Thursday, September 26, 2013
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
It was also nice to see him read Green Eggs and Ham on the Senate Floor (at his daughters' bedtime):
Monday, September 23, 2013
"My work was based on trying to create a more fair and inclusive world," he said in a recent interview. "I have an activist's desire to improve people's lives."
Mr. de Blasio became an ardent supporter of the Nicaraguan revolutionaries. He helped raise funds for the Sandinistas in New York and subscribed to the party's newspaper, Barricada, or Barricade. When he was asked at a meeting in 1990 about his goals for society, he said he was an advocate of "democratic socialism."
In 1987, Mr. de Blasio was hired as a political organizer, soon after he finished graduate school at Columbia, earning $12,000 a year. He worked inside the Quixote Center's Maryland office, converted apartments filled with homegrown squash and peace posters. Hunched over his desk with a phone to his ear — his colleagues likened him to "Big Bird with a beard" — he oversaw efforts to solicit and ship millions of dollars in food, clothing and supplies to Nicaragua. He also proved to be a skilled provocateur, twice being arrested during rallies against United States foreign policy that were held in the Washington area.
In the cramped Lower Manhattan headquarters of the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York, where he volunteered, Mr. de Blasio learned to cause a stir. He and a ragtag team of peace activists, Democrats, Marxists and anarchists attempted to bring attention to a Central American cause that, after the Sandinistas lost power in a 1990 election, was fading from public view. "The Nicaraguan struggle is our struggle," said a poster designed by the group.
The activists tried everything: brandishing George H. W. Bush masks on subway cars, advertising parties to celebrate the Cuban revolution and hawking subscriptions to the international edition of Barricada. (Mr. de Blasio, who was living in a basement apartment in Astoria, Queens, was one of the first to sign up.)
Despite some debate over whether it should support only humanitarian causes, the Nicaragua Solidarity Network held dances to benefit the Sandinista party. "They gave a new definition to democracy," Mr. de Blasio told The New York Times in 1990 in an article about the wistful reaction of American activists to the defeat of the Sandinistas. "They built a democracy that was striving to be economic and political, that pervaded all levels in society."
At a retreat later that year, members of the network were asked to articulate their visions for society. One suggested a "real peace movement," according to minutes of the meeting. "Rewards for altruism," another said. Mr. de Blasio suggested "democratic socialism."
Mr. de Blasio remained supportive of the Sandinistas, often referred to by their acronym, F.S.L.N., even after they lost power. "People who had shallow party sympathies with the F.S.L.N. pretty much dropped everything when they lost," said Jane Guskin, a fellow activist in the solidarity group. "Bill wasn't like that."
He has remained interested in Latin America — he even honeymooned in Cuba (in violation of a United States travel ban). To this day, he speaks admiringly of the Sandinistas' campaign, noting advances in literacy and health care. "They had a youthful energy and idealism mixed with a human ability and practicality that was really inspirational," he said.
Friday, September 20, 2013
"There is no more time for negotiations. The Iranians have been negotiating for four years. Over the last 18 months, there has been some progress in imposing sanctions that have pressured the Iranian leadership. The sanctions are estimated to have cost the Iranian economy about $100 billion just over the last 18 months. Since the entire scope of the Iranian economy is about $450 billion, this signifies a massive blow. Their economy is on the verge of collapse, but they still keep advancing their nuclear program."
"[Iranian President Hasan] Rouhani has launched a charm offensive on the West, but he plans to charm his way to a nuclear weapon. While he sends letters to [U.S. President Barack] Obama and wishes the Jews a happy new year, the centrifuges continue to spin. Not only has the [nuclear] project not stopped, it is galloping forward."
"If the Iranians continue to advance, they will have nuclear capability within six months. Time has run out and the West, chiefly the U.S., must clarify to the Iranians that they have two options: either abandon their nuclear aspirations and save their economy or continue with the nuclear project and risk a real military attack that will destroy the nuclear project and humiliate them. There is no middle ground."
Steinitz suggests that the solution may ultimately emerge from the Iranian people themselves, who crave a better economic situation. "There is an internal debate within Iran and it should be intensified. The people in Iran have said their piece: If they have to choose between a bomb and saving the economy, they prefer to save the economy. Now an ultimatum must be set, accompanied by a timetable: If you don't honor the Security Council resolution by a certain time, we will attack."
Over the last two months, Steinitz has met with the foreign ministers of three key European countries: Germany, France and Britain. "All the meetings focused on the Iranian issue," he recounts. "If the world fails to maintain a clear, unified front in the face of Iran, they will try to disintegrate the sanctions."
The minister notes that at this point the Iranians have yet to cross the red line set by Netanyahu, but they are constantly trying to erase it. "They have turned the question of how much material they have enriched to 20% irrelevant. They have added so many centrifuges, and even installed second and third generation centrifuges, which are several times more efficient than the old ones. In the past they had to enrich the material from 3.5% to 20%, and that is a process that takes time, and only then from 20% to 90%. Today they can jump directly from 3.5% to 90%, which is fissile, weapons-grade material. The timetable today is much shorter."
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Looks Like the Organizers of the "Million Muslim March" Were a Tad Optimistic in Their Original Projection
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
The Federal Government is Just 3 weeks Away from a Possible Government Shutdown and 5-8 Weeks Away From Completely Running Out of Cash
Congress needs to pass another continuing resolution to fund the government (God forbid they actually pass a budget) and then they need to vote again to raise the debt ceiling. Check out this chart from the Bipartisan Policy Center which shows when the Federal Government will completely run out of cash:
Monday, September 9, 2013
1. The United States should not commit its forces to military action overseas unless the cause is vital to our national interest.
2. If the decision is made to commit our forces to combat abroad, it must be done with the clear intent and support needed to win. It should not be a halfway or tentative commitment, and there must be clearly defined and realistic objectives.
3. Before we commit our troops to combat, there must be reasonable assurance that the cause we are fighting for and the actions we take will have the support of the American people and Congress. (We all felt that the Vietnam War had turned into such a tragedy because military action had been undertaken without sufficient assurances that the American people were behind it.)
4. Even after all these other combat tests are met, our troops should be committed to combat abroad only as a last resort, when no other choice is available. (Ronald Reagan: An American Life, 466)
A second senior official, who has seen the most recent planning, offered this metaphor to describe such a strike: If Assad is eating Cheerios, we're going to take away his spoon and give him a fork. Will that degrade his ability to eat Cheerios? Yes. Will it deter him? Maybe. But he'll still be able to eat Cheerios.
The two officers with current and recent service in the Middle East say the term "degrade" is so vague that it could be used to describe the effect of a single cruise missile strike.
Saturday, September 7, 2013
First, he assumes that by 2022, TSLA would be much bigger than more established companies like Kia, Porsche and Mazda and be about as big as Audi. We'll see about that. Tesla doesn't exactly have a wide range of cars, so it is unclear whether it can even be any bigger than a niche car brand. It also doesn't have a track record outside of the US and all of those other brands get much of their sales internationally.
Second, he assumes extremely high profitability for TSLA, much higher than the norm:
Note that the sector has low pre-tax operating margins, with the median value of less than 5%. Companies at the 75% percentile generate margins of between 7.5% and 8.5% and there are a few companies that generate double digit margins. One of the outliers is Porsche which reported a pre-tax operating margin of close to 16% in 2013, though its ten-year aggregate margin is closer to 10%. You can download the dataset that includes the key numbers for all auto companies by clicking here.
For Tesla, we will assume that its focus will continue to be on high-end automobiles and that is margins will converge towards the higher end of the spectrum. In fact, I am assuming that the technological and innovative component that sets Tesla apart will allow it to deliver a pre-tax operating margin of 12.50% in steady state, putting it in the 95th percentile of auto companies (and closer to the margin for technology companies).
Based on my estimates, Tesla will generate more than $8 billion in operating income by year 10, making it more profitable than all but three other automobile companies today (Toyota, Volkswagen and BMW).
So TSLA is assumed to become one of the most profitable companies in the industry. That seems pretty aggressive, no? Especially considering that if it wasn't for using non-GAAP revenues (a sign that the company is really just manufacturing good news for their earnings press releases) they wouldn't be anywhere close to profitability.
What this all means is that even if the stock price falls 60%, it still is not anywhere close to cheap as you would need historically optimistic assumptions just to justify that stock price, much less show any upside.
We have an equity bubble in this country thanks to Ben Bernanke and the Fed printing press. Eventually it will pop and TSLA investors are going to get creamed. Unless of course they find a greater fool to sell their paper to before then.