Thursday, June 09, 2005


An assorted array of stuff

Sorry for the absence these last couple of days. The Mouth simply got weary of politics and needed a rest. I'm back now, and I'm as pissed off as ever. Today, let's talk about a few odds and ends that have been cluttering my reporter's notebook.

Slap Suit

Have you heard the one about the two civic-minded folks who went to court to save a landmark building, and all they got was a lousy lawsuit filed against them?

It's no joke. Marcia Behrendt and Roger Plackemeir were outraged by plans to level the 1896-vintage Century Building in downtown St. Louis to make way for a parking lot (What is this, 1965? I thought we quit doing things like that decades ago.) To try to save this lovely Beaux-Arts building (one of the few 19th-century office buildings left downtown), these two filed two lawsuits to halt the demolition. Ultimately, the litigation failed, and the Century Building collapsed into a pile of rubble late last year.

Now Behrendt and Plackemeier are being sued by the city of St. Louis and the state of Missouri who contend they were the target of malicious prosecution. They want $1.5 million to compensate for alleged legal expenses, as well as to "deter said defendents and others from like conduct."

Sure sounds like a slap suit, doesn't it? For the uninitiated, a slap suit is a form of intimidation and bullying when lawsuits seeking large dollar amounts are filed against individuals or grassroots organizations who make a big stink about wrong-doing, often from a large corporation. Sometimes, as in Behrendt's and Plackemeier's case, slap suits can take the form of a counter-suit. In other cases, they are filed as slander or defamation suits. The message is always the same: Keep your mouth shut, or we'll litigate it shut. Our pockets are deeper than yours, slap suit litigants say, and we can bury you. It's the kind of thing we'd expect from some sleazy corporation, but it's something else to learn the city of St. Louis and the state of Missouri are using our tax dollars to engage in such conduct.

Sadly the Post-Dispatch has written very little about this case; I've heard more about it from KWMU, the NPR station.

To learn how to help Behrendt and Plackemeier, click here:

To see for yourself what we lost with the wrecking ball, click on any of these four links below:

Had they only listened to us tree-huggers.

So, General Motors is in trouble. They need to ax 25,000 jobs and slim down its line of boring cars (What! You mean people aren't lined up to buy Luminas?) and trucks. It appears the folks in Detroit didn't care what we tree-huggers had to say. For years we insisted, You're making too many SUVs. You need to consider fuel efficnency.

Did they listen to us? Noooooooo. You Bolsheviks don't know anything, the suits at GM said. Nobody wants a hybrid. People want Hummers and five-ton SUVs. We're dispassionate businessmen, see, and our judgment is infallible.

Apparently their infallible judgment neglected to foresee $2-per-gallon gas prices. Their infallible judgment also scoffed at Honda and Toyota for putting so much effort into developing hybrids and then actually marketing them. Yeah sure, GM stuck a few people on a low-priority effort to develop fuel-efficient technology. You may remember a rather shameful 60 Minutes piece that amounted to little more than public relations for GM with Dan Rather driving delightedly around a test track in a hybrid that corporate officials probably never planned to actually market.

Toyota, however, came up with the Prius and Honda developed the hybrid Accord, and the waiting lists are at least six months long. Meanwhile in Detroit, GM officials are several years off from actually putting a hybrid on the showroom floors. I guess Dan Rather will have to wait for his. But I hear there are some Yukons that aren't moving off the lot these days. GM sounds willing to cut Dan and the rest of us a pretty good deal to unload them.

Name that President

Can you guess which president they're talking about here?

"The...administration had remained a small junta, suspicious of the bureaucrats it presides over...distrustful of those it can't control, at once defensive and sometimes outright arrogant in behavior. It is unnecessarily inhospitable to people whose ideas might occasionally help it. The junta's deep sense of being surrounded by enemies has permeated the Washington atmosphere."

That's actually from a 1972 Life magazine editorial on the Nixon White House. Remind you of a more-recent president? As the unmasking of Deep Throat last week causes us to reflect back on Watergate and the abuses of power in high places, we are sadly reminded of how history repeats itself.

The problem with you Tree huggers who don't know anything about business, is that your Tree Huggers who don't know anything about business, and when you criticize the businesses, you do so with an elementary and at best book learned knowledge about business, the corporations, and how business really works. (Save a few Ben & Jerrys, and the Ivory elite who've turned to liberalism as penance for the guilt derived from wealth.) When the Big 3 decided that to invest more in Hummers than Hybrids, it had little to do with the future of either one. Americans wanted, and, excuse me, but still do want, big cars and trucks. (mark my words, the slump in big cars will last as long as a ride in a hybrid) Business is about business. It's about pleasing the consumer and geting paid for it. Toyota is doing well because of quality, not innovation. Remember the Carter no gas fiasco of the 70's? How long did Americans yearn for Pintos? You Tree Huggers may wish for Pintos, but the rest of us want our cars like the spirit of America - Big.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?