From around the blogroll

It’s a fine Wednesday morning in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, and your Editor is completely writer’s blocked. So, he will present some of the better stuff from his own reading list.

From Karen, the Lonely Conservative:

Figures – Obama’s OMB Missed Budget Deadline

July 16, 2012

President Obama’s Office of Management and Budget missed yet another budget deadline. You know, because rules and budgets are for the little people. The Obama administration is above all of that.

The Obama administration has missed another annual budget deadline, failing to send Congress a mid-session budget review before July 16.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) confirmed Monday that the deadline for the review, due every year on that date, was not met this year.

“There will be a mid-session review and timing is still being determined,” spokeswoman Moira Mack said.

Last year, OMB issued its mid-session review on Sept. 1.

The document is supposed to contain revised spending, tax collection and deficit numbers to update the February budget proposal.

Releasing documents late has become a regular event at OMB.  (Read More)

So, the “timing is still being determined,” and last year the deadline was missed by 2½ months. Great job performance, there!

President Obama is out on the hustings, trying to explain away his failed record by complaining that the mean ol’ Republicans are keeping their campaign promises won’t pass his agenda, but if his own White House staff1 is unable to meet statutory deadlines to provide more current information to Congress, how can the Congress reasonably be asked to pass legislation concerning the economy?

From William Teach:

Surprise! UNC Student Health Insurance Doubles In Two Years

July 18, 2012 – 7:40 am

Can anyone guess why?

(WRAL) The University of North Carolina system requires all students to have health insurance coverage, but the cost of a plan the system offers has more than doubled in two years.

The insurance requirement started in 2010, and about one-third of students on the system’s 16 university campuses buy their policy through UNC’s provider, New York-based insurer Chartis. The rest of the students have other coverage, usually through their parents.

The average cost of the Chartis policy started at $695 a year, but it rose to $847 last year. Tuition bills that are now arriving in student mailboxes for the 2012-13 school year include a $1,418 health insurance premium.

Students with outside insurance can get a waiver to avoid the cost. And, here’s the kicker

Bruce Mallette, the UNC system’s vice president for academic and student affairs, blamed the increase on a high number of claims by students on the policy.

“It was a very affordable plan,” Mallette said. “If you look nationally, the pricing we had in the first two years was very, very competitive, and students utilized it and utilized it and utilized it.”

Boom! It was a very affordable plan and very generous with low to no copays (contraception was 100% free at campus health offices…do you think college students used the heck out of it?), and even those with a waiver stating they have other health insurance can take advantage of some the benefits of the Chartis insurance, such as….free contraception! And it is still a very affordable plan when comparing to the marketplace, but costs had to go up because it was being used way too much. Because it is generous in benefits, everyone has it, and it is easy to use. With such low copays (when there are copays) students will take advantage of it for every minor illness.

More at the link. The esteemed Mr Teach doesn’t mention the Sandra Fluke kerfuffle in his article, but one thing is obvious: if the lovely Miss Fluke had managed to somehow force Georgetown University to provide contraception coverage, the costs to the Georgetown University health insurance plan would have increased . . . and the premium costs would have had to be increased to cover them. Miss Fluke was asking that other people be required to bear p[art of the costs of her preferred method of contraception.

Mr Teach has another article up, stating that the Republicans have effectively killed the Law of the Seas Treaty, and noted why it needed to be killed. Unfortunately, Mr Teach is wrong about saying that it has been "effectively kill(ed)." Under international law, a nation which has signed a treaty is obligated to take no action which undermines the treaty prior to ratification. Thirty-four senators have pledged to vote against ratification, which means that the treaty could not get the two-thirds supermajority constitutionally required for ratification,2 but if President Obama does not submit the treaty to the Senate for ratification, the provisions requiring no action to undermine the treaty remain legally in force; the Senate would not have had the opportunity to approve or reject the treaty.

This is a major weakness in our Constitution. The Constitution specifies that "all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land."3 What the Constitution does not provide is a requirement that the President submit a signed treaty to the Senate for a ratification vote, the Framers having had the apparently quaint notion in mind that the President would just naturally make such submittals.4 This weakness in the treaty provisions of the Constitution will become even more apparent after President Obama signs the repugnant United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.

From Donald Douglas:

Google Executive Marissa Mayer Named President and CEO of Yahoo!

At Business Week, "Marissa Mayer Is Yahoo's New CEO."

Marissa Mayer And at the New York Times, "A Yahoo Search Calls Up a Chief From Google" (via Memeorandum):

Marissa Mayer, one of the top executives at Google, will be the next chief of Yahoo, making her one of the most prominent women in Silicon Valley and corporate America.

The appointment of Ms. Mayer is consider a coup for Yahoo, which has struggled in recent years to attract top talent in its battle with competitors. One of the few public faces of Google, Ms. Mayer, 37, has been responsible for the look and feel of some of the search company’s most popular products.

Despite her background, Ms. Mayer — who will be Yahoo’s fifth chief executive in less than a year, two of them interim — will face a daunting challenge.

A pioneering Internet company that helped shape the industry in the 1990s, Yahoo is trying to remain relevant after failing to adapt to changing innovations like sophisticated search technology and social media tools. As Google and Facebook have emerged as Web giants, Yahoo has struggled to create a distinct strategy, even though its audience remains among the largest on the Internet. Now, the company is moving to lay off thousands of employees, in the face of slumping profits and a lackluster stock.

The big question is whether Ms. Mayer — or anyone — can help Yahoo regain its former stature.

Also at WSJ, "New Yahoo Chief Seen Reinvigorating Company's Product Offerings."

And the biggest angle is the Mayer's pregnant. See Fortune, "New Yahoo CEO Mayer is pregnant" (via Memeorandum).

And this is interesting, from Lisa Belkin at HuffPo, "Marissa Mayer: The Most Powerful Pregnant Woman In America":

So what value and obligation does Mayer have to working mothers? (And she does have one. As long as women with children are the exception at the top they are, willingly or not, role models.) It is to be aware of what she has that others need. To create a culture where jobs are as flexible as possible, so all parents can mold them around their family needs. To understand that a pregnancy doesn't diminish a woman's brain cells, or her worth. And that being a parent makes you a better, more committed, more focused worker, not a lesser one.

I wonder if Amanda Marcotte's down with that?

Dr Douglas' article interested me more for the links it contained. None of the three business source links Dr Douglas included made any mention concerning Mrs Mayer being one of the first or one of the few women to reach Chief Executive Officer status in a technology company; they simply reported the news that she had been hired as Yahoo's CEO. The Fortune link concerned her pregnancy, saying that she had disclosed to Yahoo's board that she was pregnant, and the board didn't think that would be of any concern. Apparently, the board thought that she was the right person to get a tough job done, a very tough job since Yahoo has not been doing particularly well.

On the other hand, The New York Times article just had to bring up that:

With her appointment as the president and chief executive of Yahoo on Monday, Ms. Mayer joins a shortlist of women in the technology industry to hold the top spot. The elite club includes Meg Whitman, the chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, and Virginia M. Rometty, the head of I.B.M. Another senior woman in Silicon Valley, Sheryl Sandberg, is Facebook’s chief operating officer.

Why, your Editor has to ask, is Mrs Meyer’s gender somehow significant? Why must she be on a “shortlist?” The business publications treated it as matter-of-fact, a talented and accomplished executive was appointed CEO by Yahoo. BusinessWeek’s article did contain a photo, while the cited article in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL did not, though neither tried to somehow hide the fact that she is female; both used the feminine pronouns throughout. The BusinessWeek article said:

Yahoo! (YHOO) shocked its observers and Wall Street today by naming Marissa Mayer, longtime Google (GOOG) executive, as chief executive of the teetering Silicon Valley Web portal. The beleaguered company has had four official CEOs over the past five years, and their names—Terry Semel, Jerry Yang, Carol Bartz, and Scott Thompson—have come to define hapless management. Thompson, the most recent chief exec, left the company in May after activist shareholders revealed that he had exaggerated his academic credentials.

Did you catch that? BusinessWeek noted the previous four CEOs for Yahoo, and indicated that they were all unsuccessful. BusinessWeek somehow found it completely unnecessary to point out that previous CEO Carol Bartz is a woman, but simply treated her as just another executive.5

This is the important part: in business, the bottom line is important, but the boards of directors and executive officers don’t care about executives’ gender; they only care about whether they can get the job done. Marissa Mayer has a huge job ahead of her, as Yahoo has not been on a particularly good business track for the last few years. She and her subordinates will either succeed in getting Yahoo! turned around, or they will fail, but their success or their failure, whichever it turns out to be, will have nothing to do with whether the CEO uses the mens’ or the ladies’ restroom.
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  1. The Office of Management and Budget is part of the Executive Office of the President.
  2. The Constitution of the United States, Article II, Section 2, paragraph 2.
  3. The Constitution of the United States, Article VI, paragraph 2.
  4. Your Editor previously criticized President Bush for withdrawing the United States from the Kyoto Protocols, stating that the appropriate action should have been to submit it to the Senate for ratification, knowing that it would have been rejected.
  5. In Rob Hof’s BusinessWeek “Tech Beat” article on Mrs Bartz’ appointment as CEO of Yahoo, he, too, seemed to see no need to point out that, ohmigosh, she’s a woman! though his use of the appropriate pronouns made no attempt to conceal that fact.