Monday, May 11, 2009

A Glimmer of Hope for GM

I've blogged a lot about GM and American auto makers in general of late.

A lot of negative press, for most of that. It's only fair that I post something positive. Over the weekend, I got a chance to drive a 2010 Camaro. It was Saturday morning, and through some really strange coincidences, I have a contact at a Chevy dealer that has been keeping me posted as to when the new cars would ship.

Complicating matters, I wasn't feeling my best, so it wasn't the most pleasant time for me, but I drove out to the dealer and took a look anyway.

It was a silver V6 and automatic -- not the car I would choose, but it turns out, quite a bit to whet my appetite.

The long and short of it is this -- the 2010 Camaro is a beautiful work of art. It's everything a pony car should be and more. The V6 version lays down over 300 horsepower and everything about it was right. Drop dead gorgeous, quick, solid and the only time I've seen a GM product in real life that looked as good (in this case, better) than the prototypes I'd seen at the Cleveland auto show.

If GM can make things like this happen, pull some electric vehicles out of their past and put them back on the road and return to the creative force they were (even half of that), they can make it. This car was amazing. Of the three pony cars out now (Challenger, Mustang and Camaro), this one is the most beautiful in my humble opinion. The Challenger is a close second. I have to say that my impressions of the Challenger are similar, but that the thing is huge. It's been designed (the Challenger) to make this less obvious -- to get an idea, take a look at the size of the tires, and things begin to swing back into focus.

Bringing up the tail in terms of style, the latest Mustang is not quite there. Somethings' wrong with the back half of the car -- the prior attempt was very true to heritage, and yet somehow always kind of left me feeling like it wasn't all there from a styling perspective. The new Camaro and Challenger make it really clear what's missing.

It's nice to have choice, though, at the end of the day. Who would have expected this -- at this time, no less.

Let's raise a toast -- Here's to there being enough gas at a reasonable price in the near future to sustain some decent burn-outs ;)

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Beginning or the End of the Republican Party

Rush, what a guy! He's apparently urging Colin Powell to leave the Republican Party ... along with McCain? Note that a lot of this is right off of CNN's web site. There's a lot of free press for Rush in there for a web site that's supposedly got a liberal bias. (Hint to die-hard conservatives -- when stuff like this is going on, something is fundamentally wrong with the picture). Gotta wonder, Rush -- who's going to be left in your party at the end of the day?

Even worse, the statement that Powell chose to endorse Obama was racially motivated. In case you think that this is me simplyfying Rush's words, here's a clip to watch that will make the point clear.

I read Powell's endorsement and justification with interest when it went down last year. It's anything but racially motivated. If anything, it was a lucid description of everything that I was feeling about the McCain campaign. You can hear this in Powell's own words if you're still not convinced.

Here's the deal -- Powell in the above clip is right -- he's dead on about what's wrong with the present party. What is interesting, is the stark difference between Rush and Powell.

Rush: Pretty much a person executing in units of rhetoric at high volume. His reputation be damned -- he makes money riling people up and unfortunately, wrecking the republican party at the same time. He's like a disgusting cheerleader -- never in the game, always yelling from the sidelines with simple-minded chants.

Powell: Total contrast to Rush in almost every way. Powell is commanding Military figure who has a reputation for honest, quiet and intelligent dialog. He's been on the field during some difficult moments. He's truly served our country.

I have a lot of friends on both sides of the political spectrum. Some of the more liberal ones are looking at the sad state of Rush affairs and smiling. They know that the more this continues, the smaller the party will be at the end of the day. They know that their agendas will be more likely to pass through congress and the senate (and they're calling for revenge).

As a moderate, I'm looking at this situation with a bit more distress. I'm worried that the lack of balance in our (often broken) political system will make for some serious instability. The people that follow Rush are either watching for entertainment value -- or they're true believers in the snake oil being sold.

It's like Professional Wrestling -- there are a lot of people that love to watch, even though they know it's fake. And then there are the people that really don't get the joke. I honestly believe that Rush's followers have to fall into those two categories. It's hard for me to believe that that many people can be that stupid, or simple-minded.

Rush's postulation that Powell's endorsement of Obama was completely racially motivated is simple minded. It's an example of Rush either being stupid, or maliciously defamatory. And it's a racist statement itself -- its says "Powell is lying, because he's black -- you just know it."

Part of me has to wonder if Rush is truly that stupid -- I sit in disbelief that he can be that stupid, and then I remember Occam's Razor. I have no true proof that Rush is being mean-spirited here. The simplist explanation is that Rush truly is that simple-minded.

Because anyone that takes the time to read and listen to Powell's breakdown of why he was endorsing Obama would find good reasons that have nothing to do with race, and everything to do with what's wrong with the Republican party.

The core of what's wrong is all over this blog posting -- the tendency to aim at the simple-minded and divisive rhetoric when complex solutions that require everyone's effort are required.

People like Bobby Jindal, as I've said before, aren't going to cut it for the party. The Party needs to step up and listen to the small, quiet, logical voices of its true leaders. The beginning of this change is in the nucleus of what Powell is and has been saying since before the election was over -- that to be inclusive, they're going to have to morph into something that abhors people like Rush.

And I think it's going to be a while, unfortunately, before that happens. Possibly a decade at this rate. The party will continue to shrink -- especially if idiots take Rush's advice. Given the popularity of his radio show, that's a distinct possibility. The party will eventually be very exclusive. It will be like, so exclusive that it will be made up of only loud, obnoxious talk show hosts.

I forgot, talk show hosts that talk racism with a wink and a nod. That talk about the "real" America forgetting that the real America is comprised of immigrants. The only "real" Americans here are the American Indians, if you want to get down to the demographics of the situation. The rest of us rolled into town a couple hundred years ago and started a new government that was pretty inclusive (if you don't count some slavery, land-grabbing and massacre). I'm probably not a "real" American in Rush's eyes anyway -- Puerto-Rican and Scotch-Irish in heritage, he would probably tag me as too hispanic. I seriously don't know or care -- I don't want to speculate too much because the last thing I want is to come off as loud and stupid and rhetoric-driven as Rush.

No, the potential here is for the new face of the republican party to become someone like Colin Powell. Someone who truly understands what's wrong -- who's not afraid to tell everyone to turn off the Rush Radio Raunch and move on to straightening out the party. Without that kind of balance, the party will continue the slide toward irrelevance that it is facing today. That's why I titled this posting about the beginning or the end -- it's moments like this where the vestiges of intelligent people that are truly loyal to the party can see the problem at hand with clarity.

Possibly Powell, in other words, can lead the Party back on track. The alternative (to listen to Rush, and leave) is far more damaging to the country at the end of the day.