Obama hasn't changed, but where's the country that elected him? (Jill Lawrence, Politics Daily)
He hasn't changed. But the country that elected him has. We seem to have lost our collective nerve.
We've lost our confidence in ourselves, our government, and our institutions. We're lost our taste for boldness, our eagerness to experiment, our openness to the future. Enough of us are in hunker-down or angry-protest mode that Obama faces a struggle for every approval point in public opinion polls and on nearly every issue before Congress.
Ford CEO Alan Mullaly with the new, third-generation Taurus. Dearborn executives had given up on the brand after the second generation, with the comely appearance of a cockroach on steroids, became a showroom dust-collector. Mulally, recalling how the first-generation Taurus saved Ford in the 1980s, demanded that the Dearborn stylists and engineers give the mid-size sedan, one of America's bestselling vehicles in the Reagan years, a third try. In the early going, it's far outperforming Taurus 2.0. (Photo: Robyn Beck, Getty Images)
A revived Ford Motor reports a stunning $2-billion profit in Q1. (NYT). If I'm not mistaken, when I first tagged Ford as the Detroit comeback kid on this site last year, its stock was trading in a range of $4 to $6. It closed yesterday at about $14, almost triple its nadir at the trough of the Great Recession. In a Motown first, all of the Detroit Three are headed by outsiders. Ford's turnaround CEO, Alan Mulally, recruited from Boeing, and GM's Ed Whitacre, lured out of retirement by Obama and a phone-utility veteran, are outsiders to the car industry. (Not "car guys," in Detroit parlance.) And Sergio Marchionne, new CEO at Chrysler, is an outsider to the U.S., born in Italy, first two decades of his accounting career spent in Toronto, and most recently - and still - CEO of Fiat SpA, Chrysler's new controlling shareholder. You could call it a humbling of Motown. But it's also Detroit's only hope for a revival, given the car guys' failure for 30 years to bite the bullet, and close excess plants, lay off idled workers who were still paid while not working (the notorious "Jobs Bank"), sell or kill a proliferation of underperforming and distracting brands (Pontiac, Saturn, Volvo, Saab, Hummer, Aston Martin, Land Rover), and start designing and building cars that Americans want to buy (including the bestselling Ford Fusion and Chev Malibu).
America's unemployed are suffering Depression-era levels of poverty. (Naked Capitalism)
The Tea Partiers' exaggerated importance. (Politico.)
Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the leader of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, was shown a PowerPoint slide in Kabul last summer that was meant to portray the complexity of American military strategy, but looked more like a bowl of spaghetti. 'When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war,' General McChrystal remarked. The slidehas since bounced around the Internet as an example of a military tool that has spun out of control.
Like an insurgency, PowerPoint has crept into the daily lives of military commanders and reached the level of near obsession. The amount of time expended on PowerPoint, the Microsoftpresentation program of computer-generated charts, graphs and bullet points, has made it a running joke in the Pentagon and in Iraq and Afghanistan. 'PowerPoint makes us stupid,' Gen. James N. Mattis of the Marine Corps, the Joint Forces commander, said this month at a military conference in North Carolina. (He spoke without PowerPoint.)
Brig. Gen. H. R. McMaster, who banned PowerPoint presentations when he led the successful effort to secure the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar in 2005, followed up at the same conference by likening PowerPoint to an internal threat. “It’s dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control,” General McMaster said in a telephone interview afterward. 'Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable.' [Emphasis added.]