Mourning In America

A New York Democrat on politics, journalism, and the Mets

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Wednesday, January 05, 2005
I Hate Wal-Mart ... as a store. But it's very, very hard not to be impressed with them as a company. The NY Times has the scoop this morning on how quick action by the chain's executives, starting the day after Thanksgiving, bailed out what might otherwise have been a crushingly disappointing holiday season for the nation's largest retailer.

As you read it, think about the scenario: The president of the stores division is planning to spend the day in a store in Atlanta helping to stock shelves and load customers' cars. By 6:30 a.m., by looking around, he knew sales were slow, and went to check out his competitors' parking lots, too. In three days, the chain had re-structured its entire Christmas merchandising strategy.

That's impressive -- starting from the executives who aren't afraid to get their hands dirty and stretching to a culture with an institutional memory long enough to recognize the early warning signs of slow sales. There's a reason they're the biggest retailer (and Lord knows it isn't the quality of their products, the layout of their stores, or that annoying animated smiley face).

Monday, January 03, 2005
Waiting for Pataki The New York Post reports that Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long is calling on "Gov." Pataki to clarify whether he plans to run for re-election in 2006. Apparently, Mr. Long missed this commercial during last night's Giant game. Lessee:
  • 9/11 imagery? Check!

  • Empty platitudes about the "hard work" that's been done? Check!

  • An extended, feel-good voiceover hailing the "resurgence" of New Yorkers, culminating in a glamour shot of the "Governor?" Check!

  • All paid for by a state agency rather than "Friends of Pataki?" Check!
  • Seems pretty clear he's running, Mike!