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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Knowing the Enemy

Knowing the Enemy contains more useful suggestions than the Iraq Study Group. However there is neither the will nor the time. The most useful thought is how to understand the ladder of extremism. The vast population are mainstream who are potential allies against radical Islamism and whose grievances can be addressed by political reform. The next tier is alienated Muslims who require ideological conversion. The next tier are the ones that end up joining insurgent cells. The full range of counter insurgency tools including violence must be used. The top tier must be imprisoned or killed. The issue is how to identify and isolate each tier.

Iraqi Study Group Reivew

The Iraq Study Group Review has damning points if no magic suggestions.

Know the Enemy

The east coast establishment often underestimates the power of religion. The New Yorker reminds us from time to time. The most astonishing quotes are that the bible is not only the best selling book of all time it is the best selling book every year in the United States: 25 million copies a year. Most homes are buying their fourth or fifth bible.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Larry Summers

Larry Summers gave a presentation to the DNC Trailblazers Club in NY this morning. He sees three main issues facing America: Financing, Fairness and America's place in the world. The financing is an issue not just because of the size of the deficit itself, which historically is not at the high end of the range. The issue is that the most powerful country in the world owes money to the country that arguably aims to increase its strategic position in the world. Strategically it is important that the US get its fiscal house in order.

Fairness is politically important. The free trade argument is correct and has every economist on its side. However, that does not make it any easier to explain to the vast middle which feels that it is losing out to free trade of labor and capital. The fairness issue can be addressed by increasing investment in education. Teaching must be made a respected and well paid profession. The average SAT score of new teachers is 950. The average pay is 40K. Therefore the teachers union arose to support teachers who are not respected and underpaid. The Republicans are correct to say that more accountability is needed. But the elite class that decides things is too insulated from the public school system.

America's place in the world is slipping. The most recent non-aligned movement brought 119 heads of state to Cuba. China brought 46 heads of State of African nations to Beijing for a summit. Where is the leadership of the United States? The U.S. is playing no role in the Arab Israeli conflict. This is because the Bush administration suffers from the problem of the impatient mediator. Mediators must be willing to bring parties together on a regular basis and make moderate progress towards an ultimate goal.

On corruption, Summers remains optimistic. Culture changes slowly. Many of us in business will acknowledge that some of the things that we might have done ten years ago are now illegal or at least more gray. Greater transparency should not be mistaken for lack of progress on reform.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Oracle Bones

Sometimes there are books that I just do not get. This is one of them. It seems more of an unedited diary than a well thought out book. But because the diary happened to be in a foreign country the book became a possibility.
NYT review.

More on Friedman

This video sums up Friedman's philosophy as well as any of the recent obits.

What American Education is really focused on.

Americans complain about education. But the real problem is focus. Spending millions of dollars on high school football stadiums sends the wrong message to everyone: kids, teachers and parents.

Why Toyota is the best manufacturer.

Toyota retains humility about its position. It is always afraid and this paranoia keeps it sharp.

Larry Summers got fired for saying this.

A Nixon in China moment. This professor of neuropsychiatry at the University of San Francisco says that her research shows that women think different than men.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Multinationals and Society

Walmart is better than the alternative.

Solar Power Plants

The future of solar power has always been the future. It is an example of a common good that will take massive government investment to get to profitability but will provide many beneficial side effects. Investment is beginning to yield results.

Bloomberg for President

Can a five foot seven pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-science jewish guy win the presidency? Let's hope so.

Monday, December 04, 2006