Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The 8%-92% Rule

I was planning a blog on this subject, but then I decided to simply post the chart and allow folks to come to their own conclusion.

To me, this clearly explains the logic and reasoning driving presidential actions. When our President and 92% of his advisors have never earned an honest dollar in their life, what do you expect?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Editor & Publisher is dead

It should not have come as a surprise to any insider that Editor & Publisher, a venerable 125 year-old publication that focused on the newspaper industry, was shut down by Nielsen its parent company.

The writing was on the wall, inked circa 1996 when the internet burst on the scene, and E&P took pains to ensure the industry held on to its outdated business model. E&P even fought AP’s effort to supplement its revenue stream by reselling technology to member newspapers.

They fought against digital cameras, they fought against AdSend. They were purist (in the bad sense of the term) and died as purists. dropped off the net on Friday December 11th 2009. Last headline exalting user response and trashing the Washington Post for running a Sarah Palin op-ed.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Chrysler Aghast!

I am flabbergasted that a US car company with middle-americans as primary customers and a stack of retro muscle cars and full-sized trucks equipped with Hemis V8 is deploying the above ad as a way of rescuing sales.

Is this a flavor of things to come under FIAT's leadership? Can someone tell them that the emperor has no clothes?

Exactly how many political activists will be interested in a Chrysler 300? Seven is my guess, 11 if you include Cash-for-Clunkers.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Afghanistan: Bush had it right

I must admit that I’m quite conflicted when it comes to the war in Afghanistan. On the one hand, the current situation is untenable, on the other hand I doubt more troops will provide a solution.

Afghanistan is a more difficult problem than Iraq and the prospect of a strong central government, army and police to whom we will hand control is a largely a fiction.

At the end of the day Bush had the Afghanistan strategy right: smaller footprint, mostly counter-terrorism mission, and a long term commitment to stay to prevent Taliban take-over.

Having boxed himself in during the campaign, Obama rode in with his ‘new strategy’ and in March upped the troop level by nearly 100%.

Having stirred the hornet’s nest he has no choice but to double down in November.

Nothing I heard this week gives me confidence that Afghanistan will end well. I we can only roll back time.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Federalism and the Surrendering of our Strength

I often wonder what makes American unique. Is it the sheer size of this country? Or is it the immigrant nature of the population? Maybe our geographic isolation is what helped?

Perhaps it is because, as a country, we have a system of government that, unlike anywhere else in the world, continues to experiment on a vast scale. We have 50 states and 50 experiments in government and the ultimate mobility to choose between them.

What should we do to raise revenue during an economic downturn? New York and California think they should raise tax on the rich, while Texas Florida and Alabama think tax incentives for businesses is the way to go. Are unions good for the middle class? Michigan says yes, Tennessee says no. Are guns dangerous? Utah and New York have different opinions. It is physically impossible to build a new road in Connecticut, while Alaska is willing to pave over the whole state if necessary.

People, companies and products can vote with their feet as to which system works best for them. In the first half of the twentieth century people moved to the northern states in droves in search of economics opportunity. Now the reverse is happening, with most Northern and Eastern States experiencing declining populations (hint – it ain’t the weather that’s driving people south).

It’s that flexibility that has allowed us to reinvent ourselves repeatedly over the last 200 years. Keep that in mind as you watch the Federal Government grow and take over sector after sector of our economy ‘streamlining’ laws into a cookie-cutter one size fits all.

We shouldn’t surrender our strength so readily.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Waking up to a nightmare

This maybe unfair, and I might still regret this rush to judgment, but it seems that the longest election night has ended with a nightmare.

A vast majority of the population is experiencing a pleasant dream tuned dark. A post-partisan, post-racial promise revealed as a hoax. A supremely eloquent and confident leader that is deeply insecure and not so presidential. An outstanding campaign political machine that is made up of amateurs unable to adapt to the role of governing.

This might be an unfair assessment. But either way, the night is over and we now know what we have picked. So, the centrist turns out not to be so much so. Was it a popular mandate or faute-de-mieux?

Faute-de-mieux, cowboy up America.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Healthcare Reform Simplified

I've tried to reduce the complex health care issue into a single slide while removing all the lies/distortions that have crept into the dialogue (including last night's Presidential Speech). Here's what I have:

Democrats are selecting "Universal Coverage" and perhaps "Cheaper Premiums" over "Deficit Neutral". Republicans are picking "Cheaper Premiums" and "Deficit Neutral". Libertarians like me are simply interested keeping the government from getting involved in making the choice

Thursday, August 6, 2009

30 years ago today

It’s so long ago, yet it seems like yesterday that I boarded an Air Morocco plane in Beirut headed for NYC. I remember seeing the flexing of the wings of the aging 707 on takeoff and saying to myself: I’m free. I’m finally leaving this hellhole.

Lanky teenager still wet behind the ears, I landed @JFK a couple of days later to a new world full of promises, possibilities and challenges. America wasn’t what I expected, it was better.

Yet, America of 1979 had lost its mojo: inflation, Iran hostages, and high crime left people feeling uneasy, lost and full of self-doubt. Nothing illustrates that malaise more than the graffiti declaring “America: Love it or Leave it” that sprung up everywhere.

Reagan came, and we returned to being a shining city on the hill. Three decades of prosperity followed, and yet, here we are once again mojo-less and adrift.

I would like to think of this as a simple correction, a slight step back on the ever-forward journey. But for the first time in my life, I’ve having doubts.

Maybe I'm just getting older.

To quote a famous song: “Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on…”

In the interim -- I'm hedging my bets.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Either or

Is Iran a country or a cause?
Is Lebanon a country or a dream?
Is Israel a country or an idea?
Is Syria a country or a man?
Is Saudi Arabia a country or a religion?
Is Kuwait a country or an estate?
Is Jordan a country or a suburb?
Is Egypt a country or a river?
Is the Middle East a region or an aberration?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hero or Superstar?

I have been watching the President's trips abroad and how he's handling tough domestic issues, a quote from Henry Kissinger's memoirs comes to mind:

"The great statesmen of the past saw themselves as heroes who took on the burden of their societies' painful journey from the familiar to the as yet unknown. The modern politician is less interested in being a hero than a superstar. Heroes walk alone; stars derive their status from approbation. Heroes are defined by inner values; stars by consensus. When a candidate's views are forged in focus groups and ratified by television anchorpersons, insecurity and superficiality become congenital."

You draw your own conclusions.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Venus or Mars

As I headed out to a long vacation in Arizona, hoping for some solid reading time, I grabbed two old favorites “The Rise and Fall of Great Empires”, and “Atlas Shrugged”. I’ve been bouncing back and forth between them for a week now. Not a great way to read a book, I admit, but I have read them at least twice.
I cannot help but wonder what is around the corner for America. Where is this great country headed in the next few years? Will the place my kids will grow old in, resemble the place I’m growing old(er) in?
Will we look back at 2009 at the end of the American Century? The end of Pax Americana? The year America, the nation, grew old and started looking forward to retirement.
I sure hope not.
For the life-cycle of great empires can be correlated nicely with the cycle of life. Nations are young, growing and vibrant, then they get old stodgy and caution. Then they die.
In the first half of their lives, young nations are from Mars: they are growing, vital, aggressive, willing to take chances, focused on the individual, on improving and changing. Full of vinegar, hubris and testosterone, they are messy; they break things, make a lot of noise, and are willing to crack a few eggs to make the omelet.
Then they grow older, and somehow they move to Venus. They lose their edge and their vitality. They now must insure that nothing goes wrong, that nothing is left to chance, because something bad can happen to someone somewhere. They become tame, safe, secure, nurturing. Every bad thing that happens must be someone’s fault. They drown in regulation, in lawyers, in causes (célèbre and otherwise). Everyone has the right to be protected. They give up omelets because eggs have rights too.
Until, someone from Mars moves into the neighborhood.
Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars. France is from Venus, I’m sure of that. China and Russia are from Mars, I’m sure of that too.
America was Mars. Your move America.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

AIG and Terri Schiavo

Conventional wisdom has it that the ‘culture of corruption’ undid the GOP’s hold on congress in 2006.

I disagree.

It was the Terri Schiavo fiasco that put the fear of god in many a moderate. It was the beginning of the end for the GOP’s hold on power in DC and across the country.

For what is scarier than congress passing laws to interfere with a family affair?

Well, it’s passing laws to confiscate private property. In this case AIG bonuses, scant weeks after passing a law permitting exactly those bonuses.

I expect this from a banana republic: Lebanon, Venezuela, Russia. But the U.S. of A.?
I'm scared, very very scared.

Or perhaps this is the Democrat’s Schiavo moment?

Friday, February 27, 2009


A couple of months ago I made a couple of cryptic posting regarding energy. Most people did not quite understand the point of titling them "He Gets it".

I had suspected what was going to happen, and Tuesday's speech confirmed it: The only way to make alternative energy viable is to artificially raise the cost of mainstream energy through a cap and trade system.

Though this will generate a fair amount of revenue for the government (at the expense of energy consumers) this approach will ultimately fail for the simple reason that oil is abundant, cheap to extract and package, and has a lower environmental footprint than ethanol, solar, or wind.

OPEC and other oil producing countries simply have to lower the price of oil temporarily to more than offset any tax burden and reshape the economic equation in favor of fossil fuel.

Alternative Energy will need to win on its own merit. No amount of government involvement will alter that.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


It sure has been an inauspicious start to the Obama administration.

Instead of by-partisanship he gets 3 Republicans to vote for the Trillion Dollar Bill (for a better idea read this), his commerce secretary pulls out after being slapped in the face with the census issue, the market is back to its November lows, and most moderate are left wondering: Where’s the beef?

Obama might be too weak to affect any change in Washington. Or not, we still don’t know. The long election night continues, but I know one thing: I do not like what I see.

Mr. President, grow a backbone already.