While the Detroit Free Press slobbers over GM CEO Mary Barra and Ford CEO Jim Farley, rival Detroit News scooped the Gannett publication yesterday with a report that Stellantis plans to build its second North American battery plant in Indiana. The News acknowledged the decision was yet another humiliating blow to Michigan.
“The investment would mean Michigan has failed to win any battery plants from the transatlantic automaker’s first round of gigafactory investments,” the News reported. “An automotive gold rush for megasites making EVs, batteries and related parts has fueled announcements mostly in states and provinces other than the home of the city that put America on wheels — even from its hometown automakers.”
The situation is much worse than the News let on. Michigan lacks the leadership to lure big investments in any industry, like the some $100 billion Intel has committed to spend in Ohio to manufacture chips. Texas has become a magnet for several of California’s most prestigious tech businesses, including Tesla, Oracle, and Hewlett-Packard.
Even Georgia, a state gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams declared is “the worst state in the country to live,” is snaring big investments. That includes Rivian’s $5 billion to build a manufacturing plant. Rivian was previously based in suburban Detroit but relocated its headquarters to California reportedly because the company’s CEO viewed Michigan as having “an old technology image.”
Ford isn’t long for Detroit. CEO Jim Farley has split the company into three businesses with electric vehicles being the primary focus. Rest assured, Farley will relocate Ford’s EV operations to Tennessee, Texas, California, or some other state that can attract talented employees.
I wouldn’t bet on GM, and neither would legendary investors George Soros and Dave Tepper, who recently dumped their GM holdings. Mary Barra’s $29 million in 2021 compensation notwithstanding, there is nothing in her record as GM’s CEO indicating that she can make good on her promise to sell more electric vehicles than Elon Musk in a few years. Under Barra’s watch, Toyota these past two quarters became the No. 1 selling automaker in America.
Much of Michigan’s inability to compete rests with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who Ford holds in such low regard they didn’t even bother consulting with her before committing to spend more than $11 billion in Tennessee and Kentucky for EV manufacturing plants. While Whitmer spends her time promoting herself on CNN and MSNBC and gaining TV experience for the gig that awaits her when she leaves politics, the governors from the leading business luring states are feasting on Michigan’s manufacturing lunch.
Whitmer isn’t alone to blame. It’s the responsibility of Congressional representatives to burnish the images of the districts they represent, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s district includes parts of Dearborn, where Ford’s headquarters is located.
What was Tlaib up to last week while Indiana was presumably putting the finishing touches on its deal with Stellantis?
Though ignored by the legacy and Detroit media, Tlaib last week introduced a bill intended to recognize Israel as an apartheid state engaged in war crimes and human rights violations. The bill was co-sponsored by Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Cori Bush of Missouri, Jamaal Bowman of New York, Marie Newman of Illinois, and Betty McCollum of Minnesota.
Tlaib’s bill runs counter to the State Department’s version of history, which states that after the UN approved the division of Palestine, “[f]ighting began with attacks by irregular bands of Palestinian Arabs attached to local units of the Arab Liberation Army composed of volunteers from Palestine and neighboring Arab countries. These groups launched their attacks against Jewish cities, settlements, and armed forces.”
Tlaib’s bill has no chance of gaining passage, but its consistent with her determination to push the envelope and promote Jew hatred that is tolerated and increasingly welcomed by the Democratic Party. Tlaib also is a major advocate of the so-called BDS movement that calls for a global boycott of Israel. Ford and GM have critical research and development facilities in Israel, so a boycott of Israel is inimical to their interests.
Underscoring Tlaib’s naivete, she tweeted a photo of her beaming in Ford’s new electric F-150 declaring, “I’m excited that our district will be at the forefront of building cleaner vehicles, especially as we will struggle to meet the Clean Air Act.” The electric F-150 includes technology developed in Israel.
The BDS movement, which has gained popularity at Harvard and other university campuses, is widely regarded as antisemitic. Mike Pompeo, secretary of state in the Trump Administration, called the BDS movement “a cancer” and pledged the US would stop funding groups linked to it.
The Biden Administration implicitly supports deriding Israel and its supporters as racists. Newly appointed White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre previously called American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) “severely racist” and expressed support for the BDS movement, but that wasn’t a deal breaker in her being named the public face of the Biden Administration.
Tlaib routinely tweets antisemitic references and slogans, but the legacy and the Detroit media give her a pass. Little wonder the Simon Wiesenthal Center ranked Tlaib among the most rabid and dangerous Jew haters in the world.
Doing little, if anything, to help attract investment to Michigan isn’t Tlaib’s only failure. The Congresswoman was silent when Grand Rapids-based Spectrum Health announced plans to acquire Beaumont Health, the biggest hospital network in metro Detroit. Beaumont Wayne serves Tlaib’s constituents, and the hospital has been plagued by neglect for years. Tlaib sought no prior commitments from Spectrum to improve conditions at the Wayne hospital as a condition for its takeover.
Tlaib remained silent even after Spectrum’s former CFO publicly warned the Beaumont takeover could result in a “massive financial loss.” Tlaib voted against the bipartisan infrastructure deal providing funding to rebuild the nation’s deteriorating roads and bridges, of which Michigan’s are among the worst.
Michigan has sizeable Arab American population and its tragic that Tlaib is the most high-profile representative. A more inspiring role model is Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the Michigan pediatrician who risked her career warning about the Flint water crisis. Born to Iraqi scientists, Hanna-Attisha grew up in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak and received her medical degree from Michigan State, where she is currently an assistant professor.
Hanna-Attisha has received a myriad of prestigious awards, including from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the Union for Reform Judaism. Most recently, she was awarded the Bernard Lown Award for Social Responsibility.
Tlaib’s Jew-hating agenda and promotion has made her a national sensation, but her rhetoric and antics are harmful to her constituents and other Michiganders. Michigan is experiencing a major leadership crisis, and Tlaib is among the biggest problems.
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