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People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Resurrect The Line Item Veto

This is discouraging.
U.S. Gives Anchorage $1.5M for Bus Stop
By MARY PEMBERTON, Associated Press Writer

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- Tom Wilson is faced with a problem many city administrators would envy: How to spend $1.5 million on a bus stop.

Wilson, Anchorage's director of public transportation, has all that money for a new and improved bus stop outside the Anchorage Museum of History and Art thanks to Republican Sen. Ted Stevens - fondly referred to by Alaskans as "Uncle Ted" for his prodigious ability to secure federal dollars for his home state. (link)
I worry about my son having the money to put my twin grandchildren through college. Part of what he earned this year as a fireman/EMT technician went to pay for this $1.5 million bus stop that nobody - except a reckless and irresponsible United States Senator - wants.

Shame on Republican Senator Ted Stevens.

Where Quality Is Job 1 ... er ... 2 ... uh ... 5?

Ford Motor Company has problems. Its credit rating is hovering around worthless and now it has been determined that the quality of the vehicles rolling off the company's assembly lines is less than acceptable.
Ford finds its quality lags rivals
The company needs to 'turn this around now,' the automaker's president tells workers.
By Eric Mayne, The Detroit News

Despite a concerted effort to bolster the reliability of its cars and trucks, Ford Motor Co. President Jim Padilla told employees this week that the automaker must improve vehicle quality because it's losing ground to faster-improving rivals.

Padilla"Globally, our quality performance and improvement has not been satisfactory," Padilla wrote in a live online question-and-answer session with employees Monday, according to a transcript obtained by The Detroit News. "This applies to virtually all brands in all geographic regions. Our competitors are moving faster than Ford to improve their quality and we need to TURN THIS AROUND NOW."

Padilla's comments on Ford's vehicle quality come as J.D. Power and Associates is expected today to release its 2005 Initial Quality Survey, a closely watched study that tracks customer complaints during the first 90 days of vehicle ownership.

Padilla, also Ford's chief operating officer, has led an intense drive to improve Ford's vehicle quality in recent years as the company tries to stop market share losses, lower sales incentives and cut warranty expenses. Ford has spent tens of millions of dollars on state-of-the-art technology and advanced training to boost quality.

"The cost of poor quality is the single largest waste in our business," Padilla wrote. "Quality reputation is also the largest determinant of brand reputation and loyalty so we need to make major strides in reducing our warranty repairs per thousand, cost per repair and things gone wrong." (link)
There is nothing particularly startling about this. Ford has been diverting capital investment away from R&D and factory upgrades and toward employee wages, pensions, and benefits for years. While blue collar workers at Ford are lovin' it (at least for now), so is Toyota, a rival that continues to capture more and more market share from its American rival.

And consumers are appreciative of Ford's investment strategy as well. Their buying decisions have been made easier these days; they've chosen, in overwhelming numbers, the Camry.

NY Times To Charge For On-Line Opinion

What have they been smoking?

The New York Times has made the decision to begin charging for many of their columnists' articles.
To Our Reader:
The Times is announcing Times Select, a premium package that will include its Op-Ed columns, its special voices in business, metro and sports, and greater access to its archive. To learn more about the offering, which will be available in September, please read the news article and a press release.

Leonard M. Apcar
Editor in Chief
NYTimes.com

To the New York Times:
The Wall Street Journal has traditionally charged for access to its wonderfully incisive and informative on-line version of its newspaper. Because it is of a quality that allows for it. Consider it a lesson in capitalism. Dorothy Rabinowitz is the best columnist on earth today. The Journal can, and should, charge for her opinions.
  • Maureen Dowd is a woefully inferior writer and of shallow intellect. She should be writing for Muscle Magazine.
  • Paul Krugman is an economist who writes of his hatred of Republicans - every day, every column, without change. And comes up with conspiracy theories that keep bloggers around the world in stitches.
  • Tom Friedman is a decent man who can write two articles in two consecutive days and completely contradict himself, one to the next.

In other words, the Wall Street Journal you ain't.

I'd almost be willing to pay to read these three lightweights - just for the entertainment value - but they are not worth it, whatever you plan on charging for their drivel. As part of that same lesson in capitalism, I think I've been paying what Maureen Dowd is worth. Nothing.

Count me out.

NY Times Sees Abu Ghraib As Being Much Worse

Leave it to the New York Times to completely distort the Newsweek scandal.

A Sudden Taste for Openness

Newsweek is under intense criticism for a report it has now retracted about the American prison in Guantánamo Bay. Since we've weathered a journalistic storm or two, we can only say the best approach is transparency as Newsweek fixes whatever is broken, if anything. There is already a debate about journalistic practices, including the use of anonymous sources, and these things are worth discussing - especially at a time of war, national insecurity and extreme government secrecy, a time when aggressive news reporting is critical. But it is offensive to see the Bush administration use this case for political purposes, and ludicrous for spokesmen for this White House and Defense Department to offer pious declarations about accountability, openness and concern for America's image abroad.

It took Newsweek about two weeks to retract its report. It has been a year since the very real problem behind the article - the systematic abuse and deliberate humiliation of mainly Muslim prisoners - came to light through the Abu Ghraib disaster. And the Bush administration has not come close to either openness or accountability. (link)

The New York Times taking offense, under these circumstances, with the Abu Ghraib prison scandal is appallingly offensive. And laughable. Abu Ghraib involved a handful of prison guards going berserk late at night with prisoners in their charge. Their worst offense was that they humiliated Muslim terrorists.

Newsweek published, sophomorically and with malice, a fallacious article that resulted in the deaths of at least seventeen Afghans and Pakistanis.

And the New York Times sees fit to attack President Bush.

So typical. So wrong.