Quite Telling

So, I’m cruising around the cable channels, and what should I happen to come across?  The Larry King Show on CNN.  And their subject?  Why, discussing what Barack Obama is going to do to the domestic auto industry!

If there was ever a prime example of what a bunch of mental defectives make up the media industry in this country, it is on full display when Larry King takes to the airwaves.

The guests who were on the show basically illustrate my point:

  • Representative Thaddeus McCotter, Republican of Michigan, chairman of the Republican House Policy Committee and a member of the Financial Services Committee.
  • Ed Begley, Jr. – actor and whack-job environmentalist.
  • Mayor Gavin Newsom, Democrat of San Francisco – best known for being a mayor who has an affinity for having sex with other men.
  • Judge Greg Mathis, who has a single relative who works for one of the Big Three.

And what is the common thread here?  Not a single frickin’ one of the aforementioned guests have ANY experience in the automotive industry.  None! Nada! Nicht!

So, that kinda gives you a feel for the sheer stupidity that went on with this broadcast.  In fact, they could have pulled up a laid-off assembly line worker from GM, and THEY would have had more insight and credibility than ANY of Larry King’s guests, or even Larry King for that matter.

But this is just the beginning.

Now, in all fairness, the only people with the semblance of a brain on this show were Greg Mathis and Thaddeus McCotter.  These guys – mainly because they were closer to the auto industry due to locale and relations – had a better grip on what’s going on, and were able to voice a fairly informed opinion.  The others, on the other hand, were just babbling, mindless morons.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes:

MAYOR GAVIN NEWSOM, SAN FRANCISCO: Well, I don’t think he’s a fall guy. This is the guy who drove us off the cliff. Remember, this is the guy who killed the electric car — literally, not just figuratively. I mean he’s had his opportunity and he had his time. Now it’s time for car 2.0. It’s time for Steve Jobs or someone of his ilk to come in and reinvent this industry.

Let’s face it, Gavin Newsom is best known for being an ineffectual mayor of a city that purposely harbors illegal aliens.  Not only has this guy openly defied state and federal law, his major claim to fame is having sex with men.  I mean, when you boil it all down, he’s best known as a politician who prefers having sex with men over women.  Now, he further highlights his career by publicly announcing that he his not only a gay politician, but a very ignorant, gay politician.

What’s wrong with his quote?  Well…you mean, besides the fact that a Steve Jobs-kinda guy is building the “car 2.0” in the very state in which he lives (and I’m referring here to Tesla Motors, which was founded by the guy who made PayPal a reality)?

Secondly, consider the quote: “car 2.0”.  What – specifically – needs to be “reinvented” on a car?  The wheels?  The radio?  What?  The steering wheel?  As some people out there are just discovering now, the internal combustion engine is a pretty novel frickin’ idea that has yet to be effectively replaced.  Yet, drooling slack-jawed idiots like Gavin Newsom seem to think that because they mandate things need to change, that somehow they should or they must.  Maybe we need a “sofa 2.0”, or “Wheaties 3.51”?

Just plain stupid.

But hey, let’s look at what Steve Jobs did.  First, Steve Jobs didn’t invent anything.  It was Steven Wozniak that developed the first Apple computer; Steve Jobs was only the salesman.  Furthermore, the initial inspiration for the Apple computers was the Altair computer, which was a kit computer for geeks.  In addition to inspiring Wozniak, the Altair computer let to the eventual formation of Microsoft.  And the Apple McIntosh?  Well, much of that was “inspired” (or stolen) from demo of a computer system at Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) – a situation that eventually led to a lawsuit against Apple by Xerox.

But on to our next idiotic quote:

NEWSOM: Well, I think we do have to make a better product. At the end of the day, it’s a product problem, as well as a cost problem. There’s no doubt about that.

And remember, look, it’s not just the unions that are at fault here. It’s policy makers. It’s, with respect, politicians and not just those that are current positions, but those that have been in positions of influence over the years.

This is the same industry that did everything to fight every conceivable reform — be it seat belts, be it requiring rear view mirrors, let alone mileage standards. And it’s put us in this position we’re in today — a combination of all these factors, not the least of which, the inability to reconcile the health care costs — the biggest disadvantage we have, from a competitive perspective, versus other industrialized nations.

But the reality is we got into the SUV business and we made a tactical error.

The SUV and Truck market constitutes something like 30%+ of the entire North American auto market.  If the Big Three did NOT get into that sector, they’d be in worse shape than what they are now.

Consequently, the foreign automakers – Honda, Toyota, and so on – also make SUVs for the North American market.

I’m certainly glad we didn’t have Mr. Newsom dictating “tactics” during WWII.

BEGLEY: I hope they do — not just that I have, but many other people have. You know, they fought the CAFE standard (INAUDIBLE) — the high miles per gallon. They fought the seat belts. They fought the air bags. They fought the smog control devices. We have four times the cars in L.A. right now since 1978, we have half the smog because of those pollution control devices.

We have 500 at the low end; 700 billion a year leaves this country, according to me and T. Boone Pickens, that leaves this country in imported oil. We have more money now to deal with those problems if made higher mile per hour vehicles.

I guess Ed Begley is too stupid to see the contradiction in his own statement.  By his own admission, we have more fuel efficient car today (due to CAFE requirements), and yet we spend even more for foreign oil.  A basic repudiation of conservation as an economic policy.

Plus, there are some pretty good reasons why domestic automakers fought against putting airbags in cars.  First, the additional weight of airbags took away from fuel efficiency (the more weight you put in a car, the less fuel efficient it becomes).  Secondly, airbags had a tendency to KILL young children and elderly adults.  In fact, you still are advised to not put children in the front seat of a vehicle that has airbags; the concussion of the airbag being activated can kill a small child.

Which is the reason why even Toyota, BMW, and Nissan initially lobbied against the deployment of airbags in passenger vehicles (as reported by Janet Fix of the Detroit Free Press on 10/28/1999), as well as regulations that would have required stronger airbags to be developed.

And it was Toyota who also recently threw in with the Big Three to prevent a further (and disastrous) increase in the CAFE standards, as late as 2007.

However, what’s even more comical is Doorknob Ed’s assertion that the Big Three “fought” implementing airbags in their vehicles.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration encouraged the use of 3-point manual belts in vehicles.  The Big Three, convinced that airbags were actually safer, installed tens of thousands of airbags in production vehicles from 1974 to 1976.  The Big Three saw airbags as a replacement for seat belts, and was active in implementing these since the mid-Seventies.  It was only when the NHTSA forced the automakers to implement seat belts that the concept of using airbags got scrapped – mainly for profitability.

So Ed Begley is lying.

This one, however, is choice:

NEWSOM: It’s interesting Ed brings up 30 miles a gallon. In 1908, the model T, Ford was getting 25 miles per gallon. Think about that. Here we are a century later, how much progress have we made?

It is true. Mike was right to suggest that we were building cars that the customers wanted. But I don’t know that we knew what we wanted. I much prefer a car that gets 100 miles a gallon, but I was never even afforded the opportunity to think differently and act differently when I was in the show room.

Company out here in the Bay Area, Tesla Motors, just created these new electric vehicles. They’re one of the fastest cars in the world. I didn’t know that technology existed until I got in and drove one. The reality is, we need to dramatically reinvent, reconsider, refocus, recalibrate our expectations of what the automobile industry is going to look like five, ten years from now, not play in the margins.

I think that’s what President Obama is speaking to. There’s some good things happening in the automobile industry. But good is not good enough in this economic climate.

First, the Model T has a 20 HP engine.  It didn’t have automatic ignition, a radio, windows, power steering, power brakes, catalytic converter, air conditioning, door locks, and I won’t bother to mention that airbags didn’t even exist at the time.  If you tried to put that small of an engine into virtually any car these days, I doubt the vehicle would even be able to move.

Whereas a fully-loaded 2009 Ford Explorer with a 290 HP V8 engine gets better gas mileage than a Model T.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, Gavin Newsom is an idiot.

And it’s kinda funny: here we have a guy complain on one hand that we need someone to develop a new type of car, and then in the next breath talk about someone (local to him, I might add) who is developing a new kind of car.  Yep.  A real genius there, alright.

But I love the part about not realizing that electric car technology existed until Gavin actually drove one.  Electric cars have been around since the early 1900s, and all of the Big Three have produced electric cars at various points in their history.  Mr. (or Ms. depending on his preferences) Newsom obviously didn’t know this because he had been too preoccupied with gay sex orgies for most of his adult life.  The rest of us, on the other hand, kinda sorta knew this already.

BEGLEY: They fight it (CAFE standards). Again, 30 is great. I’ve gotten 58.6 real world miles per gallon in my wife’s Prius. That’s the kind of car — they’ve had waiting lists for those cars, Larry. I think Detroit wants waiting lists.

First, I’ll throw the BS flag on the “58.6 real world miles per gallon” on a Prius.  Not even Toyota is making those kinds of claims.  Ed Begely is lying.

As for waiting lists, I’m throwing another BS flag here too.  First, it took over ten years for the Prius to reach the 1,000,000 mark in sales (by comparison, a Ford F150 sells more than half of that annually).  These things are not flying off the shelves.  Furthermore, there has been a sales decline for the Prius product, so much so that Toyota has delayed opening up a Prius plant in Mississippi.  In 2008, according to Edmunds, sales of fuel-efficient hybrids fell 50% from just a year earlier.  Remember, 2008 was the year for $4.00-$5.00 a gallon gas, when hybrid sales should have been on the increase.  They weren’t.

Overall, the hybrid market constitutes roughly 2% of all auto sales.  When contrasted to the 30%+ market share for trucks and SUVs, this number is insignificant.

All of this is because hybrid vehicles have a SIGNIFICANT price difference when compared to comparable non-hybrid vehicles.  Why?  Because it requires more and costly components to get that small increase in vehicle mileage.  Most average people look at that price difference, whip out their pocket calculators, and quickly figure out that it would take about 5 years to start realizing some sort of cost savings even with $4.00 a gallon for gas. 

That’s because average people are not as stupid as Ed Begely, Gavin Newsom, or Larry King.


(You can get a transcript of the aforementioned show here.)

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