April 2nd, 2009

Obama, his task force, and the auto industry: does anyone else find this especially chilling?

When Obama took it on himself to fire GM CEO Rick Wagnoner, this is how it went down, according to someone who ought to know:

“The president said he had decided to do that. He wasn’t asking for opinions,” said U.S. Sen Carl Levin, a Michigan democrat. “There wasn’t much point in arguing whether it was fair or unfair, wise or unwise.”

Curious, isn’t it, coming from a president whose big skill was supposed to be his ability to dialogue with both sides and to hear them out? And remember, this is a man from Obama’s own party speaking, one who should have had something to say on the matter of the auto industry. After all, he’s not only the Senator from the state most deeply involved, Michigan, (and has held that office for a very long time), but he’s a liberal Democrat as well.

But it seems that the King has spoken, and it’s off with Wagoner’s head—metaphorically, that is. No questions asked.

Wagoner himself was blindsided, according to the Reuters article. It had been a few months since the cries for his resignation had been heard last fall and they had died down, although Wagoner had to have known his days were numbered. But the word that he was through came with great suddenness, at a meeting where he was presenting a plan to restructure GM to the Obama administration’s auto task force.

We all know that President Obama has no experience of business in general or the auto industry in particular, and virtually no management or executive background either. But what about the members of this shadowy “auto task force”? Surely they must have had something to do with the auto industry, right?

I didn’t find too much about them when I looked just now—except for this, which was written a week ago, before the Wagoner firing. Somehow, it’s no surprise to learn the following (note: as someone not registered with the WSJ, I can’t seem to access the WSJ article referred to here; no link to it is given, either):

A large part of the [WSJ] article is given over to a discussion of the absence of industry expertise among the members of the auto industry team.

In session after session in a warren of offices at the Treasury Department, the team has sat through tutorials on dealer financing, studied basic data and debated the future of U.S. car sales. They have spent days trying to understand the complexities of the hundreds of companies that supply the car companies with axles, seats and other parts.

Steven Rattner, a former journalist-turned-investment banker, was picked last month to head the team…[he says] “[W]e’ve learned a lot about how car dealers work, and how companies get paid when they sell a car to a dealer, and why there are a certain number of dealers more than are optimal. Have we learned everything? Of course not, but I think we are learning what we need to learn to do this job.”

Disquieting isn’t it. I can’t fault the members for trying to get their hands around the industry whose future they are deciding but I don’t understand why a few people with real industry expertise aren’t integral members of the panel. It’s one thing to get a crash course and quite another to apply the lessons in a cogent manner.

“Disquieting?” I’ll say. Oh, but of course this task force has learned in a month all they need to do the job. Much more than Mr. Wagoner, who had been in the auto industry for thirty-two years.

But what the hey, they’re smart guys, aren’t they? Smart people can cram for tests and learn enough to get an “A,” right?

Oh, and there’s another little detail that hasn’t gotten much attention: not only is Wagoner gone, but “a majority of GM’s board will also be replaced.” Oh, why not? Send them to all the Bastille.

Let’s learn some more about how the Obama auto task force has been operating:

The task force met with a committee representing GM’s bondholders on the same day it met with Fiat executives…The bondholders’ attorneys laid out the details of a plan to exchange debt for equity, which would reduce pressure on GM to repay the bondholders. As the lawyers walked through a litany of potential challenges, Messrs. Rattner and Bloom took notes, offering minimal commentary, according to people who attended the meeting. Since then, the bondholders committee has had little contact with the task force. Its lawyers say they were surprised two weeks later when Mr. Rattner publicly criticized them for not being flexible enough.

Mr. Rattner and the Treasury Department haven’t responded to requests for comment on the complaints by bondholders.

I can see a pattern starting to emerge, and it’s not a pretty one. This post isn’t about whether Wagnoner needed to go or not. I’ve read opinions on both sides; I really don’t know. It’s about the process by which that happened and Obama’s imperial style, and really astounding hubris.

This is the slippery slope on which businesses place themselves when they accept a bailout. Of course, in the case of GM, it seemed to be that or bankruptcy. But when you sell your soul to the government, the government becomes a dictator.

And we all know how well government is at managing businesses. Probably a good sight worse than Rick Wagoner and the Board of GM, despite those government task force wizards.

It is merely simple common sense to think that the task force should have been composed mainly of people with auto industry experience. But all of them seem to be too tainted to be considered by the Obama administration—tainted, that is, by the actual reality of doing business, and the inevitable compromises and hard decisions that need to be made.

This is part of a pattern I’ve noticed in the Obama administration, that of distrusting those with hands-on experience in a given field in favor of smarty-pants generalists with no track record—such as Obama himself.

[NOTE: Here’s task force head Rattner’s bio, from the NY Times:

Mr. Rattner started his career as a financial reporter for The New York Times. He has been active in New York’s Democratic Party, holding a variety of fund-raisers for candidates; he originally backed Hillary Clinton for president. Mr. Rattner’s wife, Maureen White, was a co-chairwoman of finance for Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.

He previously worked at Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley and Lazard as a mergers and acquisitions specialist.

So we have a dedicated Democrat (not that there’s anything wrong with that), a journalist (ditto, I’m sure), and a Wall Street money guy. Great background for his present job, don’t you think? Note also, in the comments section of the Times article, which appeared in late February, that at least the readers note the lack of auto industry (or any other industry) experience, even if Obama doesn’t.]

[ADDENDUM: I finally was able to locate the WSJ article. Here is some information on other task force members:

The team’s industrial expertise comes from Ron Bloom, a scrappy Harvard Business School graduate who gave up investment banking in 1996 to work as a top adviser to the United Steelworkers union…

Several team members, such as Brian Deese, a 31-year-old former Obama campaign aide, are on loan from the White House’s National Economic Council. Three others specialize in climate change. The rest come from agencies such as the Energy and Labor departments. Backing them up are about 30 accountants and advisers.

Great. Just great. Thirty-one-year old. Specialists in climate change.

There’s more, if you’ve got the stomach for it:

People on the Fiat team came away [from a meeting with the task force] thinking that the task force’s questions betrayed a limited understanding of the industry. “It’s fair to say we walked out of the meeting and were a little unsettled,” says one member of the Fiat team…

Several auto experts who’ve met with the panel say they’ve been struck by the group’s focus on trying to determine exactly when car sales will rebound. “They are absolutely concerned with the short-term, so it’s hard to see them grasping the medium or longer-term issues,” says Daniel Roos, an automotive expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who briefed the team in Washington on March 6.]

71 Responses to “Obama, his task force, and the auto industry: does anyone else find this especially chilling?”

  1. Ronald Hayden Says:

    Excellent summary of exactly my concerns with all this.

    It strikes me that this is “McNamara & Vietnam” all over again — the “smart guys” just need a few figures and statistics and they’ll crack the whole thing in a week or two, tops.

    Humility and deference to hard-earned experience is for feeble-minded chumps.

  2. neo-neocon Says:

    Ronald Hayden: I was thinking about McNamara as well. The irony is that he came from the auto industry and went into the defense department.

    Ain’t it wonderful?

  3. FredHjr Says:

    Please, the mocking of McNamara as an example comparable to what Obonga and his yes-men have done is an insult to McNamara. I’m not an admirer of McNamara, but I know he had a lot more industry experience and relevant education than Obonga has. The only problem was that McNamara, as bright as he was, was not matched properly with the task. I don’t think he really understood fighting men and their experience.

    The behavior of Obonga is imperial hubris, and it is a bad precedent for an American government to be doing the things it is doing. Mr. Wagoner has done more in half of his career than Obama and his minions in their entire lives, combined. Wagoner was against the Fiat merger. That was the deal breaker for him. Also, Wagoner wanted to buy more time for a newer hybrid battery technology rather than just imitate Toyota’s, which meant an extra year before that line of autos came out. Obonga wants it NOW, because he thinks he has his mandate to shove cap and trade’s provisions down our throats.

    When the sheeple finally wake up to what is going on, despite the MSM carrying the water for Obonga, they will turn on him. In the late Seventies the MSM heavily carried the water for Carter, yet Reagan smacked them down hard. People who were around then seem to forget how biased the media was back then and build their pessimist case for our future on the premise that the MSM will get Obonga over the hump.

    Sometimes the truth seeps through a bevy of gatekeepers. It does.

  4. sallyo Says:

    If it wasn’t so sad, it would be comic. I keep thinking that I’m watching a car wreck happening, but can’t turn away because it’s so horrifyingly fascinating. I was willing to suspend disbelief with Obama and give him the benefit of the doubt, but every day I watch him with increased embarrassment and concern. I wonder if he has the emotional strength that he needs to weather the coming storms, and whether Congress is ever going to say, “ENOUGH!” It’s going to be a long, long 4 years.

  5. expat Says:

    Neo,
    I mentioned this in a comment at Doc Sanity’s, but I’ll repeat it here. NRO’s Uncommon Knowledge has an interview with Richard Epstein. In part 4, he talks about his impression of Obama. It’s very revealing.

  6. neo-neocon Says:

    FredHjr: We are on the same page with McNamara. My point is that his expertise was in a VERY different field than his government appointment. He probably would have done just fine on Obama’s auto task force.

  7. neo-neocon Says:

    expat: Can you provide a link for the interview? Thanks.

  8. Don Janousek Says:

    None of Lenin’s Bolsheviks had any experience in business, management or anything else involved in overseeing an economy or administering a society, unless you count thuggery, explosives techniques and revolutionary tract-writing. And we all know what a wonderful job they did.

  9. FredHjr Says:

    I just came from the NRO site and the interview. Mr. Epstein is exactly correct in his assessment of Obonga. Towards the end of the interview he talks about how Obonga had bamboozled some people as to his true leanings. That is something that has me concerned: that these people had not done their due diligence on Obonga’s background and were relying on their instincts to try to penetrate the veil that the man puts up in front of them.

    Therefore, many are fooled, because they do not understand the organic unity of his Red Diaper Baby upbringing with his education and career. That tells me that most people fundamentally do not understand even themselves properly: they can’t peel themselves like an onion and take stock of where they’ve been, their formative experiences, their educations, and how they came to be who they are. We all have contexts and we all develop in patterns that are a reaction to the sets of problems put before us. And so, not judging ourselves properly we cannot but help be fooled by others trying to fool us.

  10. Beverly Says:

    My worry is that too many American “citizens” know something of this, or enough of it, and DON’T CARE. They want Other People’s Money, full stop.

    Nor do they care for the blessings of liberty. If you’re in a cage, you can pretend that the sides aren’t there — if you don’t move around too much.

    Hussein’s staggering arrogance has been on display from the get-go, for anyone paying attention. Ditto, his philosophical bent. He’s a Marxist, a Muslim (in his childhood at least), a International Leftist, a racist, and an America-hater.

    That our “citizens” elected this creature is our real problem: it means that the game is up, folks. There aren’t enough real Americans left in our great Republic to defeat even a horrorshow like this.

    Strap on your seatbelts — it’s going to be a bumpy flight.

  11. Scottie Says:

    OK, you guys beat me to the punch once again – I too was thinking McNamara all over again.

    I hate to say it, but GM is over, done with, kaput.

    These (gee)whiz kids are going to remake this company into their image and to hell with what any critics say, and to do this they are going to get rid of anyone who intends to stand in their way – be they share holders, industry professionals, or CEO’s with decades of experience.

    Look at what they’ve done so far, and the pattern is pretty clear that it’s not about making the company better or profitable – it’s about taking direct control over a big bite of the American economy.

    If it WERE about helping GM become profitable and making a better product, you’d be seeing industry knowledgeable professionals involved.

    Instead, we have “climate change specialists” now in charge of the very industry that creates the product that their prophet referred to as a greater threat than nuclear war!

    By the time they are through, GM is going to be a hollow shell of a company, producing products that nobody will buy, with quality that stinks, supported in large part by infusions of taxpayer dollars, and using assembly lines of folks who will simply not care anymore whether they build a decent product or not as their union brokered paycheck is going to be guaranteed by the federal government whether they do a good job or not.

    About the only silver lining here is that this will be an object lesson for all other industries in this country, and you may find far less enthusiasm in the future for government assistance.

    If only the same could be envisioned for the millions of useful idiots who are on the government dole in one way or another…..

  12. expat Says:

    The link is

    http://tv.nationalreview.com/uncommonknowledge/

    If this doesn’t work (I’m barely computer literate), the article is at the bottom left of the NRO homepage.

  13. huxley Says:

    neo — See Epstein on Obama.

    If Obama & Co. were not so blinded by their brilliance, they might be truly dangerous. As it is, I’m certain they are heading towards a fall, and sooner than later.

    Yes, there will be collateral damage, but the Republic will be immunized against this kind of con artist for at least a generation.

  14. FredHjr Says:

    We learn most in life from our failures, not our successes. Hard experience clears the cobwebs and anchors us in reality.

    Objectively, take a good, hard look at the typical Obonga voter.

    1. Young – under-40

    2. Urban – no true understanding of life outside of a controlled environment

    3. Single female – susceptible to fashion and groupthink. Told Sarah Palin was gonna take away their right to flush out inconvenient fetuses.

    4. Product of an education system that protects them from the consequences of failure in order to preserve their self-esteem.

    A hard lesson is coming for these folks.

  15. Amy Says:

    But when you sell your soul to the government, the government becomes a dictator.

    Ain’t that the truth.

  16. Beverly Says:

    If they manage to hijack the Census like they’re maneuvering to do, then all this will be moot. They’ll have an effective lock on power, and distribution of the loot (but I repeat myself). Too many of the Republicans are weak reeds that will snap when leaned on, and will go along to get along themselves. (We saw this with the spending excesses under GWB.)

    Speaking from my perch in the one-party fiefdom of New York City (sole exception, Staten Island), I can tell you that once the bread and circuses gang gets entrenched, you can’t dislodge them with a bunker-buster bomb. And the idiots who “vote” for them never seem to realize that, without a choice, there’s no real vote, and we’re all serfs.

    Add to this the highly successful campaign by the information Hive Mind in branding the conservatives as racist, sexist, environmental pigs, and you have the situation we’re now in. I’m not too sanguine about the masses “waking up” or “learning their lesson.” If they have no sense of our true history, they won’t even realize what we’ve lost.

    Of course, I wish all this weren’t true. –Ex-Dem.

  17. Beverly Says:

    addendum: the “Hive Mind” is zombie’s description of the Leftist true-believer cult. (zombie’s blog and pix of the Berserklyites is at zombietime.com.)

    Zombie was a true believer once, but has become a neocon.

    Hive Mind is a damn good description. One that should go viral. We need to counter-attack, to go on the offensive. To start calling the Left on their bullshit, loudly and directly and often. To ignore their attacks on us: when you go on the defensive, you lose.

    They’re very good gutter fighters. We need to use some Krav Maga ourselves.

  18. Inmates and Asylums Says:

    […] Obama task force primer. Posted by Jeff G. @ 2:38 pm | Trackback SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: “Inmates and Asylums”, url: […]

  19. Lame-R Says:

    Wish I were wealthy enough to go buy a few brand new Fords. They’re not prostrating themselves for a hand-out, and I can respect that. A lot.

  20. Baklava Says:

    Lame-R,

    Amen.

    Buy Ford as they are competing against the govt.

  21. Cap'n Rusty Says:

    Baklava 4:50:

    That would be a great advertising slogan!

  22. kamper Says:

    Just wasting my breath but here goes . . .

    1. Back in December, under Bush, the auto companies were given emergency federal loans with the stipulation that they come up with plans to radically restructure themselves to suit, who?, yes, the federal government. Obama is simply following through on that pre-existing arrangement.

    2. Obama did not force out anyone. He put pre-conditions on the receipt of further federal money. GM was free to turn down the deal. Are you arguing that Obama should give more money to these companies with no strings attached?

    Most of the populist rage out there is oriented around the fact that no one at any of the bailed out companies has been held accountable. During Wagoner’s eight years at the helm, GM has lost $68 billion and the company’s stock value has declined 95%. He needed to go. And before you weep crocodile tears for him, he walked away with a cool $20 million. Where’s the socialism in that?

    3. If you argue that Obama should have done nothing and allowed GM and Chrysler to go bankrupt, that would put them into government receivership. In other words, the federal government would be overseeing every step of their restructuring, which is exactly where we are now.

    When Obama begins to go after healthy companies that are not at death’s door, then I’ll worry.

  23. Scottie Says:

    I’ve owned only one Ford in my life, and it came into my world via a marriage.

    The marriage has survived and prospered, but I can’t say the same for the %$*& Ford! It was a POS.

    I have been a satisfied repeat GM customer for many years (1976 Firebird in college, 1987 Camaro, purchased new, now with around 250,000 miles with only expected maintenance, 2000 Z28 with almost 100,000 miles and with no real issues, late model Impala, etc.), but I now have to face the fact that GM is over and done with, stick a fork in them.

    They took the devil’s dollar and are now going to roast for it.

    Because of this, and because of the government now backing GM’s warranty (wtf?!?!?!) I am no longer comfortable buying a new product from them.

    I just am not sure what they are going to look like a year from now – in spite of how much I want one of the new Camaros, and I certainly don’t want to deal with the government beaurocracy that’s bound to develop around GM now that the wizzer kids are running it (into the ground).

    I guess it’s time to start supporting Ford, as they are the only American car company with the balls to understand their true problems and to help themselves get out of their own situation – and I have heard that their quality is vastly improved from the 1980’s/90’s.

    It pains me to say this, but I may have to …gasp…buy a mustang instead of an F-body in the future!

  24. david foster Says:

    kamper..had GM gone into bankruptcy, it would have gone into receivership under the supervision of a court in accordance with settled law. This is something very different from shoot-from-the-hip executive or legislative decision-making.

    The way the system is supposed to work is that the legislature passes, and the President signs, legislation which is *general* in its applicability…the applicability of this legislation to specific cases is the responsibility of the judiciary. What is going on in the current situation is very much like bills of attainder and reverse bills of attainder.

  25. jon baker Says:

    My 94 chevy S10 now has over 250,000 miles on it. when the engine conks out I wonder if I should put a Ford engine in it as part of a political statement? ponder…ponder….ponder…lol

  26. FredHjr Says:

    Beverly,

    You live right in one of the most Leftist places in the country. NYC is the media hub and also one hell of an ironclad echo chamber for the socialists. Many of the nation’s most prominent Communists and Marxists come out of that area, especially Brooklyn, where a lot of Russian immigrants from the very late 19th century through the 20th thrived and sunk their claws deep into many institutions of this country. New Jersey is also a hotbed of people who are ensconced in the Marxist tradition.

    I don’t judge the nation overall by the urban centers. No offense, but I would rather concentrate my efforts in places where there is a greater chance of success. NYC is not one of them. It has never been a place where conservatives have done well.

  27. John Archer Says:

    OT:

    Hi Ren…..,

    I’ve just noticed your avatar on RAEN’s blog with your link here. So I thought I’d drop by quickly to say hello and wish you good luck, and lots of it.

    All the best,
    John 🙂

  28. david foster Says:

    Three bankers and a campaign aide walk into an auto industry…

  29. jimw Says:

    I work for GM at the dealer level. We have watched in fascination as the government, which has never shown the slightest ability to run itself, much less a major corporation, has taken over 1% of the US GDP without a peep.

    When the Gods want to destroy you, they first make you crazy…These people are crazy.

  30. Cappy Says:

    Bev is entirely right, speaking from the impervious blue bastion of Cleveland.

    Can’t wait to see what the first government designed Caddy looks like. Or the first government designed operating system.

  31. Artfldgr Says:

    Curious, isn’t it, coming from a president whose big skill was supposed to be his ability to dialogue with both sides and to hear them out?

    Not really, it just means you didn’t read how “dialoging to consensus” works…
    Its not about finding out a real consensus, its about the leader, through manipulation, and help, creates a false consensus to support his/her goal. A real consensus would mean that the people in the room would actually be putting in. Obama doesn’t do this, since all his people are presumed fellow travelers, know the game, so they know its just follow the leader… and avoid the process of manipulation..

  32. Ymarsakar Says:

    (The only problem was that McNamara, as bright as he was, was not matched properly with the task. I don’t think he really understood fighting men and their experience.)

    In the auto industry, if one of your car fails and kills somebody, you fail. In war, half your army can die, but you will have won if you kept going farther than the enemy did. In the auto industry, if there is a bad tire, RECALL. In war, if there is a bad battle… No Recall. You don’t junk the army and officers that lost.

    Different philosophies will produce quite different results.

    People who were around then seem to forget how biased the media was back then and build their pessimist case for our future on the premise that the MSM will get Obonga over the hump.

    Yes, the media were biased, but that was mostly the young dupes and idiots like Dan Rather that were out in the field distorting things. The editors came from WWII stock, and were generally good, but still beholden to glitz and imperfection. Now a days, the editors were the reporters back in Vietnam. And they control what gets reported or not, rather than the youngest reporters.

    To start calling the Left on their bullshit, loudly and directly and often. To ignore their attacks on us: when you go on the defensive, you lose.

    Well, put. You might be interested in reading my little analysis of some clips I came across of George Carlin and a slight peak into the Leftist mind (combined with a wayback trip to 2005, Hurricane Katrina).

    NYC is not one of them. It has never been a place where conservatives have done well.

    If you leave places like Fallujah alone, sure you will take less casualties in the short run, but the long run? It is not sustainable. Once they have a safe haven, it’s bad news. Just look at what Chicago produced.

  33. Artfldgr Says:

    But what the hey, they’re smart guys, aren’t they? Smart people can cram for tests and learn enough to get an “A,” right?i>

    Well, wagoner was fired because he was actually smarter than all of them. but to a cargo cult mentality, he isn’t smarter, he is just trying to confuse them by dumping a lot of useless information…

    I get this all the time when certain types in the school ask me questions. They are not patient enough to hear the answer. They want some tiny fact, but they don’t understand that they cant see that fact without the other information. To them, facts are like talismans or switches, and if you have the isolated atomic fact, you have the key. and if you have the key, you know… merit is too much work for them when they can fake it

    So wagoner is jettisoned because he is not seen as a knowledgeable person, since there is no such thing in Marxist thought. Every part is interchangeable. So if he is spouting so many complexities and cant just say it simple, they think that he is showing himself to be too uncooperative and obstinate, not that he is actually trying to tell them that which they don’t understand. he was also confident and would not squirm on the hook enough.

    This is a cargo cult crowd who got to where they are by means other than merit and ability. Like my friend who is very smart, but actually doesn’t know things in depth, they think that that’s how everyone knows stuff, and that every one fakes their way the way they did, and so on and so forth. they see schemes everywhere, because they scheme everywhere. They see state intervention in news, because they interfere in news.

    Only a group of fakes who believe everyone is a fake would side with an ideology that thinks the things it does. we are all equal and there are no differences in iq performances in different genetic groups… why? Because we are all the same fakers and any differences in outcome are because some fakers have control, not because the others actually have the skills to which the fakers pretend.

    One of the implications of some very basic psychology that we just don’t look at is that we each think others are like us. well I just explained what happens when a cargo cult parasitical type, looks at a normal mind, or a creative inventive mind of an individual. (I wonder if anyone ever took the largest mental groupings, sociopath, narcissist, etc.. and rather than describe how normals see it, try to make a X vs Y table laying out how each sees each… might find out why some major patterns reoccur over and over)

    It’s a clear thing to see once you get it…but though I have mentioned it before I don’t think that others see it yet. like the dali image of a young girl, and old woman, or the 3D cube on a 2D surface popping in and out.

    They love symbols, and flourishes and rhetoric
    They crave power as the end, but have no ability to act with it (good governance from the past post from Kennan).
    They believe that they can simplify a national economy enough to be masters of it.
    As they don’t do anything real, they have no limits in real to stop them
    They are naturally paranoid as they are natural schemers and manipulators over merit and skill
    They are parasitical, so they think everyone is parasitical, and the producers produce because that’s what they do the way the manipulators manipulate and lie because that is what they do.
    They do not work for rewards that are satisfying to others, and so another reason as to no limits.

    They are sadists who know that the only way to actually feel power is to do harm, and have no one be able to do anything about it. they like to hurt the weak, and they crush the strong that may oppose them. they win by other means, not merit, and therefore have no abilities.

    Another reason wagoner went… he tried to explain, they got befuddled. They cant have others smarter than them or the self image is broken and they become unhappy (sycophantic?). They have to remove the smarter and capable, just as superman has to remove the kryptonite. In an even light they can be easily seen when standing next to that.

    To put it another way, they have to kill the children who may cry out at the parade, the king has no clothes on, or at least intimidate them enough to not say anything.

    But most of all. Wagoner didn’t squirm on the hook well enough. Competency in your subject means that you’re not going to be a worm at such a presentation. They had him by the short and curlies and he didn’t have the sense to squirm.

    They wanted to feel the power by doing what they shouldn’t do and no one could stop them. that’s the rush for this type that’s better than sex.

    [edited for length by neo-neocon]

  34. neo-neocon Says:

    kamper: I think it’s very clear that this post is hardly a defense of Wagoner. It’s about the way he was terminated, and by whom—people who now think they can do better at managing the auto industry as a whole.

  35. FredHjr Says:

    Ymarsakar,

    I have some experience of living in cities. I’ve lived in: Boston, Washington, D.C., Chicago, NYC, Sao Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro. I understand that cities have their own kind of dynamic and culture that you don’t find in the country or in the suburbs. I’ve also lived in the suburbs when I was growing up. I now live in a rural area that is “suburbanizing.”

    Regardless of the city, most people living in cities tend to be drawn towards collectivist ideologies. They also tend to lead libertine lives (I didn’t), which is the big hook that politically repels them from traditional and conservative values. The populations tend to be young and they like to party hardy and have lots and lots of sex, or at least the glamorous pursuit of it. City people tend to be more fashion conscious and are more focused on appearances. That is not to say that there are not people living in cities who live counterculturally from those general trends, because there are but they are the minority.

    Ronald Reagan never had any significant support from urban populations. Neither fiscal conservatism nor traditional moral values are attractive to homo urbanus. Yet, he resoundingly won two elections on the strength of people from the suburbs and rural America. Neither G.H.W. Bush nor G.W. Bush won in the urban areas, but they won elections.

    The fact of the matter is that, on balance, because of their heavy welfare-dependent populations, cities are parasites on the country’s finances. The nation’s producers are taxed at confiscatory rates (federal, state, and local taxes all together). So, the task is to get people who are parasites to morph into human beings who yearn to be more than libidinous parasites.

  36. neo-neocon Says:

    Artfldgr: Actually, I know. I was being sarcastic about the “dialogue” thing.

  37. mimi sk Says:

    “It’s fair to say we walked out of the meeting and were a little unsettled.”

    Pretty much says it all.

    I think we’re in for a whole lot of that from the CEO types. Reality of a socialist agenda bites the free market doesn’t it.

    But, I’m off to do my research. Got an investment club meeting to study up for. The market will find a way around tyranny, at least for a while until the game changes.

  38. huxley Says:

    Just wasting my breath but here goes . . .

    kamper — I think it’s valuable to have dissenting opinions here, including yours.

    But the above isn’t a good way to begin a comment if your intention is an equal give-and-take.

  39. Occam's Beard Says:

    Most of the populist rage out there is oriented around the fact that no one at any of the bailed out companies has been held accountable. During Wagoner’s eight years at the helm, GM has lost $68 billion and the company’s stock value has declined 95%. He needed to go. And before you weep crocodile tears for him, he walked away with a cool $20 million. Where’s the socialism in that?

    No tears for Wagoner, for whom I hold no brief, but Gettelfinger, who become president of the UAW at roughly the same time that Wagoner became CEO, needs to go too. The socialism in Wagoner’s ousting is the government placing its greasy thumb heavily on the scales on the side of labor. That’s where the socialism is. That, and the notion that the government should run businesses, as opposed to providing a stable environment in which businesses run themselves, for better or worse.

    If you argue that Obama should have done nothing and allowed GM and Chrysler to go bankrupt, that would put them into government receivership. In other words, the federal government would be overseeing every step of their restructuring, which is exactly where we are now.

    How do you figure that? GM and Chrysler would be in receivership to a receiver appointed by a bankruptcy court, but that’s a far cry from having a government receivership. The Federal Government would not be overseeing every step of their restructuring; that would be the job of a Federal bankruptcy court. As you’re no doubt aware, Federal jurists are appointed for life, and independent of the government, sometimes to the annoyance of the current Administration.

    Most importantly, however, a bankruptcy court has the power to void existing contracts, such as that with the UAW and the dealerships. That alone would be a huge step in the right direction. Having Obama fart around pretending he knows what he’s doing just prolongs the pain, and the expense, while precluding one of the few courses of action that could help.

  40. FredHjr Says:

    I’m not shedding any crocodile tears for Wagoner, but I do think Obama’s decision was exactly what Politiburo members did to factory managers who did not meet the State’s goal. However, in defense of Wagoner it has to be said, repeatedly, that he knew more about how to do useful things in business than Obama ever would.

    Government receivership has to be the absolute pits for a condition for a company to find itself in. I have zero confidence that government can do a better job.

    Remember the Yugo? LOL!

  41. Oh, bother Says:

    1) The more the government owns, the more it owns you.
    2) [“They are absolutely concerned with the short-term, so it’s hard to see them grasping the medium or longer-term issues,” says Daniel Roos, an automotive expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who briefed the team in Washington on March 6.] I submit this shortsighted obsession with short-term results in the form of quarterly profits is a large part of how our economy came to be in this mess.

  42. Oblio Says:

    Epstein’s case over at NRO about the positive benefits of bankruptcy and the danger of government meddling defines “brilliant.”

  43. Paul Gordon Says:

    “The president said he had decided to do that. He wasn’t asking for opinions,” said U.S. Sen Carl Levin, a Michigan democrat. “There wasn’t much point in arguing whether it was fair or unfair, wise or unwise.”

    This sounds like the action of a new kid on the block who has to show his “backbone” by firing someone right off the bat.

    It’s the mark of someone totally in over his head and is not likely to be followed by anything that will actually improve things.

  44. kamper Says:

    It may be that Obama can take on the UAW contracts in a “Nixon Goes to China” way that a Republican couldn’t. Just a thought.

    Thanks, huxley for the decorum lesson. It was a rather pissy way to begin my comment.

  45. Beverly Says:

    Obama has no motive to take on the UAW. They’re his team. The capitalists aren’t.

  46. njcommuter Says:

    When the Gods want to destroy you, they first make you crazy…These people are crazy.

    Whom the government will destroy, they first make cozy.

    If you are a fan of GM cars, just remember, every GM car comes with a remote tracking device. All some corrupt cop needs is a VIN and he knows exactly where you are. And every car that GM will sell from next year forward will have a remote shut off. If that corrupt cop wants you, all he has to do is tell GM’s OnStar to shut your car off and the engine will drop to idle, no matter where in the world you are.

    If you’re prepared to accept this, tell me that you would be happy to leave your front door keys at every police station and to have a stun belt permanently implanted, with the controls also in the hands of every police station.

    I’m sympathetic with GM as far as their financial plight. But what they are doing to individual liberties is a crime against the foundations of our freedom.

  47. turfmann Says:

    Couple of quick thoughts:

    sallyo Says:
    April 2nd, 2009 at 3:09 pm
    If it wasn’t so sad, it would be comic. I keep thinking that I’m watching a car wreck happening, but can’t turn away because it’s so horrifyingly fascinating.

    Sally, you’re not watching the car wreck, you’re in the car right along with the rest of us. Brace for impact, friend, and know that Sully Sullenberger is nowhere near the controls – just Barry with his right foot planting the accelerator firmly to the floor.

    Wagoner now joins Liddy as sacrificial lambs upon the alter of anti-capitalist humiliation and nary a word of outrage from either of them. We have only AIG’s Jake DeSantis penning a John Galt speech to the New York Times as evidence that at least someone gets it.

  48. SteveH Says:

    I’ve always liked GM cars. The fact that the management AND unions aren’t raising holy hell over this government strong arming means i’ve probably bought my last one.

  49. Chicago Boyz » Blog Archive » Obama and the Auto Industry Says:

    […] Neo-Neocon has an interesting post and discussion. […]

  50. Danny Lemieux Says:

    Despite all the excellent commentary, my friends, I fear that you are missing an essential point: GM is now part of Obama’s brand equity. It cannot be allowed to fail.

    Thus, the government will need to cripple the competition in order to allow GM to succeed. Ymar, you especially must realize this, given your bent for strategic thinking.

    The competition will likely be destroyed through regulation and onerous lending standards, perhaps also through forced union representation.

    The Italians who are being suckered into buying Chrysler have probably figured this out and will demand guarantees that may or may not come.

  51. Artfldgr Says:

    watching this is scarier…

    why? beacuse those on the outside can see insanity easier…

    [I WANT]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BkKtPCTrg4

  52. Artfldgr Says:

    Russia’s Medvedev hails ‘comrade’ Obama
    sg.news.yahoo.com/afp/20090403/twl-russia-us-g20-diplomacy-missile-7e07afd.html

  53. Artfldgr Says:

    Obama plan revealed!!!!

    If it moves, regulate it

    If it works, tax it

    If it opposes, squash it

    If it underperforms, subsidize it

    If it thinks, threaten it

    If it prays, outlaw it

    If it produces, destabilize it

    If it reports, subvert it

    If it cares, ridicule it

    If it governs, corrupt it

    If it votes, buy it

    If it questions, ridicule it

    If it organizes, illegalize it

    If it protests, destroy it

    If it teaches, propagandize it

    [thanks facefwd]

  54. armchair pessimist Says:

    A good piece by Krauthammer :

    (http://townhall.com/columnists/CharlesKrauthammer/2009/04/03/obamas_ultimate_agenda)

    I think he’s right about where our President is headed, but I disagree that the economic wreck is an unwelcome distraction from his Great Transformation. He’s like a little kid in the candy store and is gobbling down the power. Maybe he’ll get a bad belly ache. Hope so.

  55. CrystalHotelAndCasino Says:

    good comments Artfldgr

  56. Artfldgr Says:

    thanks, crystal.

    here is another good one..

    Liberals Taking America Toward Fascism
    startthinkingright.wordpress.com/2009/04/02/liberals-taking-america-toward-fascism/

  57. Artfldgr Says:

    Artfldgr: Actually, I know. I was being sarcastic about the “dialogue” thing.

    sorry….

    i can never tell anymore.. 🙂

  58. Artfldgr Says:

    i just realized something that just might catch as people hear it because its so resonatingly true.

    maybe someone else said it but if not, i am saying it here first…

    Obama is the Bernie Madoff of politics
    – Artfldgr

  59. Dan Says:

    I’ve been on vacation, seeing less of the news and enjoying it more. But I was appalled by http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2009/04/023239.php what I saw on Powerline today.

  60. notherbob2 Says:

    If you wonder why President Obama acted in this manner you need only read this explanation and you will instantly understand:
    or http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123853988781575499.html

    It’s all about protecting the UAW.

  61. Artfldgr Says:

    Type discovered in Obama discourse!!!!

    Obama has promised 3.5 million new jobs by the end of next year…

    that was a typo… here is the correction..

    Obama has promised -3.5 million new jobs by the end of next year…

  62. bill Says:

    Bear in mind that Wagoner *was* in charge. It was his ship, and he ran it aground. Richard Nixon notwithstanding, you don’t usually get a second chance in the big leagues. A lot of politics is ‘sending a signal’. I’d say this one flared like the Batsignal on a dark night. “You people have screwed up royally; fix it or get the hell out.”

    As for his abrupt, unexpected departure: that’s the way CEOs like to treat ‘human capital’, these days. He ought not to have been surprised.

  63. Baklava Says:

    bill wrote, “Bear in mind that Wagoner *was* in charge. It was his ship, and he ran it aground.

    That points to bankruptcy procedings like some of the airlines have done recently.

    The country needs failure to work. Failure is what makes capitalism better.

    Capitalism is the people choosing who gets what resources.

    When companies restructure they can compete better. We can’t prop up failing ideas. The president of this country cannot subvert the law of the land and compete against Ford. This is unlawful in my mind. Yes, I’m only a citizen.

    We can’t pour billions into a competitor of Ford and have America succeed in the Auto industry. Good decisions and competing products and productive workers are what make a great company. Not rooms full of paid and unproductive people.

  64. Tom Says:

    bill is a Leftist simpleton.

    Captaining GM is a lot like captaining a supertanker, bill: you cannot turn it on a dime. If the ship is on a collision course with a rock 4 miles ahead, the ship will hit it no matter how you turn the helm. The UAW contracts and Federal laws under which GM, Chrysler, Ford have been laboring have been in effect for decades and are decades-longer commitments. GM has retirement, healthcare and pension responsibilities for one million retirees. 19 of each 20 people GM supports with $ no longer work there!

    What are your ideas on fixing GM, bill? Betcha you ain’t got any.

    And, Oh yeah: GM’s situation will eventually be mirrored by the Federal government: as its doles enlarge, it will have fewer and fewer taxpayers supporting the entitlement and wealth-transfer recipients. How ya gonna fix that, bill?

  65. Artfldgr Says:

    Bill will yell pasta fazoole and pluck it from his tookus… 🙂

  66. br549 Says:

    artfldgr, your post of April 02 at 7:07 P.M. was an absolute “toes on the nose” accurate description of my boss. I have wondered if my boss is a malignant narcissist with a healthy dose of borderline personality disorder tossed in for good measure. Think I’ll bone up on the resume’.

  67. br549 Says:

    By the way, and I think it can be found somewhere in Wikipedia, there is a list of over 200 automobile companies that have gone down the tubes in this nation.
    Many of whom we still know of to this day. Thank God the government didn’t rescue all of them too.

  68. Mitch Says:

    Here’s another little tidbit from, of all places, NPR:
    Most members of President Obama’s auto task force drive foreign cars. According to the story, actually only a quarter or so own American cars.

    There is no reason to “save” GM. People are still buying and driving cars made in the US; it’s just that the cars are made by Japanese or German companies that are better run than GM. At one time, New England was the world center of textile manufacturing. It isn’t any more, but that doesn’t mean we stopped wearing clothes.

  69. Thomass Says:

    kamper Says:

    “It may be that Obama can take on the UAW contracts in a “Nixon Goes to China” way that a Republican couldn’t. Just a thought.”

    On perceptions, I think you have it backwards… Nixon, as a republican, could get away with normalizing relations with China because he was an anticommunist and it would be better accepted as pragmatic.

    A Reagan could type could bail out industries better than a lefty for the same reasons. In your world (maybe not you but the people around you) there might be big issues regarding the too cozy relationship between republicans and business.. But in the mainstream (re: not just here) there are problems with the state (the providence of the left) getting too close with business. I still think it is a center ‘right’ country. Reagan did make loans to Chrysler and helped Harley Davison. I don’t remember a lot of mainstream dissent to it. Let’s look back in two years and see how this works out for Obama (re: not just with the people here, but with the general public).

    PS
    Reagan also pulled a Nixon and got along well with Gorby… with relatively little hair pulling and fret because he had good anti communist credibility (re: a Carter could not have pulled it off)…

  70. MissJean Says:

    “every GM car comes with a remote tracking device”

    Which can be disabled, FYI. My 2003 Saturn didn’t even have one, nor the OnStar option.

    I think that if Obama is serious about “reforming” (deforming) the industry, he’ll be throwing the union under the bus. At GM, for example, contract workers have been used for decades to bypass the union costs. Temporary agencies like IPG foot the cost of the benefits (decent) and offer limited retirement options, like a 401K (which they used to match up to 100% before Obama stupidly took away their incentives for doing so).

    One of my brothers worked at the GM training grounds for almost a decade as a full-time temp. He worked for Ford under the same temporary agency, then went to Chrysler. He came in with several years of experience as a certified mechanic, an engineering degree, and excellent technical writing skills – and a lower salary than a union worker.

    I expect Obama, since health care is the #1 bargaining subject for the unions, will use the auto takeover as leverage for pushing his national health care plans.

  71. Isabel Says:

    What Can we common Poeple do about the Bailout? Nothing.. we just have to wait and see if the company comes up and develops new cars and prototypes to please the americal consumer

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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