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Lutz on Volt Lies

August 18, 2012 Leave a comment

[From the Chevy Volt website]

The right wing has no shame. That’s not news. But when Bob Lutz, American automobile industry icon, calls them out, we know how bad it has gotten.

Lutz is the man behind the Chevy Volt, the innovative electric car with a supplementary gas engine that allows the driver to make longer trips without recharging. The crazy right wing (i.e., the heart of the modern-day Republican Party) has seen fit to attack the Volt and General Motors as expressions of Obama’s socialist vision for America. Lutz — no liberal he — is none too happy, and last spring he fought back in several venues. There were a Forbes column, a co-written Chicago Tribune op-ed, and — in the March/April issue of Charged, a magazine about electric vehicles — an interview by Markkus Rovito.

Here is some of what Lutz had to say to Rovito (hat tip: Jim Fallows). Please read it.

The level of owner satisfaction is extremely high. Quality and reliability is extremely high. But the downside is that the political extreme right has been distorting the facts of the Volt. The Volt passed the government crash tests with a five-star safety rating, and didn’t roll over. But the testing protocol requires that even if the vehicle doesn’t roll, it has to go through the rotisserie maneuver, which is five minutes on one side, five minutes on its back, five minutes on the other side, and then back on its wheels again. At some point during the rotisserie, some fluid leaked out, and three weeks later caused a short in the battery and the vehicle caught fire. I mean, how safe it that? Three weeks should give people adequate time to exit the vehicle.

And what did all these right-wing commentators make of that? “Chevy Volts catch fire.” All of them were talking about “yeah, they all catch fire. GM’s gonna recall ‘em. There’s just another Obama-inspired program – a misguided socialist automotive policy. And not only did they spend a lot of your hard-earned tax dollars creating this vehicle, but now they put a $7500 tax credit on it.” Well, there are a couple of things wrong with all those statements. First of all, the Volt was my idea in 2006. We showed the first prototype at the Detroit Auto Show in 2007. Obama wasn’t elected until late 2008, so Obama could not be the progenitor of the Chevy Volt. And what they also conveniently forget is that the $7500 tax credit for electric vehicles was enacted under the Bush administration.

As for Volts catching fire, the crashed one caught fire after three weeks, and then the NHTSA, in order to determine the root cause of the fire, deliberately mistreated two more battery packs until they caught fire to try to find the root cause of the initial fire. That of course in the media was: “GM grapples with additional Volt fires.” And these people are supposed to be for American jobs? They did such reputational damage to the Volt that the demand dipped to a very low level. So GM did the right thing, which was to idle production for 5 weeks and lay off workers. So here are these right-wing pundits who are always talking about jobs, jobs, jobs. Actually through their irresponsible reporting on the Chevrolet Volt they managed to put American workers out of their jobs for five weeks! It annoys me to no end.

[snip]

As a conservative myself politically, it annoys me no end to see deliberate lying and misinformation coming out where they will trash an outstanding American product and do damage to American employment just to get at Obama. That’s just plain unethical.

Amen.

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Categories: Automobiles, Lies, Politics

The Liar: Near Miss

August 18, 2012 Leave a comment

The last couple of years, we’ve made it a point when we’re on Nantucket to get over to Madaket, the small beach community on the western edge of the island’s south shore. We always stay on the eastern end of the island, so it’s good to get over to the other side. We grab lunch at Millie’s, which opened there two Junes ago, then walk on the beach. I wrote about our initial visit here and last year’s visit here. My short description last year:

My “Cambridge salad” was excellent: Grilled marinated chicken with mixed summer greens, mandarin orange, radish, peanuts, crispy tortilla strips, cilantro, and honey scallion dressing. Gail had the Pocomo tacos: Braised pork carnitas in flour tortillas with peach tomatillo salsa and chopped radish, cilantro, and onion. High quality food, filling, well served, and with views over Madaket Beach to the Atlantic.

We’ll be back on Nantucket soon, and an outing to Madaket is in our plans. Imagine what a relief it was, then, to learn that we missed today’s surprise visitor. Yes, Mitt Romney, is on the island raising funds. Rather than staying in town, he made it over to Madaket.

Mitt Romney is briefly mingling with voters in Massachusetts even though he has no hopes of winning the state this fall.

The Republican presidential candidate spent 10 minutes Saturday shaking hands and posing for pictures in Millie’s restaurant in Nantucket. Romney wanted photographers to get a shot of him mingling with voters on a day otherwise totally devoted to raising millions of dollars in six closed events in Massachusetts resorts.

The short AP note concludes with the news that “several Millie’s patrons wished Romney well. But one man shouted ‘five years’ returns.’ He was alluding to Democrats’ demands that Romney release five years of his tax returns instead of two.”

It’s just as well that I wasn’t there. I might have been less polite. I don’t do too well with blatant liars.

Speaking of which, I leave you with an excerpt from Alec MacGillis’s piece a few days ago on Romney’s lying. (Hat tip: Jim Fallows.)

[Romney] got his biggest applause during this riff:

I want you to know I heard something the other day that really surprised me… What I heard is that the president is taking the work requirement out of welfare. …

Romney proceeded straight from this into a retelling of Obama’s “you didn’t built that” line, but even that did not get the applause the welfare riff did. After the speech, several in the audience told me that their favorite part had been Romney’s calling out Obama for weakening welfare work requirements. Yes, one of the more depressing parts of the job of being a political reporter is watching an audience fully absorb a blatant and knowing lie. Which is, of course, what this is. Countless factcheckers—here is one of many—have unequivocally rejected the assertion that Obama has ended the work requirement. His administration has instead granted more leeway to states, including several with Republican governors, to explore new ways to get people onto welfare into jobs, with the proviso that their new approaches must increase the share of recipients with jobs.

But this has not stopped Romney.

Categories: Lies, Politics, Travel

Sentence of the Week

August 18, 2012 Leave a comment

‘View from the Dunes with Beach and Piers, Domburg’, Piet Mondrian, 1909, Museum of Modern Art

Tomorrow’s NYT travel section has a piece by Freda Moon on Domburg, the Dutch North Sea resort where Piet Mondrian once spent his summers. Or, as Moon explains,

From 1908 to 1916, Mondrian spent summers (and some winters) in Domburg, before moving to New York in 1940.

Am I missing something? I suppose something went wrong in the editing process, but this is a strange sentence, isn’t it?

It does appear that Mondrian moved to New York in 1940, and that his last year in Domburg was 1916, so the details are correct. Just juxtaposed oddly.

Categories: Art, Writing