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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press

WASHINGTON — Two months after repair kits for 2.6 million recalled General Motors Co. vehicles began being shipped to dealers, the automaker has repaired only about 155,000 vehicles, though the company continues to maintain it will replace all of them on schedule.

Congressional investigators, releasing a memo Monday morning in advance of a Wednesday hearing on the automaker’s ignition-switch recall, noted that just under 400,000 repair kits have been shipped globally by supplier Delphi as of last Wednesday.

GM initially ordered the recall in February and later expanded it to include all model years of Chevrolet Cobalts and HHRs, Saturn Ions and Skys, and Pontiac G5s and Solstices. A defective ignition switch can be jostled out of position, potentially disabling air bags in the event of a crash.

Thirteen deaths and 42 crashes have been linked to the defect.

GM CEO Mary Barra will once again face questions on the recall from a House subcommittee at Wednesday’s hearing. Federal regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have fined GM $35 million for not turning over information years ago that could have led to an earlier recall. An internal GM report released two weeks ago by former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas — who will also testify Wednesday — found the company missed multiple warning signs in part because of a corporate culture that discouraged the sharing of negative news and a failure to move pertinent information between departments.

In Monday’s memo, House investigators noted that GM “states that it is working ‘around the clock'” to manufacture the replacement ignition switches in the hope of concluding the repairs by Oct. 4. But it noted that only 154,731 vehicles have been repaired so far worldwide, 129,583 of which are in the U.S. While the memo made no comment on the speed of the repairs, at the current rate, fewer than 500,000 vehicles would be fixed by October.

GM spokesman Greg Martin said another line is being added to produce the parts and the company still expects to be done with repairs by October. Many of the models and their parts have been out of production for some time, which in part explains why it has taken some time to get the recalled switches produced in large quantities.

In the past 2 months, congressional investigators have received more than 1 million pages of documents from GM and 15,000 from NHTSA, who has come under scrutiny for not ordering a recall sooner. At the subcommittee’s first hearing in April, Barra declined to answer many questions, saying she would wait until Valukas finished his report.

The subcommittee memo said members are expected to ask whether the Valukas report marks the end of GM’s internal investigation of why the defect wasn’t caught sooner; and what needs to be done to change the corporate culture at GM.

After the Valukas report was released, Barra fired 15 GM employees and took disciplinary action against five others.

AFP Photo/Mark Ralston

Many Democrats are getting nervous about the upcoming presidential election. Ominous, extensively reported articles by two of the best in the business—the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin and The Atlantic's Barton Gellman—outline Boss Trump's plot to keep control of the White House in 2021 no matter how the American people vote.
Trump is hardly making a secret of it. He's pointedly refused to commit to "a peaceful transfer of power."

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," is how he answered the question. He added that after we "get rid of the ballots"—presumably mail-in ballots he's been whining about for weeks--"there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."

Of course, Trump himself has always voted by mail, but then brazen hypocrisy is his standard operating mode. If you haven't noticed, he also lies a lot. Without prevaricating, boasting, and bitching, he'd be mute. And even then, he'd still have Twitter. He recently tweeted that the winner "may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED" because mail-in ballots make it a "RIGGED ELECTION in waiting."
Gellman gets this part exactly right in The Atlantic: "Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.
"Trump's invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before."
No, we haven't. However, it's important to remember that Trump makes threats and promises almost daily that never happen. Remember that gigantic border wall Mexico was going to pay for? Trump has built exactly five miles of the fool thing, leaving roughly two thousand to go.
His brilliant cheaper, better health care plan? Non-existent.
On Labor Day, Boss Trump boasted of his unparalleled success in strong-arming Japan into building new auto-manufacturing plants. "They're being built in Ohio, they're being built in South Carolina, North Carolina, they're being built all over and expanded at a level that we've never seen before."
Not a word of that is true. Two new plants, one German, another Swedish have opened in South Carolina, but construction began before Trump took office. Auto industry investment during Barack Obama's second term far exceeded Trump's. His version is sheer make-believe.
But back to the GOP scheme to steal the election.
First, it's clear that even Trump understands that he has virtually no chance of winning the national popular vote. He's been polling in the low 40s, with no sign of change. To have any chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, he's got to do the electoral equivalent of drawing to an inside straight all over again—winning a half-dozen so-called battleground states where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by the narrowest of margins.
At this writing, that looks highly unlikely. The latest polling in must-win Pennsylvania, for example, shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by nine points. That's a landslide. Trump's down ten in Wisconsin, eight in Michigan. And so on.
So spare me the screeching emails in ALL CAPS, OK? Polls were actually quite accurate in 2016. Trump narrowly defeated the odds. It can happen. But he's in far worse shape this time. Furthermore, early voting turnout is very high, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans two to one.
Hence, The Atlantic reports, "Trump's state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for post-election maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states."
The plan is clear. Because more Democrats than Republicans are choosing mail-in voting during the COVID pandemic, Trump hopes to prevent those ballots from being counted. Assuming he'll have a narrow "swing state" lead on election night, he'll declare victory and start filing lawsuits. "The red mirage," some Democrats call it.
"As a result," Toobin writes, "the aftermath of the 2020 election has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish." With Trump in the White House urging armed militias to take to the street.
Mail-in votes take a long time to count. Things could definitely get crazy.
True, but filing a lawsuit to halt a Florida recount was one thing. Filing suits against a half dozen states to prevent votes from being counted at all is quite another. Public reaction would be strong. Also, winning such lawsuits requires serious evidence of fraud. Trumpian bluster ain't evidence.
The Atlantic reports that GOP-controlled state legislatures are thinking about sending Trumpist delegations to the Electoral College regardless of the popular vote winner—theoretically constitutional but currently illegal.
Fat chance. If that's the best they've got, they've got nothing.
Anyway, here's the answer: Vote early, and in person*.

[Editor's note: In some states, receiving an absentee ballot means that a voter can no longer vote in person* or may have to surrender the absentee ballot, including the envelope in which it arrived, at their polling place. Please check with your local election authorities.]