ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Joys of Travel - Part 2

USA Today...

this piece of cr@p appears at your door to your hotel room every morning, uninvited and somehow unashamed. Here's some interesting tidbits from this waste of pulp on Wedneday, January 25th:

Front Page - 1A
"Mideast Democracy boosts Islamists"
Muslims are incapable of secular democracy so we must abandon Chimpy McBushitler's Quixotic enterprise

Evidence? Hamas in Palestine!!! (Who'da thunk it, eh?)

Egypt has 88 MPs that are affiliated in some way with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood - of 444 seats in parliament

Iraq - Shiites hold a majority (Whether those Shiites will impose an Iranian style theocracy & sharia law is not discussed, but we assume that they will be unable to resist the urge.)

Fortunately, they do provide some space for rational arguments from Daniel Pipes (as a counterweight) on their editorial page. The title, "Don't deal with terrorists" pretty much sums up the US position on allowing Hamas to participate in the PA election. Of course, since the PA couldn't be construed to be a model of Jeffersonian democracy, they don't exactly have any problem with Hamas.

Front Page (1A), again:
"RX Plan failing to help neediest"
because "Low-income seniors are slow to sign up". In the story we learn that only 1 in 3 of those eligible to get prescription drugs for a $5 co-pay (no premiums, no deductible) will actually sign up. But wait, it seems that they'll get the plan, whether they take the steps to enroll or not:
Gary Karr, spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, says the program likely is reaching more low-income people. “There are going to be people who are in the program who haven't applied for the low-income subsidy,” he says.

Another 6.2 million low-income Americans were automatically enrolled because they had received prescription drugs through Medicaid.
The low-income subsidy is available to individuals with annual incomes below about $15,000 and assets below about $11,500, not including their homes. Many will pay no premiums or deductibles, and no more than $2 monthly for each generic drug and $5 for each brand-name drug.

Last year, the Social Security Administration sent letters to about 19 million people advising them of the subsidy, then followed up with 65,000 public events. To date, 1.2 million people have qualified for the subsidy: Those who don't sign up with an insurance plan will be automatically enrolled in May.
So, what was the problem here again?

followed by page 4A:
"Bush considering Tax Cuts for Health Care"

So, Bush wants to make it more affordable for people to buy healthcare by not taxing the money the use to buy healthcare in the first place. Surely USA Today and the Dems (is there any difference?) would approve of this - making it more affordable to buy healthcare? I like the idea, especially the expansion of the Health Care Savings Accounts (which I'm a big fan of). Ted Kennedy (objective observer as always) doesn't seem to agree.

From "The Forum" (page 11A), an article by Tony Mauro
"Will Alito fill conservative voide that O'Connor did not?"

O'Connor's brand of pragmatic decision-making frustrated conservatives because it often led to centrist or liberal results — and not just in the area of religion, abortion rights and affirmative action. On Monday, in a little-noticed bankruptcy law decision that might have been the last case she participated in, O'Connor's deciding vote for a 5-4 majority deprived conservatives of a victory for state power. She hated being described as the court's swing vote, but she was — and now, conservatives feel they are entitled to more predictability.
No, it's not just the results that ticked of conservatives (actually, "originalists" or "strict constructionists"), it was her willingness to insert her "pragmatic" opinions into the heart of Constitutional law. This was most egregiously on display in her written opinion for the majority in the Univ of Michigan law school case, where she found that Affirmative Action and discrimination on the basis of skin color was okay "for a generation or so." This pragmatism may be a fine quality in a legislator, but it is frightening in a judge. The last I checked, our rights did not have expiration dates on them or "time out periods" in which they will be set aside in favor of discriminatory practices for some worthy (in the eyes of the judge) result.

They may or may not get that predictability from Alito. O'Connor's pragmatism was forged in her days as an Arizona legislator, where give and take are necessary. Alito never stood for election in his professional life; before he joined an appeals court 15 years ago, Alito has only been a government lawyer, serving mainly in advocacy positions for the Reagan and the first Bush Justice Department. Will he be the reliable conservative that O'Connor never was?

Apparently, serving as an attorney and Federal appellate court judge for 15 years makes one less qualified than serving for 2 years on the Arizona STATE Appeals court and as a state legislator in the eyes of Mr. Mauro.
So, as she prepares to leave the court, O'Connor leaves an undeniably powerful legacy behind. How Alito assesses her record, and how much weight he gives it as he prepares to start his sober duties, will say a lot about what kind of successor he turns out to be.

Last I checked, the seats that the justices sit in didn't have their name for life (ie the O'Connor seat). Once she's gone, Alito will have zero - zero - obligation to give any weight to her "legacy." It's his responsibility to rule on the law - not based on WWOD? (What Would O'Connor Do?)

Holy cow.... I'm not an attorney and I have a clearer grasp of the role of the judiciary than this guy.

And finally, this article on Ford's job cuts (page 5B)

"Explorer's future seems up in the air"
The interesting thing in this article is that the local union president calls for tax breaks for Ford:
[Rocky] Comito [, president of UAW local 862 in Louisville,] hopes to persuade Ford to stay and is asking local government to chip in with tax rebates. “I'm talking to anyone who will listen,” he says.

I'm sure he was against tax breaks for corporations before he was for them.

As you can imagine, tax breaks offered to Ford to keep plants churning out vehicles that no one wants isn't going to fix the problem. The article is riddled with hard facts about the Ford Explorer and Ford's inability to grasp the seriousness of the problem:
And buyers increasingly are turning to so-called crossovers, which offer SUV convenience but a carlike ride. Explorer is a traditional truck-based SUV.

Sales of Explorer, redesigned for the 2006 model year, were down 29.3% in 2005, while overall sales of SUVs — including crossovers — were down just 2.
The decline in SUV sales is only one of the problems facing Ford, but it's a big hurdle. Brian Johnson, the Sanford Bernstein analyst who estimates that Explorer accounted for a third of Ford's profit in late 1999, says profits from Explorer have been cut in half since sales started falling.

Explorer sales did particularly poorly in December, falling 22% compared with the year before, even though critics have generally gushed over the redesigned version, which was available throughout that month.

Tom Libby, senior director of industry analysis for Power Information Network, says Ford increased the price of the 2006 model by nearly $3,000 in the fall, which is not an unusual move for an automaker launching a redesigned vehicle.

But he thinks consumers haven't been impressed by the exterior, which looks almost exactly the same as the old model. “Most of the changes are not visible,” he says. “Even though the vehicle may, indeed, have many changes that are invisible, what the customers see looks similar to the prior model. They sort of work against themselves.”

Fields says Ford needs to do a better job promoting the Explorer. “We have to get a stronger message behind that,” he says.

So, let me get this straight... you come out with a "new" model that looks on the exterior exactly like the old Ford Explorer (which hasn't really been updated since ARC:Brian bought his back in the 90s ) and increased the sticker price by $3k?

And your solution to the problem is that you "need to do a better job promoting the Explorer?" Oh my God... it's unbelievable how far a little denial will take you.

Given this management insight, I'd say there's still an opportunity to short Ford here... It took them how long to finally cut the cord on the Taurus - after similarly mind-numbing "re-designs"?

Oh, the one good article in the paper? This one, on multi-function gadgets. Any article with a reference to a TRS-80 (aka Trash 80) is for me. (And I whole-heartedly agree with his take - give me a single purpose device that does something exceptionally well over a multi-function device that's poor at doing everything.)

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Comments (2)
Brian said...

The multi-function device argument is exactly why IPod's are dominant in the marketplace. It does one thing well (media playing). The multi-function devices that the cellphone makers are starting to push are taking a different approach.

This despite the fact that I would LOOOVE a treo 650....

Brian said...

Course, leaving any function device behind in a cab after being dropped off at Laguardia is recipe for hair pulling. No matter how many functions it might have...


Ah the joys of travel. ;-)