Saturday, January 31, 2009

Fixing BMW's Silly Steptronic "Paddleshifters" (and more)

The short course on how motive nature (a term I just made up, since I am The Car Czar) works: Throttle-up: push forward; throttle-down, pull back. That's with boats, trains, planes, hyperdrive spaceships, and with the upshifts and downshifts of every automatic and sequential-shift automotive transmission in history, save for yours, Bavarian Motor Works.

Push forward to upshift, pull back to downshift on hardcore sequential-shift race cars, posing Porsches, or the most garden variety GM turbohydromatics.

This, BMW, is coded motive DNA.

DNA you're messing with in your never-ending quest to be more perfect than you already are: smarter than your customer and never afraid to show it.

I know that some hard-nosed Teutonic engineering group within your walls determined that it is only natural to pull back on the console shifter for upshifts on your backward Steptronic automatic transmission, since acceleration is pushing the driver in that direction anyway, and vice versa. But your little solo trip down this logic path squares only with the above socially-autistic engineering core and is propagated only because human factors people are not employed by German car companies except to make coffee and answer the phones.

Excellent as your little German wundercars may be, let's face it: You continue to give us lousy cupholders because you don't think we should be drinking Slurpees while driving. You continue to give us inscrutable interior electronics controls and lately vandalized posterior 7-series taillight aesthetics just because someone within your coolly-reflective Munich compound believed it should be so.

Congratulations on not having consumer focus groups and suffering the confused mishmash of mediocrity those exercises produce ... but really. Let's get the backward console shift pattern on your Steptronic automatic fixed. The same liability posture that prevents you from putting the accelerator pedal on the left and the brake on the right just because Fritz and Hans said "Zis is most efficient" should prevail here.

Next on the agenda: Your Steptronic "paddleshifters."

When Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso want to shift gears through the kinks at Monza (or even Kubica and Heidfeld, as I hear they race too) they pull their right steering-column mounted paddle shifters for upshifts and left paddleshifters for downshifts. (Kimi Räikkönen pulls anything sticking up in his field of vision anytime he wants, which is why his engine song sounds just like his post-race interviews).

So what's up with the "paddles" on your 3-series Steptronic?

Pull either for upshift and push either for downshift?

Calling these glorified rocker buttons "paddleshifters" is like calling the Jonas Brothers rock 'n rollers or Madonna an English lady, or even a lady, for that matter.

GM is also guilty of this F1-trickle-down marketing faux pas, but while the average buyer of a Chevy HHR may not know the joke's on her, at least a small percentage of your buyers will resent finding out you've hooked 'em up with F1 falsies.

Every red-blooded driver knows the day may come when he is sipping raspberry iced tea two tables over from Brad and Angelina at Monte Carlo and the call goes out that the new F1 sensation, J.R. Hildebrand, has the flu and cannot compete ... is there anyone present who can force his or her lardbutt into a little carbon-fiber tub and operate a paddleshift transmission?

It's going to be sad, BMW, when only the civilian drivers of Nissans and Volkswagens step forward.

Let's get this fixed, because President O lately wants to go beyond unifying this great nation and get on with unifying the entire world.

(And I'm here to help).

PETA and the Cucumber Girl
Next on my agenda this week: getting the media to quit talking about those rejected People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Super Bowl ads featuring some babe getting it on with produce.

The animal rights organization, which used to do classy things like throwing fake blood on fur coat-clad women as they exited Macy's, exhausted after a morning trying to figure out how to spend 1/1,000th of their sugar daddies' ill-gotten Wall Street bonuses (approximately $1,800 in 2009 currency) on just-which diamond ear studs, has lately instead resorted to tawdry exhibitionism to get attention.

It started with racy billboards and display ads and escalated into this past week's Free Invisible PETA Super Bowl Ad.

Free Invisible PETA Super Bowl Ads are created by shooting a low-budget video of some chick doing suggestive things with vegetables (instead of, thank goodness, chickens and hogs -- that would be unethical) and then leaking the news all over creation that -- shock of shocks -- NBC has refused to air the commercial during the Super Bowl.*

All media outlets then promptly fall for the ruse and broadcast the story, giving PETA more publicity for the commercial-that-never-was than any commercial-that-might-have-been would have generated, ever. Instead of a $3-million ad, FCC fines, and a Scared Straight session with Janet Jackson, PETA gets free buzz for days.

As this nation's omnipotent Car Czar I am today calling for an end to all of this free PETA publicity.

Don't you fifth-estaters understand that every time you mention PETA and their never-to-be Babe Doing it with Vegetables Super Bowl ad you're playing right into the hands of these attention-starved mink-hugging lunatics?

Just quit mentioning PETA and their Cucumber Girl.

"PETA" and "Cucumber Girl" will get FeedBlasted all over the Internets and the Googles and the Blogospheres and "PETA Cucumber Girl" will stay around forever, become part of the lexicon, and spoil any chances that anyone will ever take the PETA Cucumber Girl organization seriously.

*Yep, that's where your donations have been going, you crazy Cat Ladies: to pay PETA Cucumber Girl executives to "audition" just-showing-skin-for-the-cause Jane Fonda wannabe chicky babies for "public service" ads all day long. (Ad agency? Right ...).

Giuliani Says the Big Apple to Suffer without Wall Street Bonuses
Sociopaths are undersold. (People are always looking at us funny, too).

Anyway, Mr. G., your inner sociopath worked for you and the world when you shut down the mob in New York, and later when you pinned your shoulders back and showed your steely, teary compassion on 9/11. Only sociopaths are tough enough to face-down such evil so coolly and effectively.

But the SocioThing didn't work for you when you hooked up with the pharma rep babe and dumped your wife, and it's not working for you this week with your dire warning that NYC's posh restaurants, limo drivers, and shoeshine specialists are going to suffer from this recession-or-depression's dearth of Wall Street bonus money.

If the only thing propping up your $400-a-plate eateries and $300,000 watch boutiques is a bunch of bumblers and crooks pulling in $18-million bonuses for running their companies into the ground, you bet your big apple you have a problem.

It looks like we're undergoing what they call a paradigm shift in this great nation, Mr. G.

Better show Sergio the Shoe Shine Specialist what the business end of a Burger King cash register looks like, and fast.
Starbucks Lays-off 6,700
A few years ago your unhumble Car Czar was on the streets of San Francisco looking for iced coffee at one in the morning, because, well, the old pal I was with wanted an iced coffee at one in the morning.

Everybody in San Francisco was out for coffee at one in the morning.

No way.

The first Starbucks we visited had a broken ice machine, so we went out the door and literally walked across the street to another Starbucks to get the iced coffee.

No way.

Back at the ranch here in the Midwest burbs, a drive-though Starbucks popped up out of a cornfield one day, and low and behold McMansion ladies from far and wide lined up 12 deep in their Lincoln Navigators each morning to buy $7 Grande Lupe Lappi Ventos.

No way.

Starbucks recently mailed out a guide to help us Midwest rubes properly order from their menu of renamed coffee mixes and cup sizes (maybe that's what the big Navigator backup at the drivethrough was all about). They pointed out that their coffee pourers were actually "baristas."

No way.

Turns out it really was all "No way."

(BTW, did you know that anything you order without specifying "non-fat milk" at these joints usually has more fat than a triple bacon Whopper? Me neither).

I'm not done yet. Next week: I give car dealerships options for the over-optioned cars sitting on their lots.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

How I Broke Circuit City

The 100-day Report ...

Non-car affairs of The Car Czar
This week signaled the end of stupidity for the U. S. of A. We put a smart president in office (hey ... what up, boss ... say, Isabel Toledo looks great on Michelle) and began the pleasant task of liquidating the nation's one-time largest purveyor of extended warranties, Circuit City.

As your un-humble Car Czar I would like to take credit where credit is due for the fall of this evil consumer electronics empire.

Once upon a time back in the 80s you had to go into an electronics superstore to buy, say, a good stereo or a television. Let's say you knew exactly what you wanted (we'll leave the poor schmucks who wandered in not knowing exactly what they wanted out of this -- that's blogstuff all to itself), located it on a store display, and then attempted to buy it.

You would then hook up with some greasy punk with a nametag who would try his best to spend the next 20 minutes outlining the many ways the bargain Sony, Panasonic, or Onkyo you were about to buy would break within a year, necessitating an extended warranty that cost a third of the cost of whatever you were buying.

Through the Michael J. Fox 80s and into the Alex Kingston 90s, after foolishly wasting several aggregate hours arguing with these sleazebags, yours truly finally wised up and started saying, "Well I don't want it if it's gonna break in a year," and began walking out of these stores.

I wasn't even shopping in most cases. This was before the web, so what else was there to do on weekends?

By the 1995, after performing hundreds of such walkouts across the nation, I was able to simply decline the extended warranty and ring-out within 30 seconds. I clearly had these gargantuan dens of duplicity on the ropes.

By last year it was clear that my decade-long grassroots efforts had successfully reduced most big-box electronics retailers to trying to sell $100 gold-plated HDMI cables to make their daily bread.

But I wasn't done yet.

I commenced walking into these stores during every spare Saturday afternoon available. Once at the epicenter of customer activity I would then loudly ask (you know, so that everybody in the store could hear), "Hey, where do you keep the $20 Philips or GE HDMI cables that are just as good as the $100 Monster HDMI cables?"

Thanks to word-of-mouth and the internet, the balance of consumerdom quickly caught on, and the rest is history.

I'm proud to say that in today's Circuit City-less world you can purchase your electronics over the web from Vern's of Vermont (which operates out of a boarded-up storefront in Brooklyn for tax and anonymity purposes), give-out a vanity telephone-number-to-nowhere from Vonage, let Sa-iid or Blachem call the bogus number over and over, trying to get you on the line "to verify your shipping information" (but really to try to sell you an extended warranty or a six-dollar package of accessories for just $79), let 'em continue to call you over and over because they ain't that bright or they'd be working for NASA, let 'em give up and ship you the bargain equipment without the add-ons, find out your "Brand NEW USA" Nintendo Wii is an open-box gray-market return when it arrives, and start up a dispute with PayPal.

Life is good.

Breaking News: My Boss Tells Republicans to [Quit Listening] to Limbaugh" and I Agree.

Hmm ... I agree with my boss. Am I some kind of lackey? I don’t think so. (Why? Well, because I don’t think so. It doesn’t mean I’m not. Welcome to the Obama Era, where unexamined certainty is out, mostly).

Look, folks: Rush Limbaugh is a funny, smart guy.

I once nearly wrecked my car while listening to his Bill Clinton impression on my local Bitter White Underemployed Male Radio station, BWUM. Rush has got Bubba down.

He’s so smart that he’s effortlessly built up a legion of listeners who are aggregately smart enough to hang with dairy cows in parsing world affairs by simply making these social sloths feel smart and righteous about living isolated lives of meager success and petty jealousy.

This Mr. Limbaugh has united a strain of American citizen that we used to call "dunderheads" and gotten its population to proudly refer to itself as "dittoheads."

Dittoheads are people who don’t get out much and largely absorb world news and opinion they’re unable or too lazy to get for themselves through Limbaugh’s omni-present radio voice: a voice that tells them, in code language, that the welfare mommas in the U. S. of A. are on a never-ending quest to steal their rightful life's wealth through entitlements propagated by their political enablers, the ultra-rich, ultra-socialist liberal left ... who symbiotically use this country’s unfortunates to gain power at the voting booth.

Mr. Limbaugh has made a career characterizing the liberal elite (as well he should) as charlatans pretending to be on the side of the working class for political purposes while living it up off-camera on motorboats made of nickel-accented mahogany ... yet this tubby pink one-time doctor-shopping Oxycontin somehow-escaped-being-a-convicted-felon meanwhile can be spotted in Cigar Aficionado and other Tubby Pink White Guy magazines posing with the same tubby pink white guys he rails about on his radio program.

On the pages of these good-living magazines Limbaugh can be seen standing, smoking cigars, and punching-out the waistband on his resort shorts to the point where the billowy pantlegs stand forth from his fat-obscured kneecaps as to suggest a woman’s dress -- along with a chorus line of similarly overindulged shorts-into-dresses-making corpulent rich dandies.

He can furthermore be seen in color on the pages of these magazines devouring great steaks among the liberal and conservative elite both, expensive wine chaliced nearby should the beef get stuck going down his overburdened pork hole.

Is there an American today whose physical presence screams more of self-absorbed wretched excess than Mr. Limbaugh?

Is there an American today whose silken, down-to-earth verbal pose is more successful at making the incurious dolts in the U. S. of A. feel well informed and self righteous?

Is there an American today who is more divisive and destructive?


I, your un-humble Car Czar, have just this moment gotten Barackberried by the Big Guy (without his knowledge) with the office enforcer, Emanual, copied.

The Big O, without his knowledge, says to knock it off ... that the Rush Limbaugh smear I’m now typing is no more helpful to unifying this great nation than all these long decades of broadcast Dittohead garbage.

(Bush-era real-time data-tapping technology makes it possible for the O Administration to watch this blog as I type it. What up, boss. Malia and Sasha look great as the Ty dolls that aren’t based on them).

OK. O talks, I listen. But seriously, folks. Will a guy like Rush Limbaugh ever have a job if he’s not riling-up ignorant folks on AM radio regardless of the truly transformational president in the White House? I mean, hasn’t anyone noticed that the dude can only bag diet and hair growth pill ads on his program nowadays?

Whoa. There’s the doorbell. Gotta go.

I'm not done yet. Next week: Why BMW's sequential shift sequence is backward and their Steptronic "paddleshifters" are just plain silly (and what I'm going to do about it).

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Opening Up Obama's New Whip

The president-elect's new limousine is all that and a pack of Pall Malls. Suburban middle managers who armor-up their SUVs with ramming bars and taillight cages, hoping against hope that the add-ons don't give away their secret careers in counter-terrorism or, worse, their own self delusions, have nothing on the Big O's new ride.

President-elect Obama's new Caddy returns him to his pre-election campaign emotional center, when he rolled in a Hemi-powered Chrysler 300. That's the kind of whip modern-day captains of industry would be rocking if the whole 90k German Sedan Thing had never happened. Big, bold, powerful, in-your-face -- which is what O is all about, never mind the big disarming grin, deep capacity for self examination, and Harpo Marx bowling game.

Think of the Ford Escape Hybrid O traded for in time for Campaign 08 as the necessary automotive statement equivalent of pretending it was worth making Joe the No-way-am-I-ever-going-to-make-enough-take-home-pay-to-fall-into-your-tax-increase-bracket-until-you-make-me-famous Plumber the focus of a presidential debate.

The Mother Earth-loving Escape Hybrid that so briefly served as the Obama family truckster is headed for the Smithsonian, where it will reside next to FDR's skis.

O's new Big Black Caddy-in-Chief has armor plating, shred-proof Kevlar tires, an explosion-resistant fuel tank, self-contained oxygen and fire-suppression, more media options than a PlayStation 3, bulletproof glass, shotguns, and refrigerated bottles of the president's own blood should all defenses fail. It's one bad mutha.

But our new presidential limo needs one last defense ... a defense that by its defenselessness says, "Hey: the defense here is so tight that defense isn't even necessary."

It needs a convertible top.

I know it turned out badly for the last roofless POTUS. I wish no harm to our new president. I respect the hell out of him, and besides, he appointed me the nation's Car Czar without his knowledge during his quick-and-nimble, no B.S. presidential power transition.

Something's not right when the leader of any civilized nation needs to travel in a battle tank, and while the U. S. of A. is one of the least likely nations to off one of its leaders, it's still a deadly dangerous place for a president to be caught out in the open. So with an eye toward this convertible limo proposition, let's take a good look at what such dastardly deeds have gotten this nation to-date.

I'll use Lincoln and Kennedy as examples since their lives and fates were so amazingly intertwined, according to a Sunday newsmagazine ad for Lincoln-Kennedy-head pennies I read as a kid.

Case One: Some Confederate hick shoots Lincoln and what do his regional heirs get out of it? At best, the opportunity to do Yoga beneath a portrait of Mr. Fuchuyama each morning before their assembly line shifts.

Case Two: The mob whacks Kennedy (I'm not basing this on the Oliver Stone movie -- I looked it up for myself on the internet). Today La Cosa Nostra is pretty much stuck buying up pizza shops in the Midwest.

Anybody see a pattern?

This is not a country that celebrates thuggery except in literature, music, movies, and on television.

As the nation's anytime, anywhere, anything Car Czar I will be working with community groups across this great nation to get the word out to the folks among us who still haven't gotten the word that we're a democratic nation of laws, giving special attention to the hey-bobs who still confuse "democratic nation" with "Democratic Party."

A democratic nation of laws does not overthrow governments by violence: we've got the means to blunt and remove if necessary any leader-gone-rogue. If P-elect O screws up, by, say, being the first U.S. president to publicly admit that the Israelis and Palestinians just plain deserve each other, or perhaps, by picking the wrong dog, we can remove him. The left-two guys on the big rock in South Dakota and their buddies made it so.

Therefore I hereby decree that any American citizen who would pose a threat to our president's use of an open-top car in a presidential motorcade is UnAmericanTM ... a sad gimmick that worked wonders at herding social behavior during the last Administration, so I'm sticking with it ... and no higher form of life than any other rock-throwing, self-detonating malcontent in the world.

This is a very special new leader we have.

Let's spare us all a recap of the obstacles he's overcome. In addition to continuing to make his foaming-mouthed detractors look like foaming-mouthed detractors, he hired Hillary Clinton (not that I like the chick, but well played, anyway) and he's doing what all little boys who used to put ants in a jar to make them fight should do when they grow up to be President of the United States: Have both an anti-gay minister and a pro-gay minister speak at their Inaugurations.

The Birkenstocked retentives and Suburban-driving Real AmericansTM of this fair country still don't know what hit them.

On top of all this, O has a tough, beautiful wife who isn't afraid to let the world know when her husband is BS-ing during those warm, fuzzy family television interviews, a glorious break from the glassy-stared bobbleheaded Yes-Lady who's grimaced her way through the past eight years.

And what smart, darling, daughters.

As the nation's omnipotent Car Czar I will see to it that some nice, sunny day the Os will have the option of letting their Secret Service-trained chauffeur press a button, activating a 1,500-pound folding armored top to let the sunshine in and show-off our fine new First Family proudly to the world.

And let freedom ring.*

*Under a large Plexiglas bubble. Also, no sense not having a few Chevy Suburban gunships on the outside. There still may be foreigners, who could care less whether they're declared UnAmericansTM, hanging around, after all.

P.S. RIP, Mr. Corinthian Leather. Your silky Latin seat-covering assurances gave the 1970s its only hope and promise.

I'm not done yet. Next week: I disrupt Circuit City's Memorial Service

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Re-tooling Car and Driver Magazine

So how did Car and Driver magazine get on my To-Do list this week? They're not even remotely related to the Big Three automakers. They're not even on the take from the Big Three. In fact, some manufacturers have even taken long-term test cars away from these guys after they worshipped them inversely in print. Please read the Disclaimer on the sidebar of this blog if you'd like to learn more about my job responsibilities and purview.

Guys (and Mary Ann Frendo-Pickney) there's no need to quake in your Pilotes. I like your magazine. Car and Driver is the best car magazine out there because it's brimming with the objective and subjective data I'm most interested in, none of your stories ever sound like warmed-over press releases, and when you do screw up, you always find a way to graciously admit you're wrong and tell your fault finders to shove it.

I believe that once, way before the internet made shock language passé and print obsolete, you committed both your professional reputation and a then-expensive fraction-of-a-column-inch to describing a car exhaust as sounding like King Kong farting in a cave. It was neat of you also to fake your 1964 Pontiac GTO road test back in your brash start-up days and then cheerfully admit to it 40 years later. There were those covers featuring Miss No-Over-the-Shoulder-Boulder-Holder and the California Raisin driving the convertible.

Well done, all of it.

Suggestions I require you to implement?

First: News Flash: Csaba Csere, Wikipedia says you've resigned your post at Car and Driver effective January 1, 2009. That's certainly going to change the focus of this edict. 

[Don't you hate it when bloggers and forum posters, et al. feel compelled to tell you about their thought-editing processes as they're writing -- even going so far as to say things like, "Hey, wait a minute, there's the doorbell" -- instead of just editing the damned post? Me too. Anyway, I'm just starting to connect Mr. Csere's resignation with some of the odd behavior I've seen at Car and Driver magazine recently -- behavior which I comment on later in this post. More on that later in this post, and later, in another post at another time, I'm going to lay out the case that the internet and Google have combined to give Attention Deficit Disorder a worldwide platform. I'm going to go eat dinner now.

OK, I'm back. Clams are just as good baked as fried, and they're better for you].

In any case, Mr. Csere, you're going to have to change your name to something that's easier to pronounce, no matter where you end up after your departure from Car and Driver. As I recall, your name is supposed to sound like "Chubby Checker" or something, but I just can't keep it straight when I'm trying to pronounce it in my head. I know it's probably worked for you -- the name being kind of like a verbal lazy eye that so-distracts everyone around you that they're willing to agree to anything you say just to be out of the awkward encounter. Henceforth, I'll call you by the Native American name I've just made up for you, "Ferraris Put Me to Sleep."

Second: You guys at C/D continue to do the best and most insightful road tests, but your new-and-improved test data panels are a mess --a worse convoluted information conveyance cock-up than the Germans trying to implement in-car navigation. Nowadays it takes me forever to find out whether my 1998 Buick Regal GS is still the king of the 30-50 mph top-gear kickdown sprints.

I can't decide whether the whole multi-colored compartmentalized barf festival is the fault of some corporately-mandated focus group or some sick kind of nepotism where the inept brother-in-law with the failing graphic arts studio is given free reign.
Please fix it.

John Phillips: hang on to this guy no matter what. He's a literary genius, and you're lucky he likes cars. But please see about getting him to commit to a long-term domestic relationship. I'm tired of seeing valuable print space which might otherwise be used for King-Kong-Farting-in-a-Cave lines taken up by his gratuitous references to having a girlfriend, or worse, those cheesy story photo montages where some homely staff intern is positioned as his jailbait love interest.

Also, C/D, please no more track lapping tests where interior finish, air conditioning strength, or trunk space are considered in determining the relative rank of the participant sports cars. In the punk prime days of your magazine you sneered at other magazines that practiced such weenieism. In case you've forgotten who you are, you're the magazine that sneers at car weenieism.

Be certain that Scott Pruett does not comment on the sheen of the door panel plastic or road surface thrum from the tires when he returns from hot-lapping a GT1 car.

Please do feel free to evaluate the foo foo when your cover says "Best Everyday Sports Car." Feel free also to mix minivans into those tests. I'm pretty sure a Honda Odyssey would be within a few seconds-per-lap of a Lotus Elise, based on your last "track" test.

Lastly, C/D, I can't help but notice you recently had some kind of acrimonious split with your longtime chief technical editor.

[Whoa ... there's the doorbell. This probably ties in with your executive editor, Ferraris Put Me to Sleep, resigning. I'll bet it's a great big corporate mess, and some gutless Hachette Fillipacchi weasel who was still wetting his pants during the Goes Like Hell Dodge Omni days is behind it all. Give me the names of the guilty parties and I'm on it].

Anyway, I recall you dismissing the long-bloviating I've-got-a-dude-ranch-and-roll-with-the-stars Mr. Yates from your masthead with one blunt editorial mention some time ago, but you haven't let up on catty references to your un-dear-departed chief technical editor for months on end now.

Beyond the snide comments, you won't mention the guy's name, and it's all starting to whiff of some more-than-professional intra-office relationship gone bad.

I'm not going to permit this no-name print-carping campaign to fester in the collective public consciousness another moment, so will provide an immediate 41.6-percent federal name bailout, loan recipient to pay the balance with in a reasonable period as determined reasonable, herewith:

Larry. Larry. Larry. Larry. Larry. Larry. Larry. Larry. Larry. Larry. Larry. Larry. Larry. Larry. Larry. Larry.

OK. All better now.

Good luck and Godspeed, C/D, with this latest chapter in your storied history. Since things are no doubt topsy-turvy with the top of your masthead lopped off at your new non-Hogback Road location (more sacrilege), you can't possibly have time to read entire web blogs, so here, in summary are your Priority Car Czar Marching Orders:

Ditch the Easter Egg Road Test Panels and keep John Phillips (and Mary Ann Frendo-Pickney, too).

I'm not done yet. Next week: President-elect Obama's New Limousine

Saturday, January 3, 2009

U.S. Autos in 2009: What's Going and What's Staying

ON BEHALF of President-elect Obama, I’d like to introduce myself as the country’s new Car Czar.*

The kind of PR pukes who might have suffocated this kind of rambling, off-the-wall public announcement did not make it to the Big Show with this Administration — change I can live with.

I should also point out that the president-elect doesn’t even know me. A nimble, results-oriented Administration like O’s has the smarts to hire political enemies when they’re just plain the best candidates for the job; same goes for hiring loose cannons from out in the ether who fraudulently announce their appointments to the Administration on the internet.

Anyway, I’m the guy who will oversee the Big Three auto makers as they burn through government bailout money (Ford hasn't taken the bait yet, but I've decided to oversee them anyway). I not only get to watch where the money goes ... I get to say where the money goes. As in, hey ... this car’s crap ... can it. That car was a bad idea in the first place. Make more of this car, but don’t make it with a fake convertible top, and put some decent mag wheels on it.

It’s a lot of power for a guy who’s in charge of looking after taxpayer money that’s going to save the American automobile industry for up to 45 days.

Look. (O’s favorite thought-pause/attention-demander in speech. You have to admit, it’s every bit as effective as, "Listen," as in "Listen. Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time." You have to pay attention). Let’s get right to the essentials of our new automotive landscape:

Gone: HummerHave you ever seen a male civilian Hummer driver who is not Arnold Schwarzenegger who wasn’t some petite white guy who by himself is not intimidating and not toothy-chromey-towering charismatic? It’s time for the inadequate white males in this country to find new ways to be jerks. Same with girl Hummer drivers. You babes never looked as cool as you thought you looked running over stuff you couldn’t see from up there, and everyone knew you were just pretending to be rapper’s hos on fake equity from your fake suburban mansions (thanks for cratering our economy, BTW).

Gone: Boring Sedans

Nobody wants to buy a milquetoast eight-second-to-sixty sedan from an American manufacturer. The Japanese and Koreans dominate this market today. Let ‘em.

Staying: Corvette, Viper, Ponycars and Hot Rod Caddies
Cheap muscle that leaves Eurosnobs sniveling about their better cornering and superior body panel gaps is what the U. S. of A. does best, and a 12-second Vette gets mid-20s on the highway today, for goodness sake.

Japanese and German supersedans are what the educated, discerning driver buys today in this category ... I get it. I also understand that the people who have abandoned domestic cars because of "reliability issues" are the same incompetent whiners whose cars are never "reliable" because they don’t maintain them unless forced to by the regular dealer service intervals required by the prestige brands to maintain warranties. They’re also the kind of weenies who don’t factor-in "secret warranties" (hey, Toyota) in reporting reliability to their East Coast Elite Weenie Enablers, Consumer Reports.

Forget about the short-term depreciation: you can’t even find a Madoff fund that does better than a pristine 30-year-old American muscle car, unless it was made between 1973 and 1996.

Gone: Plots to Hatch Domestic Homages to Smart Cars

These aren’t Smart cars, they’re Smug Cars — as in look what I’m doing for the environment: driving a cute, tiny car with half the seating, acceleration, and braking capability of a Toyota Yaris at no cost or fuel economy advantage whatsoever.
Gone: Luxury Pickup Trucks (Excluding the state of Texas)If you really need a luxury pickup truck, you can have someone customize your rig. It’s time for America to get back to work.

Gone: Everyone Responsible for the Pontiac Aztek
And especially the corporate numbnuts who paid employees to drive these things around large cities and pretend to be hip, cool, and having fun.

Gone: Execs who Drove Green Cars to WashingtonAfter being challenged by some posturing representative over their use of a private jets on their previous visit to Washington. These are not the courageous captains of industry America’s automotive trust needs. Just one guy needed to stick his hand up and say, "Hey ... we’re paying for those jets whether they sit on the ground or fly, and we get paid too much to spend a whole day driving down to see you folks ... plus our hybrids don’t go up mountains too well."

If this is representative of Detroit’s Ball Trust, don’t be surprised if next time out Senator Stunt-face asks for a show of hands from everyone who came by horse and carriage. The Pontiac Aztek was no doubt permitted by corporate go-alongs like these.

Staying: Bob Lutz
If Bob Lutz were some guy pretending to be Bob Lutz, he’d drive a Hummer.

Gone: UAW Shopfloor Zombies
Just the ones who think they can nap in parts bins all day and still get paid or who think standing around in protest of UNFAIR stuff makes them American heroes. As Car Czar I’ll see to it that the American automotive industry finds a way to shape-up this crowd or start over.

Staying: Michael Moore

Oops. Never mind. His ancestors were the union guys. At any rate, we’ll appoint someone to look after our auto workers. History tells us that just as soon as the lazy, contract-gaming UAW guys are forced to work for a living again, the crooks in the starched white collars will get right back to work earning themselves another lifetime shackled to another union.


Gone: Car Salesmen Named "Mike."The industry’s exploitation of this inherently trustworthy name must end.
Staying: Car Salesmen Named "Francisco."What a cool name. Sounds like a guy just trying to make a living in the New World, and the name alone makes me want to pay for the extended warranty.

I'm not done yet. Next week: I revamp Car and Driver magazine.

*Disclaimer: Why I am the Car Czar: Due to the emergency nature of the Great Corporate Panic of 2008, U.S. government bailouts for banks, automakers, and nail spas were by necessity co-mingled to allow anyone to have bailout money for any reason.

Due also to the grave consequences manifest in failing to act quickly, the disbursement of the these funds was not subject to review by Congress, the public, or any court of law, nor was any resulting government authority, interest, or control in parties receiving these funds.
Since anyone might have received funds for any reason and no one knows what went where, I, The Car Czar, who appointed himself to this position during the Obama Administration's power transition in January, 2009 (hoping the Big O wouldn't mind and would probably have too much on his plate to go chasing down some weirdo blogger with Cease and Desist orders), and whose legal address is (I am The Car Czar), claim co-mingled non-reviewable authority, interest, control but no responsibility for every corporate and government entity in the United States of America and elsewhere.
My authority over any and all other human behavior any and everywhere is incorporated by reference at another URL somewhere, and by reading this blog you agree to be bound by its terms and conditions.

In other words, I can tell any and everyone on this big beautiful blue planet how to run their affairs, just like any other web wanker).