Thursday, May 11, 2017

Unsolicited advice for Detroit automakers

Yesterday's  Wall St Journal had a piece on troubles at Ford.  Sales have been going down.  I missed this, but Ford apparently let their last CEO Allan Mulally go a  couple of years ago.  First I had heard.  Mulally got Ford thru Great Depression 2.0 with out declaring bankruptcy like GM and Chrysler did.  Dunno why Ford ever let Mulally go, he was good. 
  Anyhow, here is my advice as to how to make cars and earn money.
1.   Build the best selling car.  Behemoths like the big three (GM, Ford, Chrysler)  cannot survive selling into niche markets.  Look at Corvette.  Highly desirable car, but there just aren't enough guys with Corvette money to feed a Gigantosaurus like GM.  Right now, the volume car is the small four door econobox.  Just take a look around on 128 during rush hour.  Most of the traffic is little econoboxes. Pickup trucks are way fewer, and luxury sedans (Bimmers) even fewer.  If you are one of the big three, you have to build a winning econobox to stay in business. 
2.  Sell the car under one name.  Don't do badge engineering (selling the same car under different names), just changing the badge on the fender.  It confuses the customers, and it dilutes your advertising.  Say you can afford to run 1000 ads.  If 500 of the ads call the car by one name, and 500 ads call the car by the other name,  few customers will remember either name.  More effective, run 1000 ads calling the car by the same name.  More customers will remember that your car even exists, let alone is it desirable. 
3.   Build a car, not a rolling desktop computer.  Customers care about styling, interior fit and finish, price, gas mileage,  handling in snow and rain,  low vibration and low noise at speed, reliability, resale value, and intangibles like a good name, and prestige.  Most of 'em are happy with an FM radio.  Customer's don't like fancy electronic nav systems or voice commanded sound systems, especially when they fail to work.   Besides, really fancy electronic doo-dads are too expensive to leave in the car.  Customers like to take their electronics with them.  Just offer an audio plug that lets the Ipod play back thru the cars speakers, and maybe some power receptacles.
3.  A good name for a car is worth a lot of sales.  The easiest way to make a name good is keep on using it.  Don't do the Datsun-Nissan hari-kari.  GM has a closet full of good old names that it doesn't use anymore.  Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Impala, Roadmaster and more.  Why they ever named a car Beretta is beyond me.  Everyone knows Beretta is an Italian handgun, carried by James Bond, before Q sold him on the Walthers PPK. 
4.  Design the dashboard so you can work it at night.   Use some real knobs that you can feel in the dark.  The modern cheapy dash of 100 pushbuttons, all alike, all with labels too small to read without taking off your driving glasses  is a PITA. 
5.  If you  have a car that sells, keep on making it, don't try to change the car into something else.  Witness Cadillac, famous for luxury six passenger boats, which has stopped making boats, and is now trying to sell a four passenger sport sedan going up against Bimmers.  Caddy even has a racing program now.  They aren't doing very well either at the track or in the showroom.  GM would have done better to keep Caddy selling boats and SUVs. and used another name for the sports sedan, Pontiac maybe.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Dominate the news cycle. Fire your FBI director,

News of Comey's firing hit the TV news last night around 5 PM.  Bombshell.  The TV news has talked about little else since.  Not sure what to think about the firing.  All I know about Comey is his dramatic press conferences during the election, the first where he said Hillary was off the hook on her private email server.  Followed by a lot of commentary about how Hillary's conduct was dumb in the extreme but not prosecutable.   If Comey had had two brain cells firing that day, he would never have given that press conference but instead simply forwarded the case to the Justice Department.  Lesson:  If you are handed a hot potato, get rid of it, don't juggle it in public.  As part of this screwball press conference, Comey promised to keep Congress informed if anything else came up.
   And, sure enough, the Weiner laptop stuffed with Hillary's State Dept emails turned up.  And Comey went public with it before anyone had time to look at the stuff.  A week later, Comey admitted that the Weiner laptop material wasn't all that bad.    All of this must have done Hillary some damage, just how much is impossible to know. 
   And so, Trump fired Comey last night.  Probably not a bad idea,  his mishandling of the Hillary email server affair is enough to make me doubt Comey's common sense.  I gotta feeling a bunch of FBI agents feel the same way.  And  the FBI director is a very powerful official.  J. Edgar Hoover was so feared in DC that no president had the stones to fire him for fear Hoover had file cabinets stuffed with ugly dirt that he would release to the press. 
   Chuckie the Schumer was on TV claiming that Comey was fired to prevent an FBI investigation of Trump's Russian involvement.  Pure BS.  No American with an ounce of brains is going to make a deal with the Russians, they have a century long  reputation for treachery and backstabbing.  You can't make a deal with them, they weasel out of it, or just flat break it every single time.  Everyone knows that. 
   Big question.  Who can Trump find to replace Comey?  I've heard Kelly Ayotte mentioned.  I'm OK with Kelly, I actually know her, she is tough, has her head screwed on nose to the front.  She is a republican so the democrats will have heartburn over that. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

National Intelligence Chief Clapper on TV

Congress had Clapper testifying before a committee.  Clapper was saying that yes the Russians did mess with the 2016 election.  But he wasn't very convincing to me.  Every thing he said was a generality, and opinion or a conclusion.  He never spoke of real evidence, not even a wiretapped phone call or intercepted email or snail mail.  No statements like, "We followed Russian embassy staffer so-and-so-ski to a face to face meeting with [any heavy weight person] on such and such a date and time.  We eavesdropped the meeting and heard them discussing [payments, jobs, embarrassing emails, protection from prosecution, locations of dead drops, other spy stuff]".  No cancelled checks, no deposits of large amounts of cash.  Clapper never said anything solid, that could be checked, he just bloviated.
   Clapper did manage to get several hours of TV time on Fox. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Assassinating Kim Jong whats-his-face

The Kim regime accused us Americans of plotting Kim's assassination.  They detailed a complex plot involving satellite phones, biowarfare bombs, and an unnamed agent who they are interrogating.  God rest his soul. 
   That's not how I would go after Kim.  I'd  get his location, where he sleeps, when he will review the troops in public, when he will appear in public.  Then I'd send a fighter up there and use a smart bomb to take him out.  Fly good and low, and the enemy radar won't see you on the way in.  Use a good size smart bomb to kill all the close in eye witnesses.  Say 750 pounds, none of those 250 pound Small Diameter Bombs.  Stay good and low and get out of North Korea ASAP. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Democrats don't get the point on Healthcare

We have Democrats on TV saying that the Republican healthcare bill will cost them at the polls next year.  Those Democrats clearly don't get it.  In actual fact, after 8 years of threatening to repeal Obamacare and endless campaign promises to do so, the Republicans faced a disaster in the 2018 election if they failed to pass an Obamacare repeal and replace bill.  We are currently debating what the bill they passed yesterday will do, but at least the Republicans got their act together and passed something.  If they had not, they could kiss their thin Congressional majorities farewell in 2018.  

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Republicans pass a health care bill

I don't know just what is in it and what it means.  But they did get just enough votes in the house to pass it.  About time.  We voters elected a Republican congress to get us some reforms.  Up until just now, the Republicans had not passed squat, and a lot of us voters are thinking and saying, what good is a Republican congress if it cannot pass anything? 
  Early reports say that twenty Republicans failed to vote for the bill.  We should get their names and publicize them.  Congress critters so disloyal and dumb as to not vote for their party's bill need to be voted out of office.  

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

FBI director Comey

The Congress critters grilled him all morning.  Lotta talk about how the Russians helped Trump.  In actual fact Comey himself helped Trump and hurt Hillary far more than any mythical Russians ever dreamed about.  When Comey came out and said he had new evidence from Anthony Weiner's laptop, that October Surprise did hurt Hillary.  Lotta talk in code word and code numbers, like "702".  I am gonna have to  Google for 702 and see what it means.
   And I have posted about this before.  The Russians wanted Hillary for president.  They know her, she isn't very bright, she isn't very brave, and  she would be no match for Putin.  Trump is impulsive, and unpredictable, and has political capital that Hillary can only dream about.  Enough political capital to allow him to send an American armored division to Georgia, or Syria for example.  Hillary would never be able to do anything like that.  The Russians aren't dumb, they knew damn well that Hillary was far far better for them than Trump.  Of course, the Russians read American news media which was 100% behind Hillary and predicted her winning.  So they didn't do all that much anyhow.