In this issue:
Will cutting 30,000 jobs fix what ails the automaker? Or does Ford need something more fundamental in the way of reform to be a long-term success? Watch the dealers and the model lines, not the press conferences.
Paying fewer people to make the same stuff you've always sold would be good, as would shuttering plants to get capacity utilization up to where per unit cost rivals the Japanese. All that makes sense. But Ford would still have too many dealers to feed and too many models to hawk. There have been whispers that Ford might abandon the low-margin minivan market as a way of retrenching, but some dealers would howl that Ford had a "hole" in its product line-up.
A hole is one way of looking at it. An opening is another. If U.S. automakers are going to survive in a truly global market-China is just starting to build cars-they are going to have to focus on doing the things they are truly good at, rather than try to be just OK in everything. And a radical idea to solve the dealer overhang? Cut them loose and partner with Wal-Mart. Some car company is going to do it sooner or later and make a killing. Probably the Chinese.
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Let's hope that Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the deputy director of national intelligence and former head of the National Security Agency, is just being shockingly dopey when he says that if the Bush administration's wiretapping operation had been in place pre-9/11, al Qaida operatives in the U.S. would've been identified. All that says is that if the U.S. knew there were terrorists in the country plotting an attack, they might've found them once they started looking for them. Great. That is what the public expects.
Hayden also took pains to spin the post-9/11 wiretapping as narrow and focused on al Qaida connections. But the narrow-focus picture Hayden drew is at odds with accounts that had the FBI chasing down thousands of false leads generated by the NSA operation. In a country of 270 million people, "focused" can still mean thousands and thousands of monitored conversations—monitored by the order of the president, alone. As a military officer, Hayden does not need to be part of the PR offensive to convince the American public that is proper.
The Pakistani prime minister deserves some sort of medal. Shaukat Aziz told a worldwide audience on CNN that the official CIA account of a strike on suspected al Qaida leaders on the Afghan-Pakistan border was "bizarre." Aziz further said there was no evidence any non-local people were there. Clearly somebody is not telling the truth. Most likely, both sides are fibbing.
Aziz knows full well that the CIA is going to hit anything that looks like a high-value al Qaida target without waiting for Pakistani approval first. But with several thousand protestors outside his window, Aziz is going to play the victim of U.S. overreach for all it is worth.
And CIA had to know that local KIA and wounded were a distinct possibility given the hour and location of the attack. But it was clearly decided that that approach was worth it given the perceived value of the targets. The great unknown is the extent to which the strike stirred up traceable terrorist activity in the region or whether such activity was driven even further underground.
Quote of the Week
"Disaster . . . it can happen anywhere, But we've got a few tips, so you can be prepared, For floods, tornadoes, or even a 'quake, You've got to be ready-so your heart don't break." -rap by "Herman," FEMA's hermit crab mascot for the agency's new FEMA for Kids Web site.
Because the Government Matters, That's Why
The pending shutdown of the Blackberry email service over a patent dispute will not affect local, state, or federal employees using the devices. Why? Because they are better than you.
Canada goes for a Conservative line change, slams the Liberals up against the boards.
Saddam & bin Laden
Here comes the proof. No really, absolute proof. Uday was the go between, you see, and there were these chem suits and?
Ma, Ma, Where's My Pa?
Should anonymous sperm or egg donation be a crime? Kerry Howley
The War on Sedition
"Anglosphere" allies crack down on speech in the name of fighting terror. Matt Welch
Enough Patriotism, Already
Kwame Appiah's refreshing call to cosmopolitanism. Julian Sanchez
And much more!
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