September 2011


Information is power. Exploiting information has created vast new enterprises. Google linked searching with advertising and took over the search engine market. Facebook connected people together in networks and advertised to them. Amazon started by selling books online. Now they sell almost anything online, including streaming movies and TV shows. Amazon made it easy to research and buy stuff online. I buy lots of stuff from Amazon: Computers, HDTV, Blu-ray, DVD, cameras, clothing, household maintenance items, specialty groceries, and more.

If you want to understand a consumer, look at what they buy. Google can’t do that. Facebook can’t do that. Amazon can.

It took me two seconds to order the Kindle Fire. Why? Because Amazon sells content and it has built a giga-warehouse of digital content. The device is secondary, which is why the Fire is so cheap. But, who is Amazon’s direct competition? I believe it is Apple.

Apple has done extremely well over the last decade. If you look at its revenue streams, you can see that its recent growth has come from just two products: IPhone and IPad. Amazon threatens the IPad market with the Fire. ITunes is relatively small revenue stream for Apple. It makes its money on the hardware.

Content is Amazon’s strength. It has the computer power to store and deliver huge volumes of content from the cloud. That puts Amazon in a position to challenge Apple. As hardware gets cheaper and better, Apple’s advantages will diminish. It might have leading edge hardware and zillions of apps, but the future is content: books, movies, TV shows, maybe games.

I see Amazon becoming a hi-tech superpower in the next few years.

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The real question is whether she is getting out of the race. If she was, we would see signs. People like Peter Singleton, who has been campaigning tirelessly for her in Iowa, would have received a hint telling them to turn their energies elsewhere. The O4P crowd would have been told their efforts were in vain. Governor Palin is happy to string the media along, but not her loyal supporters.

My working assumption is that she has been running since 2008. She has been doing it on her terms and she is preparing to launch a campaign that relies almost completely on grass roots activists. I’ve previously suggested that she will run the equivalent of an “open-source” campaign. In the software world, “open-source” is software created by volunteers working for free. It is defeating proprietary software. An Android phone uses “open-source” software at its core. It has way surpassed the proprietary Windows phone. In political terms, “open source” means hundreds of thousands of volunteers working independently, but communicating over the web. They will work for her, for free. Whether she intends it or not, her campaign will reflect the “open-source” model. We are already seeing it in O4P.

Governor Sarah Palin resigned from her post because she could no longer do the job she was elected to do. Her enemies had tied her and her administration in knots with frivolous lawsuits and FOI requests. Her family was going bankrupt and there was no prospect that the onslaught would cease. In my opinion, a contributing factor was that her governing coalition of centrist Democrats and renegade Republicans broke when the Democrats lined up behind the Obama administration. She resigned, handing off power to her Lieutenant Governor. In doing so, she knew full well that her political career might be over.

Governor John Huntsman resigned as Governor of Utah to serve as President Obama’s ambassador to China. He had only served a few months of his second term before throwing his lot in with a then popular Democrat President. He was unpopular with the Tea Party folk in Utah. Huntsman likely feared for his future in Utah, a fear borne out when Senator Bob Bennett later lost his primary. Huntsman’s resignation smells of opportunism. Perhaps he believed serving Obama would burnish his credentials as a moderate.

Illinois Senator Barack Obama arrived in the US Senate in January, 2005. After serving the first two years of his Senate term, he started a run for President. He effectively deserted the Senate from early in 2007 until he won the Presidency and resigned from the Senate. This graph, from GovTrack, shows how many Senate votes he missed.

Senator Barack Obama - Missed votes

“The lower dotted line shows the median value for all Members of Congress in that time period. The upper dotted line shows the 90th percentile.”

In effect, Senator Obama deserted his post as junior senator from Illinois while he ran. He should have resigned when it proved that running for President precluded him from carrying out his duties. Likewise, Hillary Clinton deserted her post for a similar period.

I leave it to the reader to decide which politician chose the most honorable course.

According to Politico:

President  Obama used the debates as a pivot point to criticize Rick Perry. “Has anybody been watching the debates lately?” he asked his supporters at a fundraiser. “You’ve got a governor whose state is on fire denying climate change.”

In the winter of 2009/2010, Texas experienced record-breaking snowfalls. Question for the President: Were the record snowfalls that hit Texas in February 2010 due to climate change?

The answer is simple. It is because that is how he believes business works. Who can blame him? He had no substantive experience in the private sector. His career is rooted in the rotten cesspool of Chicago politics, where pay-to-play is the order of the day. He simply doesn’t know any other way to operate. Do a dirty deal and hide it from public scrutiny: isn’t that how business operates? At least in Obama’s mind, that’s how it goes down.

The Telegraph reports that Sarah Palin will give a speech in South Korea on October 11th, 2011:

Maeil Business Newspaper said the former vice presidential candidate would make a keynote opening speech at the forum organised by the paper from October 11 to 13.

Former British prime minister Gordon Brown and Larry Summers, ex-director of US President Barack Obama’s National Economic Council, will also speak at the event, it said.

This is not exactly a low-profile appearance and it will be while the media is focused on the GOP horse-race. Whether or not she has announced her run by then, she will still garner extensive media coverage.

Her first foreign visit after the 2008 election was to Hong Kong where she spoke at an investor conference. The WSJ published partial transcripts of her closed-door speech. On the financial crisis she said:

We got into this mess because of government interference in the first place. The mortgage crisis that led to the collapse of the financial market, it was rooted in a good-natured, but wrongheaded, desire to increase home ownership among those who couldn’t yet afford to own a home. In so many cases, politicians on the right and the left, they wanted to take credit for an increase in home ownership among those with lower incomes. But the rules of the marketplace are not adaptable to the mere whims of politicians.

Lack of government wasn’t the problem. Government policies were the problem. The marketplace didn’t fail. It became exactly as common sense would expect it to. The government ordered the loosening of lending standards. The Federal Reserve kept interest rates low. The government forced lending institutions to give loans to people who, as I say, couldn’t afford them. Speculators spotted new investment vehicles, jumped on board and rating agencies underestimated risks.

She also criticized China in forthright terms:

We simply cannot turn a blind eye to Chinese policies and actions that could undermine international peace and security. Here, China has some one thousand missiles aimed at Taiwan and no serious observer though believes that it poses a serious threat to Beijing. Those same Chinese forces make our friends in Japan and Australia kind of nervous.

China provides support for some of the most questionable regimes, from Sudan to Burma to Zimbabwe. China’s military buildup, it raises concern from Delhi to Tokyo because it’s taking place in the absence of really any discernable threat to it. China, along with Russia, has repeatedly undermined efforts to impose tougher sanctions on Iran for its defiance of the international community in pursuing its nuclear program.

In March, 2011 Palin spoke in India. She compared India’s recent economic history with the US situation:

I want the free economic choices of ordinary men & women to power the marketplace – rather than distant bureaucrats thinking they can plan & grow an economy by “government decree”. (That just doesn’t work!)

I know you understand this, because in the early 1990’s, due to clear, commonsense, pro free-market reforms, India’s economy took off!

You abolished import licenses; cut import duties; removed investment caps & broke the union’s grip on industry.

You unleashed the creativity & hard work of the Indian people; you turned away from a system where ‘Central Government’ sets targets for all sectors of the economy, to a system that lets the market set its own targets. That works.

People no longer speak of India as a “struggling economy” as they would have 30 years ago. Today we speak of India as a “dynamic & vibrant economy”. You empowered individuals & in doing so, you’ve reminded America of the free, entrepreneurial model that made our country great, prosperous & exceptional!

See, if we unshackle the creative energy of our workers, & entrepreneurs, there is no reason in the world why we can’t get back to rapid growth & prosperity!

She and her husband stopped over in Israel for a private visit that included time with Prime Minister Netanyahu and his wife. This picture stands in marked contrast to the pictures of President Obama with the Prime Minister.

Palin and Netanyahu

She was planning a visit to meet Margaret Thatcher, but that visit fell through. She also visted Haiti with the Reverend Franklin Graham on behalf of the charity Samaritan’s Purse.

I think we can see why she chose to visit Hong Kong, South Korea, Israel and India. It is because they are bastions of free enterprise, and democracies under direct threat from their neighbors. Yes, Hong Kong is now part of China but its people do not live under the yoke of the Chinese Communist party. In India, she said(my bold):

The relationship between our countries could shape the course of the next century! Tilting it in the direction of free people & free markets! The future lies with us!  We’re half-a-world apart geographically, but connected with much in common!

She could have said that in Israel or South Korea. But it wouldn’t have played in old Europe. Free people and free markets; that’s what she has promoted and that’s why she visited those countries.

Back in October 2010, she said:

We cannot undo the damage done by the Obama agenda until we replace Obama himself,” Palin said. “These two elections, 2010 and 2012, go hand-in-hand. … The theme of 2010 has got to be rebuke their errors, reject, repeal; and then the theme of 2012 — it’s renew, revive and restore.

At the time, I wrote :

That is a declaration of war against the Obama agenda. She is doing it early, before the mid-term elections. Not after. She isn’t waiting on the polls to say when she should go after Obama. She has declared war on him now. No other GOP contender has come close to matching her aggressive stance against the Obama agenda. She nails it by by going back to basics, the three r’s.

As the last few days of September pass, the political world waits to see if Governor Palin will announce. I don’t see “if”; I see “when”. She’s been campaigning against the Obama agenda for years. She has plowed the ground, and sown the seeds of his destruction: “Death Panels“, “Hopey Changey Stuff“, “Drill, Baby, Drill“, “Crony Capitalism” – these Palinisms have found fertile ground on the political landscape, and she owns them.

Political analysts are going to be looking back at her record, as she sweeps to victory, and suddenly realize that she had a strategy all along, and a brilliant one at that.

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