Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I think my dad was, at one time, a good driver. He taught me to drive, and I'm a very good driver. In the last, oh, twenty years of his driving life, however, it was an adventure, speaking kindly, to ride with him. He'd put on turn signals for no reason, slow down and speed up like a fan in a brown-out, come to a stop before driving through a tunnel on a highway, veer toward mail boxes as if they were magnets and he were iron filings. Harrowing. Unlike some -- I wonder if I'll be one -- he did come to recognize his infirmity behind the wheel before he killed himself, my mom, or anyone else, and sold his car just before we were ready to steal it from him.

In his eighties, driving downtown in Astoria, Oregon, he was delivered a glancing blow to the rear quarter panel of his car by a guy carelessly pulling out of a parking lot. Not Dad's fault. But his reaction, instead of hitting the brake, was to stand on the gas pedal, launching himself and car into a concrete abutment, breaking several ribs, turning a minor fender-bender into a potentially fatal horror.

Which is why I've always had skepticism about all those reports of sudden acceleration, be it the recent Toyota trump-up, or others before it. The just-released government inquiry confirms:

The Transportation Department, assisted by engineers with NASA, said its 10-month study of Toyota vehicles concluded there was no electronic cause of unintended high-speed acceleration in Toyotas. The study, which was launched at the request of Congress, responded to consumer complaints that flawed electronics could be the culprit behind Toyota's spate of recalls...
...NHTSA Deputy Administrator Ron Medford said that in many cases when a driver complained that the brakes were ineffective, the most likely cause was "pedal misapplication," in which the driver stepped on the accelerator instead of the brakes.

The article suggests it was a pretty rigorous study; nor does it discount the other issues of sticky pedals or entrapment by floor mats. And it includes the comments of the unconvinced.

One thing is certain, though. We'll be hearing conspiracy theories from the Foxobeckian. Toyotas, after all, are the favorite vehicles of terrorists.


  1. My father in-law has made it a test of loyalty for his children - all over 50 now - all of whom are afraid to ride as passengers with him.

    This may have something to do with his Magoo-like blindness, the fact that he goes to sleep at red lights, and he can't hear very well, even with two hearing aids.

    Or it might possibly (I'll go out on a limb here) be about his hit-and-run habit - three of them now.

    Anybody who even hints, that they would be glad to let him sit back and enjoy the ride, are immediately denounced as conspiring to take away his liberty.

    Only one of his children has had the courage to flat out tell him that if insists on driving, she will drive her own vehicle and meet up with him at their destination.

    Good for her, but he is still a danger to other drivers, that have no way of knowing what's coming at them.

    Not that it's a problem for him; he figures their safety is their problem.

    Of course he's a "Conservative" PaliBeckian, RWScreaming fascist who got everything he owns - education, government loans, health care, tax breaks and Social Security from American tax payers.

    None of which services, does he feel requires any return to the citizens that provided them.

    He never saw a war that he didn't love, or a weapons system we shouldn't buy, but none of his children needed to enlist, because "Not everybody needs to be a soldier." "That's why we have brown people!"

    He hates Toyota, except the one he made his wife drive until it fell apart; this, while he drove a Cadillac - because "It was made in America."


    And yes, as a matter of fact, he does own the whole goddamn road!

  2. A beautiful rendering of the man, Eugene. Maybe you could send him a letter from Sarah, telling him to get off the road... Sounds like he might not be able to read it, though.

  3. The only conspiracy is the Obama admin declaring "proof" of Toyota malfeasance.


    I wonder what the proof was? I wonder where it went? What possible benefit to the Obama admin by lying this way?

    Oh yeah--Obama owns GM?

  4. Dear BOF,

    Please try reading the article for comprehension. The investigation "concluded there was no electronic cause of unintended high-speed acceleration."

    The knowing concealment of a defect which was referred to by Mr. LaHood (not "the Obama administration") was of interior design which led to accelerator pedals becoming stuck in floormats and mechanical problems in the throttle linkage which could cause it to stick open. Toyota did not disclose consumer complaints to the proper agency in a timely manner; that's what LaHood was talking about. It was a real problem.

    From the linked article:
    ● Toyota has wrestled with recalls to fix sticking accelerator pedals, gas pedals that became trapped in floor mats and other safety issues
    ● Transportation officials, helped by NASA engineers, said the 10-month study of Toyota vehicles concluded the acceleration cases could have been caused by mechanical defects already covered by recalls

    Got it now? There were mechanical problems which caused the throttle to stick open; Toyota made changes to millions of cars because of them. Some people speculated that there was also a bug in the electronic controls which would cause unintended acceleration; that was found to be without basis.

  5. It's bizarre, isn't it, that virtually all of the negatrons here produce such non-compos stuff.

    Whereas I appreciate, on some level, having my dim view of teabaggerism validated with every comment, it makes it no less depressing.

    I'll bet he was especially proud of that comment on who owns GM. Probably still tumescent.

    God, we are so screwed: an entire political movement which has dropped any pretense (if they ever had even that) of sensibility. (And, yes, Seaspray: comments like BOFs deserve mockery.

    (In the name of foolish liberal open-mindedness, I'll consider the possibility, given his moniker, that he meant the whole thing sarcastically. Hard to tell, nowadays.)

  6. Well, here, have a video of TheHood accusing Toyota. He knows about the mats, the sticky pedals. But, by damn, he's going to look into those electronics! If you were paying attention (doubtful, since it wasn't a picture of Obama calming the seas), you'd know what that did to Toyota's reputation at the time.

    And you see the quote that they were knowingly hiding something--obviously not the pedals or the mats. TheHood knows about those.

    And Pieter B--please try thinking hard about how TheHood became Sec of Transportation without becoming part of the Obama administration. Get back to us on that, okay?


    PS--sorry I intruded. You clearly don't like to hear things you don't understand, like...facts.

  7. Actually, what I don't like to hear is stupid conspiracy theories. You suggest it was a plot to help the "Obama-owned" GM. That's wrong on so many levels: first of all, he didn't own it: you did. Second, when your stock is sold you'll be out of the business with a tidy little profit. Third, what would you have said if there had been NO investigation? That they were protecting foreigners?

    Most importantly of all, the video to which you linked, to any reasonable observer, is.... perfectly reasonable: he says there IS a problem with the mats and the pedals. He says some think there MIGHT BE an electronic problem, and they're obliged to look into that, too.

    How could anyone -- except someone with teabagger brains -- find that objectionable in any way? How could anyone with any sort of brains at all, interpret as you have?

    If you object to government oversight, fine. That's a position to take. Argue it. If you think the government shouldn't have rescued the auto industry, fine: that's a position to take, too. Convince me. But simply to make up conspiracies and completely to misrepresent what you referred to as "Fact" is unworthy of whoever the hell you are.

  8. P.S: I do appreciate, however, your taking the time to disabuse me of the thought that you might have been kidding.

  9. BOF posted: "Well, here, have a video of TheHood accusing Toyota."

    No, what that is is a video of former Senator Dorgan accusing Toyota, taking the position that there has to be something more than the floor mats and the sticky accelerator causing the problem, and LaHood in essence saying that there may be a problem with the electronics and that that possibility is being investigated. Dorgan seems pissed that LaHood hasn't ordered a recall to fix a problem that has not yet been demonstrated to exist, let alone a solution found. Perhaps if he'd had his way, all Toyotas would have been taken off the road.

    Epic critical-thinking fail, laddie.

  10. I find it interesting, too, that BOF blames Toyota's stock fall on Obama, too. Not the fact that they announced they were recalling tens of millions of cars, not the fact that there were, in fact, defects.

    One must infer that BOF's position is that the government's first concern is to maintain stock prices of companies that may have produced a faulty product. It's quite in keeping with teabaggerism, of course.

    And the ultimate irony is that I ended the post with a sort-of tossed-off joke about conspiracy theorists. Just goes to show you: there's no amount of craziness you can think of that's too outrageous to be true in the mind of a teabagger.

  11. You guys are pretty slow--am I typing too fast for you?

    You haven't addressed TheHood's accusation of "proof" of...what? He already knew about the mats and the pedals. "Proof" of what has been found to be...well, not true. Maybe he'll produce his proof?

    I know! It will be "proof" that the Sec of Trans isn't actually in the Obama admin! Right, Peter??

    You guys go ahead and jabber among yourselves. Maybe someone will come by and listen.

  12. BOF, it's clear that words have no meaning to you. You are repeating your fantasy view of what is visible to everyone else as it actually is. LaHood said one thing, you insist he said something else. It's pretty remarkable, actually.

    You're wasting your time, and ours. So if you're threatening to go away, it'll be exactly the same as when you were here.

  13. There's a difference between "the Obama administration said" -- which would be an official statement from the White House, usually delivered by the Press Secretary -- and "the head of the NHTSA said." I know that teabaggers aren't big on nuance, despite their close parsing of whether or not Dubya used the words "imminent threat" when talking about Saddam Hussein, but this isn't a hard concept to grasp for most people.

    And then of course there's the fact documented by BOF's own link that the head of the NHTSA didn't say what BOF says he said. [/rumsfeld mode]


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