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Ed Driscoll

Unsafe At Any Speed

April 1st, 2014 - 11:32 pm

Does the Obama administration bear any responsibility in the recently announced recall of GM cars, after a series of fatalities? Let’s flashback a few years:

On Monday morning, President Obama announced that the Treasury Department would back the warranties of new General Motors and Chrysler vehicles.

“If you buy a car from Chrysler or General Motors, you will be able to get your car serviced and repaired, just like always,” President Obama said during a speech from the White House. “Your warranty will be safe. In fact, it will be safer than it’s ever been, because starting today, the United States government will stand behind your warranty.”

That’s from a March 30, 2009 New York Times article titled “Understanding Obama’s Auto Warranty Plan,” back when the Obama administration still had that new hopenchange smell, was starting from zero, and all things seemed possible — and the craziest leftwing rhetoric and corporatist fantasies seemed believable. You can see the full passage quoted in the National Archives and Records Administration’s Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States at Google Books, and in the above news clip, excerpted from a Silicon Graffiti video I shot back then.

Flash-forward today; Jim Geraghty links to a CBS-Connecticut article titled, “Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal Urges People to Stop Driving GM,” in which Obama’s fellow Democrat urges his state’s voters to eschew the products of his president’s bailout:

General Motors Co. said it is recalling 1.5 million vehicles worldwide, because the electronic power-steering assist can suddenly stop working, making them harder to steer. Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal is among those calling for GM to make a stronger statement and tell owners to stop driving their cars immediately. Blumenthal believes GM made a decision to hide the defect of ignition switches.  Blumenthal along with Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey is introducing legislation aimed at better auto safety reporting.

* * * * * *

In response to the panel, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a statement Sunday saying it had “reviewed data from a number of sources in 2007, but the data we had available at the time did not warrant a formal investigation.”

The cars were recalled by GM due to a flaw which causes ignition switches to move from the “run” to the “accessory” or “off” position, which causes the car to stall and disables the air bags and power steering. The recall includes the Chevrolet Cobalt, Chevrolet HHR, Pontiac G5, Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Ion and Saturn Sky from the 2003-2011 model years.

Geraghty adds:

Considering the risk from the switches, Blumenthal’s advice isn’t the most outlandish conclusion in the world. If an owner of one of the recalled cars wants to drive it at all, he should remove everything from the key chain and drive the car to the dealer, very carefully, over the smoothest roads possible, and get the car checked out.

The problem is that we’ve been told for five years that General Motors was a national institution that had to be saved at all costs, including billions of taxpayer dollars. Now Democratic lawmakers are really, really eager to drop the hammer on GM for hiding the danger these cars presented to the public. That may be (and increasingly appears to be) completely justified, except the same crowd told us five years ago that all of us had to chip in to save this company, so they could keep making these cars that Blumenthal wants everyone to stop driving.

Note that according to CBS-Connecticut, the recall covers cars built during the 2003 through 2011 model years. That would cover the 2009 period during which Mr. Obama promised the American people that “If you buy a car from Chrysler or General Motors…starting today, the United States government will stand behind your warranty.” In much the same way that, as Mr. Obama was also saying back then, if you like your health insurance, you can keep your health insurance. But then, Duffman says a lot of things.

Exit quote:

I hope someone in the Obama administration will get out the handcuffs, the SWAT teams, or the U.S. army if need be, march into GM headquarters in downtown Detroit and haul away anyone who is there who had anything to do with this. And if they already left town, hunt them down and bring them in to face justice.

Given what Mr. Obama promised the American people in 2009 and his role as de facto CEO of Government Motors, did Michael Moore inadvertently threaten the president today?

Update: As I added in the comments, of course Obama wasn’t aware of problems with GM cars during his watch as wannabe-CEO. But if you’re going to pretend to be in charge when it’s all upside (via the taxpayers’ money), then he must accept the consequences when disaster strikes.

Mr. Obama is Commander in Chief of the left’s War Against the American People, after all.

More: From Ace on “the media’s complete lack of mention of Steve Rattner, Obama’s ‘car czar,’” and the MSM’s “unexpected” reluctance to ask “any questions about President’s Auto Industry Task Force, just how thorough their review of GM was, and how they managed to miss so many consequential lurking safety issues.”

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Of course he didn't know -- but if he wishes to pretend to be the CEO when it was all upside ("saving" GM on the taxpayer's dime), then he should be prepared for the consequences when disaster strikes during his watch.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (28)
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My friend's step-mother makes $89 hourly on the computer . She has been fired from work for nine months but last month her paycheck was $15243 just working on the computer for a few hours.
=== ===== ==== ===== >>>> http://www.Green37.com
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
GM SHOULD'VE GONE OUT OF BUSINESS YEARS AGO
In "Unsafe at Any Speed", Ralph Nader tells an anecdote about Buick's introduction of power brakes ca. 1953. It turns out Buick discovered there was a leak in the system. A leak that caused the brakes to fail. What did Buick do? It sent a postcard to Buick owners to go to the dealer where they bought the car and get a freebie, like a car wash. Of course, once the dealer got the car, it would fix 'the problem' without ever telling the car owner there was a problem. One Buick owner who drove to to the dealership, not surprisingly, couldn't stop and drove right into the showroom.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
SPYING, LYING & COVER-UPS
And let's not forget that GM tried to destroy Nader by spying on him. Hmmmm.
Spying, lying & cover-ups: No wonder Obama stands behind GM. They taught him everything he knows.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
In a free market, consumers are empowered to make informed decisions. GM has been making JUNK for years. Let the buyer beware.

People expect the CEO to know about ignition switches. She can probably barely read a balance sheet.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
The bottom line for any bailout is that the subject of the bailout was managing their affairs so poorly they needed a bailout. GM is not good at being a successful automaker. Their safety and reliability concerns are legion and most Americans have a few funny stories about that. Back in the day, people would find out a Union worker had put a coke bottle between the frame and chassis of the car as one stage of their negotiations. The fundamental problem with GM is that their unions have become incredibly powerful despite actual urgent workers rights issues being resolved ages ago. So they fight for lazier work and a zealous share of future profits, and GM cannot afford to be the kind of automaker Honda can. Couple that with government corruption and you have a permanently messed up car company.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Does the Obama administration bear any responsibility in the recently announced recall of GM cars, after a series of fatalities?"

The question answers itself. Has the Obama administration ever taken or been held to any public responsibility FOR A SINGLE THING that went wrong, or failed to claim and be granted credit for anything that went right? Of course not - the idea of either of these previously normal institutional responses has become unthinkable.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's great we're calling Obama out for his hypocrisy. It's glorious.

What gets lost is the very telling and important testimony by GMs current CEO regarding the switches. Before Congress, she was grilled on the fact that the switches didn't meet GMs own minimum specifications.

In response, the CEO stated that this happens quite often when manufacturing cars. To which some idiot Congressdolt stated, "That's gobbledygook!"

No, the Congressdolt's statement was gobbledygook. It happens in manufacturing all the time. Often, a manufacturer is FORCED to use a substandard part because they can't find a vendor who can produce a part to their standards - such a part simply isn't being produced.

This happens all the time, across many industries. That their car failed due to this defective part and the result was death of consumers means consumers should sue GM and make a bunch of money.

The litigation and bad press will be enough to pressure them to CREATE a part that meets specifications, or get out of the car business, OR they will continue killing consumers who (God hopes) will have the good sense to never buy another car from Government Motors and instead buy a Ford, or any other car company that's not full of socialist cronies.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
If you work as an engineer - or are a manufacturer - please identify your company, so that I can avoid any of its products.

When an engineer specifies a standard to which a part should conform, it means THAT IT SHOULD CONFORM. Otherwise, why are they even specifying a standard?

It may happen that a part is not, or cannot, be manufactured to the specification. In which case, the standard can be re-examined for whether it is reasonable. If it is unreasonable, the standard is changed - if it is reasonable, that means YOU DO NOT PRODUCE THE PRODUCT. Especially if the part affects safety.

Now, will some substandard parts get through the entire process and be installed in a product, possibly resulting in injury or death? Of course they will. No matter how good the QA process is at the vendor, no matter how good the incoming QA process is at the manufacturer, some tiny percentage will get past them.

What was lacking here was any sort of due diligence. The standard specified was reasonable; anything less posed a risk of injury or death to the customer. The engineers and executives at Delphi knew the part did not meet the standard. The engineers and executives at GM knew the part did not meet the standard. All of the engineers and executives knew that using the part would lead to injury and death.

As for the part not being available - it was. Other GM models that did not use that ignition switch do not have the problem. Models from manufacturers that did not use that ignition switch do not have the problem.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
The money should be taken from GM's exec bonuses and pensions, retroactively, not tax payers. Otherwise, there's no teeth in it.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
Based on what? Your bigoted hatred of successful corporate workers? Perhaps based on your envy?

Exactly why should the executives at GM have to personally pay for any lawsuits?
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
Because if they had knowledge of the situation they are responsible. Those who didn't know are not responsible.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
Any executives that HAD KNOWLEDGE of the problem should be liable. Saying that they should not be is the same as claiming a drunk driver is not liable for the injury and death of his victims.

That said, there is plenty of blame to go around, including for the people at Delphi and multiple government executives.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
The lies of politicians must eventually give way to reality. Obama’s idiotic and empty posturing will not save him.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
It will not necessarily catch up to him though. Stalin died in his own bed and is still revered by some who lived under his tyranny despite murdering so many of them. Chairman Mao is still officially esteemed in China despite killing more of his own people than even Stalin and Hitler. China's only excuse is that they are still, at least in theory, still Marxist, although Mao would surely be turning over in his grave at the antics of his successors for their massive deviations from Marxist/Maoist thought.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't mind holding the GM executives who decided not to issue a recall criminally liable. I say that as someone who is a free market capitalist. But the government officials who knew and allowed it should also be held criminally liable. Even if it rises to the Oval Office.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
That's an interesting take. Let's say that GM sells 10,000 cars in a single year. It's probably many more than that, but for the sake of your argument, let's say it's a paltry 10K.

13 deaths out of 10,000 auto sales means 0.13% of GM customers were killed by GM products. I hope you don't have to live up to your own standards at your job, man. I really do.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
I work at a semiconductor plant that makes devices for automotive brakes, steering, engine controls, etc...

(It may or may not be the same plant in my story above.)

We have special training in automotive. People who work on automotive devices have it pounded into them repeatedly the ZERO DEFECTS is the only standard we will accept. We all, even the cynics, follow that standard on every auto device we work on. We all know that if we screw up we will kill people. There is no acceptable defect level above 0.000 We blow a fortune on destructive tests on every order to make damned sure nothing gets out the door but good product.

If you want to work at a place that doesn't give a damn about killing people, I suggest you go work for GM.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
Once again, please let us know if you have anything to do with developing any products - so we know to avoid them.

Giving the GM people the MAXIMUM benefit of the doubt - that they did not have a clue about the defective design of the switch until 2005 - they continued to install a known hazardous part for the next SIX years.

Let's take a physician - say, an oncologist. If he or she does everything possible, using current medical knowledge, to save your loved one's life from cancer - they indeed do not have liability. If, however, they prescribe bleeding your loved one, to take out the "bad humors," - I think that even you would be ready to see them in the dock for negligent homicide.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yep, Obama knew all about the mechanical fault in GM cars ... and you're the queen of Rumania.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
You've apparently forgotten Harry Truman's famous dictum: "The Buck Stops Here". The GM Executives may get away with the "I was only following orders" ploy but Obama should not, especially as de facto CEO of GM.

Of course I'm talking about what SHOULD happen, not what WILL happen. Given Obama's previous pattern, it's very clear that he will take whatever credit is to be had for having "saved" GM and disavow any involvement or knowledge of anything that may make him look bad like the failure to recall those deadly cars.

We saw a textbook example with Libya. Out of one side of his mouth, he disclaimed any meaningful involvement in deposing Qaddafi but out of the other side, he took the lion's share of the credit. His supporters tied themselves in knots for weeks trying to both take credit and deny involvement. It was truly farcical.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
Of course he didn't know -- but if he wishes to pretend to be the CEO when it was all upside ("saving" GM on the taxpayer's dime), then he should be prepared for the consequences when disaster strikes during his watch.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
"You didn't fix that, but you owns it, B!0tch."
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
If the government stands behind GM, then the government is also responsible. That’s fascism: corporations are no longer independent entities (with rights and responsibilities) but branches of the government. Obama is the head that government and announced his personal responsibility á lá the Czar or Mussolini for every event that takes place in his demesne.

He should be held accountable. Even the Queen of Romania could see that.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
The really really awful thing is that they kept using the same crappy part year after year. I mean its one things not issuing a recall, its another thing to keep using a defective part after you know its risks! Its also worth pointing out that those cars (besides the Sky which was a sports car) are 'poor people cars' which are purchased for low prices by people who mostly can't afford a better one. I drove a similar type of car for about 12 years, purchased when it was all I could afford. So its not just contempt for customers in general, its contempt for the poorest customers.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
So, if to your knowledge you can't find a vendor that manufactures a part to your company's specification, and to your knowledge no one died last year while using your company's products, what should you do as the corporate purchasing agent at GM?

Should you run screaming from your office to shut down all the production lines and send thousands of workers home with no pay? How about the tens of thousands of workers who work for your vendors who rely on you taking delivery of all their products to manufacture your cars? If you shut down your operation, you shut them down, too.

Will you be responsible for the massive layoffs just because some of the parts don't meet the specifications listed by some engineer on a drawing?

Good thing you're so omniscient. GM should hire you right up, brother.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
Once, many years ago, a problem in a product produced by a local semiconductor manufacturer was discovered. This device was a control circuit for anti-lock brakes.

It was only a small problem, but could possibly have caused brakes to lock under extremely cold conditions. The fix was a minor design change in one layer of the device. It could have been covered up and any later problems would have been next to impossible to detect in those devices that were already shipped. It would only have effected one month of production of one model year over several manufacturers.

They could have papered over the problem and was unlikely in the extreme that anyone would find the problem. The deaths caused by this minor bug would have looked like bad driving and lab tests of the brakes would likely have passed any controlled-conditions tests. Indeed, these devices passed the manufacturers' tests.

The line was stopped and all shipped parts ( which thankfully hadn't gotten to the car manufacturers yet) were recalled. This caused the brake manufacturer to be late in delivery to the multiple car manufacturers they sold to.

Axes flew and broadswords swung. The plant took a big hit financially and showed it's first quarterly loss in it's existence, but nobody died because this one semiconductor plant did the right thing AS SOON AS THE DESIGN FLAW WAS DISCOVERED!

GM chose to let people die. They papered over the problem and hoped nobody noticed.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
Once again, you obfuscate.

If it is the rear window defrost coils, no, you don't. You take it as a given that some people will have problems; you send out a notice to shops that the company will pay for the work if a customer comes in with a conked out rear window defrost.

When it is a part that can injure or kill people by failing - and you know that they will fail - you do an immediate shutdown, retool, and shipment stop. You recall any product that is out there, hopefully before anyone is affected by it.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
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