June 10, 2009

What Happens When The Folks In Charge ‘Don’t Know About Cars…’

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Rose @ 11:25 pm

The 2012 Pelosi GTxi SS/RT Sport Edition (HT: Emailer)

New GM Chair: ‘I Don’t Know Anything About Cars’; He’s Just the Latest in a Long Line

GovernmentMotors0609.jpgYou can’t make this stuff up. The titled quote comes from a Bloomberg story today about new GM Chairman Ed Whitacre. You also can’t make up most of the media’s calm acceptance of yet another person heavily involved with running General Motors, aka Government Motors, who knows next to nothing about cars except as a consumer who drives them.

At least it’s refreshing that this guy has experience running a business, which is more than you can say about the other two architects of the company as it currently subsists.

On May 31, the New York Times put out a fawning portrayal of the a Mr. Brian Deese, the guy who was the only full-timer on President-elect and then President Obama’s car team from Election Night until mid-February.

Fasten your seat belts, this guy’s lack of any kind of pedigree will have you death-gripping the steering wheel, as will the smug dismissiveness of a business system that has been the most successful in human history:

The 31-Year-Old in Charge of Dismantling G.M.

It is not every 31-year-old who, in a first government job, finds himself dismantling General Motors and rewriting the rules of American capitalism.

But that, in short, is the job description for Brian Deese, a not-quite graduate of Yale Law School who had never set foot in an automotive assembly plant until he took on his nearly unseen role in remaking the American automotive industry.

…. “There was a time between Nov. 4 and mid-February when I was the only full-time member of the auto task force,” Mr. Deese, a special assistant to the president for economic policy, acknowledged recently as he hurried between his desk at the White House and the Treasury building next door. “It was a little scary.”

…. Mr. Deese’s role is unusual for someone who is neither a formally trained economist nor a business school graduate, and who never spent much time flipping through the endless studies about the future of the American and Japanese auto industries.

Of course, why do all that boring stuff when you can just jump in and pretend?

To Deese’s luck (I refuse to give anyone “credit” for making a decision that had no basis in experience), he did figure out that GM and Chrysler were heading inevitably towards bankruptcy because of falling revenues. But there’s no evidence that he saw the plunge as anything but a continuation of their current problems, when in fact the two companies faded faster than their competitors earlier this year because of their bailed-out condition, not in spite of it. If this weren’t the case, why has Ford’s situation improved dramatically to the point where its worldwide sales outpace GM’s?

Read the whole thing, if you can stand it. Would any newspaper have given such a lightweight a free ride if he worked in a Republican administration?

Then of course there’s the car czar himself, Steve Rattner. Rattner’s post-journalism career consists of about 10 years as a private-equity investor (I guess some of them are more equal than others) and as a dealmaker. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not the same as actually operating a business that makes things. Rattner also has hints of a shady past in his dealings with the New York State pension fund that may yet come back to haunt him. And, of course, Rattner has great Democratic Party political connections.

Whitacre rounds out the list. Though his resume is clearly the strongest of the three, and an outsider’s perspective is likely quite welcome in this case, it remains a fact that at AT&T he was ran what was a service business that happened to sell some products, not an outfit like GM which does the opposite, and was of necessity and by strategy more focused on mergers and acquisitions than day-to-day operations.

That said, the Wall Street Journal’s Holman Jenkins today astutely pointed to Whitacre’s unique pedigree, and how it may fit into the brave new world of government ownership:

What the company needs more than anything else is a political strategy. Its loss of political clout has been catastrophic, leading to (among other things) devastating new CAFE regs. But he has one big leg up on his GM predecessors: A Democratic administration now owns GM and needs it to succeed financially. The voice of reason will be heard because it’s in Democrats’ interest to hear it. He can surely expect, for instance, to find Team Obama amenable to a certain amount of quiet fudging of its new fuel mileage rules to keep GM’s pickup and SUV profits flowing.

Make no mistake. Mr. Whitacre’s task won’t be selling cars (somebody else can do that) but reshaping the policy environment in which GM must operate. His model should be another Ed — Ed Jordan, who as chief of the nationalized Conrail never received the credit he deserved for rescuing the carrier by leading the charge for regulatory reform on Capitol Hill.

His braintruster was Leo Mullin, who went on to lead Delta Air Lines, and who as a young Conrail veep built the case that Conrail would become a permanent drain on taxpayers unless the rail industry were free to design and price its services with the sole object of making a profit for investors.

But Whitacre’s task makes Mullins look like child’s play. For GM to survive and ultimately break free as an independent entity like Conrail, you have to start with the assumption that the government wants to get out of the car business. His platitudes to the contrary, I don’t see how anyone can reasonably think that this is the Obama’s intent. And even if he changes his mind, I don’t see how his party will let him carry through with it.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Jewish Response to Obama’s Cairo Speech

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:00 pm

Thank you, Rabbi Chaim Richman (direct YouTube link):

Watch the whole thing.

Darn it, when I see things this good, I feel compelled to transcribe them, because the vid may go away. So here goes (ellipses are breaks built into the video, not breaks in the video’s text):

President Barack Obama: We cannot impose peace. Two peoples, with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. …. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. (Applause) ….. This construction violates previous agreements, and undermines efforts to achieve peace.

Rabbi Chaim Richman: These statements indicate that unfortunately President Obama now fully subscribes to the Arab revisionist version of history. By this he is undermining the very right to Israel to exist in her own land. Our very presence here in our own land is now being deemed illegitimate.

….. Illegitimate? Is the will of the God of Israel illegitimate? Our right to be here is based on one thing and one thing alone — that this land was bequeathed to us by the God of Israel, and nothing else is necessary. ….. As if the settlements are the only obstacle to peace. The fact is that there were no settlements in 1948. The Palestine Liberation Organization, (the) bloody terrorist organization which has turned in the Palestinian Authority, the same organization responsible for the deaths of countless Americans, that organization was founded before there was any Israeli presence in the West Bank. It has nothing to do with settlements. The issue is the existence of Israel.

Obama: When Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together, as in the story of Islam ….

Richman: What is this sudden interest by the whole world in the internationalization of Jerusalem? And furthermore, what is this Moslem interest in Jerusalem? Where does Jerusalem figure in Islam? Jerusalem was never holy to the Moslems. Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Koran. The Moslems bow down and they face Mecca and they their turn their backsides up towards what the Jewish people consider to be the holiest place on earth the location of the Holy of Holies on the Temple Mount.

Jerusalem is not even mentioned once in the Koran, but yet mentioned over 700 times in the Torah. Jerusalem was the seat of the monarchy of Israel. Jerusalem was reigned over by King David and King Solomon. There was Jewish presence in the land of Israel and in Jerusalem 1,600 years before Mohammed ever appeared on the scene.

Obama: Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. I saw it first-hand as a child in Indonesia. ….. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based on the persuasions of the mind and the heart and the soul.

Richman: You know, you say that “Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance”? Let me tell you what goes on here in Jerusalem at the place of the Holy Temple, the Temple Mount. If Jews or Christians try to pray there, they are prevented by the Moslems who control the Temple Mount from praying to God. They are physically prevented from praying. They’ll be dragged off the Mount; they’re observed, they’re watched; they’re searched first before they enter to make sure they don’t have any Bible, any sort of paraphernalia.

The expression of any other religious sentiment other than Islam is forbidden at the Temple Mount by the Moslem authorities.

That’s tolerance? Thats’ the “proud tradition of the tolerance of Islam”?

Obama: This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.

Richman: Linking the right of Israel to exist in this land with the Holocaust is obscene. It’s a perversion of history, and such a cynical manipulation of the tragedy of the Holocaust — which was a great tragedy but was not Israel’s original tragedy. Israel existed in this land long before the Holocaust.

The Holocaust was a tragedy. The original tragedy was our exile from this land, which enabled a thing such as the Holocaust to happen.

But we are not here out of compassion or pity for what recently happened to us. We are here because we are entitled to this land.

This was the land of King David and King Solomon. In summing up the rights to Israel to live as a sovreign nation in her own land, why start history from the Holocaust? What happened to King David? What happened to King Solomon? What happened to the fact that Israel is the land of the Bible? What happened to the fact that Israel had a glorious commonwealth here? That Israel brought to the entire world the message of the one true God?

Starting history from the Holocaust — Is that not an obscenity?

Obama: Tomorrow I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews ….. And any nation, including Iran, should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Richman: So what is the idea here of on the one hand telling us that Holocaust denial is a crime, going to lay a rose a Buchenwald, but yet welcoming Iran to the arena of nuclear power — the same country whose official government policy is one of anti-Semitism to the point of calling for the extermination of the state of Israel, the same country which officially hosted a conference on Holocaust denial? I want to know if President Obama was thinking about that when he laid the rose at Buchenwald.

Obama: The Holy Koran tells us “All mankind, we have made you into nations and tribes, so you may know one another.”

The Talmud tells us, “The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.”

The Holy Bible tells us, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

Richman: President Obama is not a Messiah, he’s a marauder. He’s a robber, and he’s robbing the Jewish people of everything in one fell swoop. He’s robbing the Jewish people of their legacy, of their heritage, and of their connection to the land.

…. Well, you’ll notice that at the conclusion of his speech, that he quoted from the “Holy Koran” and the “Holy Bible.” But he brought the Torah down a notch. Instead of calling it “the Holy Torah,” he informs us that “The Talmud teaches us that the Torah is all about peace.”

….. But what about the order? Judaism is the mother of all religions. And just as the Torah preceded the Koran, and just as the Torah preceded the New Testament, the Jewish people’s presence in the land of Israel precedes Islam and precedes Christianity.

….. President Obama, perhaps you would be well-advised to consider this verse from the Holy Torah, and this one from the book of Jeremiah, where the prophet tells us, “Israel is holy to the Lord, the first of his crop. All who devour it will be held guilty. Evil shall come upon them. The word of the Lord.”

I guess we need to add Obama’s naive rich and famous Jewish and other supporters of Israel to the list of elites who are now “shocked.”


UPDATE, June 24: Meant to get this posted sooner. The following is an e-mail I received from someone shortly after the Holocaust Museum murder that succinctly sums up how the Left has distorted the story –

Hi Tom,

Just wondering why we couldn’t put forth the idea that the man who unloaded in the Holocaust Museum yesterday was emboldened by Obama’s anti-Israel actions and rhetoric- and NOT the right–it simply doesn’t add up that the left is claiming he was influenced by the right. They simply are lying–no basis for their BS. It’s amazing how they now discard facts and logic at will. For that matter, why are we hearing now from Wright? (Can’t bring myself to calling him Rev.) Has he too been encouraged to speak against Jews because of Obama’s clearly anti-Semite behavior?

Well, though it’s somewhat late, it’s at least here for the record and for future reference.