Monday, March 30, 2009

Now That The Hammer Has Fallen: Detroit: What Now: News Views And Your Ideas.

Now That The Hammer Has Fallen: Detroit: What Now: News Views And Your Ideas.



Seven opinions about the GM ouster on the Obama honeymoon Day 67

by Dan Hawkins | Mlive Politics & Elections News

Monday March 30, 2009, 7:26 PM


A Decent Cross Section, however after my two posts of yesterday re: “The True Electric Car”;  I have had a deluge of very interesting mail.  Almost all of it deals, at one point or another, in one way or another, with the question of what Detroit has been doing wrong.  I was a bit taken aback by one reoccurring notion that companies have been stretched by the number of models they seem determined to build.  

So I, going to put the question to you:  How many models do you think an auto maker ought to produce, or how many is it necessary for them to produce?  You can leave your answers and anything else that comes to mind on “The Detroit” subject as comments, or email me at




It's a takeover for the Obama honeymoon as General Motors chief Rick Wagoner is sent packing and Chrysler is left to its fate, based on a decision by Fiat. The Michigan response is instructive, given that Governor Jennifer Granholm's boils down to a personal defense of Wagoner, and lawmakers such as Carl Levin have not quite come out on their own. But it is not entirely clear that Wagoner can be faulted on anything more than being in the right place at the wrong time.

Plus, the president's actions raise more questions than they may answer.

Seeing as how it is in stasis, theObama/America Honeymoon Status Advisory System (explained here) is at: Holding Hands.

Onward and upward. Or downward, as the case may be. A clarification, after the break.

Opinion No. 1: The president's remarks

President Barack Obama, March 30, 2009 (via Reuters on Yahoo): Let me be clear: the United States government has no interest or intention of running GM. What we are interested in is giving GM an opportunity to finally make those much-needed changes that will let them emerge from this crisis a stronger and more competitive company.

That covers the Rick Wagoner ouster as a condition of further federal aid. But the president was much harder on Chrysler, promising nothing more from the government than bankruptcy protection — that is, a filing leading to recovery (Chapter 11) versus liquidation (Chapter 7).

What I am talking about is using our existing legal structure as a tool that, with the backing of the U.S. government, can make it easier for General Motors and Chrysler to quickly clear away old debts that are weighing them down so they can get back on their feet and onto a path to success; a tool that we can use, even as workers are staying on the job building cars that are being sold.

As for the anti-Chapter 11 filing, Obama took away the major reason that business types were arguing against the tack: "Because starting today," the president said, "the United States government will stand behind your warranty."

Opinion No. 2: The progressive

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo wonders why the housecleaning skipped a step.

Marshall, TPM, March 30, 2009: Why is Rick Wagoner getting the boot while the management of the big banks remains in place? ... Citi does not have the same CEO it did at the start of the crisis. And the government installed a new CEO at AIG ... And even after getting substantial government aid, I think Wagoner's the first auto industry CEO to get the boot. So perhaps we should be asking why it is that something like this hasn't happened sooner.

All that said, though, after that meeting of the major bank CEOs at the White House last week, it's hard for me not to think that, for all that has happened, their clout in Washington is just on a scale where they are accepted as peers of the realm. And simply immune to certain sorts of treatment.

Opinion No. 3: The conservativa-libertarian

And then there is this all-over-the-map roundup by Instapundit, starting by quoting columnizer James Lileks: "Maybe I'm old-school, but 'President fires CEO' looks as wrong as 'Pope fires Missile.'" It's a tweet to hear and a cheap shot. But we are not done.

UPDATE: Mickey Kaus: Wagoner: Obama's Diem? (For you toxic reference fans, that would be Ngo Dinh Diem, the more or less democratically elected leader of South Vietnam who was eliminated with U.S. help and approval in 1963. Harsh stuff, but Obama's critics seem to have no shame.)

Kaus, Slate, March 30, 2009: After visibly defenestrating GM CEO RIck Wagoner, and moving to replace the board of directors, won't Obama now 'own' the GM problem? ... Doesn't that make it harder, not easier, for the administration to walk away and force the company into bankruptcy?" Which is too bad, as bankruptcy is probably what ought to happen.

Still his call, but we have to pile on, too:

Here is where Insta goes too far. Nice try, but Gettelfinger in March announced he would retire at the end of his current term, at age 65, in June. Please try to stay abreast of developments, or wait until this summer to spout.

Opinons No. 4 & 5: Let's go smartypants

No shortage of idiotic comment (but you knew that) on either side. On the conservative The Corner, Iain Murray cites the 18th-century philosopher and skeptic Voltaire, in French:

Dans ce pays-ci il est bon de virer de temps en temps un PDG pour encourager les autres.

My Web-base translation: "In this country it is a good thing to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others." Murray meant to say "it is a good thing to unseat a chairman." But you know the right has no qualms about menacing public officials with threats to unleash its gun-laden constituency.

On the left, Eschaton simply says he doesn't get it: If not GM or Chrysler, who offer real jobs, "just who are the banksters supposed to lend to?"

Opinion No. 6: The insiders

Let us see what may have happened behind the scenes. However they may react, Michigan lawmakers got a clue from the Obama administration.

Martin Kady II and Lisa Lerer,, March 30, 2009: The White House held an hourlong conference call Sunday night with several lawmakers as the administration tried to get buy-in from a bipartisan group of lawmakers. Sens. Carl Levin (D-Detroit) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), as well as Reps. Vernon Ehlers (R-Grand Rapids), Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), and Fred Upton (R-Mich.) were on the call. All these lawmakers have a heavy auto industry presence in their home states.

"Tough love hurts," a source familiar with the call (said). "The members received the briefing with a sense of anxiety." The source said some lawmakers on the call said the timeline and funds to be announced Monday are "not good enough."

So let's see who goes public and agrees with Granholm and who lets her criticism stand.

Opinion No. 7: Will Rick Wagoner cash out?

So, you will have to take my word. But I can't find on the ever-living Web what I saw this morning — on U.S. News and World Report — that Wagoner would stay on as it were instead of cashing in his earned parachute. Now all I can find is this:

Michelle Leder and Justin Rood, ABC News, March 30, 2009: (Wagoner leaves) General Motors with a $20 million retirement package, the company's financial filings show. Although the Treasury Department has barred GM from paying severance to Wagoner or any other senior executive, Wagoner is eligible to collect millions in retirement benefits from his former employer, according to the documents reviewed by ABC News.

Technically true, but earlier reports had Wagoner simply not severing all ties but maintaining his salary of $1 (100 cents) a year so he eventually could claim his pension rights as a longtime employee. Wouldn't you?

We are rating each romantic day of the president's honeymoon on a five-step scale, after consulting the news and six top political Web sites., from left to right

See more in 100 Days WatchNews - Grand Rapids


   Daily Kos   Huffington Post   Talking Points Memo   The Daily Beast

     The Corner   Instapundit   Existential Cowboy   Consortium News

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