Will Gary Numan Be Named First Car Czar? Auto Bailout Proceedeth Apace With All the Grandeur of a Pontiac Aztek

As we noted here a few days ago, the great automaker bailout was a question of when, not if. That ultimate day when the fiscal odometer turns 100,000 (in gazillions of taxpayer money, and maybe even kajillions by the time the Bush admin darkens the door at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the last time), is inching closer, like a 1974 Chevy Vega being pushed back into the used car lot you just bought it from:

A federal "car czar" would oversee a government-run restructuring of U.S. auto companies in return for a $15 billion bailout of the beleaguered industry under an emerging deal between the White House and Congress.

Negotiators worked through the night Monday narrowing differences on a bill to rush short-term loans to the struggling carmakers through a plan that requires that the industry reinvent itself to survive—and pay back the government if it doesn't. The package could come to a vote as early as Wednesday.

The measure would put a government overseer named by President George W. Bush in charge of setting guidelines for an industrywide overhaul, with the power to revoke the loans if the automakers fail to do what's necessary to become viable. The White House was seeking tougher consequences, including allowing the overseer—being called a car czar—to force the companies into bankruptcy if they weren't doing enough to cut labor costs, restructure their debt and downsize to stay afloat.

The one ray of hope in this story? "Despite optimism on both sides that Congress and the White House could reach a swift agreement on the measure, it was still a tough sell on Capitol Hill."

Read: As with the grotesque financial sector bailout (doesn't that seem like years ago?), virtually all of those against this are just waiting for the right "sweetener" to make the subsidy go down.

More here.

My vote for car czar? Gary Numan (see below).

Second choice: Former South Dakota Rep. Bill Janklow, who displayed just the right mix of phony remorse and righteous anger when convicted of vehicular manslaughter for a 2003 driving death. It seems to me that that's exactly what you want in a "czar"—a nearly complete jackass who tries to bully his way with the people who run him and the people he lords over.

Special note to Congress and politicians in general: Czar is a terrible word to use for any office. The czars (and czarinas!) were terrible rulers who presided over one of the biggest ongoing failures in human history (a.k.a. Czarist Russia). About the best thing you can say about them is that one of them might have had sex with a horse. Check out the history books, for god's sake already.

Enough already, start your engines today with synth-pop New Wave androgyny of Gary Numan:

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  • ||

    Wow, it seems as if the federal government is getting in the business of owning the means of production. What is that called?

    About Janklow......When I read this about Janklow, I was appalled.

    Saying that Janklow "is truly remorseful" and that he will suffer a "special humiliation not encountered by a private citizen," Steele issued a suspended imposition of sentence. That means that if the former lawmaker successfully completes his jail time and three-year probation, the record of the felony conviction will be sealed - effectively removing it from his record.

    How many private citizens get a sealed conviction for killing someone? I bet this judge rarely gives these sorts of sentences to "private citizens."

  • Kaiser||

    ... a plan that requires that the industry reinvent itself to survive-and pay back the government if it doesn't.



    So, they have no money as it is, hence the asking for $30 billion. The government will loan it to them with some strings attached. If the auto companies fail to comply with these order though, they have to pay the government back... with another loan?

    I guess as they said at that point they would just force them into bankruptcy but I say we save ourselves the $30 billion and just force them into bankruptcy now. As ludicrous as it is, in my opinion, that congress is all up in arms and holding investigations over this $30 billion bailout. Seeing as they just doled out over a trillion to the financial market it is such a small sum to ask for. As I have stated in other posts, you can't point to one wrong to justify another, and this has got to stop somewhere.

  • Turtles||

    CzarCzarCzarCzar. . . .

  • ||

    Not like I'm terribly informed (although what I do know disgusts me), but what if Americans refuse to buy "American"? For my part, they've got my fucking tax money; the Big Three won't sell me another car. Besides, a new Toyota is probably made in TN anyway *shrugs*

  • ||

    I have been on here periodically to apologize for the financial system bailout in what I hope has been a qualified manner. I am the first one to speak up and say that the gov't isn't really spending the 700bn, 8.5tn, or whatever the shreiking heads say. That said, this auto nonsense is probably the best argument against me - that the government will not stop once they get going. It becomes a bottomless trough of self eating pork. I'm disgusted that there is no one in congress willing to say why banks need to be bailed out, but not auto companies. And a little disgusted with myself for having apologized for them.

  • Travis||

    "Czar is a terrible word to use for any office."

    How about Auto-crat?

  • Travis||

    I apologize for the last post. I didn't get a lot of sleep last night.

  • ||

    Nicht Czar, Wagenführer.

  • ||

    Fuck it. Bail out everyone. We can have an epic party until the repercussions bring us back to the Dark Ages. I have my guns, ammo, and V8, so I don't care.

  • ||

    Negotiators worked through the night Monday narrowing differences on a bill

    Ah the beauty of bipartisanship: getting fucked over twice as bad. If only the Constitution proscribed this act. Oh wait, I've searched through Article 1 of the Constitution and this is not among the enumerated powers given to the Legislature by the people. If only our "honorable" Representatives and Senators took their oaths of office seriously.

  • ||

    How do you revoke a loan? Does the government have a guy who will rearrange your face if you don't have the money by midnight?

  • ||

    Is The Stig American? If so, I nominate him.

    At least the press conference would be short - guy never talks!

  • Robert Anton Wilson ||

    We don't need a czar. Who the hell needs a fucking czar? Why should 21st century America be like 19th century Russia? [....] The whole idea of the TSOG - the Tsarist Occupation Government - is that the Tsar is in communication with God just like in 19th Century Russia.

    --The Ostrich Czar

  • ||

    It seems we need a government czar to watch over and guide the government from doing stupid things like bailing out failing businesses. The republic is lost. But at least I have a Gary Numan song in my head.

  • stuartl||

    I heard Nancy Pelosi and others saying "car czar" in very serious voices this morning. It reminded me of 5 year olds pretending to be a grownup. Doing stuff that they see grownups do, but with no clue why.

  • ||

    Does the government have a guy who will rearrange your face if you don't have the money by midnight?

    Uh...yes.

  • ||

    Look at th bright side - this will probably be such an unmitigated disaster, that 15 years down the line, everyone will "know" that govt should never bailout anyone...

  • ed||

    How about Auto-crat?

    Win.

    I can't wait for the 2009 Pelosi to start rolling off the line.
    I've acquired a sneak peek.

  • Warty||

    Look at th bright side - this will probably be such an unmitigated disaster, that 15 years down the line, everyone will "know" that govt should never bailout anyone...

    Oh, you funny, funny man.

  • ||

    The czars (and czarinas!) were terrible rulers who presided over one of the biggest ongoing failures in human history (a.k.a. Czarist Russia).

    Bullshit. Complete, utter bullshit. The Czars took the backwards, landlocked, resource poor Slavo-Turkic Mongol province of Muscovy and leveraged it into the largest land empire the world has ever seen - stretching from the Baltic to the Pacific. That's failure? Nor were they as despotic as the West likes to depict them. Tsar Peter introduced Western values to Russia. Tsar Alexander II freed the serfs. Nikolai II allowed a Parliament and was taking halting steps toward a constitutional monarchy before WWI came along. The Russian Empire produced some of European civilization's most enduring artistic achievements in literature, music and art, as well as scientists such as Mendeleev and Pavlov. Under the Tsars Russia introduced the beginnings of a market economy - from 1870-1914 the Russian Empire was one of the fastest growing economies in the world. There's plenty to criticize about Tsarist Russia but it takes no effort at all to find far greater failures, and more despotic regimes, in human history.

  • ||

    Unconvincing quote of the week:

    "While we take no satisfaction in loaning taxpayer money to these companies, we know it must be done," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said. "This is no blank check or blind hope."

  • Reformed Republican||

    Czar is a terrible word to use for any office. The czars (and czarinas!) were terrible rulers who presided over one of the biggest ongoing failures in human history

    Seems like a fairly accurate description of whoever gets put in charge of this. I like the word BECAUSE of those distasteful notions. It is one of the most honest terms used in government.

  • ||

    Ha! I actually had a 1974 Vega. Yellow (!) with two black racing stripes. Bad tranny, a case of oil a week to feed its failure of an aluminum engine.

    But I was 17, and it was a place to hide my beer and get laid. I had to push it many times, until it threw a rod, never woke up again, and I let some dude haul it away for free. Kind of what Detroit wants.

  • ||

    Where is the breaking point? If we have an economist in the room - at what point will the U.S Government collapse on the debt it has created in the past and now in the present?

  • ||

    Are "Friends" Electric (Cars)?

  • dhex||

    so when did the practice of calling a gov't official a "czar" start in america?

  • ed||

    Well, at least now when ignorant fools call our government "fascist" they'll finally be right.

  • ||

    Where is the breaking point? If we have an economist in the room - at what point will the U.S Government collapse on the debt it has created in the past and now in the present?

    The government will not collapse unless people remove it using force. If you are asking what is sustainable, you have to look at the growth rate. Any debt growth rate > GDP growth is unsustainable. Since we have neg GDP - that might seem pretty tough nuts, but we are talking about long term trend rates, not local rates. There is not absolute level, but much past 150% of GDP, and we are going to see some pretty persistent inflating to repudiate it. We are ages away from that, but clearly, these days, anything can happen in a hurry.

    And no, the feds ballooning balance sheet does not count as debt.

  • ||

    I assume they call him the Car "Czar" because if things don't go well, he and his extended family will be taken to a secluded location in Alaska (redundant?) and shot in a basement.

    Then we'll put up statues of Henry Reid everywhere.

  • libertarian democrat||

    RAW is back from the dead? Hail Eris!

  • Extra ! Extra!||

    FEDS ARREST ILLINOIS GOVERNOR

    http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2008/12/source-feds-take-gov-blagojevich-into-custody.html

  • Chuck||

    "Despite optimism on both sides that Congress and the White House could reach a swift agreement on the measure, it was still a tough sell on Capitol Hill."

    It won't be. They'll add on another $50B in earmarks, everyone in Congress will rejoice, and it will sweep through both houses like a California wildfire, only (sadly) without the annihilation. Bipartisanship in action.

  • ||

    "I assume they call him the Car "Czar" because if things don't go well, he and his extended family will be taken to a secluded location in Alaska (redundant?) and shot in a basement."

    Thanks, I needed that.

  • ||

    What we need is Generalisimo Motors.

  • ||

    "Ha! I actually had a 1974 Vega. Yellow (!) with two black racing stripes. Bad tranny, a case of oil a week to feed its failure of an aluminum engine.

    But I was 17, and it was a place to hide my beer and get laid. I had to push it many times, until it threw a rod, never woke up again,"

    Are we still talking about your car?

  • ||

    "A federal "car czar" would oversee a government-run restructuring of U.S. auto companies in return for a $15 billion bailout of the beleaguered industry under an emerging deal between the White House and Congress."

    Have the White House and Congress announced what concessions the UAW will be making in this "restructuring" to ensure that the bailout works?

    Maybe I shouldn't think of the bailout "working" like it's going to save the Big Three and keep them operating as independent entities.

    Maybe to Congress a bailout that's approved and spent is a bailout that "works".

  • ||

    There is a reason to bail out banks. There is no fucking reason to bail out the auto industry, or any other company that fails for that matter. What are we fearing that will happen? There will suddenly be millions of out of work people, banging on working people's windows for food like a horde of zombies? If there is a market for cars, other people will make them, and the people who got laid off can go work for those people. If there isn't, then no amount of government money could help. These companies must *fail*. I have no problem with giving them loans or leniency in the meantime for a soft landing into bankruptcy, but if that's what happens they cant come out on the other end still in tact.

    Banks are another story, and the reason to bail them out is more a problem of saving the system than saving the banks. If we could led banks fail entirely without disrupting the entire way things work, I'd say go for it, but I'm not sure how we could do that.

  • highnumber||

    Extra! Extra!,

    Hip hip hooray!!!

    I feel like this is too good to be true. Not that he's that corrupt, but that they are finally gonna nail him.

    Yay!

  • ||

    I wish they would start calling it for what it is a HANDOUT. Lets get it right!

    jess
    http://www.online-privacy.se.tc

  • ||

    "Banks are another story, and the reason to bail them out is more a problem of saving the system than saving the banks."

    Plenty of banks have already failed, not much of a problem to anyone but stockholders and other people who willingly took on investment risk.

    I understand keeping FDIC funded, since it's in place and people depend on it, but apart from that, so long as depositors are getting their money back, I don't see why it's so much different from any number of burger chains going out of business.

    If McDonald's went out of business tomorrow, I'd just buy my burgers someplace else.

  • ||

    Conservatives are in quite a pickle. They can buy a car from the damn foreigners, or they can buy a car from the damn socialists.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    like a 1974 Chevy Vega being pushed back into the used car lot you just bought it from

    The Aztek grandeur was a great line too.

    The Vega, what a piece of crap. And GM stiffed everybody that bought one new, including my folks.

    Self destruction at 40k miles. Who designs an aluminum block engine without sleeving the cylinders? Why GM, of course. That was the beginning of the end we now see.

  • Black Napkins||

    This is a song for Michigan lovers only...

  • Jerry||

    Let's call a spade a spade, and the car czar il duce automobilistico.

  • Jerry||

    And this will be the future lineup of the American car industry: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-3-pnehUqU

  • EJM||

    Will Gary Numan Be Named First Car Czar?

    I nominate Ric Ocasek instead.

  • Egosumabbas||

    Reason's not picking up yet on a certain notoriously corrupt state governor being hauled off to jail?

  • ||

    What really sucks is that there is unquestionably a group of people working at GM right now who could, if they were put in charge, do an excellent job of turning things around, and make GM a smaller, leaner, profitable company. The company would have to be put into bankruptcy, and the top three or four levels of the hierarchical pyramid would have to be completely scalped off.

    But we won't seek them out and let them take over. The CarCzar will keep the board, that imbecile Wagoner, and all his cronies in place (with a few meaningless "controls" and compensation* restrictions), and the thing will just make a bigger crater somewhere down the road.

    *If my "salary" is one dollar per year, but the company pays all my expenses, and awards me stock options guaranteed to never be underwater, what is my compensation?

  • ||

    Illinois voters can really pick them. There are no excuses electing Blagojevich, one look at the guy and you know he's a crook.

  • ||

    I, too, courtesy of my father, had a 1974 Chevy Vega. It was a green wagaon. ALthough many good times were had in it, I would not recommend if one's objective is to impress a date. Does anybody remember the fact that one could hear a Vega starting half a mile away?

    Vanya-Good post. It is always important to remind the Lincoln cultists and apologists that Alexander emancipated the serfs without plunging Russia into a bloodbath resulting in the deaths of upwards of a million people.

  • ||

    EJM-

    Yeah, my best friend's girl, agrees.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    In Washingtonese, appointment of a "czar" means "this problem is totally unsolvable, but if we make a big fuss and hand a guy $10-$20 billion to spend aimlessly over a three-year period, we can get through tne next election. Once that's done, we can fire him and hope that people are worrying about something else."

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    I nominate Ric Ocasek instead.

    Thread winner!

  • ||

    Dollars to donuts the "Car Czar" knows less about the automotive industry and the big 2.5's troubles than I do. The execs will lead the "Car Czar" around by the nose, tailor data to string hin/her along and attemt to right the sinking ship even with that extra ballast aboard.

    Henry Paulson is looking for a new gig.

  • cunnivore||

    I still can't wrap my head around socialists wanting to have a czar. It would be like the Congressional Black Caucus calling their leader the Grand Dragon.

  • ||

    Cunnivore-

    Sure you can. Its called the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.

  • Weimar Republic||

    domoarrigato | December 9, 2008, 9:38am | #
    Where is the breaking point? If we have an economist in the room - at what point will the U.S Government collapse on the debt it has created in the past and now in the present?

    The government will not collapse unless people remove it using force. If you are asking what is sustainable, you have to look at the growth rate. Any debt growth rate > GDP growth is unsustainable. Since we have neg GDP - that might seem pretty tough nuts, but we are talking about long term trend rates, not local rates. There is not absolute level, but much past 150% of GDP, and we are going to see some pretty persistent inflating to repudiate it. We are ages away from that, but clearly, these days, anything can happen in a hurry.

    And no, the feds ballooning balance sheet does not count as debt.


    Domoarrigato, we are looking for a minister to run our economy, could you be that man? You sound like everything we have ever searched for!

  • ||

    Domoarrigato, we are looking for a minister to run our economy, could you be that man? You sound like everything we have ever searched for!

    If that's true, you haven't looked very hard.

    40% of GDP gets thrown around a lot as being dangerous. But that is based on empirical evidence of small emerging markets that have defaulted - most of whom failed by trying to prop up their currency and running out of reserves. Not similar in the least. Even Dr. (Doom) Roubini (my old NYU prof and nemesis) thinks 100% is possible, and that default is impossible, however currency collapse/inflation/rate spikes could result. His analyses at the time did not include the idea that everyone else would be collapsing at the same time - so I guess we'll see.

  • ||

    Sammy Hagar?

  • thoreau||

    The czars (and czarinas!) were terrible rulers who presided over one of the biggest ongoing failures in human history (a.k.a. Czarist Russia).

    Moynihan is contractually obligated to remind you that the Commies were worse.

  • ||

    Look at th bright side - this will probably be such an unmitigated disaster, that 15 years down the line, everyone will "know" that govt should never bailout anyone...

    That's how I'm taking it.
    This isn't socialism. It's socialism on crack.

  • Reformed Republican||

    Bipartisanship in action.

    I always hate when people talk about how wonderful bipartisanship is. It is never good. It just means one side makes concessions to the other. Those concessions usually involve getting rid of any bits of a bill that might be beneficial and replacing them with things that make it even worse and probably counterproductive. Fuck bipartisanship.

  • ||

    FWIW - the treasury borrowed 30 Billion Paulsen Bucks today (for 4 weeks) paying no interest whatesoever - and could have borrowed about 8 bn more if they wanted.

    This is the first time in history that has happened.

  • Paul||

    Nancy Pelosi catches the Chairman of GM leaving the House floor.

    Pelosi: Listen, that didn't go so well, and I'm trying to help you out here, you need to rethink your approach.

    Chairman: What? I thought that went pretty well.

    Pelosi: Look, I'm trying to help you out here, so you might do well to accept a little... [pelosi looks around to check for eavesdroppers]...coaching. But I'm only going to tell you this once, because it doesn't look good for me or my party to be shoveling out the corporate welfare. You know, Change We Can Believe in and all that?

    Chairman: *sighs* Ok, so what could we have done "better" [makes little quotation signs with fingers]

    Pelosi: [annnoyed] First of all, dumbass, drop the corporate jet.

    Chairman: [looks puzzled] Why?

    Pelosi: How do you think it looks?

    Chairman: [stares blankly, then looks at his entourage] Oh riiiiiight. What with global warming and all. [turns to assistant] Make a note: "buy carbon credits to offset plane trip". [turns back to Pelosi] Good thinking. Can't forget the "environment" [makes quote signs with fingers]

    Pelosi: [grimmacing] Well, yes, the "environment"..[mimicks quote signs] as you put it is important to the Democratic party, but that's not really where I'm going with this.

    Chairman: [looking puzzled] I'm sorry? What could be more important then our precious resources?

    Pelosi: It's about money.

    Chairman: Money?

    Pelosi: Yes, money.

    Chairman: I don't follow.

    Pelosi: You're here asking for $25 billion dollars.

    Chairman: And?

    Pelosi: Those are... as much as we Democrats can't stand to admit... taxpayer dollars.

    Chairman: Right...and?

    Pelosi: When you come to a meet-and-greet begging for billions of dollars from people who make $12 an hour and you show up in a corporate jet, it looks bad.

    Chairman: [Stares into Pelosi's eyes, thinking then snaps fingers] I've got it. [turns to assistant] Memo... we'll show our "real" concern for our precious resources by driving to the next meeting in a Hybrid... and Chad, I don't want to be seen in a Prius this time, you know what happened last year in Palm Beach.

    Pelosi: [long sigh] It's not about hybrid cars or carbon emissions, it makes it look like you don't need the money. Buying carbon credits AND taking the jet makes it look like you need the money even less.

    Chairman: [after long pause] Ooooooohhhh riiiighht.

    [assistants start furiously taking notes, nodding and giving looks of affirmation to eachother]

    Chairman: This is great. When we show how much money we saved on the Jets, we can probably ask for more...take a memo, "ask for $36 billion on our next scheduled meeting". [winks at Pelosi] Good idea, Madam Speaker, with the transportation cost-savings, we can up the ante...so to speak.

    Pelosi: I'm only here to help.

  • NoStar||

    so when did the practice of calling a gov't official a "czar" start in america?

    dhex,
    That would be when Nixon appointed William Simon as his go-to cabinet energy guy in 1973.
    As I remember it, the press coined "energy czar" as an ironic joke that has long since become prophetic.

    It was a telling event event in the string of contrived emergencies our leaders use to get the "we the people" to abdicate our freedom and rights.

    Merry Christmas.

  • ||

    nice one Paul.

  • ||

    Its like they are looking around for every idea that has been tried and failed in the last 100 years, to give them another shot.

    I'm just hoping the gov't-run abomination of a car company that comes out the other end of this is called "American Leyland", and dies as quickly as its Limey namesake died.

  • ||

    I'm just hoping the gov't-run abomination of a car company that comes out the other end of this is called "American Leyland", and dies as quickly as its Limey namesake died.

    I'm going to start referring to every GM car as a "Trabant".

  • Paul||

    I'm going to start referring to every GM car as a "Trabant".

    And every auto exec as a party apparatchik.

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