IT DEFIES PARODY. Daniel Howes in the Detroit News (motto: we'll keep you current with Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday's events.)

Over the weekend, I ran into a prominent, thoughtful and recently retired Detroit auto executive out with his family for a holiday dinner. Amid the handshakes he looked at me and matter-of-factly said, "We're dismantling a way of life."

He's right. But how many people in your workplace or neighborhood or school district realize it? Do they understand that the culture defined by Big Three salaries, benefits, expectations, vacation schedules -- where else in the country do people get a four-day weekend around Easter? -- will be torn apart over the next three months because it has to be?

And if it isn't -- if United Auto Workers brass can call in enough political chits with congressional Democrats and Team Obama to keep from having to ask their members to vote on wage cuts and work rule changes next year -- what guarantee is there that it won't happen in bankruptcy anyway? None.

On Sunday, an e-mail landed from Robert F. in Marin County, Calif. "Hello from the Left Coast," he began. "Here in California we don't much care about Ford, GM, Chrysler. We gave up on them years ago, (and) the rest of the country is following California's lead."

Perhaps it's beginning to sink in.

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