By on November 9, 2008

Senator and president-elect Barack Obama held his first post-election press conference on Friday– the same day that Ford and GM revealed their respective arterial sprays of red ink and third degree cash burns. Rather than highlight those stats and go for the close, bailoutwise, Obama played his political cards close to his chest. The exact text of his remarks are extremely revealing, in that politicians don’t really reveal anything unless they absolutely have to kinda way. “The auto industry is the backbone of American manufacturing and a critical part of our attempt to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.” Translation?

Obama’s opening salvo reveals that America’s next President expects Detroit to stop messing with Democratic promises to improve America’s vehicular fuel efficiency, buckle down and build fuel sippers.

The implication doesn’t exactly plow new political ground. Lest we forget, Detroit and Washington have been at loggerheads regarding Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations since they were first introduced in 1975. For CAFE’s most recent update, Motown [once again] lobbied Democrats to keep the standards as low as possible, then cried poverty when it was clear they’d lost the fight. The Department of Energy loans were designed to assuage Motown’s sore-headed losers by providing access to $25b to do what they’re legally obliged to do.

Bottom line: any new federal money for The Big 2.8 will come with the same old strings attached. In case you missed the point…

“I would like to see the Administration do everything they can to accelerate the retooling assistance that Congress has already enacted.”

Retooling = building more fuel-efficient cars. As TTAC has highlighted, federal foot-dragging is not Detroit’s enemy. The regs for the $25b Department of Energy loans have been written with unprecedented haste. In fact, they’re more or less done. The more part is that they’re done.

The less part is that Detroit can’t use the money for anything other than which it was intended (fuel efficient cars not corporate liquidity). What’s worse, GM, Ford and Chrysler don’t qualify under strictures regarding financial viability. Obama’s message was code: tacit clearance for Congress, the DOE, President Bush, someone, anyone to pervert the legislation’s original intent and current restrictions.

Does Barack Obama know that the situation is well beyond retooling? If he does, he ain’t admitting it. And if he doesn’t, his economic advisers might want to write a memo on that one. STAT.

“In addition, I have made it a high priority for my transition team to work on additional policy options to help the auto industry adjust, weather the financial crisis, and succeed in producing fuel-efficient cars here in the United States.”

Weather the economic crisis. Now that’s what Detroit’s talking about! The first part of the statement is a not-so-clear signal to Motown (plausible deniability rules) that financial assistance will arrive via the Troubled Asset Relief Program, another economic relief stimulus bailout pork barrel package, and whatever clever shit the Obama administration and Congress can devise (tax credits for loan interest, etc.). But the second part of that statement… again with the fuel-efficient cars.

Clearly, Obama doesn’t want to be seen using taxpayer money to help Detroit build more SUVs, pickup trucks or automotive gas guzzlers. Which puts Motown in even more of a bind than before. Before, they could meet CAFE regs by balancing production of small, relatively fuel-efficient, uncompetitive, unprofitable small cars with sales of large, gas-guzzling, competitive, profitable trucks. Reading between the lines, Obama’s not going to let one red cent of public money sustain that mix.

So Detroit’s being painted into a corner: build competitive, fuel-efficient cars or fuck off and die. But what are the chances that GM can build these fuel-efficient machines and sell them in enough quantity at enough of a profit to make enough money to pay off their existing loans PLUS the federal assistance? Teen-tiny. Ford. Slim. Chrysler. None.

“I have asked my team to explore what we can do under current law and whether additional legislation will be needed for this purpose.”

Translation: Obama is not throwing the weight of his political victory– assured in no small part thanks to Motown/UAW-friendly states– behind a wider Detroit bailout (under some sort of new economic stimulus passage). Not yet.

For Detroit, that’s an industrial-size mixing bowl of not good. Without Obama’s unqualified support, and soon, they’ve got a real PR mountain to climb. On a more general level, the same “lack of urgency” that put GM, Ford and Chrysler where they are today could ruin their chances in the political sphere. If so, it’s game over.

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133 Comments on “Editorial: Between The Lines: Barack Obama’s Shot Across Detroit’s Bow...”


  • avatar

    Well, well, well. Mr “I Usta Drive A Chrysler 300 But Ditched It For An Escape Hybrid When The Media Found Out” still claimes he wants Detroit to build fuel efficient cars? I don’t think it’ll ever happen like outlined here (sorry RF). He and his party can’t afford to piss off the unions or the voters in the auto-centric blue states by telling the automakers to toe the line to get the fed funding or go under.

    That’s why the statement “I have asked my team to explore what we can do under current law and whether additional legislation will be needed for this purpose” is so important. That’s his out. All the Detroit 3/the UAW/Michigan politicians have to do is start whining about how there are too many restrictions on the money and they’ll have to put thousands more out of work and there’s no way they can stay afloat until they can get the “retooling” done without liquidity assistance, and shazam! “Additional legislation” that totally prostitutes the original legislation and turns a highly-structured diet into an all-you-can-eat buffet at the taxpayers expense.

  • avatar
    folkdancer

    Obama is a VERY brilliant lawyer and I hope he can stick to his words and force our auto makers to cooperate with our needs. We can not keep sending large amounts of money to other countries to buy 70% of our oil. And please don’t bother mentioning drilling for oil off our coasts – that would take 10 years and supply maybe 1% of the oil we need.

    The executives at GM, Ford, and Chrysler fought against safer cars in the 1950s, they fought against cleaner cars in the 1960s, and they fought against fuel efficiency since the 1970s.

    Hell, allowing the auto executives to put the Detroit 2.8 out of business is kind, we should be putting them in jail for being anti-American.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I appreciate the cynicism, but I would look at this a bit differently.

    The overriding message of Obama’s Friday press conference: I’m not the president until the January inauguration. He does not want to be held responsible for whatever goes wrong between now and the inaugural. Accordingly, he is not going to be stating any grand agendas between now and then, for he is not the president and has no authority to do anything presidential until he becomes the president.

    Obama has no choice to comment on the automakers, because it’s now the topic du jour on the nightly news. But he isn’t the president yet. Accordingly, he said as little as possible.

    With respect to the automakers, he’s basically telling the Bush-era Congress and administration to carry on with their program. That message is in line with his overall message of his not yet being the president.

    Since Detroit’s request for aid was supposedly based upon fuel efficiency, it’s easy to take a position that Detroit should use the money to make fuel efficient cars. It was really Detroit’s mistake to use fuel efficiency as an excuse to get the money, for that allows Washington to use the failure to deliver fuel efficient cars as an excuse to withhold the cash if it chooses.

    Obama is wise to avoid claiming leadership when he doesn’t have it. However, he has a tendency to rely heavily on generalities and to avoid specific public agendas, presumably because he does not want to provide details that can provoke disagreement or create a basis for accountability.

    I don’t know if we really know what he’s going to do, or whether Detroit will care for the result. I presume that his advisers will deal with the specifics. The members of his economic team are more pragmatic than ideological, so I’m hopeful that if they learn something about the auto business, they’ll realize that money alone is not enough to save it.

  • avatar
    troonbop

    “Obama is a VERY brilliant lawyer”

    And where did you get this idea? He’s been a VERY brilliant self-promoter – you bought it! – but his legal career consisted of activism and grant gleaning. His academic career was as an adjunct professor and he published no scholarly articles, which is almost unheard of. I guess he was too busy with the two autobiographies.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    “Obama is wise to avoid claiming leadership when he doesn’t have it. However, he has a tendency to rely heavily on generalities and to avoid specific public agendas, presumably because he does not want to provide details that can provoke disagreement or create a basis for accountability.”

    At this point, he’s been extremely specific on what he plans to do ONCE he becomes President. A middle class tax cut, winding down the war in Iraq, expanding health care for minors, and developing an economic plan that focuses on building up our infrastructure.

    You can like all that potential and deficit spending or lump it. However, I seriously Detroit will be viewed as anything more than an opportunity to fulfill the later. The pensioners and retirees may be bailed out by the Feds… to some degree (I doubt they will get everything promised due to the cash involved).

    But other than that, and the possibility of providing a protective umbrella via legislation that would give Detroit a unique opportunity for restructuring WITHOUT a C11 filing, I don’t see a direct ‘business as usual’ subsidization taking place.

  • avatar

    Pch101: “(Obama) has a tendency to rely heavily on generalities and to avoid specific public agendas, presumably because he does not want to provide details that can provoke disagreement or create a basis for accountability.

    He’s speaking in generalities for two reasons:

    1. He’s a leader. A leader’s duty is to paint the target, the overall picture of what is to be done. It is up to the people who are tasked with the “how” parts to figure out the details and the specifics.

    2. Like you said, he’s not the President yet. No need for details there either.

    I do like the fact that he’s not explicitly caving in to either the UAW or the Management of Detroit by NOT saying “we’re here to help you.” He is sticking to the message of his campaign: “There are no easy ways out of a mess, it is going to take work. Detroit fucked themselves, so their going to have to unfuck themselves. We might offer a little assistance but only with the condition that Detroit do what it should have been doing all along.”

    Honestly, I would rather see GM just go C11 or C7 than start allowing those bastards to feed at the public trough. Capitalism rewards success, not failure.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    Pch101

    At this point, he’s been extremely specific on what he plans to do ONCE he becomes President. A middle class tax cut, winding down the war in Iraq, expanding health care for minors, and developing an economic plan that focuses on building up our infrastructure.

    With the exception of the Iraq war pledge, I would lump those into the “generalities” category. Politicians on both sides of the aisle tend to make promises that they can’t and won’t keep, and I doubt that Mr. Obama is an exception.

    I would imagine that Detroit will get something, if but for the sake of 2012’s electoral votes. But whether those amounts will be significant and meaningful are another matter.

    I suppose that it will ultimately depend upon how his advisers view the problem. Bush is leaving behind a massive budget deficit, and the next president will have no choice but to contend with that. That is going to put some constraints on how much they can do.

  • avatar
    krj1965

    I’m curious that no one is mentioning some the biggest tools in the left leaning economist’s toolkit. That is tariffs, import restrictions and other forms of protectionism. I recognize the cash crunch is the immediate problem and the auto industry is increasingly global, but can you really doubt Obama’s ability to put some form of protectionism in a politically palatable package. Pardon my alliteration.

  • avatar
    dwford

    The fuel efficient cars are coming, thanks to the new CAFE standards. That’s a given, so I am not worried that the Big 3 will restarted idled SUV factories with the government money.

    The question is whether tying the loans to new fuel efficient models and forcing the smaller cars via CAFE actually solves the problem. What if gas is cheap and people want to buy bigger cars and trucks, but now the Big 3 don’t have them to sell? What then? Toyota Tundra and Sequoia sales go through the roof and the Big 3 are on the short end of the stick yet again?

    I can see it now: It’s 2013, and gas is cheap. Ford has lots full of Fiestas, Focuses and hybrid Fusions. A couple Expeditions hide out in the back lot. GM has fleets of overpriced Volts, Cruzes and 4 cylinder Caddys. No customers to be found. Meanwhile Sequoias and Armadas are selling for $3k over sticker because the Big 3 stopped selling full size SUVs.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I’m curious that no one is mentioning some the biggest tools in the left leaning economist’s toolkit. That is tariffs, import restrictions and other forms of protectionism.

    Please, let’s all stop it with the faulty claims about what the left does and doesn’t do.

    Import restrictions were a hallmark of the Hoover administration. Hoover, as you may recall, was a Republican.

    The last time that we had substantial restrictions on the importation of cars was under Reagan, who imposed “voluntary quotas” that were anything but voluntary.

    The US continues to maintain the import tariff on trucks, an old holdover of a Kennedy-era trade dispute called the “chicken tax.” Nixon, Reagan and both Bushes could have repealed this if they wanted to, but clearly, they either supported it or else could live with it.

    Import tariffs as a tool for protecting Detroit are highly unlikely, the odds are approaching zero. We all know that wide-scale tariffs produce wide-scale retaliation.

    As it so happens, the folks who sell us lots of imports are the very same folks who buy our debt, so we couldn’t do it even if we wanted to. Unless Rick Wagoner has several hundred billion dollars in his checking account that he can use to purchase US treasuries, you can pretty much forget having any tariffs.

  • avatar
    gerrym51

    the federal government should just
    guarantee the warranties of vehicles purchased.

    then the auto companies can reorganize under
    Chapter 11 and still not lose sales because
    they are in bankruptcy

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    Tariffs ain’t gonna cut the cheese anymore.

    They really aren’t imports anymore, ya see. Honda still makes the Fit and I think the CR-V in Japan. That’s about it. Not sure about Toyota, but plenty of their stuff is made in the US. Probably more than enough to cover demand in this awful market.

    Hell, Detroit makes plenty of cars in Mexico, so if they mess with Nafta that will screw with them too.

    I’m hoping Obama doesn’t cave too bad. The public at this point is what 70% against bailing them out? More people than voted for Obama…

  • avatar
    Stu Sidoti

    As I was listening to Obama’s press conference, my ears heard ‘ More Money for Detroit‘ but the little voice in the back of my head heard ‘Higher CAFE Standards‘.

    I totally agree with Frank Williams comments with the only thing I will add is…The people at the very tops of the Big 3 have never played by the rules, especially with money, and as such, I fully expect they will do whatever they want to do with the money once they have it in their control-rules be damned…same as always, right?

    But…it sure would be interesting to see an activist Treasury or Commerce Department or even White House start asking ” So…Toyota is on Prius Mark3 at $20,000 and you’re trying to sell me on Volt Mark1 that isn’t even out yet and will cost $40,000+?!?!? Huh? Tell me once again why we gave you the money? The idea of the loans was to make you more competitive, remember?!?!”

    I of course, temper my rhetorical Washington questions of the Big 3 with the FULL expectation that most of the people in DC have nearly ZERO understanding of the concept of ‘Lead Time’…no, no, no they expect finger-snap solutions and NOW!!

    It will be very interesting to watch the Big 3 slop up the money and do whatever they want with it and then later watch the higher-CAFE-standard lovers demand that Obama explain why we still have 7-passenger SUVs in the Big-3 dealerships; that will be amusing.

  • avatar

    I hope Obama is doing exactly what I think he is doing.

    I hope he is planning to invest in the big 3 car companies of America to force them to re-open American factories in Detroit, and other parts of this country hardest hit by the economy.

    Some call it socialism, some call it protectionism but I CALL IT COMMON SENSE.

    This is how you deliver on promises to produce JOBS and to improve the economy. I want Obama to protect American jobs by giving companies INCENTIVES to keep them in America and taxing them for outsourcing.

  • avatar
    esg

    Producing crap vehicles is the problem of GM/Ford and especially Chrysler. The ghosts of UAW past will never leave. I love how the UAW leaders say they are “victims” of this debacle. Idiots. I say let the natural cycle of bad cars and bad management be eliminated by the companies dissolving. Toyota/Honda/Nissan/Kia/Hyundai/Mitsubishi and the others will pick up the slack. If needed, these companies will certainly purchase assets from the Detroit Bad Boys.

    Perhaps a dose of Ghosn would be the right fix.

  • avatar
    krj1965

    As it so happens, the folks who sell us lots of imports are the very same folks who buy our debt, so we couldn’t do it even if we wanted to. Unless Rick Wagoner has several hundred billion dollars in his checking account that he can use to purchase US treasuries, you can pretty much forget having any tariffs.

    When I said “left leaning” I knew someone was going to bring up Hoover – my bad. Still, in recent history (let’s say Nafta) the left side of the isle has been more protectionist.

    Regardless of that fact, protectionism has forms besides tariffs and no one is talking about them. I’m not even sure protectionism is bad in this case. Plenty of people play ball with China despite their Automobile Industry Development Policy.

    People buy US debt because they believe it is safe (witness the recent increase in the value of the dollar) but I wonder if it will be viewed as more or less safe without a viable auto industry.

  • avatar
    william442

    In Europe, VW has several high performance small cars that get 30 plus mpg. How long was their lead time?

  • avatar

    Flashpoint :

    Common sense says that government money shouldn’t spend our tax money on any company that can’t become profitable.

    It’s what the Brits call a non-starter. Look at the UK’s nationalization of the coal, steel and automotive industries.

    william442 :

    You can’t view this in isolation. These new Detroit cars– whenever they arrive (should they arrive) must compete against transplant products– which already account for over 50% of the U.S. new car market.

    What are the odds? And why play with MY taxes?

  • avatar
    Pch101

    This is how you deliver on promises to produce JOBS and to improve the economy.

    That isn’t how to do it at all.

    Let’s suppose that I open a burger stand. As it so happens, I buy rotten meat — after all, it’s cheaper! — the buns are stale, the lettuce is wilted, the service is indifferent and even the pickles aren’t so good.

    Once the public figures out that I sell a lousy burger, I’m going to steadily lose business. As time goes on and word gets out that there is a better burger stand down the street that sells better burgers for just slightly higher prices, things will get even worse for me.

    If the government loans me money to support my failing burger joint, it will prop up the business temporarily but unless I figure out how to get more customers, it’s a matter of time before I either fail or need more money.

    Detroit has been selling lousy burgers for quite some time. They’ve seemingly tried everything — they’ve cut the price of their burgers, negotiated down the price of the relish, taken out plenty of advertising (including lots of discount coupons) and fired workers who have nothing to do, thanks to the lack of customers.

    Except that they haven’t tried everything. They haven’t done the one thing that counts the most — they have failed to make a better burger. Since there are plenty of other places for customers to buy burgers, that’s a problem for them.

    Giving them money and factories doesn’t fix the bad burger problem. Detroit needs customers, and more importantly, managers who understand that there is a reason why they are losing customers. That requires admitting that the customer is right to have abandoned them — Detroit’s products are inferior to the competition, and improving those products is key to their survival.

    The lack of money is a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. Companies such as Toyota had enough foresight to build the reserves that would allow them to survive periods like this with lower profits or even losses. The fact that GM didn’t do the same says much more about GM’s management than it does about the economy.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    lets asess MPG on seats and haulage capacity rather than number of vehicle. MPG per seat, or MPG per ton, rather than MPG per vehicle

    And tax the things that way. Big time.

    Then someone who wants 7 passenger SUV or F-350 to go buy cigarettes at the corner store, can do it with 6 open seats, or empty bed, and pay out the nose for it. No guilt.

    Obama? At least he actually HAS ideas. GWB? none of his efforts reflected his own thought. It was all people behind the curtain.

    Yes, CH 11, I really don’t know why mgt has opposed this all along. Well obviously for reasons of personal compensation, but no other reason.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Still, in recent history (let’s say Nafta) the left side of the isle has been more protectionist.

    NAFTA was supported by Clinton. NAFTA is not exactly a stellar example of protectionism.

    Plenty of people play ball with China despite their Automobile Industry Development Policy.

    That’s because nobody can compete with Chinese labor costs and their market potential makes foreign companies and their governments salivate.

    In the case of the US, it’s also a matter of the Golden Rule — he who has the gold makes the rules. The US needs to prop up its deficits, both trade and budget, with sales of treasuries, and the Chinese buys loads of them. If they stopped buying them, we would be in a world of hurt.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    folkdancer:
    Hell, allowing the auto executives to put the Detroit 2.8 out of business is kind, we should be putting them in jail for being anti-American.

    You must have missed the memo from the campaign. The term “re-education camp” is the preferred usage over “jail”.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    The buck stops here. – President Harry S. Truman

  • avatar
    Matt51

    Free trade – does not exist. It is a fairy tale. When I took my economics classes – admittedly at an engineering school, not a business school – we were taught free trade was always good, because if (this is the big if) the currencies were allowed to float, trade deficits would always be eliminated (the yen would strengthen to the point it would be cheaper to produce in the US eliminating deficits).

    We have a massive trade deficit with Japan (Honda does not offset all that is imported here). For over four decades. Floating currencies never solved the problem. Therefore we do not have free trade. Japan publicly states they will do whatever it takes to trash the yen to maintain their manufacturing exports.

    Allowing the auto industry to expire means it will never come back. Not in any real sense, only in a very token form.

    Has US management sucked? yes. Has the UAW sucked? yes. Do we want to be a third world nation? No. So the auto industry has to be saved in some form. It makes no sense to provide a bailout which will fail. The key is, how to provide a bailout which will succeed. Which at the very least means all new management. And maybe chapter 11 is needed to get there. The bondholders are probably the biggest obstacle to Chapter 11.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    Regarding protectionism…

    Pch101:
    Please, let’s all stop it with the faulty claims about what the left does and doesn’t do.

    Import restrictions were a hallmark of the Hoover administration. Hoover, as you may recall, was a Republican.

    Please. Going back ~80 years for party political positions is nutty. And Hoover’s successor, saintly FDR, was hardly a free-trade stalwart. He and his vast Democratic majorities let Smoot/Hawley stand.

    Currently, it’s reasonable to state that most of the protectionist sentiment in the country comes from the left of center. And yes, thank god, there are plenty of exceptions in both parties, so that the chances of another Smoot/Hawley are minor.

  • avatar
    Sutures

    “In addition, I have made it a high priority for my transition team to work on additional policy options to help the auto industry adjust, weather the financial crisis, and succeed in producing fuel-efficient cars here in the United States.”

    Welcome back Malaise Era… I hardly missed ya.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    Matt51:
    So the auto industry has to be saved in some form.

    The auto industry IS saving itself. It’s transforming from Michigan and the rust belt to the ‘red’ and ‘near-red’ states. Heck, a new Honda plant opened just last month in Indiana.

    If Michigan wanted to help itself, a simple solution would be to (C)ut it’s current labor law, (C)opy Texas’ labor law, and (P)aste Texas’ law to Michigan statutes. A good lawyer could do it in a day…

    And Michigan may even get a future Toyota plant – although they’d probably build it in the U.P.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    And Hoover’s successor, saintly FDR, was hardly a free-trade stalwart. He and his vast Democratic majorities let Smoot/Hawley stand.

    That is incorrect. FDR’s administration crafted Bretton Woods, which fundamentally reoriented the international map toward free trade and low tariffs, and eliminated Smoot Hawley.

    Smoot Hawley was a byproduct of Republican congressmen who were attempting to deal with the depression by eliminating US excess capacity and conserving cash. That was a huge mistake, and the FDR era led to a new wave of thinking that did the opposite, expanding liquidity through support of the credit system and employment.

    With Bernanke running the Fed, you can expect more of the same. The US made the same contraction mistakes time and time again with every depression prior to Roosevelt, and now we know better.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Troonbop: For starters, Obama was president of the Harvard Law Review. As a lawyer, I can tell you that that’s the pinnacle of law school achievement. It was only then that he did community organizing. (And anyway, why that work should be met with such contempt is a mystery.) In addition, he taught law at the University of Chicago Law School, one of the top law schools in the country (they offered him a full professorship also). He then went on to write two highly praised books, got elected to the U.S. Senate, became one of the two Democratic finalists, beat out a formidable contender in Hillary Clinton and proceeded to defeat a famous and heroic American senator who had endlessly more experience on the world stage. And all this by age 47! You must have had some remarkable accomplishments in your own life to be so cavalier about Obama’s.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    Pch101: “Bush is leaving behind a massive budget deficit, and the next president will have no choice but to contend with that. That is going to put some constraints on how much they can do.”

    Your analysis is quite thoughtful, but I’d partially disagree on this point. Economic pump priming is the name of the game right now, and deficit reduction will become a higher priority only once the economy has stabilized.

    I expect that over the next year or so we will see levels of new spending that would not have been conceivable before Wall Street’s collapse. This would have happened regardless of who won the presidency.

    troonbop: “His academic career was as an adjunct professor and he published no scholarly articles, which is almost unheard of.”

    I get that you want to be dismissive of Obama, so I suspect that it doesn’t matter how I respond. But for the record, Obama is a fairly typical example of a “pracademic.” The only reason to publish scholarly articles is if you seek a tenure-track career. Obama didn’t. That doesn’t reflect badly on his scholarly abilities, e.g., editing the Harvard Law Review was quite an honor.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    To borrow money, one must have a willing party who will buy the bonds/notes/etc.

    It is not that far of a day into the future when the Chinese, Japanese, and Arabs realize the U.S. economy is a house of cards built upon debt, and loaning to the U.S. that will be paid off in the future with widely reduced U.S. dollars is not a good investment.

    The policies espoused by Obama is nothing but old school big government spending, which long term is the exact opposite of what should be done. But when did politicians ever think long term? A Trillion dollar deficit will be chump change in next few years, as the collapse of the U.S. government’s finances reaches it’s pinnacle.

    The only answer left for the U.S. is to fire up the printing presses. That means inflation or hyperinflation. Consumer goods, all imported, will cost a ton, but you can get a restaurant meal cheap, just like in any other 2nd world country.

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    Obama is a VERY brilliant lawyer

    Without using Google, can you name a single case he argued successfully?

    There’s nothing to indicate that he’s brilliant, let alone very brilliant. He’s smart, no doubt, and probably has an IQ around 135 or 140, but that’s a long way from brilliant. As for his expertise in practicing law, you’d be hard pressed to find a single example of brilliant lawyering in his history. Actually, other than working hand in glove with ACORN to get Citibank to issue subprime mortgages, you’d be hard pressed to find any actual lawyering on real cases on the record. There are attorneys who graduated from second and third tier law schools who have had more noteworthy legal careers than Obama with his Ivy League credentials.

    That doesn’t reflect badly on his scholarly abilities, e.g., editing the Harvard Law Review was quite an honor.

    He never was an editor of the Harvard Law Review, he was named president of the Review. You’re correct about it being quite an honor, as it’s mostly an honorary position with little legal scholarship involved.

    Instead of showing proof of his supposed legal scholarship, you offer an excuse why no such proof exists.

  • avatar
    davey49

    Give them their damn money, we don’t want to see GM, Ford and Chrysler go under.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    Bozoer Rebbe: I see a lot of Republican spin in your analysis. This kind of debating gets real old, because it essentially amounts to politics as a demolition derby.

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    Bozoer Rebbe: I see a lot of Republican spin in your analysis. This kind of debating gets real old, because it essentially amounts to politics as a demolition derby.

    Perhaps I’ve learned from how Democrats have acted for the past 8 years.

    For the record, I’m an independent, not a member of either political party. I voted for some Democrats last week, including Carl Levin (mostly because I think he’s a mensch and fairly honest for a politician, and because he’s responsive to his constituents, though I disagree with him on ideology).

    Now that the left is in power, they want an end to partisan bickering.

    In any case, my comment was not partisan at all and factual, not spin. Obama has a thin resume, no record of real legal scholarship and what little lawyering he did was on behalf of left wing political agendas. Them’s the facts, not spin.

    The guy is smart, but he’s no genius and doesn’t appear to have had an original thought in his life.

    Perhaps the problem is that most folks are not very smart. To someone of average intelligence, a person with an IQ over 130 will appear to be very smart. I’m not sure what my own IQ is, but I typically test in the 98th or 99th percentile and it’s probably about 140 or 145. All my life I’ve had people call me a genius or brilliant and I admit to being clever. Fortunately, though, I’ve met some true geniuses so I have some perspective on my own intelligence. One friend has a PhD in nuclear chemistry from Princeton. Another is a transplant cardiologist who graduated #1 in her class at Harvard med school and trained with DeBakey in Texas. I’ve also been fortunate to know some brilliant rabbis like Adin Steinsaltz, Shmuel Irons and Nathan Lopes Cardoza. As I said, most folks think I’m exceptionally smart but real geniuses have to go slowly for me to keep up.

    Obama may be smart, but he’s no genius.

  • avatar
    rtz

    All this talk about “fuel-efficient cars” when fuel is back in the $1.00/gal range is a tough sell. Not much interest, excitement, or support for it.

    Someone at work was always very bummed out that his 2004 Expedition only got 13mpg on the highway back when fuel was $3/gal isn’t concerned now that it is $1.80/gal,

    Prius and Smart cars have fallen off everyone’s radar.

    Guess someone will have to pump the prices up to $4/gal to create some change.

    Unreal that it was only back in July when oil was like $150/barrel and only seemed like and looked like it could only go towards $200 and beyond. $50 a barrel now and it’s considered pretty much worthless. A lot of money was made at $150. The stuff is three for the price of one now.

    GM doesn’t have the years it takes to “retool” and make these new special magical cars out of thin air. All they’ve got lined up is a $40,000 Volt and $80,000 Hybrid Escalade, and $100,000 supercharged Vette.

    Aveo? An $8,000 price tag just isn’t enough for me to run out and buy one paying cash up front. Hybrid at that price? Maybe, but it would have to get insane mileage. Great mileage as a 4 banger? Maybe at 75mpg, but I just don’t know. Don’t much mind my V8 at 22mpg at these current fuel prices.

    A low cost electric Aveo? I’d be all over that. Easy to build those too. Already have the car, just put the third party drive line and pack in it! But it would take away from the Volts smoke and mirrors.

    You see, GM is in the same hole they have always been in with the Vette. Couldn’t have lesser cars offering more performance then their flagship vehicle. Can’t have something better come out before the Volt, even if it is more logical.

    $40k for a fuel burning Volt? That’s a no go GM. Lead balloon. Hybrid Escalade.

    GM needs to start making all their money from the stock market like Porsche does!

  • avatar
    Canucknucklehead

    Give them their damn money, we don’t want to see GM, Ford and Chrysler go under.

    Sure, Davey, that is a great idea. But when you look at the bottom line of your pay check, remember who is paying for it….it is you.

  • avatar
    mel23

    The word ‘capitulation’ is being used often given the sorry state of investments now, and I think it should apply to those of the Republican bent after the VERY sorry performance of W and his cronies in congress. But no; we see Obama’s legitimate accomplishments being dissed already and see him blamed for things he hasn’t done. No surprise really, and it’ll only get worse no matter how stellar his performance, which the country desperately needs.

    We’ve seen Paulson & Co. dish out billions to the likes of AIG with zilch results on the plus side, and huge bundles to other financial institutions, that was intended to thaw the credit markets. But the $ millions in bonuses for failed executives seem to be safe for the most part, and, instead of using the loot to thaw the credit markets, they’re talking of takeovers and dividends. And we’re bitching about the car companies? OK, they, the car companies, or rather their execs and stock holders, deserve to be targeted and wiped out financially, and I hope it happens. If it takes a few tens of billions to prove the obvious of their non-viability, it’ll be a bargain relatively speaking. The best, and only eventual path, is bankruptcy in which the sleeping stockholders get nothing, and the execs replaced. I think it just that the workers, line, engineers, IT, etc., get sufficient help in the way of unemployment assistance to survive until this thing stabilizes at whatever level it does.

    I think there’s a good chance that lots of people will get a graduate course in real life experience by the time this settles down, which might be some years from now. I’ve read countless nasty comments relishing the fall of UAW members and that anyone without a degree should expect to have an income below the poverty level no matter how hard they work, their ability, etc. Hopefully we’ll have more empathy for one another in a few years. If Obama and the Democrats aren’t able to right the ship, Ms. Pallin will be ready to step in and fix things.

  • avatar
    davey49

    I’m OK with my taxes going up if it means at some point in my life I can buy a new F150 or SuperDuty that was built in the US by people who are paid well and have health benefits.

  • avatar
    Canucknucklehead

    OK, Davey, but are you OK with Wagoner and Lutz’s bonus payments? Is welfare only for corporations or should poor people also receive “bailouts?”

    The national debt of your country has doubled in the last six months. It is higher than it ever has been in the entire history of the USA. That might be a very expensive F-150. In fact, your grandchildren might be paying for it, Davey.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    krj1965 :
    November 9th, 2008 at 11:39 am

    I’m curious that no one is mentioning some the biggest tools in the left leaning economist’s toolkit. That is tariffs, import restrictions and other forms of protectionism.

    Thing is, he can’t do that. Imagine the outcry from enviromentalists if he raised tariffs on the Prius.

    Yeah, that’s not going to work.

    Plus, a lot of his voters buy imported cars. They will be pissed if the price of such goes up due to his actions.

    I don’t expect tariffs to be part of any government package to save the Detroit automakers. I expect a large variety of low-interest loans to be the main part of the package.

  • avatar

    mel23, cronies in Congress? Democrats have been in control for the past two years.

  • avatar

    Hey, does anyone here know the average Total Cost per Employee on a Big 3 Assembly Line?
    (salary, health, pension, union crap, other benefits, etc.)

    Reason: How Far above what a Reasonable Market Rate for the work is that cost?

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    GM needs to start making all their money from the stock market like Porsche does!

    Actually, there have been periods in the past three decades when the domestic car companies were flush with money and making greater profits off their cash than they were off their cars. When a company makes more money off of finances than with product it’s never a good omen for the quality and value of the product.

    I’m no great businessman, but it’s always seemed to me that the primary focus of a business should be product and I’ve never been a fan of interchangeable CEOs. While there are things common with all businesses, people who run Whirlpool should care about appliances. I don’t really care if the CEO is a bean counter or engineer as long as they have a passion for the particular product they make or market they serve and what makes that company unique. Otherwise it’s just a job.

    RF is big on brands and TTAC has discussed how Porsche has diluted and corrupted their brand. The Porsche family’s financial machinations and takeover of VW are of a piece with the Cayenne and Panamera, because the Porsche family doesn’t care about making cars as much as they care about making money. Considering the patriarch of the clan is a contender for the title of history’s most amoral engineer*, this doesn’t surprise me.

    *Don’t bother citing Godwin’s Law. It’s changed meaning to the point where it’s now a heckler’s veto to any reference, however oblique or however pertinent, to the events in Germany circa 1933-1945.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    The opinion polls that I’ve seen all show that something like 75% of the American people are opposed to the bailout of the Big 2.8. Obama can let them go under and it won’t have that big of an impact on his ability to do the other aspects of his job.

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    The word ‘capitulation’ is being used often given the sorry state of investments now, and I think it should apply to those of the Republican bent after the VERY sorry performance of W and his cronies in congress.

    Please Google [Dodd, Franks, Fannie Mae, Countrywide] before discussing cronies. Did you know that Barney Frank’s lover during the 90s was a VP at Fannie Mae in charge of creating derivatives sold to Wall Street?

    While many have a role in the current financial crisis (that includes anyone who benefited from low interest rates over the past 15 or so years) there’s no question that Democratic fingerprints are all over this debacle. Should the Republicans and Bush done more to stop it when they held Congress? Sure. Did the Republicans spend like drunken sailors when they were in power and did gov’t debt contribute to the problem? Absolutely – and they’ve been roundly condemned for doing so by most ideological conservatives. However, Bush’s role in the financial meltdown is a relatively minor role compared to that of Dems in Congress and Dems on Wall Street.

    We’ve seen Paulson & Co. dish out billions to the likes of AIG with zilch results on the plus side, and huge bundles to other financial institutions, that was intended to thaw the credit markets.

    Credit markets have indeed measurably thawed. The LIBOR rate has dropped every day for the past 3 or 4 weeks and is half what it was when the credit markets locked up.

    I think it just that the workers, line, engineers, IT, etc., get sufficient help in the way of unemployment assistance to survive until this thing stabilizes at whatever level it does.

    It won’t stabilize. If GM, Ford & Chrysler all go down, taking suppliers with them, the unemployment rate could more than double from its current rate of 6%. It’s won’t be just workers, line, engineers, IT, etc. at the domestics that will be unemployed. It will be people at HP, Dell, Cisco and maybe Apple and Microsoft too because the Big 3 buy a lot of computers and software. Electronics companies, textile companies, steel companies, you name it, they’ll take a hit. About one in 13 workers in the US are employed directly or indirectly by the domestic auto industry. If their jobs go away (and no, they won’t all be employed by increased sales of US made Toyotas and Hondas), I can see unemployment here reaching 15% or more.

    Take away 8% of US jobs and you’ll start seeing plenty of collateral damage wiping out businesses completely unrelated to the auto industry.

  • avatar
    philbailey

    Johnster:

    Probably that’s the same 75% of Americans who bought a domestic vehicle sometime in the last 20 years.

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    The opinion polls that I’ve seen all show that something like 75% of the American people are opposed to the bailout of the Big 2.8. Obama can let them go under and it won’t have that big of an impact on his ability to do the other aspects of his job.

    The problem is that those 75% of Americans don’t understand that if the domestics go under it will have a big impact on their ability to do their own jobs because their own jobs may go away.

    At the risk of being Johnny one-note, this country hasn’t had any kind of industrial policy since the late 1960s at least. We’ve allowed the gutting of our manufacturing base because people were being employed by the growth of the service and information technology sectors. That’s been foolish. It’s like saying that just because less than 3% of Americans make their living farming that we no longer need agriculture and domestically produced food.

    A healthy manufacturing base is vital to any modern economy. We’ve allowed our manufacturing base to wither and now we’re paying the piper.

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    Probably that’s the same 75% of Americans who bought a domestic vehicle in the last 20 years.

    Actually, if 75% of Americans had bought domestics for the past 20 years, GM, Ford & Chrysler would be in much better financial shape.

  • avatar
    Honda_Lover

    A country doesn’t need an industrial base – information economy is the future.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    @Honda_Lover

    So in WW2 we could have bought our tanks, planes, and guns from Germany & Japan?

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    Bozoer Rebbe: I wasn’t the one who argued that Obama was a “VERY brilliant” lawyer or scholar. I don’t know if that is true and I don’t personally care. I do think Obama clearly has an unusual level of expertise for a president in the area constitutional law, which to my mind is quite timely given the current administration’s revisionism on fundamental issues such as executive power and the treatment of detainees.

    I was reacting to what I saw as a number of comments where facts were cherry picked or spun in such a way as to make an unfairly dismissive argument. If this were a political blog perhaps it would be more appropriate to get into a back and forth on the details, e.g., I’d question your broad-brush comment that Obama “doesn’t appear to have had an original thought in his life.” But then to my mind politics is rarely about original thinking and mostly about building coalitions to solve problems. In other words, building trust is as important as brain power. Obama would seem to have a better balance than the man he is replacing.

    Responding to Detroit’s implosion may very well be one of the most challenging issues facing Obama over the next year. I don’t see an easy way out that is politically realistic and does the right thing from a business standpoint.

  • avatar
    Honda_Lover

    ~indi500fan:

    So you want to support the military/industrial complex? I thought the left was against that?

  • avatar
    mel23

    @ TriShield :

    Democrats have been in control for the past two years.

    Give me a break. The Republicans could and did block anything they wanted to in the Senate, so having a tiny majority does not equal control given who controlled the Executive.

    @Bozoer Rebbe:

    I don’t give a rat’s who Barney Franks lover was/were or will be. Arthur Levitt was interviewed for an hour on Bloomberg a few days ago and called Frank one of the sharpest minds in America and one of the few in Congress who understands the complexity of derivatives, etc.

    I agree with you as to Democrats having plenty of responsibility in this whole thing and that Bush has been a minor player. But he did appoint Cox as SEC Chairman, and Cox seems to be almost universally thought of as ineffective or worse. But the Democrats in the Senate were all on board when Gramm-Leach-Bliley was passed in 1999 that open the gates, and opposed tightening of rules regarding Fannie & Freddie months before things blew up. Aside from Democratic opposition to reining in Fannie/Freddie, they were IMO forcibly swept along in the tide of deregulation which was cynically sold to the public by the Republicans starting with Ronnie.

    Sure LIBOR has come down some, but banks aren’t lending. And why should they lend to people who’ve demonstrated they can’t handle the debt they have? We seem to expect that things should go back to the personal borrow/spend mania that existed in prior years. Can’t happen. But as to whether Paulson’s plan is the best or even adequate, the jury is still out from everything I read. I think there’s no excuse for having holes in the handout terms that leave any doubt that dividends and bonuses might be possible if an institution accepts tax money.

    As to how many people will be thrown out of work if/when the 2.8 go down, no one knows. My point is that it’s useless to try to save them, but politically it’s mandatory to go through the motions until the public, including the people of Michigan, understand this. Sure, some of the workers have been lazy on the job and imprudent in their personal lives, but many have not, and all will suffer when the collapse comes. No matter what, tons of tax money is going to be passed around, and I’d rather see it go to semi-innocent workers in amounts necessary for decent lives than totally guilty execs and stock holders who caused and permitted this over several decades. To me, the Republicans bear responsibility for endlessly pushing deregulation and cutbacks in government services that are essential to significant parts of our population. How close were we to ‘privatizing’ social security? All this stuff is based on simple greed.

  • avatar

    Obama is playing it smart so far. He has not called for plain (and stupid) loans to bail out Detroit, no strings attached.
    He talks in general terms about saving our manufacturing base, something everybody can agree with. But he is not talking about a blank check for Detroit. He probably realizes that’s a hole that is a bit too deep to fill.
    The question remains: what kind of viable future can the government design for the US auto industry? They’re thinking about it and the answer is still forthcoming.
    My suggestion (somewhat politically incorrect): involve foreign automakers. Toyota is the company that’s building a factory for the Prius in America, which is exactly what we need. Honda is the company that’s building Civics in Ohio, which is much appreciated by Americans. Those are the kind of viable companies that can continue America’s manufacturing.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    A country doesn’t need an industrial base – information economy is the future.

    It would be foolish to let an industrial base wither out and think it can be readily supplanted by an information economy. The lack of a manufacturing base would hamper our ability to tackle trade imbalances that leaves our economy more vulnerable to foreign economies in market disruptions. You can’t trade your intangible services for tangible goods, especially when your intangible services are just as readily available in their home countries. If you have a strong industrial base, an information economy would compliment it, but that economy alone cannot drive a nation’s economy, especially an economy as large as America’s.

    Abandoning your industrial base is simply shooting yourself in the head.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    mel23 :

    @ TriShield : Democrats have been in control for the past two years.

    Give me a break. The Republicans could and did block anything they wanted to in the Senate, so having a tiny majority does not equal control given who controlled the Executive.

    Name a few things they blocked. Please.

    @Bozoer Rebbe: I don’t give a rat’s who Barney Franks lover was/were or will be.

    You damned will should give a rat’s ass about our congressmen and senators who may have a conflict of interest! Regardless of their political party!

    This is one reason that we are in such a mess now. Too many people give members of their own party a pass while holding the other party to a higher standard.

    Why is that? Do we all need to be “right” THAT badly? It’s shameful!

  • avatar
    carlos.negros

    Now that the U.S has effectively lost its textile and shoe industry, appliance industry, furniture industry, to a large extent electronics industry, to some extent its auto parts industry; is behind in green technology such as wind turbines and solar panels; what advanced manufacturing industries are left? Auto, pharmacology, military, and a smattering of medical and agra-technologies.

    Losing the auto industry and the hundreds of thousands of related jobs would make us dependent on extraction industries such as oil, mining, forestry plus the “service” industry (which, in many cases, can be outsourced to India). That would put us on the path to eventually losing first world status.

    One of the reasons why I voted for Obama was because he promised to help our auto industry retool to make fuel efficient cars; and because he supports the development of alternative energy sources. I expect him to honor his promises. But I do not expect him to solve this problem or any other before he is even sworn into office. I will give him about 24 months, up until the next election cycle to make progress.

    As for those of you who want to punish the auto industry, I understand. But, unlike some of you, I don’t put all the blame on the unions or the management. I blame the Republican congress and Bush administration for the $100,000 tax deduction for heavy SUVs. The auto industry did the logical thing in building the SUVs because the government was subsidizing them with tax money.

    Now that the government has to step forward and subsidize fuel efficient cars, those who supported the Republican congress which was in power for 13 years and the Bush administration whose party controlled the executive and congressional braches for six straight years are crying foul.

  • avatar
    carlos.negros

    ZoomZoom wrote: “Name a few things they blocked. Please.”

    Here ya go:

    Bills blocked by Repubs or Bush during last two years:
    – The Children’s Health Insurance Bill
    – Climate Change Bill
    – Equal pay for equal work
    – Heating /cooling assistance for low income families
    – Senate Republicans Blocked Consideration of a Measure to Allow Medicare to Negotiate for Lower Prescription Drug Prices.

    To name a few . . .

  • avatar
    Geo. Levecque

    Re NAFTA; I certainly hope the new USA Government opens it up, we here in Canada can then sell our Oil and Natural Gas for more Money than we get now from the USA, we supply 60 percent of your Oil and 96% of your natural Gas!
    For anyone to think that cheap Gasoline will be around for long, must be dreaming!
    Keep your small vehicles and just remember China and India have great “needs” for lots of Petrol!

  • avatar
    John Williams

    Allowing the auto industry to expire means it will never come back. Not in any real sense, only in a very token form.

    This is the case of the British auto industry as of today. After the last bits of the British Leyland carcass was picked clean by Chinese interests, all Britain had left was a niche auto industry serving a very small yet well-heeled audience by building niche products that were outside of the mainstream scope. The mainstream audience is currently served by British subsidiaries of foreign companies, with some British namesakes (Jaguar, Land Rover) owned by foreign companies. The Brits don’t really mind, as they seem to identify more with them than they ever did with the BL lot.

    This is the U.S. auto industry’s future, if GM and Chrysler end up in the drink. Niche companies buying up the rights to the Corvette/Viper and building them while other companies build one-off sports cars and replicas. Meanwhile, the mainstream market is served more or less by Toyota/Honda/Nissan/Hyundai/Kia with the Germans filling in here and there. Americans will care less about the loss of GM and Chrysler since they’re getting what they want and need from “foreign” companies — they might even grow comfortable enough to replace “baseball, apple pies and Chevrolets” with “baseball, apple pies and Toyotas”.

    Key difference here is that at least one major American manufacturer will still be standing, albeit in a much weaker position: Ford. I believe they’re in a better position to survive this separation of chaff from wheat, although they’ll have to brutally FIGHT just to keep themselves in the mainstream market.

    A country doesn’t need an industrial base – information economy is the future.

    Right up until you run into war-times. Then you’ll quickly discover that an informational economy does nothing to produce needed tanks, artillery and ammunition.

  • avatar
    windswords

    Pch101:

    “Please, let’s all stop it with the faulty claims about what the left does and doesn’t do.

    Import restrictions were a hallmark of the Hoover administration. Hoover, as you may recall, was a Republican. The last time that we had substantial restrictions on the importation of cars was
    under Reagan, who imposed “voluntary quotas” that were anything but voluntary.

    The US continues to maintain the import tariff on trucks, an old holdover of a Kennedy-era trade dispute called the “chicken tax.” Nixon, Reagan and both Bushes could have repealed this if they wanted to, but clearly, they either supported it
    or else could live with it.”

    So could have Johnson, Carter, and Clinton. Reagen, Bush, Clinton, and Bush were all proponents of free trade. Reagen’s voluntary quota’s were in general alignment with his free trade policies and helped hasten the establishment of Japanese transplants here, whose sucess has paved the way for German transplants coming to North America as well. Clinton/Gore would not have passed NAFTA without Republican
    support. It’s interesting to note that of the 4 candidates running for president and vice-president in 2004 only Democrats John Kerry and John Edwards had actually voted yes for NAFTA, yet they had the wide support of unions.

    Since you bought up the Smoot-Hawley (SM) act I thought a history lesson was in order (can’t help myself, I was history major).

    Most think that Hoover’s administration did nothing in the face of the economic crisis that began in 1929. What most people don’t know is that Hoover began many of the programs that formed the basis for the New Deal. From Wikipedia:

    Even so, New Dealer Rexford Tugwell later remarked that although no one would say so at the time, “practically the whole New Deal was extrapolated from programs that Hoover started.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Hoover

    As for Smoot-Hawley:
    President Herbert Hoover had asked Congress for a downward revision in [tariff] rates, but Congress raised rates instead. While many economists urged a veto, Hoover signed the bill. When running for president in 1928, one of Hoover’s many
    campaign promises to help beleaguered farmers had been to raise tariff levels on agricultural products.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoot-Hawley_Tariff_Act

    —–

    So it seems that Hoover felt he was ‘boxed in” by his campaign promises and an anti-free trade congress. Is this starting to look familiar to you? This might describe our current congress and president-elect today.

    Also, you would think that since SM was such a bad thing that no other country would participate in something like this – especially after SM was reapealed and replaced by Bretton Woods and other agreements. But in the same Wikipedia article
    it says:

    However, the American Tariff League Study of *1951* which compared the effective tariff levels of 43 countries found that only 7 countries had a lower tariff level than the United States (5.1%). 11 countries had effective tariff rates higher than the Smoot-Hawley peak of 19.8% including the United Kingdom (25.6%). The 43 country average was 14.4% – 0.9% higher than the U.S. level of *1929*[!].

    In addition to tariffs, many countries implemented non-tariff barriers to protect
    their industries in the aftermath of WW II after experiencing the dangers of dependence on imports for vital supplies brought pon by free trade policies. Many nations felt the ill effects of embargoes, naval blockades and submarine warfare
    upon their national security. An example of this involved Britain and France importing all of their watches and clocks from Switzerland and Germany prior to World War II. They discovered that the lack of a watch industry was a great
    handicap in building defense equipment during the war. Both nations determined never to be without a watch industry again and placed embargoes on watch imports after WW II.[14]

    Non-tariff barriers would become more important in the post-WW II reconstruction period. Japan for example, with an effective tariff rate of 1.6% in 1951 would put many non-tariff barriers in place. In June 1952 Japan’s “Basic Policy for the Introduction of Foreign Investment into Japan’s Passenger Car Industry” placed quotas, tariffs and commodity taxes on imports that closed the Japanese automobile market to American manufacturers for nearly two decades.[15]Japan would also make extensive use of licensing agreements which would transfer foreign technology to Japan in exchange for limited market access as in the case of the U.S. television industry. With Japan’s home market protected, Japanese manufacturers could make
    large profits at home to off-set the cost of selling their goods at reduced prices in foreign markets (dumping).

    ——-

    So as always the US plays by one set of rules whilst other countries play by their own set of rules. I have never been comfortable with either the free trade or protectionist side. While open markets are in theory good, perhaps we need what Iaccoca called “Fair Trade”.

  • avatar
    brownie

    Pch101: Your burger stand analogy might be the finest short description of Detroit’s mess that I have ever read. Bravo. My apologies in advance for stealing it in every conversation I have on the topic starting right now…

    It’s going to get very interesting if the government is “forced” to try propping up the domestics at the expense of foreign brands with US factories. The Democrats may want to pander to Michigan, but they also want to pander to Ohio, Tennessee, etc. They can only push so hard on Honda, Toyota, etc. these days before domestic political forces start pushing back – it ain’t the 80’s anymore, and we won’t have Japan to kick around this time. Once again, the Japanese have demonstrated the power of long-term planning, and Detroit has demonstrated the power of complacency.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    Very good, Carlos:

    Now tell me how those things (that were blocked) led to the current financial collapse. Or the collapse of the US automakers.

    “I blame the Republican congress and Bush administration for the $100,000 tax deduction for heavy SUVs.”

    I’m very curious about this. Show me when, where, and by whom this got enacted. House/Senate bill number. Where can I read the text of this? And what date was it signed into law?

  • avatar
    50merc

    Look, fellas, despite our differences, we can agree that the D3 Bailout is really all about jobs. Oh, it’d be nice if they could someday be more competitive with Toyonda, and the preservation of foundry capacity will come in handy if we suddenly need to build thousands of tanks. But the main impetus for putting the D3 on life support is keeping hundreds of thousands of people out of the apple-selling business.

    So here’s the answer: rummage around in the legislative closet for old agriculture support measures, and modify them so Uncle Same can start paying Detroit for NOT making cars. The workers would show up at the factories just as in the past, and be paid for their eight hours a day, but the lines would only run four hours. The cars that would have been built during those four hours of downtime would be “sold” to the government. A never-built Escalade would, of course, bring a higher price than a never-built Cobalt. As you can see, this plan has a built-in incentive for GM to hurriedly switch non-production capacity to the non-manufacture of non-existent $40,000 Volts. Greens will applaud GM for helping to head off climate change.

    You say this proposal is too fanciful? There’s precedent, and not just in agricultural policy. In the 60’s I was working for a big accounting firm. My office had to contribute some staff to assist in the audit of a big railroad. When they arrived at the accounting headquarters, my colleagues were astonished to find that the huge office space was divided down the middle. In the morning, the clerks on one side busily attended to their ledgers, while the other half read newspapers, snoozed, wrote letters, etc. They couldn’t leave the office, but they didn’t have to do anything for their employer. After lunch, the roles were reversed and the first group goofed off while the second group tended to business.

    It was explained to my colleagues that computers and such had eliminated the need for half the clerical jobs, but that the railroad unions were so strong, layoffs were impossible. The above arrangement was adopted to insure that all the clerks put in the same amount of actual worktime. This strikes me as fairer than the “Job Bank” wherein only certain workers get paid for not working.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    50merc, that’s a great idea for city slickers. But what about those of us who want to say goodbye to the yellow brick road?

    I say they give away 40 acres and a mule to each eligible applicant who owns at least one hybrid. This would be a great way to repopulate the Great Plains . . . with Toyotas.

    I’d go for it. For many years I’ve harbored the grand dream of becoming a velcro farmer. Nothing smells finer than velcro fresh cut from the vine. Ah, and those rosy-cheeked farm girls with their home-made clothes. No need for awkward buttons down on Dr. Lemming’s farm!

  • avatar
    jkross22

    @ carlos:

    I think both clear headed Dems and Reps are crying foul over what is a cash grab by companies that have mismanaged their business to the point where they’re begging the government (i.e. the 60% of us who pay taxes) for money. If you bought an Aveo expecting great mileage and a competitive product, it doesn’t matter if you’re to the left or right politically, does it?

    “One of the reasons why I voted for Obama was because he promised to help our auto industry retool to make fuel efficient cars”

    Carlos, Obama is clearly a heck of a salesman to convince you of this?? He really would have to be “The One” to accomplish the Herculian task of doing all that would be necessary to get these companies right tracked.

    “As for those of you who want to punish the auto industry, I understand. But, unlike some of you, I don’t put all the blame on the unions or the management. I blame the Republican congress and Bush administration…”

    Funny no mention of the corporate culture that no GM leader dare break with, the culture that produced such winners as the Cimmaron, poor rebadging jobs, unspectacular (I’m in a giving mood) small cars and dealer support that represents the worst of the worst in helping their own customers resolve problems with the trucks and few cars that they sold.

    Instead, it’s blame the SOB Republicans for tax breaks. C’mon.

    “Now that the government has to step forward and subsidize fuel efficient cars…”

    Really? What Fed. subsidies are available on these fuel efficient cars:

    Civic, Corolla, Yaris, Accord, Camry, VW Golf, Focus, Sentra, A3, A4, 328i, 128i, etc.

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    Aside from Democratic opposition to reining in Fannie/Freddie, they were IMO forcibly swept along in the tide of deregulation which was cynically sold to the public by the Republicans starting with Ronnie.

    Aside from a little damage from an iceberg, the Titanic’s maiden voyage was a success. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

    Democratic encouragement of making “affordable” home ownership through the FMs, and the FMs marketing of derivatives lie at the heart of the crisis. It was the Republicans who wanted more regulation of the FMs.

    mel23 :

    I don’t give a rat’s who Barney Franks lover was/were or will be.

    I understand. The head of a House committee that has oversight over the FMs and other financial institutions was involved in a long term personal relationship with an executive at Fannie Mae responsible for marketing derivatives and you can’t see the obvious conflict of interest? How do you feel about Republican members of Congress having sex with oil company lobbyists? Physicians screwing their pharma sales reps? When does something become a conflict of interest, when there’s an R next to their name?

    I suppose it could have been worse. Instead of being involved with an executive of an institution over which he had congressional oversight, Franks could have been romantically involved with a prostitute who turned tricks out of Franks’ DC townhouse. Oh wait… http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,958598,00.html

    Arthur Levitt was interviewed for an hour on Bloomberg a few days ago and called Frank one of the sharpest minds in America and one of the few in Congress who understands the complexity of derivatives, etc.

    Of course he understands the complexity of derivatives, his lover was in charge of creating derivatives for Fannie Mae so it might have been part of their nightly pillow talk. Nobody denies that Frank is smart. So was Meyer Lansky. For the record, Levitt is a Democrat and was appointed by Clinton to head the SEC.

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    I will give him about 24 months, up until the next election cycle to make progress.

    He deserves the same regard Democrats have given Bush for the last 8 years.

    Bills blocked by Repubs or Bush during last two years:
    – The Children’s Health Insurance Bill
    – Climate Change Bill
    – Equal pay for equal work
    – Heating /cooling assistance for low income families
    – Senate Republicans Blocked Consideration of a Measure to Allow Medicare to Negotiate for Lower Prescription Drug Prices.

    None of which have anything to do with the financial crisis other than they would have increased government spending and exacerbate the problem.

    Please explain how “equal work” will be evaluated? Will risk of injury or death be factored in? Did you know that 94% of on the job fatalities are male?

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    I think someone watches too much “Law & Order” and has a very narrow view of what a lawyer does.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    “I’m OK with my taxes going up if it means at some point in my life I can buy a new F150 or SuperDuty that was built in the US by people who are paid well and have health benefits.”

    Can I interest you in one or our new Mexican built models? They may not get health benefits but we give them a siesta every damn day!

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    Bozoer Rebbe: If you want to talk conflicts of interest and Fannie Mae, it’s pretty silly to point fingers at one party. Shall we talk about “mavericky” John McCain’s lobbyist-infested campaign staff? Or is that acceptable “business as usual” because . . . McCain’s a former POW?

    The system has become pervasively corrupt. Both parties have enabled it, but the Republicans’ so-called K Street Project took “cash-and-carry” politics to a whole new level. The Abramoff scandal was the tip of the iceberg.

    There’s a real need to clean house, but I’m not seeing enough grassroots pressure to do that any time soon. I suspect we will need a deep political crisis on the order of another Watergate for substantive institutional reforms to occur.

    That’s why I prefer operating at a state level. At least in my neck of the woods we have a much cleaner and more transparent electoral and policy-making process that keeps corruption down to more manageable levels.

    Philosophical question for the evening: Has the U.S. become too big to be governable?

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    I am so sick of this bullshit. GM will NOT go away if it’s allowed to file. It will restructure and come back leaner, stronger and be competitive fo the first time in decades. That is what’s needed, that is what’s going to happen. If Obama is forced by the unwashed masses to delay that inevitability by giving loans then it’s just going to be more good money after bad.

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    I think someone watches too much “Law & Order” and has a very narrow view of what a lawyer does.

    It depends on what their legal specialty is. While some lawyers are general practitioners, many do specialize. Some are trial lawyers who do a lot of litigating, some spend most of their time writing and vetting contracts, some specialize in bankruptcy law, some, like my late uncle and his father, go into real estate law, some are exclusively patent lawyers or specialize in another area of intellectual property, some specialize in divorce, and some, like the president elect, specialize in constitutional law.

    So far nobody has demonstrated any example of “brilliant” legal work by Sen. Obama in any specialty. Advancing his career appears to be his most significant accomplishment.

    I believe that one of the biggest mistakes one can make is underestimating an opponent, so it’s important to recognize Mr. Obama’s strengths. He’s certainly a gifted politician and a bright guy. That being said, perhaps an even bigger mistake is to ignore someone’s shortcomings.

    Expecting a politician to be some kind of ideal being is an exercise in futility. I wish the country well and I wish Sen. Obama well in terms of his family and his health. I wish him complete failure in implementing his left wing agenda.

    Most conservatives recognize where GWB and the Republicans have failed to live up to their own ideologies. P.J. O’Rourke sums it up well in his essay, We Blew It, currently on the Weekly Standard site.

    Will those who now support Obama admit his failures four years hence?

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    Shall we talk about “mavericky” John McCain’s lobbyist-infested campaign staff?

    Only if you’re willing to talk equally about the many lobbyists involved in the Obama campaign as well. Lobbyists are a fact of life and engage in a constitutionally protected activity. Do you object to lobbyists that work for the Sierra Club or the Environmental Defense Fund? How about lobbyists for ACORN or the AFL-CIO? Are there only “special interests” on one side of the aisle?

    Or is that acceptable “business as usual” because . . . McCain’s a former POW?

    “Business as usual” is acceptable, apparently, when Democrats like Christopher Dodd (I guess political dynasties are only bad when they’re Republicans named Bush, eh?) get sweetheart deals on mortgages from Countrywide. Google “Friends of Angelo”. “Business as usual” is acceptable, apparently, when Democrats like Al Franken and Charlie Rangel (who helps write our tax laws) don’t pay their taxes.

    Both parties have enabled it, but the Republicans’ so-called K Street Project took “cash-and-carry” politics to a whole new level.

    When you express the same concern over the 527s funded by George Soros, or the Obama campaign’s lack of credit card verification for donors (allowing people to violate the $2300 limit on contributions), I’ll believe that you’re genuinely concerned over cash and carry politics.

    Is the K Street Project the new Southern Strategy, a cudgel Democrats will wield for the next 40 years? Dems get a pass on Robert Byrd’s long and active membership in the KKK, but the Republicans are forever tainted by Richard Nixon using “law and order” in the turbulent 1960s to appeal to southerners. Likewise, Obama’s hinkey internet fundraising will get a pass but we’ll hear about K Street forever.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    @ZoomZoom: the $100k tax credit for self-employed persons was available for less than a year, in the 2003-2004 time frame. No idea what the bill # is, here’s an article.

  • avatar
    FunkyD

    Obama is a narcissist, even more so than Clinton. His decisions will be filtered by what puts his own bad self in the best possible light. If anyone else benefits, well, that’s secondary. The car companies are highly visible, so they will get good money thrown after bad. Obama won’t get credit if much-needed reforms happen at GM or Ford (Chrysler’s a dead company walking and irrelevant). They will get the $$, Obama will get the publicity. Then, as many of the other “bailouts” will prove, nothing happens except a “green hole”.

    If anyone hasn’t noticed, the list of companies lining up for money from the federal teat has been growing longer and longer. Heck, AIG just had the audacity to ask for $40 BILLION more themselves. It’s getting very ugly out there, folks.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Ahhhh….for the good old days, when the most controversial issue on this site was the number of stars in the reviews…..

    But I digress.

    Our government failed in one of its primary responsibilities when it did not apply appropriate regulation to the financial industry. The fallout from that has been the acceleration of the financial ruin of our domestic automakers due to a drying up of the credit necessary for their customers to purchase their products, or, if you like, the semi-optimistic view: the financial fallout from the credit crisis is imperiling the domestic automakers recovery plans, by drying up the credit necessary for their customers to by their products.

    The two (the credit crisis and the automakers crisis) are seperate events, but so intertwined as to make for a political Gordian knot.

    Made more complex by the class-warfare issues of Democratic vs. Republican politics, and the seemingly brain-dead financial strategies of the boards and management of the big 3.

    Bottom line: They are not entitled to the government money without strings. Period. The money, if it goes at all, goes for retooling. Period.

    If the big three fail, they fail. Nature abhors a vacuum. The 5 million or so new vehicles the big three factories have provided for the US market will need to be built somewhere, by some workers. Economic sense would seem to indicate that it would be cost beneficial to make them locally in the US. If they are made by balkanized companies who can do so more efficiently without the incredibly wasteful and stupid high fixed costs of large corporations like GM, so much the better, eventually, for the consumer and the country.

    Will their be displacement? Hell, yes. Will their be pain? A plenty. We Americans forget that our lives of plenty are not our birthright….freedom is…..and Nationalization of industry and socialization life under a too-pervasive central government is NOT freedom.

    We true Americans need to locate our cojones, stop whining, and get to work to truly solve these problems today, not add to the immensity of the incredibly inept ponzi scheme that is the American government. If we miss this opportunity, due to moral and political cowardice, to do the right things now, pay the price now, step up now and right the wrongs, the price will be paid by the future slavery of our children and their children. Government must NOT grow any more. Time to draw a line in GRANITE….

  • avatar
    faster_than_rabbit

    He deserves the same regard Democrats have given Bush for the last 8 years.

    I completely agree. Just as the Democrats capitulated on everything, the Republicans should grab their ankles and give Obama everything he wants, whenever he wants it. It’s only fair.

  • avatar
    faster_than_rabbit

    Will those who now support Obama admit his failures four years hence?

    Will you admit his successes? I think the answer is no, because given your ideology, you’re likely to view his successes as failures. You think he’s going to post pictures of Karl Marx in the Oval Office. At least Farago is willing to give him a chance.

    Most conservatives recognize where GWB and the Republicans have failed to live up to their own ideologies. P.J. O’Rourke sums it up well in his essay, We Blew It, currently on the Weekly Standard site.

    Nope. The failure was conservative ideology itself. Bush did exactly what you guys always wanted: tax cuts, preemptive wars, gutted Justice Department, nepotism, destruction of government services so that citizens will learn not to expect handouts, destruction of the Establishment Clause and the Fourth Amendment, abstinence-only education. Name a single aspect of conservative ideology which was not put to the test during the past eight years.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Pch101: Please, let’s all stop it with the faulty claims about what the left does and doesn’t do.

    Since the 1980s, it has been the left that has been more receptive to protectionist measures. The ultra-nationalist right (Patrick Buchanan, etc.) joined that call in the 1990s.

    Clinton was sold as a middle-of-the-road Democrat. He was promoted by the Democratic Leadership Council as the “pragmatic” choice who wouldn’t take his marching orders from the left. And, when it came to free trade, he did ignore the protectionist wing of his party.

    carlos.negros: I blame the Republican congress and Bush administration for the $100,000 tax deduction for heavy SUVs. The auto industry did the logical thing in building the SUVs because the government was subsidizing them with tax money.

    That deduction was available to a limited number of people, primarily those who used them for business purposes. That is a limted market. Until this year, the market for big trucks and SUVs was not limited to those who could receive that deduction.

    The domestics AND Toyota AND Nissan AND VW AND Mercedes AND BMW built big SUVS because they were popular among virtually everyone. They didn’t develop and sell SUVS just because of that deduction.

    carlos.negros: Bills blocked by Repubs or Bush during last two years:
    – The Children’s Health Insurance Bill
    – Climate Change Bill
    – Equal pay for equal work
    – Heating /cooling assistance for low income families
    – Senate Republicans Blocked Consideration of a Measure to Allow Medicare to Negotiate for Lower Prescription Drug Prices.

    The Democrats didn’t push back too hard, so they must not have really wanted them.

    And considering that those bills are either meaningless grandstanding (for example, the reason women make less than men as a whole is because of career choices, not sexism or discrimination; reputable studies show that women with the same careers and work history as men make as much or more) or counterproductive, the Republicans did us a favor.

    Dr Lemming: Both parties have enabled it, but the Republicans’ so-called K Street Project took “cash-and-carry” politics to a whole new level. The Abramoff scandal was the tip of the iceberg.

    The Republicans were only building upon what the Democrats had done before. And the Democrats are only kicking themselves for not taking it that level first.

    And I believe it was Obama who pretty much drove the final nails in the coffin of the public financing of campaigns, not McCain. And he certainly wasn’t above using the Internet to make an end run around regulations when it came to raising funds…

    Dr. Lemming: Philosophical question for the evening: Has the U.S. become too big to be governable?

    No, but we now expect so much of the federal government, that the resulting sky-high expectations set us up for inevitable disappointment.

    Let’s take two examples from specific policy areas: one of Obama’s campaign promises, and then another from this speech.

    He promised to “improve education” in the usual way – shoveling more money at the schools. Only problem is that there has never been a consistent link between money spent and student achievement.

    The Washington, D.C., school district, for example spends more per student than most districts. I doubt that anyone would say that it turns out better prepared students than other districts across the U.S.

    My wife is a special-education teacher in an medium-size urban school district. She deals firsthand with the school administration and the parents of her students, most of whom are poor.

    When she comes home, I don’t hear her blame Republicans, rich people, George W. Bush, Wall Street bond traders or any of the usual suspects for the failure of the children in her district to achieve. She blames…the parents, most of whom do a lousy job of raising their children.

    Obama, to his credit, did touch upon this issue during the campaign. I saw several ads where he told parents that they must turn off the television if they expect their children to learn. (Although, I saw them on…television!)

    And he is right – if parents don’t care enough to make education a priority, then having 100 percent of the federal budget devoted to education won’t make a difference.

    But he still wants to have the federal government “help” by spending more money – which is designed to pay back the teacher’s union as much as anything else.

    A leopard can climb a different tree every now and then, but he can’t change his spots.

    And this sets people up for disappointment and cynicism when those federal dollars, sprinkled like fairy dust over school districts across the land, fail to correct the real source of the problems that are plaguing our schools. Primarily because they can’t – unless they are used to send children to places like the Milton Hershey School in Hershey, Pa., where children stay all year and receive a top-notch education AWAY from the corrosive influence of their parents.

    Regarding his concern for the auto industry – again, buckets of federal money won’t help if core problems aren’t addressed. But those core problems won’t be solved by the injection of federal dollars.

    GM, for example, is plagued by poor leadership and a corporate culture that still believes the world revolves around GM, and that for any vehicle beyond a few Cadillacs, the Corvette and big trucks, “good enough” is still good enough.

    This money can’t force companies to design products that people want to buy. And it takes more than good EPA numbers to get people to buy a pvehicle. People were buying Civics and Camrys BEFORE the current run-up in fuel prices. Focusing on fuel-efficiency is a sign of someone who really doesn’t understand what drives people to buy particular vehicles (in other words, this describes your typical politician).

    “Fuel efficiency” is the current catch phrase for all that ails Detroit, but the Big Three have been in trouble since at least 2001, when gas was very cheap.

    If GM uses the federal dollars to build Aveos and rolling monuments to mediocrity like the Cobalt, it will continue to limp along like a wounded wildebeest. Sure, they save gas, but who really wants one? Most people, if given the choice, will go with the Fit or Civic. Or even the new Focus, for that matter.

    Obama and the Democrats can’t let GM, Ford and Chrysler use the money to do what they really need to do – shut down factories, close down the Jobs Bank and kill off Dodge cars, Pontiac, Buick, GMC, Saturn, Saab, Hummer and Mercury (which will put the dealers out of business).

    Because Obama and the Democrats don’t really know the details of what makes a car company great, they really can’t demand a wholesale housecleaning of the management suite, because they don’t know what traits are needed in the people who would replace the old team. (This flaw isn’t limited to Democrats – I’d say the same thing about Republicans, too, but they aren’t in charge.)

    This is just not politically possible, given the support he received during his campaign from the UAW. Even though THIS is what will be good for America in the long run.

    What we need is:

    *A leaner, focused GM with two divisions, Chevrolet and Cadillac.

    *A Ford that is continuing on its current path, with Mercury headed slowly towards extinction. Fords and Lincolns will be sold in the same dealerships.

    *A Chrysler parted out to companies that can really use its remaining assets – Jeep, the Dodge truck line, and the minivans.

    *A UAW that accepts wage and benefit packages in line with those received by transplant workers.

    But we won’t get those things, because they are politically unacceptable. Too many groups – the UAW, dealers, current management – have a vested interest in the current order.

    So, even with an injection of cash, Chrysler will still go under, and GM will limp along for a few more years. If anything, look for GM to want MORE cash in the future.

    And public cynicism will increase, because government was trying to do something it really can’t do, but no one, especially Obama and certainly not the UAW and Big Three top management, can ever admit that. And, to some extent, too many people don’t want to hear that truth.

    THAT’S the real problem with our federal government.

    faster_than_rabbit: Name a single aspect of conservative ideology which was not put to the test during the past eight years.

    Gosh, I guess I missed the part where overall spending by the federal goverment went DOWN.

    And I guess the enactment of a drug program for senior citizens – Medicare Part D – was just a figment of my imagination.

    Please show me how the expansion of the federal government with a new program fits in with conservative ideology.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Since the 1980s, it has been the left that has been more receptive to protectionist measures. The ultra-nationalist right (Patrick Buchanan, etc.) joined that call in the 1990s.

    This is incorrect, and an illustration of the weaknesses of the left-right dichotomy.

    Traditionally, tariffs were of the domain of the right, a reflection of isolationism and the belief that the best ways to deal with economic downturns were to reduce domestic excess capacity and to conserve cash.

    Keynesian economics changed this definition, calling for the opposite tact — using spending as a stimulus. Despite their howling, even mainstream conservatives have since jumped onto the Keynesian bandwagon — these days, you’d be hard pressed to find a mainstream thinker who doesn’t see the benefits of stimulus.

    WWII also changed this. Traditionally, American conservatives were more isolationist than liberals, both politically and economically. They believed that they were following George Washington’s wisdom to avoid “foreign entanglements.”

    Today, there is very little isolationist sentiment coming from either side. Now, it’s a matter of how to extend power, not whether to extend it.

    Since WWII, free trade has been removed from the right-left axis. Meanwhile, populists of all ilks, whether right or left, have adopted trade restictions as a mantra, and for very similar reasons — they wish to defend the homeland. Their specific motivations for the defense and the accompanying rhetoric are different, but the end result is the same.

    The center-right and center-left, and mainstream liberals and conservatives, all share a desire for low tariffs. Those on either wing who want them are too small in number to get them.

    Politicians may indulge in the rhetoric, but their actions betray them. The US largely avoids tariffs and will continue to do so.

  • avatar
    Airhen

    Obama is a socialist. He’ll hand out the money to keep the Big 2.8 nearly as they are and dependent as long as possible. The wacky environmental left won’t care as they don’t want the Unions working anyway (i.e. destroying Mother Earth with those evil cars!).

  • avatar
    M1EK

    The fuel efficient cars are coming, thanks to the new CAFE standards.

    Have you read the new CAFE standards? They were basically written by Detroit and are a complete joke – allowing them to continue the long-term disaster of creating and then filling the market for SUVs.

    It will be people at HP, Dell, Cisco and maybe Apple and Microsoft too because the Big 3 buy a lot of computers and software.

    How much have the Big 3 spent on computers and software in the last 12 months anyways? My bet is it’s a negligible amount. This drop is already priced in, in other words.

  • avatar
    Tomb Z

    Robert, sorry I missed this as I’m sure you’ve mentioned it in your other Deathwatches, but what’s the monthly cash burn rate for the Big 3? In other words, $25/$50/$100 billion buys how many months of bankruptcy delay?

    Government lending will not force these companies to make the necessary changes to become profitable contributors to our economy. Bankruptcy has a far greater chance of getting a better result.

  • avatar
    50merc

    Dr Lemming: “I say they give away 40 acres and a mule to each eligible applicant who owns at least one hybrid. This would be a great way to repopulate the Great Plains . . . with Toyotas.
    I’d go for it. For many years I’ve harbored the grand dream of becoming a velcro farmer. Nothing smells finer than velcro fresh cut from the vine. Ah, and those rosy-cheeked farm girls with their home-made clothes. No need for awkward buttons down on Dr. Lemming’s farm!”

    I see your point, but there’s little demand for velcro here in the sticks, where we do our courting on a front porch swing. Buttons and hooks open silently, but velcro makes a ripping sound. And that can bring Poppa out to investigate. With his shotgun.

    If I were you, I’d start a nauga ranch. The hydes fetch a pretty penney.

  • avatar
    geeber

    pch101: This is incorrect, and an illustration of the weaknesses of the left-right dichotomy.

    You’re right, and I should have been more exact – it is the fringes who want protectionism.

  • avatar
    50merc

    It was a tax deduction, not a tax credit. Big difference, but frequently misunderstood; for example, in statements such as “My Hummer was free!”

    Incidentally, there’s payback to Uncle Sam if the vehicle brings more at resale than their value after depreciation on the owner’s books. (So if 100% of purchase price was written off, then 100% of whatever the used vehicle brings is taxed.) To be sure, as Stephen Lang will testify, lately SUV resale values have kept their owners from realizing much if any gain.

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    the Democrats capitulated on everything

    You mean like the way they refused to confirm a large number of Bush appointments? Wait, that’s not accurate. They wouldn’t even allow votes to be held on a whole raft of appointments. John Bolton had to be named ambassador to the UN via a recess appointment.

    Google “gang of fourteen”, and then tell me how cooperative Democrats have been.

    Dems have called President Bush a war criminal and Bushitler. Republicans are apparently not even allowed to call Obama by his middle name.

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    Will you admit his successes?

    He’s been very successful at getting elected. He’s been very successful at camouflaging his cultural and ideological hard left roots.

    You obviously didn’t read O’Rourke’s essay.

    he failure was conservative ideology itself. Bush did exactly what you guys always wanted: tax cuts,

    Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but not their own set of facts. You’re factually in error.

    You mean John F. Kennedy was a conservative? He cut taxes, resulting in economic growth increased gov’t revenue. It’s a simple fact of life, when you tax something you get less of it.

    preemptive wars

    If guys like Bill Ayers hadn’t succeeded at politicizing education and devaluing little things like factual history, you might know that for most of US history Republicans have tended to be isolationist as opposed to interventionist (which was a stupid position to hold in the late 1930s, btw). The “domino theory” was promoted by the Kennedy/Johnson administrations. Korea was initiated by Truman. Under Kennedy and Johnson Vietnam went from a relative handful of military advisors to a full scale ground war (in Asia no less). There’s a solid historical reason for Bob Dole’s reference to “Democrat wars”. Bill Clinton was not adverse to using US armed forces for political purposes – the movie Wag The Dog could not have been made otherwise.

    gutted Justice Department

    You must mean how Bush fired all the federal prosecutors when he took office. Oh, wait, that was Bill Clinton. That way Bill & Hill put their political allies in while providing cover to remove those prosecutors looking into Clinton corruption.

    Campaign finance databases show that DOJ employees gave substantially more money to Obama and the Democrats than to Republicans. Most of the high level lawyers in the election fraud department gave the maximum to Obama.

    nepotism,

    Christopher Dodd, the Kennedys, Tennessee’s Ford family, Hillary Clinton, the list of Democrats who have used family connections to get ahead in politics is pretty long. You might want to look into how Diane Feinstein has directed federal spending to companies that her husband controls.

    destruction of government services so that citizens will learn not to expect handouts,

    Exactly what government “services”were destroyed? Are you saying that citizens should expect handouts from the government?

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    And he certainly wasn’t above using the Internet to make an end run around regulations when it came to raising funds…

    I think that every Republican running for office in the next four years should make a public statement that they are using the same lax credit card verification procedures for online donations as used by the Obama ’08 campaign, that they know it creates an opportunity for people to get around campaign finance laws, but that since the Democrats have established the now acceptable ethical standards it would be foolish not to follow those same standards.

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    Only problem is that there has never been a consistent link between money spent and student achievement.

    There is at least anecdotal evidence that the link is an inverse relationship. In this region, Hebrew day schools, Christian academies and Catholic schools spend about 60% of what the public schools spend per student and their students typically achieve better than public school students.

    My kids went to a modern orthodox yeshiva and participated in “reading olympics” at one of the suburban public libraries. The winning teams invariably came from parochial schools.

    For a school to succeed, you need competent teachers and parents invested in their kids’ educations. Everything else that the NEA and AFT say we need, learning centers, teachers assistants (the unions prefer assistants to aides because assistants typically are unionized), computers etc. are fluff, sometimes useful but not necessary.

    Literacy among Jewish men has been close to 100% since the first century. That was done without any computers or learning centers, just good teachers and motivated students.

  • avatar
    Bytor

    When did this become. The “Republicans whining about losing the election” blog?

    Can we get back to cars/car companies?

    How about some ideas about deal with the mess?

    Is the answer to let the Big 2.5 collapse and wash your hands of the results?

    Presumably this isn’t the direction they are going, so why not talk about solutions instead of ranting all day about political ideologies.

    Any bailout should be treated like a bank relationship. Anyone wanting a loan, will have to present a sound business case of how they dig out of the hole.

    Some weak have to die for the other to prosper. Trying to float all three is a mistake.
    Chrysler IMO is dead. No good money thrown here. Let them sink and sell off the assets to stronger companies.

    Heck maybe even GM should spend some time in Chapter 11 land and only Ford is strong enough to receive aid. Don’t reward the weak for being weakest.

    Attach strings that the remaining Big 2 stop wasting everyones time and money fighting regulation with high priced lobbyists. Spend the time/money/energy on building cars dammit.

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    Because Obama and the Democrats don’t really know the details of what makes a car company great, they really can’t demand a wholesale housecleaning of the management suite, because they don’t know what traits are needed in the people who would replace the old team.

    One of the supreme ironies is that Obama was supported by the wealthy. Obviously Warren Buffet knows something about making money. However, like Buffet, many of Obama’s wealthy supporters have never really made a product. They are professionals or work in finance, not manufacturing.

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    How much have the Big 3 spent on computers and software in the last 12 months anyways? My bet is it’s a negligible amount. This drop is already priced in, in other words.

    GM has perhaps the largest installed base of personal computers of any company in the world. Those computers must be maintained and replaced as they fail. Many governments around the world would love to have the supercomputing capacity at the Warren Tech Center. Could Autocad or other design software companies withstand the loss of major customers like GM?

  • avatar
    NickR

    This guy is funny

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/patrick-takahashi/buy-american-again_b_142255.html

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    When did this become. The “Republicans whining about losing the election” blog?

    Do you expect to be treated with the same respect you have for your political opponents?

    I believe much of ire now prevalent in US politics dates to the Clinton era when the Democrats embarked on the permanent campaign.

  • avatar

    # Johnster :
    November 9th, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    The opinion polls that I’ve seen all show that something like 75% of the American people are opposed to the bailout of the Big 2.8. Obama can let them go under and it won’t have that big of an impact on his ability to do the other aspects of his job.

    What percentage of people opposed the bailouts for Wall Street before the House said no and the “ownership society” had Hummer sized hole blown in its 401k? After the mayhem letting Lehman fail caused in the financial markets I’m not sure anyone is ready to try the same thing in the real economy. If they do I bet they will rethink once the consequences make themselves known (in which case GM may die for Ford and Chrysler’s sins). If they file BK cascading failures will sweep through the suppliers and communities dependent on the automakers. Not to mention of course the bad, bad things that would happen to PBGC.

    Between the TARP and the various Fed programs we’ve handed out 2 trillion (and counting!) to the financial services industry on extremely generous terms. For 250 billion you could keep the auto industry afloat to the end of Obama’s first term if you changed nothing else (though I suspect there will be lots of forced change). The people who will be mad if they do nothing will stay mad a lot longer than the people who will be mad if you do it. Being jobless and losing your pension has a much more lasting affect on someone than knowing the Federal government wasted some ungodly sum of money.

  • avatar
    Honda_Lover

    BTW, I’m not seeing any Republican whining here. What I am seeing are Democrats coming in here and whining about fictional Republican whining. Very childish.

  • avatar
    Qusus

    Bozoer Rebbe:

    I find it bizarre that in your qualifying list of “real geniuses,” your friend with a Ph.D in Nuclear Chemistry from Princeton qualifies as a “genius” but Barack Obama’s achievement of making President in the Harvard Law Review (not to mention getting into Harvard Law in the first place, in addition to have the grades to make the editorial board) qualifies him as merely “smart.”

    For sake of argument, let’s assume that a standard fare IQ test is the true measure of “genius.” You seem to have inside knowledge on what Obama’s actual IQ is, as you qualify him as smart but not on the level of 150+ genius IQ.

    I’m not sure how you can you arrived at this conclusion, or the idea that Obama has never had an “original thought in his life.” After all, he wrote (again, he WROTE, not authored) two critically acclaimed books. In terms of political philosophy, it’s not an original earth-shattering work like Mill’s “On Liberty” or John Rawls’ “A Theory of Justice” but it is exceptionally well written nonetheless – though a little focused on rhetorical fluff at times. If writing ability were an indication of intelligence, then Obama would be second only to Abraham Lincoln among U.S. Presidents (who of course was an insightful, original and brilliant writer.)

    I don’t have any particular insight into Obama’s true “genius”, I obviously don’t know him well enough to make any such qualifications. But from his books alone, both stylistically and in content, he seems to possess a first rate mind. A sentiment which several conservative commentators (Christopher Buckley comes to mind) have echoed. I’m not sure he could be a brilliant doctor or an astro-physicist (again I have no idea), but a lot of brilliant doctors and astro-physicists couldn’t have written two critically acclaimed semi-autobiographical/semi-political-philosophical best sellers.

  • avatar
    50merc

    Qusus: “If writing ability were an indication of intelligence, then Obama would be second only to Abraham Lincoln among U.S. Presidents (who of course was an insightful, original and brilliant writer.)”

    The words of Lincoln that are etched on the walls of the Memorial bring me to tears, but for literary output I’d rank Theodore Roosevelt higher. From a National Park Service website:

    “Reading and writing were two of Roosevelt’s favorite pastimes. He would often read an entire book in one day. He also wrote books, authoring over 35 on many different subjects. These included hunting, the West, and politics. Look for these books by Theodore Roosevelt: Hunting Trips of a Ranchman (which he finished in 1885 while at his Maltese Cross Cabin in North Dakota), Thomas Hart Benton, Gouverneur Morris, The Winning of the West, and City of New York. (These books were published in 1887 and 1888.)

    Roosevelt also established himself as historian and served as president of the American Historical Association. He was a noted naturalist and was considered the world’s authority on large American mammals. He led two major scientific expeditions for prominent American museums. One expedition was to South America, and the other to Africa. Both lasted for many months. If Roosevelt had not become President of the United States, many historians feel he would best be remembered for his contributions in both of these scientific fields.”

  • avatar
    Qusus

    50merc: Good point. My knowledge into history is not as expansive as it should be and omitting Teddy in the discussion of U.S. Presidents that were also brilliant writers is egregious. Thanks for the very interesting fact on Roosevelt. (However, I still think Lincoln ranks first – though admittedly I’ve read far far more of Lincoln’s works than T.R.’s, so my opinion in this matter is neither comprehensive nor unbiased.)

    With the election behind us, all of us can only hope that Barack Obama will manage to carry on this tradition of great writers making great Presidents as well. : )

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    He’s been very successful at camouflaging his cultural and ideological hard left roots.

    Excuse me while I bust a gut laughing… Hard left… Hooey.. That’s a good one…

    I’m pretty left of centre, but by no means a hardcore leftist–and believe me, I know several people who are–and I even I find Obama’s default policy to be to the right of most of my own beliefs.

    Can we dispense with the Communist Bogeyman already?

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    Can we dispense with the Communist Bogeyman already?

    Let me guess, Alger Hiss and the Rosenbergs were innocent, right?

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Let me guess, Alger Hiss and the Rosenbergs were innocent, right?

    Wow, a non-sequitur and a reverse-Godwin! Let’s not get into this, if for no other reason than no one on either side has a skeleton-free closet.

    My point was this: I’ve applied, but turned down, a job with the New Democratic Party of Canada but do still hold a membership. Those people are moderate leftists. I was drinking, in a bar in Havana a few years back, with an old guy who had served with Che Guevara. That’s hardcore leftist. The last time I was at an artists’ council meeting–about a decade ago–there were some older guys who were arguing that Stalin wasn’t such a bad guy and getting into debates with this one Trotskyite. That’s really hardcore leftist.

    Barack Obama doesn’t even register on that scale.

    That’s why when people get their knickers in a twist about the Red Menace that is the American Democratic Party and it’s Chosen One being the harbinger of socialist-wrought doom, I can’t resist the urge to say “Geeze, dude, get some perspective!”

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    I find it bizarre that in your qualifying list of “real geniuses,” your friend with a Ph.D in Nuclear Chemistry from Princeton qualifies as a “genius” but Barack Obama’s achievement of making President in the Harvard Law Review (not to mention getting into Harvard Law in the first place, in addition to have the grades to make the editorial board) qualifies him as merely “smart.”

    I don’t think it’s bizarre to think that someone who can handle high level math and physics has a good chance of being smarter than a typical Harvard Law grad, even one who actually wrote for the law review – which Obama never did. A very small percentage of people have the intelligence to handle high level math & physics. A much larger percentage of people have the intelligence to succeed in a top law school.

    You don’t have to be a genius to get into Harvard Law. About one in five Harvard Law students score as low as the 95th percentile on the LSAT. If he was such a great legal scholar, why wasn’t he made editor?

    Since Obama refuses to release his transcripts from Occidental, Columbia or Harvard, there’s no way of knowing what his grades were and whether he got in under normal criteria or was an affirmative action admission. It is known that Percy Sutton, former Manhattan borough president and wealthy broadcast & cable entrepreneur, exercised some effort to get him into Harvard Law. What’s more useful getting into Harvard Law, “white privilege” or a boost from a politically connected multi-millionaire?

    I’m not sure how you can you arrived at this conclusion, or the idea that Obama has never had an “original thought in his life.” After all, he wrote (again, he WROTE, not authored) two critically acclaimed books.

    His political ideas parrot others and are pretty much boilerplate democratic socialism. I see no evidence of any original thinking in his political ideology.

    Actually, there’s a guy named Jack Cashill who noted the different writing styles in Obama’s two books and stylistic and metaphoric similarities between Dreams From My Father to Bill Ayers’ memoir Fugitive Days. Normally I’d think this is tinfoil hat territory, and Cashill is a bit of a conspiracy buff, but Cashill has had computer analysis of the three books done by legitimate academic researchers who study such things and he may be on to something.

    A sentiment which several conservative commentators (Christopher Buckley comes to mind) have echoed.

    Chris Buckley writes funny books for a living and he’s not a conservative commentator unless that’s a genetic condition. While he has written for National Review, the conservative magazine his late father founded, he’s also worked on movies with political liberals in Hollywood. Buckley likes having his books made into movies and his endorsement of Obama might be regarded as a career move. You don’t need to be Bill Ayers to know which way the wind is blowing.

    I’m not sure he could be a brilliant doctor or an astro-physicist (again I have no idea), but a lot of brilliant doctors and astro-physicists couldn’t have written two critically acclaimed semi-autobiographical/semi-political-philosophical best sellers.

    Richard Feynman, physicist, Nobel laureate and Manhattan Project boy wonder wrote about a dozen physics textbooks plus a number of popular books including the critically acclaimed and best selling (half a million copies) autobiographical Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman along with What Do You Care What Other People Think?. I suppose that one might describe his The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen Scientist as a critically acclaimed semi-autobiographical/semi-political-philosophical work.

    Carl Sagan, another brilliant scientist, also wrote best selling books.

    As far as brilliant doctors are concerned, I’m pretty sure that the recently and sadly departed Michael Crichton (MD, Harvard) got some decent critical reviews and sold at least a couple of books. Neurologist Oliver Sacks’ The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales also comes to mind. Anthony Daniels, a British psychiatrist, has also written 17 books and countless essays on culture, art, politics, education and medicine under the pen name of Theodore Dalrymple.

    My son just took the LSAT. He’s taken no political science classes and I think only one English course. Everything else has been engineering, math and physics. Based on his test score, he’s virtually guaranteed admission to just about any first tier law school and while it’s not a lock he also has a decent chance of getting into Harvard, Yale or Stanford/Boalt Hall.

    Look, if you want to worship at the altar of the Church of The One!, and think that he’s a man with no flaws, go right ahead. Some of us would rather not drink that koolaid. I wish the country well but fear for the damage the Democrats will do.

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    >
    Let me guess, Alger Hiss and the Rosenbergs were innocent, right?

    Wow, a non-sequitur and a reverse-Godwin! Let’s not get into this, if for no other reason than no one on either side has a skeleton-free closet.

    I’ve been online since the 1980s and that’s about the silliest invocation of Godwin I’ve ever seen. Who said anything about Nazis or Hitler? Hiss and the Rosenbergs spied for the Russians, not the Germans.

    You used the old lefty device of mocking the idea of “communist boogeymen” and the “red menace”. I simply was pointing out that some of the communists were not figments of Joe McCarthy’s imagination. How is that an non-sequitor? The Rosenbergs’ co-defendant, Morton Sobel, recently went public with his admission that Julius was indeed a communist spy for the Soviets and that Ethel was aware of her husband’s activities.

    I was drinking, in a bar in Havana a few years back, with an old guy who had served with Che Guevara.

    Nothing like propping up a totalitarian regime with hard currency, eh? The Casto regime used your money to imprison and persecute Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet. I bet that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, sort of like remembering the good old days of the Khmer Rouge. BTW, did you see any ranking Cuban officials who were black? I guess if you have “no enemies on the left” internalized it allows you to ignore Cuban racism.

    That’s hardcore leftist.

    No, that’s murderous scum and it speaks to your own morality that you would share a drink with him. Would you share a drink with one of Pinochet’s officers?

    The last time I was at an artists’ council meeting–about a decade ago–there were some older guys who were arguing that Stalin wasn’t such a bad guy and getting into debates with this one Trotskyite. That’s really hardcore leftist.

    Just some harmless old activists, eh?

    Barack Obama doesn’t even register on that scale.

    So tell me, where do Frank Marshall Davis, Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, Mike Klonsky and Father Pfleger register on that scale? Obama’s spent much of his life surrounding himself with people that most Americans would consider hard left (and yes, we recognize a difference between the hard left and the totalitarian left). The fact that you, a Canadian socialist, would have a different perspective than most Americans is not surprising.

    It’s interesting how a country founded by royalists has proven so hospitable to socialism. I suppose if all the power belongs to the state, a king isn’t that much different than a kommisar.

    You want to be on the side of the scum? Go ahead. You are obviously more comfortable hanging out with those who supported mass murder. I’d rather be with Biscet and Sharansky.

    You want Ladas and Volgas? I’d rather have a Cobra or a Vette.

  • avatar

    Roosevelt also established himself as historian and served as president of the American Historical Association. He was a noted naturalist and was considered the world’s authority on large American mammals. Now that makes me a big fan of FDR.

    Having said that, could we retard the political discourse for a while? As Farago the Great opined in his Dear John farewell to Berkowitz, this is a car site, and there are already complaints about too much politics. Sure, politics and cars are intertwined, but could we PUHLEEZE talk a bit more about the latter and less about the former? Or at least, when you discuss politics, throw in a paragraph or two with a reference to automobiles.

    Thank you!

  • avatar

    Let me give you an example on how it’s done:

    Smear campaign part with automotive reference: Do you know where German employees of VW’s (and we all know the founder of those) Headquarters in Beijing, China (and we all know who rules THAT country) like to hang out after work? You won’t believe it: Schindler’s Anlegestelle. And who owns that establishment? The former Military Attache of friggen EAST Germany, who found himself unemployed after 89. How about that? Hitler’s heirs cavorting with a possibly unrepentant Communist (and a butcher to boot) in China?

    Dragging out of closet part: Who can be found at said den of conspiracy once in a while? You didn’t guess it: The author of these very lines. He claims it is only to fill his gene-induced appetite for a real Eisbein or the best Schweinshaxe east of the Ural. This guy has the NERVE to order his underpaid Chinese cook to buy meat (and we all know where that comes from) from the butcher of East Germany. Disgusting! Said author is married to a Japanese! Did we forget Pearl Harbor? This guy writes for TTAC? Where’s McCarthy when we need him?????

    Coup de grace part: It’s all a part of a grand conspiracy. Look under your bed. There may be a Nazi and a Commie, and god knows what the preverts are doing down there.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    Hi Bozoer Rebbe,

    Your claim to be a centrist is clearly dishonest. Let’s make an example of couple of these lies (from a cursory glance at just 1 post):

    “Since Obama refuses to release his transcripts from Occidental, Columbia or Harvard, there’s no way of knowing what his grades were and whether he got in under normal criteria or was an affirmative action admission.”

    Obama graduated magna cum laude from Harvard. I find it curious that someone with self-reported high intelligence does not understand what that means. (Since I am apparently someone of high intellect according to your standards, I have a good idea of where people who like to brag about such things usually stand, but will defer due to this site’s policy on personal attacks).

    “but Cashill has had computer analysis of the three books done by legitimate academic researchers who study such things and he may be on to something.”

    A min or two on google reveals that the “legitimate academics” exposed him when he and his partisan crony friends would’ve refused to publish the result had they come up negative. Next time, please use whatever intelligence you possess to do the minimal homework before wasting everyone’s time on a non-issue.

    The rest of your posts are similar deceptions. If you would like, I can continue on with the embarrassing expose. Otherwise, please take the GOP talking points elsewhere. They are designed to fool people of lesser intellect and not in keeping with this site.

    Thank you.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Having said that, could we retard the political discourse for a while? As Farago the Great opined in his Dear John farewell to Berkowitz, this is a car site, and there are already complaints about too much politics. Sure, politics and cars are intertwined, but could we PUHLEEZE talk a bit more about the latter and less about the former? Or at least, when you discuss politics, throw in a paragraph or two with a reference to automobiles.

    Amen to that.

    Political analysis, even if it is intertwined with a bit of tempered bias, can be useful. But hackneyed partisan political rants that slavishly tout a given party line are not. They quickly become tedious and don’t help with the learning process.

    Nor do the constant violations of Godwin’s law, including the variants that toss around inaccurate references to socialism as if Joe McCarthy was still in office. I thought that we were supposed to have moved past the Red Scare during the Eisenhower administration, but I guess some folks didn’t get the memo.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    No, that’s murderous scum and it speaks to your own morality that you would share a drink with him. Would you share a drink with one of Pinochet’s officers?

    I’m going to let the rest your post slide, mostly because Pch101 makes a good point about going way, way off topic and worsening the signal-to-noise ratio.

    Except this, because it’s Remembrance Day, and because I found that line particularly offensive.

    This fellow was a foot soldier, not a generalissimo, and a decent man, and at that point in his life was driving a cab for a living, despite having served with Guevara. He didn’t have an easy time of it either before or during the revolution and took up arms as a result. And he’s not alone: there’s a lot of people in military service who did what, outside of war, would be awful things at the behest of awful people, and are living normal lives.

    Some of them are people you agree with, some of them are not. And you don’t get to arbitrarily decide how “moral” a foot soldier is because of your particular ideological bent, because it’s oh-so-easy for the other side to do exactly the same, and for the same reasons, and be just as valid in their opinion as you. Unless you’re doing to drag every soldier into a court of law and judge all of them not just on their actions, but on the moral weight of their commanders and the people they’re fighting for, you’re on very tenuous ground calling this fellow and others like him on both sides of every conflict “murderous scum”.

    And be careful, because you might not like the results.

    My grandfather, along with a lot of people, fought against Mussolini and the assisting Nazis as part of communist-sympathizing partisan groups: are they bad people because Stalin was? Are agents of Mossad or the CIA bad people because of the work they’ve done to stop bad things from happening? Are Afghanis who want American planes to please stop blowing up their villages bad people for fighting back? Think very hard about this, because if your answer depends on whom you happen to support, you’re thinking about it in the wrong way.

    I’d suggest you stop seeing the world through ideological filters before you end up blind.

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    Hi Bozoer Rebbe,

    Your claim to be a centrist is clearly dishonest. Let’s make an example of couple of these lies (from a cursory glance at just 1 post):

    Speaking of lies, I never claimed to be a centrist and it’s dishonest of you to say so. I said I was an independent. I don’t belong to either major party and while on many issues I’m ideologically right of center I still vote for some Democrats and would describe myself as center right or a small L libertarian. For example, while I’m generally opposed to corporate welfare, price supports and farm subsidies, I recognize that some industries and market sectors are strategically vital. I do prefer market solutions to problems if possible.

    Obama graduated magna cum laude from Harvard. I find it curious that someone with self-reported high intelligence does not understand what that means. (Since I am apparently someone of high intellect according to your standards, I have a good idea of where people who like to brag about such things usually stand, but will defer due to this site’s policy on personal attacks).

    Did Obama release his transcripts or not? How is saying that we don’t know his grades is a lie? We know his approximate ranking in his graduating class. That’s all. We know nothing about his grades as an undergraduate or any of his standardized test scores like the SAT or LSAT.

    Magna cum laude is the middle ranking of the three honorifics typically given to high ranking graduates (though some schools add a fourth, Maxima Cum Laude, between Magna and Summa). At HLS that means Obama was in the top 10% of his class. Actually it’s a bit lower than that because they remove the highest ranking Summa Cum Laude graduates from that calculation. At HLS, Summa Cum Laude is granted to those with a 7.2 GPA (HLS uses the 8 point scale), slightly higher than a solid A, which is 7.0. So we know that while Obama performed well, he wasn’t exactly at the top of his class nor did he graduate with highest honors.

    As for bragging, well, like the great Walter Brennan’s character, Will Sonnett, would say, no brag, just fact. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t smart. I suppose someone as smart as you think you are can try to explain how “I’m no genius” or the fact that I acknowledge people much smarter than me is bragging. However since you raised the subject, is it possible that for many people “the guy I support is smart” is just a proxy for “I’m smart because I support a smart guy”?

    >“but Cashill has had computer analysis of the three books done by legitimate academic researchers who study such things and he may be on to something.”

    A min or two on google reveals that the “legitimate academics” exposed him when he and his partisan crony friends would’ve refused to publish the result had they come up negative.

    I was well aware of those complaints, however, I’m under no obligation to make my opponent’s case.

    The partisan nature of Cashill, the claim that he would not have published had the results been different, and the chagrin of the academics that their work might have been used to question The One! are irrelevant to the fact that the results were positive.

    The rest of your posts are similar deceptions.

    You mean like the way you omitted my skeptical remarks about Cashill?

    If you would like, I can continue on with the embarrassing expose.

    What is it about lefties that makes them so arrogant?

    Otherwise, please take the GOP talking points elsewhere. They are designed to fool people of lesser intellect and not in keeping with this site.

    So after criticizing me for bragging about my intelligence, you distinguish yourself from those “of lesser intellect”. Okee-dokey.

    As for whether or not my remarks are “in keeping” with this site, that’s for Mr. Farago to decide. I have a lot of respect for RF. I was going to say that that respect is despite our disagreements but the truth is one of the reasons why I have some respect for him is because we disagree and he has not tried to silence me. As a matter of fact, you just might find me blogging for TTAC.

  • avatar
    Qusus

    OK, agenthex and psarhjinian have already said what I’ve wanted to say though in different words, and Pch101 is right that this is a car blog and we should talk more about cars less about politics.

    I’m sure you’re a very smart guy, and I don’t mean that sarcastically. But some of your facts are clearly misinformed and your logic flawed.

    A lot of brilliant scientists were also brilliant writers. This does not mean ALL brilliant scientists will ALL be brilliant writers. Some will be great, some will be awful. Conversely, many brilliant writers are notoriously inept in the math and science fields (Fitzgerald comes to mind), I don’t think that’s a mark against his “intelligence.” That was my point, not all people good at one thing are going to be good at another. Even if Obama COULDN’T acheive a Ph.D in nuclear physics, it doesn’t mean he’s not brilliant in his own right. And no one here seems to “worship at his altar” (and I know plenty of people who do), I personally have stated that I have no special insight into Obama’s intellect; but neither do you. Thus, it was strange that you knew his IQ score to such specificity.

    And as someone has already pointed out. Obama graduated magna cum laude, so I don’t think you need to see his transcripts to figure out that he excelled academically in his field as a student.

    Also, congratulations on your son doing scoring high marks on the LSAT, but I think you misunderstand waht the LSAT tests. It does not test knowledge of political science or history, so having taken classes in those fields would not be helpful at all. It tests logic and reasoning, so mathematics and physics majors would at an advantage when taking the LSATs for the most part. Philosophy majors also do quite well.

    And finally, even a perfect LSAT score does not guarantee you admission to Harvard Law. Just like a perfect SAT score does not guarantee you admission into Harvard or Princeton. (I recall that in 2004/05, Princeton rejected 70% of students with a perfect 1600 SAT). In fact, it doesn’t even give you close to a 50/50 chance generally speaking.

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    hackneyed partisan political rants??

    Godwin’s law?

    Joe McCarthy?

    Red Scare?

    Which one of those comments of yours isn’t hackneyed, partisan or ranting?

    Considering I’ve explicitly criticized Senator McCarthy on this site, I’ll let the impartial members of the B&B decide who is being partisan.

    McCarthy was am alcoholic bumbling fool who discredited a worthy cause by his megalomania, exaggerations and lies. He worked with hypocrites like Roy Cohn and Bobby Kennedy.

    Condemning someone for decade’s earlier political affiliations can be inappropriate. The entire neoconservative movement inspired by Norman Podhoretz was made of former lefties who moved to the right, like Ron Radosh and David Horowitz. That being said, if those affiliations continued unabated into the present, they’re fair game.

    Regarding McCarthy, in light of blind squirrels, nuts, broken clocks and the correct time, the Venona transcripts as well as ex KGB and other eastern bloc intelligence agents testify to the unquestioned Soviet intelligence and subversion efforts in the west.

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    Pch101 is right that this is a car blog and we should talk more about cars less about politics.

    By all means, but in a thread about Obama it’s hard to avoid politics.

    How about let’s discuss the automotive merits of Trabants, Volgas and Moskviches?

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    This fellow was a foot soldier, not a generalissimo, and a decent man, and at that point in his life was driving a cab for a living, despite having served with Guevara. He didn’t have an easy time of it either before or during the revolution and took up arms as a result. And he’s not alone: there’s a lot of people in military service who did what, outside of war, would be awful things at the behest of awful people, and are living normal lives.

    Only following orders, eh?

    Wait, I’m not allowed to go anywhere near appropriate analogies because of some guy on Usenet named Godwin.

    Are Afghanis who want American planes to please stop blowing up their villages bad people for fighting back?

    Ah, but I’m the one with partisan or ideological blinders. Okey dokey.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    Hi Bozoer Rebbe,

    I have neither the talent or time to propagate the truth as you would seem to have for falsehoods.

    I examined one portion of one of your posts and found numerous errors. I will make this short so that we are clear where this discussion stands:

    1. I see you’ve backed off from crazy accusations that Obama is an “affirmative action” candidate given that he graduated near the top of one the most prestigious programs out there. (but still throw in the qualifier that it’s not THE very top honor as if that would change your fundamentally biased outlook).

    2. You continue to propagate the claim that Cashill’s results with the academics came out positive, which is simply false. I realize you put the disclaimer in, but that is just a CYA move when the intent is clearly to smear someone with false charges.

    Again, if you prefer, we could dissect more of your posts. In fact, I recall the very same post contained even more deceptions like the logical fallacy of selective comparison to exceptional figures to support a claim that someone is deficient.

    The level of intellectual dishonesty in your writing is quite astonishing to be frank, and I hope RF would think twice before letting someone with such low regard for integrity write for TTAC.

    ps. The fixation on intelligence in my post was a parody. Please do not take it as an endorsement to continue that topic.

    pps. (to others) If you are interested in learning about the character of people behind this election, I would recommend this series of articles which contain actual journalism instead of editorial wankery http://www.newsweek.com/id/167582

  • avatar
    Qusus

    agenthex:

    That link is an excellent read and I recommend it to everyone.

    However, I do believe the standard-fare response to something like this is to accuse the media (in this case, Newsweek) of being liberally-biased puppets.

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    Go to Wikipedia (for example). The first George Bush was in office and initiated NAFTA. Clinton just signed off on it (finalized it).

    Folks if NAFTA is the problem then BOTH parties are responsible for our troubles.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    By all means, but in a thread about Obama it’s hard to avoid politics.

    It’s not a matter of avoiding politics, but of avoiding hollow, empty cliched political rhetoric.

    There is a difference. To be blunt, it’s clear to me that some don’t understand the distinction.

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    1. I see you’ve backed off from crazy accusations that Obama is an “affirmative action” candidate given that he graduated near the top of one the most prestigious programs out there. (but still throw in the qualifier that it’s not THE very top honor as if that would change your fundamentally biased outlook).

    You accuse me of something I never did but I’m the one guilty of “falsehoods”. Riiight. I never accused him of being an affirmative action candidate for admission to HLS, I said we have no way of knowing whether or AA had something to do with his admission to any of the colleges he attended. I’m sorry if you think that it’s biased to believe that someone can be very smart but not be a genius. Do you know the difference between doubt, possibility and certainty? If Magna Cum Laude is such a high indication of achievement why do they bother with Summa Cum Laude? While 90th percentile is certainly impressive, the 99th percentile is both a much smaller cohort and much farther to the right on the bell curve.

    2. You continue to propagate the claim that Cashill’s results with the academics came out positive, which is simply false. I realize you put the disclaimer in, but that is just a CYA move when the intent is clearly to smear someone with false charges.

    I’m sorry if “conspiracy” and “tinfoil hat” are not sufficient disclaimers of skepticism. As for whether or not the results were positive, your own statement was:

    A min or two on google reveals that the “legitimate academics” exposed him when he and his partisan crony friends would’ve refused to publish the result had they come up negative.

    Your statement “had they come up negative” can only make sense if the results were indeed positive.

    In fact, I recall the very same post contained even more deceptions like the logical fallacy of selective comparison to exceptional figures to support a claim that someone is deficient.

    So now a fallacy is a deception? Just who is debating in bad faith here. I’m no logician and regret having no formal training in logic. I suppose only those on the left have the luxury of making a fallacy without being accused of deliberately lying. When I wrote about Feynman, Sagan, Dalrymple and Chrichton I was aware that once can’t prove a point with exceptional examples, but I’m familiar with their work off the top of my head and the fact that without any research could cite a number of scientists who are fine writers seems to me to be a reasonable response. Of course, when someone says that “a lot of brilliant doctors and astro-physicists couldn’t have…” I suppose it’s technically impossible to completely rebut it as long as there are significant numbers of brilliant scientists who aren’t good writers. Wouldn’t “a lot of…” be considered a non-falsifiable claim?

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    However, I do believe the standard-fare response to something like this is to accuse the media (in this case, Newsweek) of being liberally-biased puppets.

    You mean like Michael Malone, a fourth generation journalist?

    Editing Their Way to Oblivion: Journalism Sacrificed For Power and Pensions
    http://pajamasmedia.com/edgelings/2008/10/24/editing-their-way-to-oblivion-journalism-sacraficed-for-power-and-pensions/

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    It’s not a matter of avoiding politics, but of avoiding hollow, empty cliched political rhetoric.

    Can you cite a single writer, pundit or blogger on the US political right that you don’t consider to use hollow, empty, cliched political rhetoric? I’m quite sure that I can identify some thoughtful writers on the left.

    Substantial, thoughtful, original political rhetoric: Yes we can! Change! Hope!

    I understand. Only the right demonizes its opposition.

    It must be good to go to bed at night thinking that your thoughts and motives are 100% pure.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    Bozoer, no amount of backpedaling on those smears negate the fact that there was clearly had no intention of being even remotely objective. The fact that they are quite obvious errors further makes it clear that the poster lacks the basic curiosity to understand the issues.

    On the Cashill issue, I highly recommend that you actually spend the few minutes to research the specifics before posting further. The research was not done because the parties cannot come to terms. But even ignoring this, your logic was incorrect. It would only make sense the test came out negative because that was the only area of contention (if the test were positive, it would be published).

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    The level of intellectual dishonesty in your writing is quite astonishing to be frank, and I hope RF would think twice before letting someone with such low regard for integrity write for TTAC.

    He thinks I can write. If it comes to be and I fail to meet ethical or editorial standards, well, I guess that’s what editors are for.

    I generally rely on the opinions of experts when it comes to my own abilities. I’ve always liked comedy and love to make folks laugh but didn’t think I was truly good at it until two professional comedians and a writer/producer on a hit sitcom told me I should try standup.

    Likewise, when someone like RF or Roger L. Simon tells me that I have some writing abilities, I can only assume that’s the fact. Even when I’m an advocate of a position, I try to be intellectually honest and acknowledge doubts and misgivings. Am I gonna make the other side’s case? Hell no but I try to make honest arguments. I’m sure I don’t always succeed and I’m a big boy and willing to take my lumps when I fail at something.

    So far on this thread I’ve been accused of lying, deliberate deception, intellectual dishonesty and a lack of integrity. I only wish that those who’ve attacked me here would apply their same standards for rhetoric and logic to those on their own side of the aisle. If they won’t, well then I think my political position has more to do with their critique than my rhetoric.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    I’m sure your writing skills are fine, and is not the problem here.

    The problem is that you posted a lot of points which are easily refuted and therefore rather embarrassing.

    Whether or not it’s intentional we can let others decide, but in the future at least try to let the research lead the opinions instead of the other way around.

    And that last part goes for everyone. Leading in with a predetermined position clouds judgment.

    ps. If obama were an “affirmative action” entrant, it would be about the greatest possible endorsement for that policy. Be careful what you wish for.

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    Whose worse, me or Walter Duranty?

    The research was not done because the parties cannot come to terms. But even ignoring this, your logic was incorrect. It would only make sense the test came out negative because that was the only area of contention (if the test were positive, it would be published).

    How could the test come out negative if the research was not done? It seems that the area of contention was not the results of tests that apparently never were done but rather the researchers’ insistence that the results be published regardless of turning out positive or negative, an admirable stance.

    Notwithstanding my stated skepticism (not quite sure how I can backpedal from a statement already indicating skepticism) about Cashill being a conspiracy nut, it seems as though you believe that there was only a single team that Cashill contacted about testing his thesis. His web site cited four different researchers who have tested his hypothesis and identifies three of them.

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    If obama were an “affirmative action” entrant, it would be about the greatest possible endorsement for that policy. Be careful what you wish for.

    I thought that citing exceptional examples was a fallacious argument.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    His web site cited four different researchers who have tested his hypothesis and identifies three of them.

    I didn’t see it on his site, and a web search only mentions one as a “systems engineer”, quite a stretch.

    But I did see Intelligent Design being defended there, and that easily invalids a researcher’s credibility as it is one of the most intellectually bankrupt ideas of our times.

    I thought that citing exceptional examples was a fallacious argument.

    It was clearly an ironic note and not an argument.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Can you cite a single writer, pundit or blogger on the US political right that you don’t consider to use hollow, empty, cliched political rhetoric?

    I certainly could. But there are also others who certainly don’t belong on that list.

    The thread topic was intended to be about Obama’s Friday press conference and what we could discern of his plans for the automotive industry based upon his comments then.

    I am aware of Mr. Farago’s politics and as it turns out, they largely differ from mine. Yet still, he was able to offer a cogent analysis of Mr. Obama’s speech. In this case, I also differ somewhat with Mr. Farago’s analysis, but it should be clear that both he and I made good faith efforts to assess the speech without regard for our relative election preferences.

    You’ve spent your time on this thread attempting to convince the readers that Mr. Obama isn’t up to your standards. That’s lovely, but it smacks of sour grapes, it neglects to account for the fact that your standards aren’t necessarily shared by the rest of us, and most of all, it isn’t at all relevant to the thread topic at hand.

    You are obviously looking for a sounding board to complain about Mr. Obama. I am assuming that you will be seeking internet outlets for the next four or eight years, or perhaps longer, to complain about being on the losing side of this election, irrespective of the specific actions or policies of the man.

    That’s your right, but there are all sorts of internet forums dedicated to that sort of thing, and this isn’t one of them.

    If you have a thoughtful assessment of the automotive industry, and if you can criticize, analyze or praise Mr. Obama’s or anyone else’s conduct somewhere within that context without resorting to cliches or overreaching violations of Godwin’s law, I would welcome them, even if I disagree with you. But if you can’t or won’t, then I will voice my objections, just as I am doing now.

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    But I did see Intelligent Design being defended there, and that easily invalids a researcher’s credibility as it is one of the most intellectually bankrupt ideas of our times.

    I’d say that marxism is somewhere ahead of ID on that list. ID advocates haven’t killed millions of people. To its credit, marxism is arguably the most successful intellectual idea ever in terms of its spread. In terms of everything else, it’s pretty much a failure or worse.

    I didn’t see it on his site, and a web search only mentions one as a “systems engineer”, quite a stretch.

    People do have multiple competencies. Nathan “Gunner” Myhrvold, former CTO of Microsoft has published papers in paleontology journals.

    Okay, so maybe a polymath genius is an exceptional example. Still, don’t disregard someone just because their primary discipline does not immediately appear to be relevant.

    When Dan Rather got fired over what was almost certainly a forged document about GWB’s Air National Guard service, his defenders dismissed Charles Johnson and other critics as bloggers in pajamas, ignoring the fact that CJ makes his living as a web designer and coder and has a lot of experience working with fonts.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    The best policy when you’re digging yourself into a hole is to drop the shovel. Attempting to divert the topic into irrelevance is a waste of time at best.

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