When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do? -- John Maynard Keynes

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tax reform--it is not going to go away

Who can argue that tax expenditures give politicians a way to hand out favors and engage in indirect spending, all without explicit accountability? Given the fiscal unsustainability of the U.S., it is past time for comprehensive reform of the entire tax code and tax system, including elimination of loopholes, tax expenditures, etc.--or as Uwe E. Reinhardt in the New York Times puts it:

" . . .the best approach would be to abolish the distinction between capital gains and ordinary income altogether and desist from using the tax system for any kind of economic or social engineering. . . . Consider now a person who bought a vacation home for $500,000 and two years later, during one of our recurrent real-estate bubbles, sells it for $1.5 million. That $1 million profit is now taxed at a rate of only 15 percent. If the home had been the principal residence of this person and his or her spouse, half of the $1 million profit would not be taxed at all. Suppose next that this tax-favored person’s neighbor were a busy neurosurgeon whose many hours of hard, physical and intellectual work earned him or her a net practice income of $1 million during those same two years. That neurosurgeon would pay the ordinary income-tax rate on that income (on average a bit less than 35 percent, because only income over $388,350 a year is taxed at 35 percent). By what definition of the term would can one call the glaringly differential tax treatment of the real estate investor and of the neurosurgeon horizontally equitable? Indeed, by what theory of justice could one defend it on ethical grounds? . . . But if encouraging capital formation is the argument in favor of the capital-gains tax preference, why not include in “capital formation” the formation of “human capital,” that is, the personal investment required to produce well-educated and well-trained individuals? Corporations and nations thrive economically on the strength of their human capital, which is arguably their most valuable asset. . . . If the partners at Bain Capital are granted a low 15 percent tax rate on what basically is an earned commission for hours smartly worked, rather than a return on their own invested capital, should not the return on the neurosurgeon’s own investment in his or her human capital be granted the same preference? . . . " 

So who in Washington is going to lead on this issue?  So far I haven't seen any real leadership-- Democrat or Republican. And yet the solution is simple.


Friday, March 30, 2012

Ford Motor Company: The Future is Now

I normally don't write about autos or the auto industry, but as a follower of technology, I couldn't pass up this post:
Ford C-MAX Energi
Ford C-MAX Energi is Green Car Vision Award Winner | GreenCar.com"Green Car Journal has named Ford’s C-MAX Energi its 2012 Green Car Vision Award™ winner at the Washington Auto Show. The highly-efficient plug-in model, which is expected to come to market in late 2012, is built on the same global C-car platform as the Ford Focus and other Ford models to come. This distinguishes Ford as the first back-to-back winner of the Green Car Vision Award. The Ford Focus Electric won the honors last year. The C-MAX Energi rose to the top in a field of five exceptional visionary vehicles that also included the BMW i3, Cadillac ELR, Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-Cell, and Tesla Model S. All are electric drive, but energized in different ways through hydrogen fuel cell, battery electric, extended range electric, and plug-in hybrid power."

The 2013 C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi | View C-MAX Features | Ford.com: "Think of the technology in the C-MAX Hybrid and the C-MAX Energi as your smart best friend. Available SYNC® with MyFord Touch® is uniquely outfitted for the hybrid or plug-in hybrid experience when you combine it with SmartGauge® with EcoGuide. With this combination, efficiency may be displayed using a leafy vine visual on the SmartGauge cluster screen. The more vines, the more efficient your driving. SYNC with MyFord Touch keeps you engaged with the world–and still lets you keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road."

C-MAX Energi Technology
The all-new C-MAX Energi was designed to deliver maximum efficiency by combining a high-voltage battery and electric motor with a gasoline engine. The gasoline engine does not run all the time, so you could go farther between refueling stops. Plug-in capability lets you charge the battery using either a standard 120-volt or a 240-volt outlet upgraded with available electric vehicle supply equipment. SmartGauge® with EcoGuide provides images representing driving efficiency. Standard SYNC® with MyFord Touch® with unique electric-vehicle screens. EV button allows the driver to easily switch between all-electric and gas power.
More info here.

Ford Motor Company: The Future is Now.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Why Most Tech Start-ups Don't Succeed

TechCrunch: ". . . . a select group of the best StartupBus apps came together to pitch their work to a panel of potential investors. The winner was Cerealize, a website that lets you custom mix your own blended breakfast cereal and ships a box to your home. . . . "

20 Startups Demo And Launch At London Web Summit | TechCrunch: " . . . Today at the London Web Summit a number of startups are launching on stage so here’s a quick run-down of their businesses and our quick take on them. Out of these 20, three will demo on stage for a prize worth close to £100,000 in a convertible note from DJJ Esprit, £15k in legal services from Orrick, £15k in advisory services from KPMG and £4k in hardware from HP. However, we’ll be delving a little deeper into these guys in due course. They are being judged on the usual startup criteria: Problem, Solution, Technology, Team, Market, Traction, and Future prospects. . . ."


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Penal-Industrial Complex: Crony Capitalism At Its Worst

Ever wonder why the United States of America (land of the free?) has more people in prison than any other country in the world?

U.S. prison population dwarfs that of other nations - The New York Times: "The United States has less than 5 percent of the world's population. But it has almost a quarter of the world's prisoners. Indeed, the United States leads the world in producing prisoners, a reflection of a relatively recent and now entirely distinctive American approach to crime and punishment. Americans are locked up for crimes — from writing bad checks to using drugs — that would rarely produce prison sentences in other countries. And in particular they are kept incarcerated far longer than prisoners in other nations. Criminologists and legal scholars in other industrialized nations say they are mystified and appalled by the number and length of American prison sentences. . . "

Kudos to Paul Krugman for pointing out what most Republicans and Democrats prefer to ignore:

Lobbyists, Guns and Money - NYTimes.com: " . . . Yet that’s not all; you have to think about the interests of the penal-industrial complex — prison operators, bail-bond companies and more. (The American Bail Coalition has publicly described ALEC as its “life preserver.”) This complex has a financial stake in anything that sends more people into the courts and the prisons, whether it’s exaggerated fear of racial minorities or Arizona’s draconian immigration law, a law that followed an ALEC template almost verbatim. Think about that: we seem to be turning into a country where crony capitalism doesn’t just waste taxpayer money but warps criminal justice, in which growing incarceration reflects not the need to protect law-abiding citizens but the profits corporations can reap from a larger prison population." 

Yes, the penal-industrial complex is "crony capitalism" at its worst, and Nobel Laureate Krugman is onto it:

Paul Krugman: Creepy Cronyism--" . . . Look, in particular, at the semi-secret history of the Arizona immigration law. A legislator goes into a closed-door meeting with corporations, including a big operator of private prisons, and soon afterwards submits legislation that … sends lots of people to those private prisons. If you read the corrections to that report, you see that ALEC and/or its clients went over the piece with a fine-toothed comb to find anything that they could attack; sure, you can’t prove that Corrections Corporation of America inspired the law, or that ALEC lobbied for it. Hey, it could all be a coincidence. But this is really, really creepy — and scary."

Yes it is, yes it is--"creepy" and "scary."


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Those who know you best: Specter on Santorum

Arlen Specter, in a C-SPAN interview (starts at 11:30):

"I know Rick Santorum very well, I worked with him for 12 years in the Senate, I helped him win his election back in 1994. In August his campaign was in the dumps and I gave him my organization, gave him my people, campaigned for him and helped him win. We had a collegial relationship, worked together for Pennsylvania …But when he’s running for president it’s a different matter. Here you have his views – he doesn’t believe women being in the workforce, he doesn’t believe in contraception, he thinks that in the gay issue that it’s man-on-dog, he talks about bestiality, he criticizes very sharply the John Kennedy speech, famous speech in Houston, separation of church and state … next Santorum’s likely to attack Jefferson, who knows what’s next? I urge Rick to have some unexpressed ideas but he’s very dedicated to a very extreme position and I don’t think that’s right for America."

And Newt Gingrich?

Specter: Gingrich has a lot of qualifications. I’ve taken to standup, Greta. Five years ago I was in the celebrity comedy program in Washington and had a good time and they had an open mic … He’s part of my routine. Newt and I came to the Capitol at the same time. Newt was elected in’ 78 and I in 80. And as I say, I’ve known Newt so long I knew him when he was skinny. As a matter of fact I even knew Newt’s first wife. And most of his girlfriends.

Life Among the Cannibals by Arlen Specter--on sale today. 


Monday, March 26, 2012

Santorum "loses it" in Wisconsin, uses profanity [video]

Speaking of losers, Santorum "loses it" in Wisconsin and curses a New York Times reporter:

Santorum needs to go back and listen to the tape--he did NOT limit his description of Romney to just the context of Obamacare. Santorum--what a loser! (And definitely the WORST Republican running for President.)


Android Wins Windows Phone Challenge, But Microsoft a Poor Loser!

Microsoft needs to get a grip and concede they lost the "Windows Phone Challenge" to Android:

I Won The Windows Phone Challenge, But Lost “Just Because” | Skatter Tech: " . . . The Microsoft Store employee I was up against then explained the selected challenge. Her exact words were the following: “bring up the weather of two different cities.” The one who could do that first would win. I felt like I struck gold since I knew I already had two weather widgets on my home screen: one for my current location (San Jose, CA) and another for Berkeley, CA. After a three-second count down, I hit the power button on my phone and said “DONE!” out loud. I had disabled the lock screen entirely, which is a rather awesome out-of-the-box feature of Android that takes you straight to the home screen with a single push of the power button. I didn’t even need to touch the screen, since the two weather widgets were already there. My opponent finished a split-second later. She had two live tiles on her home screen displaying the weather of two different cities as well. Why does it take longer on Windows Phone? She had to perform two actions. First, she hit the power button to turn on the screen. Second, she had to swipe away the lock screen. That’s pretty much as fast as it gets on that platform. Windows Phone takes two interactions. Android takes just one. I excitedly thought I won out of pure luck. However, I was quickly told that I lost. I asked for a reason and was told Windows Phone won because “it displays the weather right there.” That was rather unclear. I showed her my device which also was showing off the same information with two side-by-side weather widgets on the center home screen. After pressing for a better reason, I was told that Windows Phone won “just because.”. . . "

You can read the rest of the tale here. Suffice it to say Microsoft is a poor Loser! At least it is not going unnoticed: A marketing time-bomb explodes: Android user wins Windows Phone Challenge, gets cheated by MS staff | VentureBeat. This is a bad omen for Nokia and Windows Phone. Buyer Beware!

Microsoft apologizes over 'Smoked by Windows Phone' controversy, offers winner laptop and phone | The Verge: "Microsoft's working quickly to counter backlash it's receiving after denying a user who won a Windows Phone challenge his just reward. Yesterday, Sahas Katta won a "Smoked by Windows Phone" challenge when his Galaxy Nexus displayed the weather of two different cities faster than the Windows Phone he was up against, but the Microsoft store claimed that he had to show weather from two different states. Microsoft has been roundly bashed for this technicality since then, so Windows Phone evangelist Ben Rudolph has just taken to Twitter to apologize and offer Katta a new laptop and Windows Phone, as well as an apology. --Ben Rudolph@BenThePCGuy Hey @sahaskatta , @MicrosoftStore & I want to make things right. So I've got a laptop & phone (& apology) for you. Email me! 26 Mar 12 "


The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs

Well worth the read--Walter Isaacson's article about Steve Jobs in the Harvard Business Review:

The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs - Harvard Business Review: " . . . . So I think the real lessons from Steve Jobs have to be drawn from looking at what he actually accomplished. I once asked him what he thought was his most important creation, thinking he would answer the iPad or the Macintosh. Instead he said it was Apple the company. Making an enduring company, he said, was both far harder and more important than making a great product. How did he do it? Business schools will be studying that question a century from now. Here are what I consider the keys to his success. . . Focus . . . . Simplify . . . . Take Responsibility End to End . . . . When Behind, Leapfrog . . . . Put Products Before Profits . . . . Don’t Be a Slave To Focus Groups . . . "customers don’t know what they want until we’ve shown them." He invoked Henry Ford’s line “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, ‘A faster horse!’” . . . "  Go read the rest here.

I also recommend Charlie Rose's interview with Walter Isaacson about this.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Android: 'Key Lime Pie' comes after 'Jelly Bean'

I have friends and family who swear by their Apple iPhones and iPads--but I'm in the Google Android ecosystem, and look forward to each iteration of the Google operating systems, Chrome browser, applications, etc.--e.g., Google Play [video above].

And it just keeps getting better--

Android 'Key Lime Pie' comes after Jelly Bean | The Verge: "We've been tipped by a reliable source today that Google will be using the name "Key Lime Pie" for the version of Android that comes after Jelly Bean."

Not only that--but Key Lime Pie is my favorite!


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Why people aren't in the stock market

Michael Holland on Bloomberg TV on March 13, 2012, noted that "people aren't in the market--it's computer and high frequency trading." If one wonders why, Gregg Smith gave a pretty good reason the very next day in the New York Times:

Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs - NYTimes.com: "Integrity? It is eroding. I don’t know of any illegal behavior, but will people push the envelope and pitch lucrative and complicated products to clients even if they are not the simplest investments or the ones most directly aligned with the client’s goals? Absolutely. Every day, in fact. It astounds me how little senior management gets a basic truth: If clients don’t trust you they will eventually stop doing business with you. It doesn’t matter how smart you are."

And then there is this--

How Wall Street exploits individual investors - CBS News: "In December, I demonstrated just how bad a deal Goldman Sach's (GS) stock-linked CD was for investors. In fact, all similar structured products, such as principal protection notes, accumulators, reverse convertibles, super track notes, and equity indexed annuities, are just swell for the seller, but bad for the buyer. As evidence of how inappropriate these products are for individual investors, you'll never find a Registered Investment Advisor -- someone who provides a fiduciary standard of care and doesn't accept commissions -- that recommends them."


Friday, March 23, 2012

Reality Check: Eurocrisis Is Far From Over

Don't listen to the pundits and salesmen, the eurocrisis is far from over--here is Germany's Der Spiegel's take just last week:

Not Out of The Woods Yet: Despite Progress, Euro Crisis Is Far From Over - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International: " . . . So has Greece been rescued and financial markets been tamed? Is the euro crisis a thing of the past? Unfortunately not. With their successes in the last few days, euro-zone politicians have done little more than bought themselves time. They must use this window to brace themselves for the next wave of the euro crisis which is about to crash down on Europe. It's already clear that the Greek economy can't survive with a government debt to GDP ratio that will -- at best -- still be at 117 percent in 2020, especially given the record pace at which the country's GDP is contracting. There is still no coherent strategy for making Greece competitive again inside the euro zone, or for raising the capital for the huge investments needed -- let alone for the wholesale revamp of the country's entire public administration. And so Greece is likely to report the next set of disappointing budget figures in a few months, and the wrangling over a new debt cut and a new rescue package will start shortly afterwards. Maybe the next wave of the crisis will hit us even sooner: Greece is scheduled to hold an election on April 22 which is expected to produce a left-wing majority deeply opposed to the strict austerity program imposed by Brussels. . . .  Portugal, Spain and Italy, the three other problem countries in the south of the euro zone, must perform the magic trick of stimulating growth while reducing their budget deficits. That can only succeed with a lot of pragmatism -- austerity without growth is as pointless as growth without austerity. . . ."


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Goldman Sachs and a fiduciary standard

I have little to add to Greg Smith's opinions re: Goldman Sachs, except that the response of Goldman Sachs was strange (if not myopic and narcissistic)--directed to its employees rather than its unfortunate customers or the general public (the purported audience of Smith's piece). However, a good point is made in Forbes:

Deeper Inquiry Of Greg Smith's Assertions: Might Goldman Sachs Have Intentionally Precipitated The Financial Crisis? - Forbes: "In the aftermath of the financial crisis, Congress held hearings as to how and why it happened.  The Dodd-Frank Act attempts to impose systemic protections from a mechanical standpoint.  While in committee, the Bill also attempted to impose behavioral protections by requiring brokerage firms be held as fiduciaries to their customers.  The industry’s powerful lobby ensured that requirement didn’t make it out of committee.  Instead, Congress directed the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission to “study” the issue.  Currently, the SEC is headed by Mary Schapiro, who is formerly the head of FINRA, the brokerage industry’s trade organization.  The current proposals by the SEC include a watered down fiduciary standard. It is the lack of a fiduciary standard that is at the heart of Mr. Smith’s assertions.  There is little doubt that the larger financial crisis stems from the sub-prime mortgage crisis.  Goldman Sachs has already pled guilty to civil charges that it defrauded customers. . . " (emphasis added)

Caveat Emptor!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

GOP Race: Land of Lincoln delivers for Romney

Last night the Land of Lincoln delivered in a big way for Mitt Romney:

Illinois Primary Results (99% reporting):
Romney 46.7%
Santorum 35.0%
Paul 9.3%
Gingrich 8.0%

As I've written before, the Republican race for the nomination is all about the delegates--nothing less, nothing more, and last night's results increased Romney's lead, and all but inevitable nomination--

TOTAL DELEGATES (thru March 20th per CNN):
Mitt Romney--Total: 562
Rick Santorum--Total: 249
Newt Gingrich--Total: 137
Ron Paul--Total: 69

The other thing worth noting about the Illinois primary is that Romney's victory was particularly striking in Chicago and its suburbs where Mitt garnered in excess of 50% of the votes cast. Oh, I know it's Obama's hometown, but after last night, Romney can also sing it's "my kind of town!"


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Santorum endorses Romney! [VIDEO]

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) Endorses Governor Mitt Romney -- re> BOSTON, Feb. 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --: ". . . . "In a few short days, Republicans from across this country will decide more than their party's nominee. They will decide the very future of our party and the conservative coalition that Ronald Reagan built. Conservatives can no longer afford to stand on the sidelines in this election, and Governor Romney is the candidate who will stand up for the conservative principles that we hold dear," said Senator Santorum. "Governor Romney has a deep understanding of the important issues confronting our country today, and he is the clear conservative candidate that can go into the general election with a united Republican party." . . . . "

Monday, March 19, 2012

Puerto Rico: Señor Romney Sí! Señor Santorum No!

Puerto Rico primary results: Romney wins in a landslide--takes all 20 delegates. Illinois next (March 20th; 69 delegates). TOTAL DELEGATES thru March 18th--
Mitt Romney: 518
Rick Santorum:  239
Newt Gingrich: 139
Ron Paul:  69

Puerto Rico's Luis Fortuño: Rick Santorum fumbled English question - MJ Lee - POLITICO.com: "Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño said Friday that Rick Santorum went the wrong way in suggesting that the territory needed to make English “main language” as a pre-condition for statehood. “I would have handled the question differently — quite differently — from Sen. Santorum, because I would have been clear that there are two official languages here,” Fortuño told POLITICO. “I don’t know why he said what he said, but at the end of the day, I think it’s a state’s rights issue as well.” . . . "


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Wingnuts, yahoos, and the GOP: Missouri Chaos

The "spectacle" of the Republican primary and caucus season continues:

Raucous GOP caucus in St. Peters is shut down: "Crowds and chaos rattled Missouri’s GOP caucuses on Saturday, threatening to put further scrutiny on a process that was already a national anomaly. In St. Charles County, which was to have been the biggest single prize of the day, the caucus was shut down before delegates were chosen after a boisterous crowd objected to how the meeting was being run, including an attempted ban on videotaping. Two supporters of presidential hopeful Ron Paul were arrested. At other caucuses, participants gathered outdoors as the appointed locations turned out to be too small to accommodate crowds or waited for hours as organizers worked through procedural questions. . . ."

Honestly, why would anyone vote Republican this year for President after seeing how the Republicans run their primaries and caucuses, e.g., Missouri, and Iowa--8 precincts still missing! The issues facing the country are too important to leave it to a party that has regressed into a bunch of wingnuts and yahoos.


Start thinking about 5G wireless [video]

Start thinking about 5G wireless - Mar. 8, 2012: "Each generation of network technology has enabled a new set of features: 2G was about voice, 3G was about data and 4G is about video. 5G, Sizer predicts, will be about intelligent networks that can handle billions of connected devices while remaining stable and operational. That will be tricky if the future proves as connected as industry leaders forecast. At last week's Mobile World Congress, the wireless industry's largest annual gathering, Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) Chairman Eric Schmidt painted a picture of a not-too-distant future in which robots will travel to meetings for us and send back high-definition video over the network. AT&T (T, Fortune 500), Qualcomm (QCOM, Fortune 500), Sony (SNE) and Intel demonstrated a "connected home" where even our clothing transmits wireless signal. It will be up to 5G network technology to know how to prioritize all the things trying to communicate. The network will have to know that it can wait until its congestion dies down to send your command to your thermostat to raise the temperature by 10 degrees when you get home -- but your phone call needs to go through immediately. So when will 5G be ready? Officially, it doesn't even exist. The standards-setting International Telecommuication Union has not yet created a definition for 5G."

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Google's privacy policy and Washington's interference

" . . . . Imagine the nerve of Google, wanting to expose their users to advertising for stuff they might actually care about. How dare Google try to offer enhanced and customized services for their users? Shame on Google for doing all of this as a way to bring in more revenue and deliver a better rate of return for its shareholders. And certainly Washington can’t be at all happy with Google for doing what it hasn’t been able to do - consolidate a complex set of rules, policies, terms and conditions from a cumbersome and inefficient set of documents into something that’s manageable, easy to follow and definitely more efficient. Perhaps lawmakers might want to tap Google for some advice when it comes time to revamp the tax code. . . . The (privacy) policies themselves didn’t really change - and Google has been beyond clear about that. Google isn’t suddenly collecting a new set of data or now starting to hand out a user’s personal information to spammers. Sharing of information across Google properties has already been happening - and frankly, it’s made my user experience that much better. . . ."

As Eric Schmidt said in Barcelona--regulators should (if they must regulate at all), regulate only "outcomes" not "technology," because technology will change tomorrow. The unintended consequence of regulation is loss of innovation. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Ann Coulter on Sarah Palin, con men and charlatans [video]

Ann Coulter | Sarah Palin | Brokered Convention | The Daily Caller: " . . . Coulter said that might be a weakness in the Republican Party as a whole — that certain individuals become celebrities and are allowed to profit off that status and yet still interfere in GOP politics, which Democrats have been able to avoid. “And just a more corporate problem is I think our party and particularly our movement, the conservative movement, does have more of a problem with con men and charlatans than the Democratic Party,” she said. “I mean, the incentives seem to be set up to allow people — as long as you have a band of a few million fanatical followers, you can make money. The Democrats have managed to figure out how not to do that.”. . . ."


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bill Gross on Bloomberg--worth listening to

Pimco’s Bill Gross Talks about the Greek Default and where to invest - I grabbed this link last week when the interview first aired on Bloomberg Radio--definitely worth listening to: Audio link

Bill Gross, co-chief investment officer at Pacific Investment Management Co., talks with Bloomberg's Ken Prewitt and Tom Keene on Bloomberg Radio's "Bloomberg Surveillance," March 9, 2012.



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

America’s Future [video]

America’s Future [video]

The Op-Ed columnist Thomas L. Friedman and Bill Gates discuss the future of American competitiveness, innovation and education and the state of the current political debate.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Eurozone: Running Out of Options

As a follow-up to my post-- In Greece Nothing Succeeds Like Failure: "OK, Greece had an "orderly default." Problem solved? Hardly" -- Paul Krugman in Sunday's New York Times paints the picture just as clear:

What Greece Means - NYTimes.com: " . . . You may ask what alternative countries like Greece and Ireland had, and the answer is that they had and have no good alternatives short of leaving the euro, an extreme step that, realistically, their leaders cannot take until all other options have faileda state of affairs that, if you ask me, Greece is rapidly approaching. . . . " (emphasis added)


Monday, March 12, 2012

Three Things About the New iPad [video]

Three Things About the New iPad
The personal technology editor for The New York Times discusses what's new with the latest version of Apple's iPad, which goes on sale in mid-March.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Who's in charge of the Republican primary process?

Whoever is "in charge" of the Republican primary process had better "re-think" the whole process if they ever want to win the White House again:

2012 Presidential Election: Campaign News, Polls, Results & Candidates - POLITICO.com: "Burns & Haberman Blog - WSJ/NBC poll: Romney battered for the general - By ALEXANDER BURNS | 3/5/12
President Obama now leads Mitt Romney in a general election match-up by 6 points, 50 percent to 44 percent, as the Wall Street Journal and NBC News find the Republican field is severely damaged for the fall campaign."

WSJ/NBC poll: - POLITICO.com: "The primary process has taken a toll on the whole GOP, the poll finds: Four in 10 of all adults say the GOP nominating process has given them a less favorable impression of the Republican Party, versus just slightly more than one in 10 with a more favorable opinion. Additionally, when asked to describe the GOP nominating battle in a word or phrase, nearly 70 percent of respondents – including six in 10 independents and even more than half of Republicans – answered with a negative comment. Some examples of these negative comments from Republicans: "Unenthusiastic," "discouraged," "lesser of two evils," "painful," "disappointed," "poor choices," "concerned," "underwhelmed,” “uninspiring” and “depressed.”"


Saturday, March 10, 2012

In Greece Nothing Succeeds Like Failure

OK, Greece had an "orderly default." Problem solved? Hardly--

Greece succeeds in bond deal but not in solving debts - Telegraph: "Experts warned the deal had failed to address Greece's crippling debt problem. Instead, by imposing heavy losses on Greek banks and pension funds, it may have destablised the country even more. Raoul Ruparel of Open Europe said: "The debt relief for Greece is far too small which means another default could be around the corner, while the austerity targets are . . . unrealistic and will kill off growth prospects." The eurogroup of 17 finance ministers held a conference call but said they would not decide whether to release Greece's €130bn bail-out until a meeting on Monday. The restructuring will write down Greece's debt by €105.4bn, is €2bn short of the target set by its international paymasters. . . ."

Next Time, Greece May Need New Tactics By Landon Thomas Jr. London--NYTimes.com: "The Greek government was able to legally strong-arm most of its private bondholders into accepting the debt reduction deal it completed Friday. But next time — and experts predict there will almost certainly be a next time — Greece might have much less leverage. That’s because as a result of Friday’s deal, the bulk of Athens’s 260.2 billion euros ($341 billion) in remaining government debt will now be held by the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the individual European nations that have lent Greece money and contributed to the region’s bailout fund. Politically, Greece would be hard-pressed to force debt losses on such a formidable international group, the way it did with the private banks and hedge funds that have just been forced to accept a 75 percent loss on their Greek bond holdings. . . .“From now on, whatever happens in Greece, it will be a matter between Greece and the taxpayers of the rest of the euro area,” said Jacob F. Kirkegaard, an analyst at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. . . . Greece, in essence, has become a financial ward of Europe. . .  even after the new relief, Greece is still expected to be saddled with a ratio of debt to gross domestic product of 151 percent in 2012, and 149 percent in 2013. These debt levels remain the highest in Europe. The Greek economy remains in a wretched state — it shrank by 7.5 percent in the fourth quarter. And youth unemployment, at 51 percent, is now officially the highest in Europe. . . . for Greece, the drawback of owing so much money to Europe and the I.M.F., even at lower interest rates and longer maturities, is that the obligation will always be there. “Greece is staring at decades of interest payments to the official sector,” said Adam Lerrick, a sovereign debt expert at the American Enterprise Institute. “They traded their ability to write down debt to private sector creditors for low-interest-rate official sector loans that cannot be reduced.”"

Friday, March 9, 2012

Why President Obama will not win Florida in November

1. Anemic Job Growth--

Four years later, South Florida’s worst recession only hints at a real recovery - Business Monday - MiamiHerald.com"Since the 1970s, South Florida has rebounded from five recessions much faster than it has since the so-called Great Recession officially ended in June 2009. Until now, the longest recovery in hiring took 35 months, the stretch of time required to erase the 45,000 jobs South Florida lost in the 1973-75 recession. Forty-four months after payrolls started shrinking during the 2007 downturn, South Florida is still down 207,000 jobs from peak hiring levels in 2008. Anemic job growth is the main problem."

2. Not only has job growth been "anemic," but many "new" jobs have been for lower wages, thereby causing: a) decline in household incomes; and b) decline in housing affordability. As a result, there is continuing diminished consumer demand, which results in a "slow" recovery and "weak" economy--

Despite drop in housing prices, affordability in Florida declines for 'working' households | Tampa Bay business news blog: Venture | Tampa Bay Times: "How can Florida -- where housing prices have dropped like a stone for years -- rank No. 2 behind pricey California as the state with the highest number of "working households" paying at least half of their income on housing costs? According to this new Center for Housing Policy survey, a third of Florida working households pay more than half their income on housing. The trick, of course, is not that housing costs have not dropped in Florida. It is that household income has dropped faster, thus forcing more working households to pay more of a smaller paycheck to cover housing. . . What really damaged Florida in this survey was the greater Miami area where an astonishing 43 percent of working households pay more than 50 percent of their income to housing. That is by far the worst spot in America based on this criteria, even worse than traditionally super-expensive housing areas like San Diego or San Francisco. The housing crush is reinforced in this state by the recent Tampa Bay Times analysis that finds that most of the new jobs being created in this state pay about 25 percent less than the jobs that were lost in this recession. "Despite the fact that we're seeing declining home prices across the country, housing isn't becoming more affordable," says Laura Williams, the study's author and a research associate at the Center, in this Wall Street Journal story. Read more on this from urban economist Richard Florida in this Atlantic piece."

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Eric Schmidt's keynote at Mobile World Congress 2012 - Chrome demo, internet freedom, and the future [video]

Eric Schmidt speaks at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain on February 28, 2012

Thanks to the internet, I was able to see Eric Schmidt's keynote at Mobile World Congress 2012 live, but you can watch it above. Keypoints I recall--

Chrome browser on Android (Ice Cream Sandwich)--most secure browser, fastest browser, and free!

40 nations now censor the internet (Google products are banned in 25 countries). The internet is not broken. Don't "Balkanize" the internet. If governments must regulate, they should regulate only "outcomes" not "today's technology" because technology will change tomorrow (don't hold back technology--unintended cost of regulation is loss of innovation). Operators and Regulators need to "collaborate."

Google is dependent on bandwidth infrastructure. Everytime bandwidth improves, everything gets faster. Your "control" is the "off button." Processing speed will continue to increase, as will bandwidth. Storage costs and hardware costs will continue to decline. There are those who build and those who buy.

The "aspiring majority" is the next 5 billion people who get smartphones and internet access. The internet is like water: good = more connected, more online.

After listening to Eric, I was reminded of Jeff Jarvis' post (excerpt below):

Leave our net alone* « BuzzMachine: "The internet’s not broken. So then why are there so many attempts to regulate it? Under the guises of piracy, privacy, pornography, predators, indecency, and security, not to mention censorship, tyranny, and civilization, governments from the U.S. to France to Germany to China to Iran to Canada — as well as the European Union and the United Nations — are trying to exert control over the internet. . . . I argued in Public Parts that we must have a discussion of the principles of an open society and the tools of publicness that enable it. This is why I wrote Public Parts. And that is why I’m posting the last chapter of the book, which argues that governments and companies are not protectors of the net and that we must be. It’s not broken. Don’t fix it. Leave our net alone."--Jeff Jarvis, February 27th, 2012


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Some words of advice for Mitt Romney

Delegates to Date:
Romney: 419
Santorum: 178
Gingrich: 107
Paul: 47

I'm tired of listening to the "mainstream media" and other "pundits"--last night I turned off CNN after tiring of their inane "political analysis" and just followed the results on the internet, including Google Election Hub. The mainstream media is discounting the results of Super Tuesday because: 1) they want Obama to be re-elected; 2) they want a divisive, destructive primary process in the Republican party to continue as long as possible; and 3) as long as there is an illusion that there is still a real contest for the GOP nomination, they can attract viewers, etc.

Here's the reality--
There are only 2 people running for President of the United States who are, at this point, able to gather the necessary delegates between now and each party's respective convention:

1) the incumbent, Barack Obama (Democrat);
2) former Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney (Republican).

It also happens that these are also the only 2 people, of those running, who are qualified, capable, fit, and competent for the job.

President Obama has his party's nomination and is currently favored to be re-elected. Mitt Romney has been up and down in the polls, and pulled down into a Republican quagmire of a primary process.  So, in the best of interests of the USA having the best candidate from each party contesting the election in November, I have a few words of advice for Mitt Romney:

1. Stop worrying about the "very conservative" element of the Republican party--they don't like you because you're: a) intelligent and educated (dual degrees from Harvard); b) wealthy (from Bain); c) experienced (Olympics, Bain CEO, Governor of Massachusetts); d) ethical and devout (yes, thank your Mormon upbringing); e) married (and have had only one wife), with a great family (16 grand kids).  Most of the "very conservatives" don't like you because they are "losers"--they're mad at everybody because they blame everybody but themselves for the sorry state they are in. It is now time to move forward--most of the "very conservatives" will eventually come around--once you stop pandering to them. More importantly, most of the electorate (>80%) are NOT "very conservative," and your general standing will improve once you are perceived as no longer being captive to the "wingnuts" of the Republican party.

2. The GOP nomination is now out of reach for all of your opponents.  Look at the delegate count.  On Super Tuesday you won 6 states. Your closest competitor won only 3 states. Your opponents' only hope is to deny you the nomination by your falling short of the number of necessary delegates.  This is an almost impossible task for Santorum and Gingrich unless they are bound and determined to defame you and destroy the Republican party. If they are that crazy (and they might be), the only way they can successfully do that is if you allow them by continuing to play the game by their rules--DON'T! Be honest about the truth of their proposals--e.g., their "tax reform" proposals are pure fantasy and wouldn't work-- and JUST BE YOURSELF!

3. You have a large advantage among women--what self-respecting woman would vote for Santorum or Gingrich? For a woman to vote for either Santorum or Gingrich, she must either have extremely low self-esteem, be an ideologue, or be just plain "crazy."

4. You have an ace card up your sleeve that neither Gingrich nor Santorum have--Utah (40 delegates)-- the last primary on June 26th.

5. You will "crush" Santorum and Gingrich in delegate-rich New York and California, and get your "share" of Texas delegates.

6. You've got the "smarts" and staff to figure out where to get the necessary delegates and how to allocate your resources for the rest of the primary season. In the meantime, as a friend of mine once told me: "let the dogs bark, just make sure the wagon keeps rolling!"


Election2012: Rhetoric vs. Reason

Reading the returns and exit polls early on this evening of Super Tuesday, and having watched President Obama at his press conference earlier today--
President Obama at Press Conference

there is quite a contrast between the President and his potential opponents. I think the Republicans have succeeded in this primary season of irreparably damaging their leading candidate and, for sure, the only guy who could have run a competitive race against President Obama--Mitt Romney. Nonetheless, based on early results showing Romney winning Virginia, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Ohio, plus looking ahead to the rest of the primaries and caucuses yet to come, crunching the numbers (and ruling out something unexpected), Romney should have no problem gathering sufficient delegates prior to the Republican convention to win the nomination.  Santorum is finished--Ohio Catholics voted for Romney 43%  vs. Santorum 30% (CNN exit poll)--although Santorum appears to have won Tennessee and Oklahoma, and no doubt will add further victories before this season ends.

Bottom line: President Obama now holds the "high ground"--he was the epitome of reason and reasonableness at his press conference today, while the Republicans come across with a collective image of ridiculous rhetoric. The biggest threats to an Obama re-election at this point are the foreign "unknowns"--Israel/Iran, Eurocrisis, China's economy-- over which he has little control.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Rush Limbaugh and the Attention Economy

"The currency of the New Economy won't be money, but attention --Michael H. Goldhaber in Wired Issue 5.12 | Dec 1997 

Rush Limbaugh's Non-Apology Apology - Forbes: "Rush Limbaugh's Non-Apology Apology - The art of the non-apology apology is often crude: a condescending, second insult on top of the first, really. But you’ve got to hand it to Rush Limbaugh. He issued a non-apology apology that was much more finely crafted than what we usually get. But no less insulting to the poor woman he spent several days attacking and defaming, and to the intelligence of anyone who paid attention. . . ." (emphasis added)

I have little to add to the sorry saga of Rush Limbaugh's crude and vulgar remarks, other than to wonder why anyone with intelligence would continue to pay attention to him?

Go Bo Go! - Pet Lovers for Obama

Mitt Romney is still not taking this "crategate" issue seriously, and it's probably going to cost him the election (if he's nominated).  On February 17th, I posted--

Views under the Palm - johnmpoole.com: 2012: The election is over - Obama won!: " . . . And then there's the coup de grâce which I will refer to as "crategate." This story has gone viral. Americans tolerate a lot of things they shouldn't--like an over-intrusive TSA, an incarceration rate and prisons that most civilized countries find shameful, and legislation with serious constitutional infringements--but most Americans have about as much tolerance for any kind of perceived animal cruelty as they do for any politician who claims to have been "brainwashed." And, if you haven't noticed, dogs and cats dominate American life.

So while most Americans personally like President Obama and his family, and yet may have some reservations about his first term (and to his credit he has admitted some shortcomings himself),come election day, the voters will ensure that Bo resides in the White House and rides inside the Presidential limo for another four years:
President Obama and Bo
President Obama and Bo in the Limo

(photo source)

and somewhere in heaven above, Ted Kennedy (who gave Bo to the Obamas) must be having a really good laugh about all of this!"

One thing is for sure--Axelrod and Company are taking this issue seriously and doing everything they can to line up all the animal lovers for Obama--just look at this ad:

and this website:  https://my.barackobama.com/page/s/om-pet-lovers-for-obama
and this facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/petloversforobama

Go Bo Go!


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Rick Santorum: Candidate of, and for, the Ignorant

While the Republican field is admittedly "weak" this year, I can never remember a candidate who so obviously  tried to appeal to ignorant voters as Rick Santorum--and I'm not only talking about his most recent bashing of "education."   According to Politico, Santorum screwed up and failed to file delegate names in all Ohio congressional districts, and therefore even if he wins the Ohio primary next Tuesday, he is ineligible for 18 of Ohio's 66 delegates:

Report: - POLITICO.com: " . . . Rick Santorum was already known as starting from a deficit, delegate-wise, in Ohio. He failed to qualify for any district delegates in three Ohio congressional districts because he didn't turn in delegate names there. But his delegate troubles go deeper. According to the Ohio Republican Party tonight, the former Pennsylvania U.S. senator filed incomplete delegate slates in six additional Ohio districts. Altogether, this means Santorum, who until this week had a fair lead in polls in the Republican nominating race, could be ineligible for 18 Ohio district delegates. Ohio has 66 delegates total, 63 at stake next Tuesday. The candidate with the most delegates wins. Santorum therefore goes into the Ohio primary election with a 29 percent deficit. . . "

But rather than admitting his own mistakes, Santorum tries to blame "others"--the so-called "establishment."   

" . . . Santorum spokesman Hogan Gidley emails Summers: "The attempt by the establishment to deceive the voters of Ohio and further their hand picked candidate will be met with resistance on Tuesday. I want to be clear, Rick Santorum's name will appear on every ballot in the state of Ohio and every vote cast will go towards his at-large delegate allocation. As it relates to individual congressional districts, its clear we aren't the establishment hand picked candidate and back in December we were a small effort focused on Iowa. Now that we've won several states obviously much has changed and we feel confident that we will do well in both the delegate and popular vote count on Tuesday."

In other words, Santorum ignores the fact that his own campaign failed to abide by the rules and file for the necessary delegates, and as a consequence, he (not the "establishment") has disenfranchised the votes of his own supporters.  Instead, Santorum again attempts to appeal to his ignorant supporters by claiming it's all the fault of some "conspiracy" of the "establishment"--PATHETIC--but true to form for the "Candidate of, and for, the Ignorant." And this guy wants to be President?


Friday, March 2, 2012

What ecosystem are you buying into?

Tech: It's all about the "ecosystem"-- Google, Apple or Microsoft?

Google to 'double down' on Android tablets in 2012, says Andy Rubin | The Verge: " In a meeting with reporters today at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Android chief Andy Rubin called the 12 million Android tablets sold thus far "not insignificant, but less than I'd expect it to be if you really want to win," and said that "2012 is going to be the year that we double down and make sure we're winning in that space."

"Rubin said that the biggest problem for Android on tablets is "there's no organized way for consumers to recognize it as a viable platform," and that Google wants consumers to see its tablets as part of the broader Android ecosystem. "The educated consumer realizes it now that they're either picking the Apple ecosystem or the Microsoft ecosystem or the Google ecosystem... we're going to do a better job at making people understand what ecosystem they're buying into.""

What ecosystem are you buying into?


Thursday, March 1, 2012

ECB: fixing the problem or delaying the day of reckoning?

I'm afraid the answer is the latter:

European Central Bank's cheap money has just turned toxic banks into zombie banks - Telegraph: "ECB president, Mario Draghi, has effectively transformed the eurozone’s toxic banks into zombie banks, addicted to his supply of cheap credit to keep them alive. . . . These banks can make little impact on the real economy, and their main purpose in life is merely to survive and maintain the status-quo. They cannot afford to make loans and be the agents of Europe’s economic recovery as they remain too bloated with toxic debt and are, to all intents and purposes, insolvent. . . . tens of trillions of toxic debt still on their balance sheets. The ECB loans have bought time to begin fixing these problems, but it is not a cure in and of itself. . . the European banking system’s toxic debt burden will not begin to be solved until lenders are forced to make the scale of writedowns that banks in Britain and the US have done over the last four years. Be under no doubts, the European banking system remains broken at its core. The LTRO is merely the full body plaster cast hiding the cadaver inside."

Caveat Emptor!

The Big Picture

Financial Crisis - The Telegraph

JohnTheCrowd.com | The Sailing Website

Craig Newmark - craigconnects