The Obama Presidency

December 1, 2013



When Senator Obama was running for president, one of the concerns highlighted for me by someone smarter than me was that he had never before actually run anything in his life. He had never been in the position of being responsible for an income statement and balance sheet. His single greatest accomplishment was writing a book…about himself.

He then decided to run to be the chief executive of the planet’s biggest income statement and balance sheet. Unless one has been in that role, even on a small scale, one just doesn’t know whether they’ll have the capability to make the necessary decisions, ask the right questions and have the correct judgement to be a CEO.

President Obama has been described to me by an American friend (retired USAF Colonel who lived most of his early years overseas and then built up and sold a plastics business with 700 employees) who voted Obama the first time as going from America’s Commander in Chief to America’s Commander in Confusion.

If you’re interested in US politics this thorough New York Times article may be of interest.




November 7, 2012

270 is the number that Obama needed to win last night’s US general election. As of this morning he has 303 electoral college votes with a few more to be concluded.

President Obama won a second term, but not with a resounding victory as many of the pundits were claiming last evening.

Yes, he has a formidable majority in terms of electoral colleges, but he either won (by 0.75%) or lost (by 0.04%) the popular vote by my last calculations. He still doesn’t have control of the House of Representatives nor do the Democrats have the all important super-majority to block filibustering in the US Senate.

America is terrifically divided. Approximately 50% of its population did not want to award President Obama a second term.

In order to be successful he is going to have to show real leadership. He is going to have to reach across the aisle in a sincere and bona fide way in order to get anything meaningful done in the next four years.

Equally, the Republicans are going to have stop their obstruction of the President and work with him.

I hope both Obama and the Republican leadership in the House and Senate can do what Clinton and his counterparts did during his second term. Unfortunately I’m not optimistic. Neither President Obama or Congress’ leadership have shown a proclivity for deal making.

Let’s hope that Obama’s campaign for “Change” includes change in attitudes in the Oval Office and on the Hill.

2012 US Election Commentary

November 3, 2012

Here are three commentaries that are worth a read.

I like Rex Murphy’s political commentary because, generally speaking, I cannot easily conclude how he would vote. Here is a good synopsis of the multi-billion dollar two year campaign: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/11/03/rex-murphy-barak-obama-versus-the-three-wild-cards/

As always, The Economist is a terrific read. I think this is one of the very best English language periodicals and do my best to read most issues cover to cover. The magazine narrowly endorsed Obama, but it was far from a enthusiastic one. This is a good summary of the two candidates: http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21565623-america-could-do-better-barack-obama-sadly-mitt-romney-does-not-fit-bill-which-one

David Frum is not someone I generally read. He is totally predictable, but one can’t deny that he’s well read, has had the benefit of working in the White House and has lived in the US for sometime: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/11/01/why-i-ll-vote-for-romney.html

2012 US Election Prediction

November 2, 2012

US election cycles are fascinating. They are now long (2 years), expensive (between $1 and $2 billion US), divisive and tight.

The 2012 election is no different.

Over the course of the last six months or so I’ve gone from believing a second term for President Obama was in the bag, to being entirely unimpressed with both candidates, to thinking Governor Romney has a chance, to thinking Governor Romney will be president next year to now believing that Obama will be awarded a second term.

I’ve read more and carried on more informative conversations this year than ever before. Most importantly I’ve learned more from this election cycle than any previous.

What I’ve found is that those opinions that are the least partisan and least biased tend to the be the most interesting and fun. Those of my US friends who I’ve known to vote both Democrat and Republican tend to have the most informed opinions. Those websites that are the least myopic, like Real Clear Politics, are unfailingly the most useful.

So this year for the first time I relied mostly on PBS for post debate analysis, Real Clear Politics for data, articles and polling information, The Economist for an international perspective and the Wall Street Journal for generally balanced coverage.

While predictions aren’t really worth anything (it’s the election day polls that matter, right?), I have spent a bit of time combing through the most up to date polling information from Real Clear Politics.

From this analysis I predict that President Obama will be re-elected with 290 electoral college votes and Governor Romney will lose with 248 votes. Obama will get Ohio (thanks to the auto bailout) and Romney will get Florida.

What can change this?

The ground war.

If Romney’s “Get Out the Vote” teams in the battle ground states are better than Obama’s then he still has a chance. We’ll only know that by the evening of November 6th!

Democrat or Republican

September 24, 2012


Politics in general has always been an avocation of mine. US politics is particularly exciting and interesting. So every four years during a presidential election I am fascinated by the characters, policies, the media (and its often overreaching into reporting their opinions rather than news) and, finally, the public’s misconceptions about candidates, their parties and their positions.

Below are three policy recommendations made by political leadership after the last election. My question is whether one thinks it was Democrat or Republican leadership that made these recommendations:

(1) Reduce the two lowest individual tax rates lowering taxes on 100 million returns and saving lower income families between $500 and $3,200 per year in taxes.

(2) Tax deduction of 20% on the income of small businesses.

(3) Make unemployment benefits tax free.

US Debt Limit

February 4, 2012

Thanks to Caroline Hanna over at www.carehanna.blogspot.com for this three minute video on the US debt limit. Funny and so sad at the same time. Here’s hoping that President Obama and Congress have seen this video.

BC Municipal Elections

November 17, 2011

If you’re voting in the British Columbia municipal elections I recommend you read Michael Geller’s recent blog post. It can be found at: http://gellersworldtravel.blogspot.com/2011/11/please-read-this-before-you-vote.html.

The part I found most entertaining and accurate is as follows:

The most eye-opening civics lesson I ever had was while teaching third grade this year.
The presidential election was heating up and some of the children showed an interest.
I decided we would have an election for a class president.
We would choose our nominees. They would make a campaign speech and the class would vote.
To simplify the process, candidates were nominated by other class members.
We discussed what kinds of characteristics these students should have.
We got many nominations and from those, Jamie and Olivia were picked to run for the top spot.

The class had done a great job in their selections. Both candidates were good kids.
I thought Jamie might have an advantage because he got lots of parental support.
I had never seen Olivia’s mother.
The day arrived when they were to make their speeches Jamie went first.
He had specific ideas about how to make our class a better place.
He ended by promising to do his very best.
Everyone applauded.
He sat down and Olivia came to the podium.

Her speech was concise.
She said, “If you will vote for me, I will give you ice cream.”
She sat down.
The class went wild. “Yes! Yes! We want ice cream.”
She surely would say more.
She did not have to.
A discussion followed.
How did she plan to pay for the ice cream?
She wasn’t sure.
Would her parents buy it or would the class pay for it.
She didn’t know.
The class really didn’t care.
All they were thinking about was ice cream.

Jamie was forgotten.
Olivia won by a land slide.
All candidates running for office offer ice cream.
Fifty percent of the people react like nine year-olds.
They want ice cream.
The other fifty percent know they’re going to have to feed the cow and clean up the mess.

Elected office

October 18, 2011

Over time politicians have come to be poorly respected alongside less ethical used car salesman (I know an impeccably ethical used car salesman). So when I consider who I’m voting for one of the key considerations is whether I think they are straight shooters.

Jack Layton, Ronald Reagan, Tommy Douglas, Ralph Klein and George W. Bush were all straight shooting politicians. Whether you liked them or hated them, you knew where they stood.

The other criterion I use is whether I think they can execute. Being a successful elected politician requires a lot of different skill sets, but chief amongst them is the ability to get things done. Barack Obama and Gregor Robertson would be two examples of leaders that can’t execute.

My friend Christopher Gorman is running for elected office in Kelowna, British Columbia. I have served with Chris on the UBC Alumni Association board and have seen him in action. I have also been a colleague of his at UBC when I was forming UBC’s entrepreneurship@UBC initiative.

Chris is a professional, honest and capable executive. He is a community minded person and does a great job at whatever I have seen him do. If I lived in Kelowna I would vote for him in a second.

If you will be voting in the forthcoming Kelowna civic elections I highly recommend Chris for School Board.


I had the honour of thanking Kim Campbell for a fireside chat hosted by the UBC Faculty of Law. Check out the video below for her speech. She’s funny, entertaining, well spoken and has had some great experiences since leaving Canadian government.

The West’s Killer Apps

September 19, 2011

This Niall Ferguson Ted Talk is worth watching. He contends that the West became the West because of:

(1) Competition,

(2) The Scientific Revolution,

(3) Property rights,

(4) Modern medicine,

(5) The consumer society and,

(6) The work ethic.

The US:China per capita income was about equal in the 1500s. The UK:India per capital income was about equal in 1500. In the 1970s UK:India ratio was about 10 and the US:China ratio about twenty.

His conclusion: the Great Divergence is over, but the West is not necessarily on an imminent path to becoming a has-been.