By on February 26, 2010

No politician worthy of your vote will pass up on the chance of publicly bashing the heads of foreign corporate types with deep pockets. And so, the Senate will convene its Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation next Tuesday. They will repeat this week’s grilling until perfectly good Kobe steak is well done and reduced to dog food.

Tuesday’s cast will consist of familiar faces: Ray LaHood will again “go into the weeds” and hold Toyota’s “feet to the fire” until all cars – well, at least those of Toyota, will be “100 percent safe.”

Smooth Yoshimi Inaba, Prez. of Toyota Motor North America will bring his baritone to bear. The congress casting crew was obviously dissatisfied with Akio Toyoda playing the role of the duplicitous villain. He will not be called and can (phew…) go home to Toyota City.

Instead, the Senate has extended a cordial invitation to Toyota’s Executive Vice President Shinichi Sasaki to come and get barbecued by the esteemed embers of the committee.  “Sasaki is effectively in charge of making recall decisions at the Japanese automaker,” writes The Nikkei [sub] today, glad that “the announcement ended speculation that Toyota President Akio Toyoda might also be grilled.”

Surely, the elected embers are all students of the great James Madison, who said “The means of defence against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.”

Deep insights, which should always be kept in mind when politicians start pointing the finger abroad during tough times at home. All that perceptiveness will most likely be for naught – again. It didn’t keep Madison from starting the war of 1812, highlights of which were: Trade restrictions that led to the war, the capture of Detroit, and the burning of the White House. Students will also remember how it ended: All were exhausted and went home. Then, a new era of good feelings ensued.

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17 Comments on “An Interrogation – Tales Of Terror From Toyota City Volume 3...”

  • avatar
    Mr Carpenter

    Wow, Bertel. That video is going to give me nightmares tonight and it’s only 8:00 a.m.

    • 0 avatar
      Cammy Corrigan

      As someone once said to me:

      “If American horror films are designed to give you a sleepless night, Japanese ones are designed to make sure you never sleep again.”

      Anyone who’s watched “Audition” will testify to that….

  • avatar
    fred schumacher

    Congress is reactive, yes, but Toyota was proactive in placing itself into the position it is in at present. And Congress, in spite of its frequent ineptness, is recognizing that something more far reaching is involved.

    Toyota is the manufacturer which has most rapidly switched to drive by wire. It has done this without sufficient investment in trouble shooting, monitoring, and quality control. It was the insurance industry, which picked up a “signal” in its actuarial data, which first became aware of the magnitude of the problem.

    Since other manufacturers are also moving toward drive by wire, Toyota is, in effect, acting as the canary in the coal mine. This is not an issue to be swept under the rug. It involves major operating systems changes in automotive architecture.

    On a side note, the War of 1812 was simply an ancillary component of the great Napoleonic Wars of the first part of the 19th century. Consider it a side show, triggered to a large degree by the illegal impressment in international waters of American sailors into the British Navy.

    • 0 avatar


      If Toyota’s time in the barrel sends a strong message to other OEMs and serves as even a temporary vaccination against bad behaviours, then OK.

      If it reforms the system, by improving govt monitoring and investigative abilities, increases penalties and fines for non-compliance then all the better.

      If it encourages proactive preventive behaviours (adequacy and quality of personnel, design, testing and manufacture), while raising the bar against obfuscation, obstruction, and less than rapid and robust error-remediation, then Great!

      We are now witness to the adjustment of the US’s monitoring and reporting systems to take into account the fact that automotive manufacture and sales markets are truly global and that OEM’s, (regardless of nationality, but varying widely based on exposure to the US-market as well as corporate and cultural norms) can not always be trusted to err on the side of the customer or safety.

    • 0 avatar

      I was there when the TREAD act was discussed and enacted. My guys at VW were supposed to report to DC everything and anything, even when someone ran a red light in Timbuktu, and an accident happened. NHTSA drowned in data they could not process. Reporting requirements were greatly relaxed. Judging from LaHood’s face when he was questioned about international reporting, he doesn’t want to have the data drowning experience again. Ask, and ye shall receive.

    • 0 avatar

      Toyota is the manufacturer which has most rapidly switched to drive by wire. It has done this without sufficient investment in trouble shooting, monitoring, and quality control.

      Has it been scientifically proven that the software and electronics in the Toyotas are defective? If not, it may be premature to say they didn’t invest sufficient quality control, etc., in the design.

  • avatar

    Did I miss something in that video that was supposed to be scary?

  • avatar

    The War of 1812 certainly does show how plans go astray. On land, the US, for the second time in 40 years, tried to snatch Canada. Didn’t work. Close call – we could have had Obama’s 57 states. At sea, Constitution and her sister frigates were meant to be commerce raiders, but the British kept them bottled up in port. When they did come out, they were successful enough to destroy the myth of Royal navy invincibility and in so doing built morale in the US. Meanwhile our pirates, I mean privateers, had a merry old time of capturing British merchantmen. And the British pirates, I mean the Royal Navy, returned the favor as best they could. Its generally acknowledged that private enterprise did a better job than government as is so often the case. Also, British officers might have thought twice about caning teenage boys suspected of insurrection. Four decades after such an incident, Andrew Jackson still carried a grudge at New Orleans and his motley army inflicted a 30% casualty rate on the British invaders. The War had been over for a couple of months at that point. Many of the invaders were German mercenaries – Hessians.

    Damned if I can work anything about cars into this.

    • 0 avatar
      crash sled

      Chuck, I wouldn’t agree the US collectively attempted to snatch Canada in 1812, or during the revolution either. Sure, there was some sentiment for that, but no large scale invasion was possible, as it would have required far more resources than were allocated to the task at the time, and the political mass wasn’t present for that. The NY militia and others stopped at the NY state line, for example. They’d defend, but not attack, in other words.

      They had enough to be a gnat to the Brit empire, and to defend home turf (sorta), but nothing more than that. Sorta like Government Motors today, now that I think about it.

  • avatar

    Jim Press says Toyota was hijacked by financial types:

  • avatar
    Mr Carpenter

    If that’s the case, then, 97, then this whole event could prove to be a silver lining in a nasty black cloud for Toyota and the rest of the responsible auto industry (i.e. not Chinese).

    In other words, if you are tested by something bad and you become strengthened from the experience, it’s a good thing.

  • avatar

    Madison offered deep insights, indeed…but are they those of someone you could have a non-awkward beer with?

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, he sounds exactly like the PoliSci and Philosophy people I used to drink with.

      “Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
      Who was very rarely stable.

      Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
      Who could think you under the table.

      David Hume could out-consume
      Schopenhauer and Hegel’

      And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
      Who was just as schloshed as Schlegel.”

  • avatar
    Mr Carpenter

    The language spoken by Madison, or Jefferson, or Washington or anyone from the late 18th century, would nearly be indecipherable to we in the 21st century and vice versa.

    It would not necessarily just be the accent, either. It would be dialect, word usage, sentence construction and even perceived understanding of words.

    But the thoughts behind the United States Constitution are just as VALID as they were then and as miraculously endowed upon America.

    I’ve lived overseas, and think every American should have this opportunity in order to come home and appreciate what we have. As well as fostering some understanding of what other people think like and live like.

  • avatar

    The video was very confusing. Looked like Obama Health Care.

  • avatar


    you’ll change your tune when your health insurance company dumps you in the middle of your chemotherapy

    • 0 avatar

      One can always be proactive and (1) pick an insurance company with a good track record thanks to the free market, (2) save money and buy their own medical services, (3) take out a loan to pay for services not covered by insurance and/or savings, (4) negotiate a discount with the free market doctors/hospitals, (5) opt for treatment at a research institution (reduced cost/free but you’re a guinea pig), (6) use Medicare, (7) use Medicaid, or get free treatment at the emergency room. The current system assumes people will take responsibility for their needs (save money or buy quality insurance), and provids a few taxpayer funded safety nets. The Obama approach is “one size fits all” – regardless of one’s level of responsibility the services are the same; but, only the workers pay.

      BamsterCare *will* have cost control measures just like private insurance; Britain’s system is an example of nationalized care and it is far from optimal. It just hasn’t been publicized much. The various bills in congress have formulas for determining how much to spend on people based on age, for example. (The very old and very young are less likely to get care than people in the teens, 20s, & 30s.)

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