The Crucifixion of Oliver Schmidt

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Volkswagen AG executive Oliver Schmidt is due to be sentenced this week for “cheating” Uncle. He faces seven years in federal prison and up to $400,000 in fines. His professional life is, of course, kaput. He will never work again.

Starbucks, perhaps.

And his personal life is probably ruined, too. Not many wives stand by their convicted felon.

Schmidt is only 48 years old – and his life is over. All because he – along with other VW executives and engineers – “cheated” on federal emissions tests, which amounts to the same thing as making a right turn on red when there’s clearly no traffic around. A violation of statute; no actual harm caused to anyone.

But the affront to the authority of the state, that is another matter. It’s why cops lurk in wait at intersections in the middle of the night, waiting to waylay a right-on-redder. The cop can see it’s safe to make the turn. He knows no one is threatened with any harm as a result of the perfectly safe right turn, the red light notwithstanding.

But the law must be obeyed – which is another way of saying the state’s authority must never be questioned.

Same thing here.

Schmidt harmed no one. VW’s diesels harmed no on. The only “evidence” adduced to convict Schmidt and nail him – and VW – to the cross is the hearsay speculation of EPA bureaucrats, who claim that microcosmic, fractional differences in the output of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), a byproduct of combustion, are “harmful.”

In the same way that making a right on red with no one around is.

The EPA – and federal courts – were not required to prove that anyone (literally, any one – even a single actual human being) was harmed by the “cheating.” Just as it is not necessary to establish that a right-on-red harmed anyone.

The only thing that matters is that the government be obeyed – regardless of the fatuity of the “offense.”

Schmidt and VW regarded this as absurd – just as any normal person regards it as idiotic to sit stupidly at a red light in the middle of the night and not make that turn when it’s obvious there’s no one else around for miles.

But after a few months in Room 101, poor Schmidt has come around.

Like Winston Smith after his conversion, Schmidt loves Uncle now. He has written the judge who will preside over his sentencing a mewling apologia in which he states that he feels “misused” by his former employer.

“I must say that I feel misused by my own company in the diesel scandal or ‘Dieselgate,’ ” Schmidt wrote to U.S. Federal Judge Sean Cox, according to a letter filed in court and which was published by Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

“In hindsight, I should never have agreed to meet with Dr. Ayala on that day,” he wrote – describing a meeting with Alberto Ayala, a California Air Resources Board bureaucrat.

“Or better yet, I should have gone to that meeting and ignored the instructions given to me and told Dr Ayala that there is a defeat device in the VW diesel engine vehicles and that VW had been cheating for almost a decade. I did not do that and that is why I find myself here today.”

California’s emissions rigmarole is even more fatuous than federal fatuity.

VW was under immense pressure to get its cars “certified” for sale in what is still – for the moment – the country’s largest market for new cars. So a little harmless shuck and jive occurred. Bureaucrats were bamboozled. This kind of thing used to be applauded as Yankee Ingenuity but today is regarded as almost a kind of mental aberration, like not loving Big Brother or really seeing those fingers . . .

” . . . O’Brien held up his left hand, its back towards Winston, with the thumb hidden and the four fingers extended. ‘How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?’ ‘And if the party says that it is not four but five — then how many?’ The word ended in a gasp of pain.”

One wonders whether – a couple of years hence – we will find a watery-eyed Schmidt drowning himself in Victory Gin at the Chestnut Tree Cafe . . .

. . .

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89 COMMENTS

    • Dear CN,

      I wouldn’t expect too much from The Donald.

      Whatever his druthers might be at the gut level, he’s not about to stick his neck out to make any of it happen.

      He’s probably already been shown the JFK film clips and decided he prefers a longer life to heroic martyrdom.

          • Correct. It was definitely not what I was saying.

            Frustrating how the public edumacation system has rendered so many people for whom English is supposedly their first and only language, utterly incapable of comprehending even clearly written English sentences.

            Reading comprehension can no longer be taken for granted.

                    • bevin, let’s see….it’s the 15th. I’ll just record that and see if it’s not about a month from now when he’s……out of sorts.

                    • Dear 8,

                      You’d think people would value the limited time that they have on this mortal coil more, and not squander it trolling strangers online.

                      Most contributors to EPautos are serious-minded individuals concerned about creeping, correction, galloping tyranny.

                    • bevin, it’s a frustration thing. I’ve seen it a great deal more in the opposite sex but they don’t have a lock on it.

                      I just don’t have the time or state of mind to create a situation where I can be seen as being correct and everyone else is wrong.

                      I’d much rather joke. I can let someone be “correct” and let them make me look, in their eyes anyway, like the fool and I’ll just go on my way and try to regain my almost always good mood since that’s all that keeps me alive.

                      I called an old friend who’s a master electrician today about 1pm and asked him about this unusual run capacitor I had that was bad. He indicated I was reading it wrong and it was a start capacitor of another micro-farad rating and said “if you’re in town come on over cause you won’t find one like that if you’re right and anyway, George just called and is coming by”. Well George lives 150 miles away and I rarely get to see him so I dropped in and he was there right in front of me.

                      The other guy looked at the capacitor and said this really is a strange thing and I could replace it with two of the same rating wired in series but I had no room in the motor controller and that summed up that situation. So I get to talking with George and we catch up a bit and he asks if I was aware a mutual friend has passes away. I was and said so. We talked about how he went, stuck in the blood pressure machine at HEB in Odessa and we all got a good laugh. The point is, we’re nearly all the same age and no longer engage in dick measuring contests and are just glad to be here when a great many of our friends are no longer above ground. Then we had another beer and he told me of this guy getting the last laugh on the state of Texas, owing it $1500…..that he’d tried to pay and the Just Us dept wouldn’t accept so he put it in a savings account and left it knowing they’d want it when he didn’t have it but they’d surely come off their assholism and want it….immediately at some point. This is the way many states operate to try to get somebody in a bigger bind and get even more money from them. We got a good laugh out of it and had another….cold beer. I was just glad to have some good company as were my two other friends. As you said in a different way, life is too short to create strife unnecessarily.

                      And that makes me think again about Cherry 2000. See, we’re all frustrated in some way.

                    • Bevin, “There’s no way to reach an understanding with someone whose underlying goal is to antagonize.”

                      Yes. And is this not the problem with the world today? So few are interested in Reason and Liberty (defined as “Live and let live”).

                    • Dear 8,

                      Has appeared in two films that concern artificial intelligence: Cherry 2000 (1987) and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003).

                      From imdb

                      You’re right!

                  • Dear 8,

                    I left a comment at the film review site.

                    I remember being unexpectedly impressed by this admittedly flawed film, and watched it many times on cable back when it first came out. The reviewer is right, There’s more to this B movie than meets the eye. It speaks to something deeper than it might seem on initial viewing. A real shame that the director did not get the chance to do more in Hollywood. He definitely had something to say.

    • I think the only thing at this point he could do is pardon the guy. I think the trial and plea had started before he took office. He could order the JD to stop the prosecution of the others VW people who are in Germany out of reach. Hopefully those folks will stay out of the US, since it sounds like Germany won’t hand them over.

      So far the “reviews” of upcoming vehicle regs have stopped almost none of the upcoming rules. The 54 mpg CAFE regs are still coming.

      Even if he would relax some of the regs, the next regime will simply put them back in place. I doubt the automakers would even stop getting ready for them, because they know the next president will likely support those rules.

      And no a Republican regime would not stop these regulations. A lot of these rules belong to W, granted Barry upped them even more.

      It will have to be a crisis for most people to notice. At that point its too late.

  1. I think we have passed the point where the non-observance of a bureaucratic edict is more an affront to justice than attaching the poison gas mask to the patient’s face.

    Where have we gone so wrong?

    We allow laws to be made to punish things that can be observed, apparently because its too difficult to pass a law that requires actual harm to be shown.

    And intent? I guess it doesn’t matter, when certain members of the Political Class can escape from punishment for violation of similar laws.

    • Dear Travis,

      It really does all go back to a single, fundamental mistaken concession — the unwarranted admission that “We need to be ruled by a higher [sic] authority”.

      Once the people make this concession, the res is only a matter of time.

  2. Like Clive Bundy, Oliver Schmidt probably didn’t violate a statute, but something in the Code of Federal Regulations, and will probably never see an Article 3 courtroom before he sees a prison cell.

  3. I don’t know whether VW has the means or wherewithal to simply pack up and leave the US market altogether. But doing business in this nation, with its infinity of laws and regulations, is becoming almost impossible. Every day of his life every citizen of our country is in violation of laws he’s never heard of and couldn’t understand if he had. This conveniently allows the government to arrest and charge literally anybody at any time. Our verminous political class is judged by the amount of new legislation passed, as though “the more the better” is the proper standard. In any event this nation most likely will break up into a series of independent republics in the near future, with Texas most likely being the first to go.

    • Having lived in Texas as well as a number of other states, I don’t think that a breakup is likely. Like politicians from everywhere across the country, the Texans talk a good game on guns, Obamacare and the federal govmint, but I don’t see them doing a damned thing. They are wedded to the federal system. So called Republican governors are the first to line up for disaster assistance when the weather get them, though the disaster assistance rarely reaches the public. It is just a way for government cronies to waste money and tell themselves that they are doing a great job. The so-called “Sagebrush Rebellion” of the late 1970s was another example of all talk, no action. Remember that not one state rebelled against the 55 mph speed limit far enough to tell the feds to take their money and fuck off. It took the concerted efforts of a single pressure group known as the National Motorists Association, an advertiser on this site to lay the groundwork for higher US speed limits.

      Ultimately, the car makers are responsible for what they are enduring. In the 1970’s Mobil Corporation, an oil company, which was hated by a large number of Americans embarked on a print ad campaign to explain the evils of government price controls and their effect on the oil market. It explained shortages, black markets and price spikes to the American public. Mobil’s efforts helped change the polical climate from being critical of the oil industry to critical to government. It was partly responsible for the climate that lad to Reagans election and removal of oil price controls. To date, more people are favorable to energy exploration and supply than to conservation and regulation. The same could have been done by the car industry had they acted responsibly. Instead, they buried their head in the sand or carried it between their legs following the drubbing that Nader gave GM for trying to set him up with a hooker. (Hell, he is probably gay, anyway). Bottom line, the automakers lost a big chance to stop the idiocy a long time ago and fumbled when they stopped actively lobbying against CAFE in the early 2000’s.

  4. Reach out, touch faith

    [Chorus]
    Your own personal Jesus
    Someone to hear your prayers
    Someone who cares
    Your own personal Jesus
    Someone to hear your prayers
    Someone who’s there

    Feeling unknown
    And you’re all alone
    Flesh and bone
    By the telephone
    Lift up the receiver
    I’ll make you a believer

    Take second best
    Put me to the test
    Things on your chest
    You need to confess
    I will deliver
    You know I’m a forgiver

    Reach out, touch faith
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1xrNaTO1bI

    A Band Without a No. 1 Hit Is Outselling Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-05/a-band-without-a-no-1-hit-is-outselling-bruno-mars-ed-sheeran

  5. No One Is To Blame ♪♫
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaI8alyGvIA

    You can look at the menu, but you just can’t eat
    You can feel the cushion, but you can’t have a seat
    You can dip your foot in the pool, but you can’t have a swim
    You can feel the punishment, but you can’t commit the sin

    And you want her, and she wants you
    We want everyone
    And you want her and she wants you
    No one, no one, no one ever is to blame

    You can build a mansion, but you just can’t live in it
    You’re the fastest runner but you’re not allowed to win
    Some break the rules, and live to count the cost
    The insecurity is the thing that won’t get lost

    And you want her, and she wants you
    We want everyone
    And you want her, and she wants you
    No one, no one, no one ever is to blame

    You can see the summit but you can’t reach it
    Its the last piece of the puzzle but you just can’t make it fit
    Doctor says you’re cured but you still feel the pain
    Aspirations in the clouds but your hopes go down the drain

    And you want her, and she wants you
    We want everyone
    And you want her, and she wants you
    No one, no one, no one ever is to blame
    No one ever is to blame
    No one ever is to blame

    ♪♫ Simon & Garfunkel – The Sound Of Silence (Tutorial)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJC_pxZgB98

    • Read the article, moron!! It was not a crime, it was a violation of a regulatory statute.
      You must be a headline reader, not enough pictures for some

    • Bull. Lie to the FBI by Gen Flynn is not equal to lies by Hillary Clinton.

      Big Pharma has lied and cheated but never exposed with vitriol like cheating on emission by VW? The environmental issues are ournew religion, and our Christianity hating deep state and it’s media are very happy to extract a pound of flesh from VW. Cheating by insurance companies, government, media organizations, are never a subject of outrage by the sheeple.

      • What I find most shocking is how little the sheeple hold the government responsible for mis-information they spread, particularly around diesel….. In the US where you have a lot of long and high speed driving, diesel is an ideal fuel for efficiency and lower emissions overall. But as one would suspect the Uncle keeps making it impossible to have a diesel in the US. On the other side of the pond, here in the UK most of our driving is in tiny bendy roads, particularly in the city where you have pedestrian crossings or signals every few meters. Mostly stop and go and stuck in traffic. But as you would suspect (and the opposite of all logical reasoning) the our version of uncle here spent the past 20 years pushing diesel and demonising petrol!!

    • The laws and the outrage in our corrupted society are to be enforced only on people our OVERLORDS don’t like. Killing of a black person by the police is not equal to killing of a white person by the same police. The sense of outrage infused in our brainless population by our fake media (presstitude) guarantees the intended results. Giving away our Uraniam and taking $145 million bribes by the Clinton crime family IS NOT A BIG DEAL because the presstitude refuse to tell our robots to think of it as a crime. On the other hand saying hello to the Russian ambassador is a big damn crime! Idiots like you who think that we are all equal under the laws are the reason we ended up having a banana republic.

      • I have noticed it as well. People just repeat what they are told to think. Even they do think a little they incorporate it into the greater narrative of what they are told to think. But here’s how it got that way in my assessment, the schools. In school we are told those who best repeat what the teacher said are “smart” and graded highly. It’s conditioning. It’s why everyone needs to keep receiving programming through the media once they leave school.

        • To give you an idea of how much they want you to follow the rules “exactly”. In the 4th grade the teacher(woman)handed out a test that obviously came from on high.

          She said to read the instructions and take the test. That’s what I did and wondered why it was so agly but not a great deal since those from on high generally were a bit off the beaten path.

          We took the test and she graded them. I was the only person who took the test correctly. She then made an example of me, humiliation that it was, then said because I was the ONLY student to complete the test I could go to recess and everyone else had to stay and take the test again. Boy, what fun. I got to whittle by myself….nice looking stick though.

  6. Orwell, and Huxley, wrote their works in the hope that it would open the eyes of people to what was evolving around them. The problem is that the sociopaths that rise to the top of GovCo don’t view their writings as a warning but, rather, a business plan.

  7. Velsicol chemical company dumped 16 million gallons of DDT in Hardeman county Tennessee in the 70s.
    making it the 2nd most contaminated superfund site in the US

    in 2005 they were fined $7 million for it.
    no jail time for anyone.

    GMs defective ignition switches have killed almost 150 people, how much were they fined for it?
    how much has Katata airbag been fined?
    anyone in jail for it?

    I cant believe VW rolled over so quickly.

    it would have been cheaper for them to just pack up and leave the US.
    I would have fought it in court for years,

  8. And what of Dr Ayala? The good civil servant will retire in a few years, having “earned” a pension that is far better than any taxpayer will ever see.

    https://www.arb.ca.gov/newsrel/newsrelease.php?id=785 is a good read too. I’m reminded of the war scene in Monty Python Meaning of Life, Eric Idle’s character on killing:

    “At home if you kill someone they arrest you. Here they give you
    a gun, and show you what to do, sir. I mean, I killed fifteen
    of those buggers sir! Now at home they’d hang me. *Here* they
    give me a f****** medal sir!”

    Destroy lives and one of the biggest corporations in the world because the rules didn’t say anything about “teaching to the test” and they give him awards.

  9. Yet, if the government grants you a monopoly such as a utility, they let you walk free when you break the supposed rules. Funny the way that works.

      • Dear eric,

        As someone who has written extensively opposing US government intervention abroad on alleged “human rights” pretexts, I feel exactly the same way.

        Probably even worse.

        What possible moral basis does the US government have to not merely persecute these industrialists legally, but morally and ethically???

        It’s an insane world in which this gross moral inversion is accepted as a matter of fact by the Sheeple, who enable it to happen.

        • Morning, Bevin!

          Yes. It’s awful. And the thing that troubles me most is that so few ask the question: What harm, exactly, did this man (and company) cause?

          The glib acceptance of punishment for “violating the law” is Soviet, not American.

          • I’d suspect it’s a shakedown of VW for some anti-German political reason by the Obama regime. Maybe, there was strong covert opposition in Germany to Obama’s anti-Russian sanctions.

          • Eric, as the former owner of a 2012 VW Golf TDI, I wrote the court and asked the same question. My research showed me that cow manure and cow farts produce more NOx than these cars. I also found out that NOx is laughing gas. Yes, the same stuff a dentist uses, and it is also found in spray cans for things like whipping cream and Pam.

            But you should have read the govt articles I found trying to say how bad this gas was.

            VW got screwed, and being forced to pay off the EPA’s friends with like $4 billion is a crime in itself–paying off non-victims.

          • The word that comes to mind is Kafkaesque.

            But squared.

            Because it is not merely the “just us system” that treats the moral inversion as normal.

            It is We the Sheeple.

            The entire society reacts with puzzlement at anyone who expresses outrage.

          • They would claim the cheating lead to 300 premature deaths (I think that is the number they say). Of course there is no list of those 300 people. And none of them died entirely from the results of VW allowing a bit more pollution into the air. They died from a variety of causes of which VW’s pollution couldn’t have been the thing that pushed them over the edge. Unless they put their mouths around the tailpipes for months.

            • If the automobiles passed the test, it is silly to complain about how they did it.
              The people that our military murdered in cold blood in many parts of the world very clearly died in deliberate attacks, but they are passed off as collateral damage.
              When a human being’s arms, legs, and internal organs are ripped out with surgical instruments instead of non-medical tools, they are regarded as invasive tissue instead of what would become babies if they weren’t murdered in vivo.
              It is time to start recognizing the reality of murder before we come up with improbable and fictional causes of illness.

      • Ayn Rand was badly mistaken about the “necessity” of minarchism.

        But she definitely understood the moral outrage of persecuting the Hank Reardons of the world.

  10. Winston Smith- not heard that name for ages. Parallels between 1984 and the world in which we live today are just shocking. Doubt they teach Orwell in school here these days, luckily I did 1984 and Animal Farm in 9th grade (was in Asia during high school, and though it was a British school, surprisingly it was on the curriculum) – otherwise doubt many in my generation ever read Orwell…..

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