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General Motoring

UGLY ORNAMENTS
Re: Eric Peters’s Can GM Come Back?:

Can GM come back? GM’s still here?

Not that long ago, GM could have bought into Microsoft or even Toyota, to the general welfare of its employees and shareholders. It didn’t, of course. Now, GM should sell its assets (perhaps on E-Bay), buy off its employees, and use whatever is left to invest in biotechnology and nanotechnology start-ups with a future.

Fungible commodities like look-alike autos are not the stuff of dreams to hotshot, young, innovative engineers.
David Govett
Davis, California

It has been frustrating to watch the decline of GM over the past 40 years while the company blames everyone and everything but itself. GM’s main problem is quality. Except for Cadillac, GM’s new cars have significantly more defects than Toyota or Honda. But what really hurts GM are the defects that appear as the cars age. Those of us who drive cars for more than a couple of years know that Toyotas and Hondas will last far more miles with fewer problems. All GM has to do is visit a used car lot or attend a used car auction to see the huge price disparities between its cars and comparable Toyotas and Hondas. Even Click and Click, the Tappet Brothers of NPR’s “Car Talk,” will tell you that Toyotas and Hondas are good for about 200,000 miles with little maintenance. You’d be lucky to get 100,000 out of a GM car without major maintenance issues.
Roger D. McKinney
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

Back in 1980, I insisted (against my father’s advice that I buy a Toyota) that I wanted an American car. I purchased a Pontiac Sunbird, which was a BIG mistake. I was beset with problems almost from the date of purchase. It was previously owned with only 6,000 miles on it. I was told that the previous owner had wanted a Toyota instead of the Pontiac and thus traded it in. (This was a Pontiac/Toyota dealership.) I was not given the owner’s name and number until after I had completed the sale.

The owner said, “Oh! You got a lemon. My wife has had only trouble with that car — that’s why we traded it back for a Toyota.”

I later found that the engine block was separated from the front of the car, causing an oil leak whenever I drove the car over 50 miles. This allowed carbon monoxide to get into the car due to its contour even with windows closed and a/c on. I would feel drowsy after driving 50 miles and have to pull over, crack the window, and “rest” for 15 minutes and continue my trip.

The timing also would go out about every six weeks. A friend would reset it for me. We later found that the timing gear was made of hard plastic, not metal. This caused the gear to slip if I drove over too many bumpy roads.

The engine block was finally replaced on warranty after I complained to the district office in Jacksonville, Florida, about my problems.

This is the last American car I have ever owned. As I have watched American cars in the past 25 years, it seems that there have been recalls of American cars each year for various problems.

I understand that in the late 1970s, American car manufacturers did away with their quality control departments at the end of the assembly line. They told the dealers to go over the cars and if they found anything wrong, to repair it, and they would be compensated. The dealers were given a certain amount per car to perform this function.

The dealers, however, let the customer be the QC department, telling customers, “If you have any trouble in the first few months, bring the car back and we will fix it.”

I feel that GM and Ford will continue to have lagging sales until the quality is restored to their cars. They can put out as many models and brands as they like, but without quality, they will still miss the mark.
Bill Reynolds

Hard to believe that GM has not seen the light yet. As Peters points out, GM can’t see its market or its product and even in the jaws of bankruptcy, fails to respond.

I feel the agony would be over by now if GM didn’t have the large fleet sales to rental outlets and large corporate and government contracts. Who wants a Buick today? Perhaps GM can’t see the Buick market because Lexus (Toyota) and others auto makers respond and offer superior products. I know Buick has nothing that can come close to an ES350. Lexus does with ease now what Buick can only dream of when it was young and had some youth appeal. The average Buick buyer today is 60-plus years old.

Has GM not been paying attention to the youth market? Throw away the Camaro/Firebird? And then try and come back against a Ford Shelby Mustang… good luck!

The Corvette has always been GM’s “other” child. They wanted to get rid of it at one or more times. Perhaps this is why it’s so hard to find the “bowtie” on the fabled sports car.
Len LaBounty

As long as GM is giving most of its profits to the unions it will never climb out of the hole. Maybe it should move all its plants to right to work states and stop paying blackmail to the union bosses. Let them try and strike down south and you can replace with willing, not illegal, workers.
Elaine Kyle

WINNING DEMS?
Re: Brendan Conway’s A Test for “Fighting Dems”:

James Webb’s victory tonight in the Virginia primary was the most important victory for Democrats in a long time. For the first time in a long time true a grassroots campaign won over a much better funded party insider. That’s good news for Democrats all over the country.

What does this mean for the GOP? It’s the first note of the bell tolling. Webb’s victory and the support he received from top Washington Democrats — even Chuck Schumer, shows the Democrats are tired of losing. And it means we have come to take our Reagan Democrats home. For a long time we’ve been squeezed into a small tent, driven there by the right’s move to beat the drum over the same hot button issues. But the notice has been served. It’s time to break out the big top.

I suspect George Allen might want to take a serious look at running for the Oval Office. Jim Webb wants his Senate seat and he’s gonna be a hard man to turn down.

It’s gonna be fun,
Nick Stump
Louisville, Kentucky

I hope Mr. Conway will as November looms focus on the fact that Tammy Duckworth doesn’t live in the district Henry Hyde is retiring from, doesn’t plan on moving into it, and barely won her primary despite the back of everyone and his brother, probably because of her lack of residency.

The voters who backed her opponent are right. Not living where you serve is simply outrageous. “At least” Hillary Clinton put on a show of living in New York: “Tammy Duckworth Has NO Business Running in Illinois’ Sixth District.”
Tom Blumer
BizzyBlog.com

Brendan Conway replies:
You know, for Duckworth not to want to move into the district she is vying to represent in many ways would show a similar to-heck-with-the-locals attitude as John Kerry and friends showed by booting Harris Miller in this James Webb race. Miller had the support of lots and lots of local D’s. But Webb, although a longtime Virginian and clearly no carpetbagger, was the anointed son of the tippity top of the party elite.

SLUMPING
Re: Lisa Fabrizio’s Can’t Win for Losing:

Democrats will continue to lose elections if conservatives will quit letting the drive-by media and even some so-called “conservatives” shape their opinions on the conflict in Iraq (we’ve won if we don’t follow the MINO {Marine In Name Only} Murtha’s advice), global warming (Chicken Little “pseudo-science”), the economy and conservative nature of the Bush administration. A careful analysis of the Reagan and Bush (43) records reveals that the less eloquent Bush (43) is far more conservative than the 20th century’s greatest President — Ronald W. Reagan.
Michael Tomlinson
Crownsville, Maryland

Kos is 0 for 20? Even for the Democrats, that’s one heck of a slump! Great analysis article. Keep pounding them, sooner or later, they’ll attack you for being right
R. Goodson
Vero Beach, Florida

I guess the only thing you can say about the Dems is they are going to defeat one of their own — Lieberman — to get a “W”? Very odd group.
MHW

SIMPLE WEDDING, GOOD MARRIAGE
Re: Carol Platt Liebau’s Postmodern Bride:

Geez, I am so, so, so old fashioned. I got married in a church, and the friends and relatives we invited where there along with God to hold us to our solemn promise to fidelity as well as the promise to our parents that we would honor, love, and cherish each other “…til death do us part.” (Not that I am in any hurry.)

These “wedding planner” programs that are metastasizing across cable-TV-land are just another symptom of “publicizing” a formerly private ceremony. Everyone’s looking for their 15 minutes (hopefully underwritten by a production company it seems) anyway they can get it. We simply threw a bouquet and a garter, had a band, everyone ate, drank, danced and we all went home.

The most expensive and lavish weddings I have been to up to this point have all ended up in divorce court. Though, I did appreciate the premium champagne and good food.

Yeah, we were dull but we’re still married.
P. Aaron Jones
Huntington Woods, Michigan

Weddings were distressing and vulgar affairs long before brides starting posing suggestively at trendy photoshoots. (“Postmodern Bride”, Carol Platt Liebau, June 14). Herding everyone you ever knew into a room with loud music, obnoxious relatives, mediocre food, and resentments and hurt feelings by relatives about the type of ceremony and whom to invite form the basis of these gift-grabbing extravaganzas of overblown bad taste, The religious aspect serves as a foundation for all the tackiness, launching the bride and groom to nirvana based solely on their feelings they have found their “soul mate” — the only acceptable reason for marriage in society today — only to have the whole thing crash in divorce a few years later. Worse yet, because people marry multiple times — even Catholics with their divorces that the Church euphemistically calls annulments — potential guests repeatedly subject themselves to the same nightmare. There is nothing that so discourages a single person from wanting to get married as attending a typical wedding event.
Caroline Miranda
North Hollywood, California

SOLDIER ON
Re: Quin Hillyer’s Resolved: Bush Is Right on Iraq:

There comes a time when we have to reflect on the way we think about some issues and Quin Hillyer’s article has given me cause for reflection. I offer no excuses for my thoughts or decisions of the past but I was wrong on thinking it is time to bring the troops home from Iraq. I still have reservations about the way this war is being conducted but given the circumstances, it seems to be the only way. I hate to think of myself as a “Sunshine Patriot” type person but that was probably an appropriate moniker, however, that too can change. Bush is right in pursuing the course he is and results are happening. I still have my doubts about his being a conservative in other areas but as far as Iraq goes, as long as the troops have faith in his leadership, I will too. Thanks, Quin, for giving me a boost.
Pete Chagnon

LAUGHABLY SERIOUS
Re: Shawn Macomber’s Kossacks in the Desert:

It just sounds like a cheesier Renaissance Weekend, doesn’t it? As for the dainty little Kos, himself — I have searched for a word to describe him. “Twerp” would do, I think.
Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

Rather than “Kossacks,” should not it be spelled “Kos-hacks”? We wouldn’t want to be offending hearty Russian tribal horsemen….
Reid Bogie
Waterbury, Connecticut

SMALL SHOES TO FILL
Re: Steven F. Hayward’s A Liberal Throws in the Towel on Reagan:

Re: Reeves book on Reagan. Jimmy Carter would have made any successor look good. He, if you haven’t forgot (most quickly did), ran around telling Americans stuff like “we’re in a malaise” and we and our country are going down hill, and we’re at the end of empire, and blah, blah. Not exactly what people wanted to hear, judging from the ’80 election results. Good advice for the Dems in ’08 is to pick a candidate who stays away from that line.
Ty Knoy
Ann Arbor, Michigan

I once voted for Ronald Reagan, but today I think conservatives overstate his importance. What made him stand out was the convictions that he acquired from his life experiences. Unlike many politicians today, he believed what he said and knew how to communicate effectively. This made him appealing to a very broad constituency. He certainly was charismatic and principled, but what were his actual accomplishments as President? While talking about putting a stop to “big government,” government spending increased. Paul Volcker, a Carter appointee, deserves more credit than Reagan for reducing inflation and stabilizing the economy. The fall of communism is better explained by internal collapse than by American pressure. And then there’s the Iran-Contra episode. I don’t think Ronald Reagan should be canonized any time soon.
Paul Dorell
Highland Park, Illinois

THE UN ON THE POTOMAC
Re: Jed Babbin’s Brownie, You’re Doing a Heck of a Job:

The United Nations, the one in Turtle Bay, was born at the very moment the United States had emerged to meet demand in the global political market for benevolent, powerful yet minimalist regulation of human events. Our American nationhood is one of united nations. E pluribus unum — from many, one, Mr. Gore’s contrarian exegesis notwithstanding. All the peoples of the world are represented through our political institutions by their American kin, consanguineous, spiritual or just plain sympathetic. Is there any territory or tribe on this planet without a lobby, a constituency or at least a charity on our fair shores? I think not. And better still, the nations are represented in our polity not in proportion to their numbers, nor by the mere fact of statehood but rather as a positive function of their mastery of process in this splendid constitutional republic. Your voice is loud in America to the degree that you’ve mastered the art and science of liberal governance under the rule of law. Those are the voices we want to be loud. They’re the voices of people who get it. Hence, tiny Israel looms large on our political map and Indonesia does not. Yet. The door is open to all who trouble themselves to understand and apply. There’s no arithmetic obstacle to the Botswana lobby surpassing AIPAC in its influence.

The world wanted a regulator, and the nations, acting in their respective self-interests and guided as if by an invisible hand, got one in the post-war United States of America. We’re the winners in the global marketplace for regulatory principles and applications. The UN ought to be viewed as a desperate socialist reaction to a revolutionary market innovation, and so it should be no surprise it behaves like a Soviet planning bureau. The General Assembly, where Zimbabwe’s voice is as loud as Great Britain’s, is of course an abject lesson in the madness of enforced equality. The Security Council is where the Mandarins sit, attended to by apparatchiks.

Lenin would love it.

The UN is worse than a waste of time and money, though a waste of these it certainly is. As a reactionary competitor to the United States, it is inclined to behavior which undermines our interests and our global effectiveness and is therefore habitually malicious. The UN is bad for us, and bad for the world. Who needs it? We’re the free-market alternative to the UN. This is what the MBA types call a no-brainer. Funding one’s sleazy competitor is bad business. The United States should quit the UN without further ado.

Hosting the rump organization is largely an administrative issue — a business decision, really. If it pays, then why not? If it doesn’t, then to hell with it. Might be interesting to agree to host it in a dedicated campus in, say, the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, where it could carry out its saintly work undistracted by the fleshpots of Manhattan. Think anybody’d show up?
Paul Kotik
Plantation, Florida

MEAN ABOUT MEAN
Re: Jeffrey Lord’s From God to Godless: The Real Liberal Terror:

Jeffrey Lord is sure to receive scathing reviews from our friends on the left for his analysis of their reaction to Ann Coulter. Nothing is more entertaining than watching a liberal foam at the mouth when their ideology is attacked. All pretense of tolerance is immediately jettisoned and replaced instead with venomous bile. All their platitudes extolling free speech mysteriously disappear as they denounce any who challenge liberal orthodoxy. In spite of their supposed disdain for censorship, they make exceptions for conservatives by not only advocating it but practicing it when it is speech that violates their sensibilities. While they constantly criticize conservatives for being mean-spirited they certainly have no qualms about hurling the vilest epithets imaginable at opponents, all without a twinge of guilt about their own hypocrisy. When desperation sets in, they resort to telling outright lies in order to discredit anyone in their cross-hairs. Before the advent of alternative media and the internet they could get away with these bullying tactics but now they are beginning to realize they must defend their ideology in the marketplace. They also recognize that the majority of the folks aren’t buying what they are selling. This must be especially galling to them. No wonder they are angry.
Rick Arand
Lee’s Summit, Missouri

SECOND THOUGHTS
Re: Enemy Central’s Coulter Geist:

Thinking that the Jersey Girls were married to policemen and firefighters, I found Coulter’s rhetoric thoroughly despicable.

Little did I know that their husbands had worked for Cantor Fitzgerald and Fiduciary Trust International.

Perhaps Ms. Coulter was too deferential. After all, to leftists, these ladies are “little Mrs. Eichmanns.”
Dan Martin
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

MORE THOUGHTS
Re: Mark Gauvreau Judge’s Doubting Coulter — At First:

For what it is worth, regarding Mr. Judge’s wondering about why the women described in detail the horrifics regarding their husband’s deaths — here is an observation I have seen over and over that speaks another angle to his wonderings:

I am a church musician and have played many, many funerals over the years. For a while, I was one of the “official” organists for weddings and funerals at Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia, where I played many services for military dependent’s funerals, but also, sadly, for some of the Somalia victims’ services in the early-mid 1990s.

My observation is merely that more women I have seen do a great deal more talking about the actual specifics in death than do men. Men will definitely react as Mr. Judge describes, where there is far more indirect mention of a death in their conversation.

I suppose this may be a “he said, she said” type of argument, (or a men are from Mars, women are from Venus type) but it is definitely what I have experienced by being exposed to far more funerals than the average person.

As such, the fact that the Jersey women mentioned in such stark detail a horrible, horrible scenario regarding their loved one’s deaths seems perfectly logical and in keeping with what can be expected of many women suffering from a horrible experience.

A thought to consider.
Mark Frazier

For days now I have mused over the fall-out from Ann Coulter’s seemingly heartless remark “…enjoying the death of their husbands” describing the Jersey Girls. The quote, as I first heard it was “enjoying the celebrity the death of their husbands has brought them.” Perhaps Ann, in a fit of candor refined it — but no matter.

It appears that a whole lot of folks would like to get Annie into some kind of 12-step program for Mouthy Women. At least Ann Coulter’s remarks, articles, and books make pretty good sense when you (if you must) get past the clarity with which she says it. In my opinion, that’s what the jugular is for — so go for it! From the outset I have thought that Kristen Breitweiser was a publicity hound and that her husband happened to be where he was unfortunate. She gets more interview time than the other “girls” because she is prettier and every bit as “mean” as Ann Coulter. Except her target is George Bush, which delights Chris Matthews.

Why should Ann Coulter trim her sails to suit everyone who is offended by her style? Compare her book sales to that of any other political writer — bit of shtick never hurts. If you don’t like it, buy another book or read nothing at all — which is what most of America is doing these days. One person even wrote in criticizing her for wearing “a cocktail dress” at seven in the morning. Sleeveless is not necessarily cocktail, rube.

No one has ever suggested that people would like Don Rickles if he’d just be more polite. How about Mark Levin? I thought he would have made a perfect White House press secretary to deal with David Gregory and Helen Thomas.

In answer to the question, “Can’t we all just get along?” I certainly hope not. We would be a nation of Stepford Wives and whatever the male equivalent is. Couch potato?
Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

Mark Gauvreau Judge’s defense of Ann Coulter presents a specious argument at best. To fault the “Jersey Girls” for their depiction of their husbands’ death is to fault them for nothing more than injudicious rhetoric. Ms. Coulter, on the other hand, will stoop to any depths to create controversy and sell books.

I find it much easier to forgive the aforementioned “Jersey Girls” their lapse of political correctness in trying to make political points during their fifteen minutes of fame than to swallow the pap spewed forth by Ms. Coulter, a supposed professional writer/journalist.

By the way, a question if I might. Is Ann Coulter still trying to pass herself off as a Christian?
Bob Phillips

NO HOLDS BARRED
Re: Thomas E. Stuart’s letter (“Flower Power Recoils”) in Reader Mail’s Targeted Responses:

WOW, Thomas, next time don’t hold back!! Tell us what you really think! But this from someone who lives in one of the truly bluest states there is, (Kapa’au is one of my most beloved places on earth!) must make you one of the rarest of specimens. A true liberal despising conservative in a socialist state. You go guy!!
Craig Sarver
Behind Enemy Lines, Seattle, Washington

TANGLED UP IN BLUE
Re: Mike Showalter’s letter (“Vestal Virginians”) in Reader Mail’s Targeted Responses:

Perhaps this son of immigrants, whose roots in this country, unlike those of the multi-generational American Showalter clan, extend not much farther than the soles of his sneakers, should have interpreted Robin Williams’s suggestion — that vengeful Virginians await our terrorist foes in the afterlife in lieu of the expected harem — as an insult to the Old Dominion rather than the tribute it surely was. But since those same visionary Virginians, spurning the rotten boroughs of the mother country, saw to it that my vote counts the same as his, we solve nothing by arguing over it.

I suspect that Mr. Showalter’s ballot in Texas’s most liberal county (popular bumper sticker: “Keep Austin Weird”) feels as forlorn as my own here in the 18th Congressional Rotten Borough, forever cast in opposition to Legislator-for-Life Sheila the Red. Rather than quibble over what is funny, we should commiserate over what is not.

George Allen in ’08? Sure, why not?
Stephen Foulard
Houston, Texas

NITTI-PICKING
Re: Jed Babbin’s reply to Ron Humble’s letter (under “Eviction Notice”) in Reader Mail’s Targeted Responses:

If memory serves, Nitti was not so much the recipient of lousy shooting by Chicago cops in 1932. I would summit that he was just that tough, like they used to say in Chicago, “You could skate on him!” Again, as I remember the history when Nitti committed suicide it took TWO bullets to his head by his OWN hand to complete the job. Not so?
Craig C. Sarver
Behind Enemy Lines, Seattle, Washington

Jed Babbin replies:
It may be as you say, but my knowledge of Nitti history is now exhausted. I do remember that the cops who shot him were indicted and tried for felonious assault. That’s clout.

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