Re "Toyota's Blown Engine" [Feb. 22]: In the late 1950s I traveled frequently to Japan on business. I've never forgotten the morning when I had a meal at my hotel with two executives from General Motors who were in Japan to teach automakers how to build strong engine blocks. The men spoke derisively and arrogantly about Japanese auto quality. I remembered those comments later as Toyota was hailed as great and GM denounced as mediocre. The lesson I learned: Do not ever be satisfied with the status quo. It takes constant effort to maintain quality and reputation.
Albuquerque, N.M., U.S.
I am surprised and disappointed that you gave no credit to W. Edwards Deming. The American statistician was responsible for helping elevate Japanese manufacturing across the board and making the Japanese car industry competitive with the Big Three, which had initially refused his ideas.
A. Trujillo Escareño
Tustin, Calif., U.S.
Memories are short and people unforgiving. Before Toyota became a global presence, cars were unreliable and motors lasted a mere 100,000 km before a rebore. Toyota raised the standard to unprecedented heights. Now it has stumbled. I am willing to forgive and be grateful. I hope my 1985 Cressida will be recalled for its now broken window mechanism its only fault.
Rangiora, New Zealand
Whoever would abandon Toyota for an American car deserves an American car.
I think this is very much Toyota's fault, and its recent failings are just the tip of the iceberg. Japanese engineers and businessmen must seize the moment to renew the world's faith in their industry.
I was a loyal Toyota man for 27 years. When my sixth Toyota car developed radiator problems in 1998, the company denied any production defects despite a recall for this problem several years earlier. Later, everyone in the industry acknowledged it to be an inherent problem in that model. I have not bought another Toyota car since. Any organization that sweeps problems under the carpet is bound to pay the price in due course. I am not surprised to read about the current massive recall by Toyota.
Preventing Another Fort Hood
In "The Threat from Within," Jim Frederick misses a key reason the Fort Hood massacre happened [Feb. 22]. The National Command Authority has made a misguided but conscious decision not to educate the country too well about the strategic goals of al-Qaeda et al. Had it done so early on, politically attuned junior officers and noncoms would have stepped forward from the get-go to identify Islamist sympathizers like alleged shooter Major Nidal Malik Hasan. That's the way it works. With a more honest and robust definition of the enemy, proaction would have been expected. Sadly, the country is not "all in" intellectually as it was in 1942, and our finest men and women are fighting with half their leaders' brains tied behind their backs.
St. Petersburg, Fla., U.S.
Re "It's Her Party" [Feb. 22]: As usual, Joe Klein's Commentary on the American political scene is masterful. It would be sheer foolhardiness on the part of Americans even to contemplate electing a person like Sarah Palin as their President. Not only would it lead to the misfortune of the U.S., but of the world as a whole.