam, even though Diem had been a friend of the Family since the mid-50′s. Had JFK lived, it is an open question whether he would have been able to extricate the US from the Vietnam conflict, but he most certainly was not a gung-ho supporter of US involvement.

    Also, it was a previous poster who said that Eisenhower gave up Korea to the French. Sorry, that was Truman.

  • avatar
    elvis_by_another_name

    jurisb :
    September 5th, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    50merc- if that was so why would US even bother to borrow abroad?

    As interesting as this political thread is (no–Really!!) I’m dying to see some response to jurisb’s question. Anyone?

  • avatar
    jcp2

    My guess is that money, in general, stands as an easily exchanged proxy for value, when what we really want and need are physical goods and services.

    Unfortunately, a barter based economy is relatively inefficient, but currencies work only if everybody has confidence in the currency itself. Borrowing from some outside source (not necessarily abroad) and paying back the obligations with regularity and minimal hassle gives lenders confidence that the government is a reliable borrower and will repay debts. That, in turn, leads to confidence in U.S. currency and it is this psychological phenomenon that allows the economy to operate on the basis of dollars.

    If the U.S. started to print out money recklessly, we would end up with rapid diminution of the value of the dollar with subsequent hyperinflation (Zimbabwe, anyone?). That’s my try at answering jurisb’s question.

    I’m not an economist, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express (well, actually Townehome Suites by Marriott).

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    As long as we need oil and are not willing to go get it from our own lands and our own waters, there will be a need to intervene in other parts of the world.

    Either decrease our demand, or increase our supply.

    In a way, as boring as that is to me, it goes to the muscle car topic from a few days ago.

    Not muscle cars per se, but the bigger thing that they stand for (or against, depending on how you look at it):

    An unwillingness to adapt. An unwillingness to drill more. Or deeper. An unwillingness to design our cities, suburbs, and communities in such a way as to reduce our need for oil.

    And an unwillingness to make carpooling, the train, bus, bicycle, or sneakernet more appealing.

    On any given trip that I take, I see most other cars also with ONLY ONE PERSON IN EACH. Yes, from my all-seeing perch behind the wheel in my own car. I was going to mention it to my passenger the other day when I realized that I too, was a single solitary human in my single solitary vehicle.

    Well, at least it’s a Prius, and at least the gas engine was off at that moment. I was at a red light…

  • avatar
    barberoux

    I’m with tonycd. I like cars and car blogs and I like comments that stay on topic. I can read political crap on hundreds of other blogs but I come hear to read about cars.

  • avatar
    jl1280

    It’s great to learn that we actually won the Vietnam war! Good going boys! And for all these years I thought we had lost. Just where have I been? Oh yeah I now remember. I helped us win that other war, where we tried to catch Osama, bombed the hell out of some rocks, and helped them create the largest narco state in the history of the world. I guess what I saw there was victory too. Pardon me while I put on my rose colored shades. Or is it so assbackwards that I should take them off?


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