Archive for the ‘Foreign Policy’ Category

ITSEF III Video: Unintended Consequences of U.S. Regulation– Serious Risks to Venture Capital and Innovation

Unintended Consequences of Regulation Put Fragile VC and Innovation Ecosystems at Grave Risk

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Dr. Curtis Carlson, President and CEO of SRI International, speaking on a panel with Dr. Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande, Chairman Sparta Group, LLC, and Lesa Mitchell, VP Advancing Innovation, Kauffman Foundation, at the third annual IT Security Entrepreneurs’ Forum (ITSEF) held at Stanford University on March 18, 2009. Since 2007, ITSEF has focused on advancing innovation in security technologies through public-private partnerships by developing a community of interest between Washington and Silicon Valley. ITSEF is the only conference of its kind designed to “bridge the gap” between the Federal Government, system integrators, venture capitalists, and academic research communities. Dr. Carlson addresses the challenges that exist today for the U.S. to build an innovation economy. He credits unintended consequences from financial regulation, in particular Sarbanes Oxley and current U.S. immigration policy for highly skilled foreign nationals, as killers of innovation in the U.S. today.
ITSEF is a part of the Security Innovation Network (SINet). For more information on SINet, click here.

ITSEF III Video: Desh Deshpande on the Role of Universities and Research Institutes as Centers of Excellence in Technology Innovation

The Increasing Role of Universities and Research Institutes as Centers of Excellence For Innovation Today

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Dr. Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande, Chairman Sparta Group, LLC speaking on a panel the third annual IT Security Entrepreneurs’ Forum (ITSEF) held at Stanford University on March 18, 2009 with Lesa Mitchell, VP Advancing Innovation, Kauffman Foundation, and Dr. Curtis Carlson, President and CEO of SRI International. Pascal Levensohn, Founder and Managing Partner of Levensohn Venture Partners moderated the panel. Since 2007, ITSEF has focused on advancing innovation in security technologies through public-private partnerships by developing a community of interest between Washington and Silicon Valley. ITSEF is the only conference of its kind designed to “bridge the gap” between the Federal Government, system integrators, venture capitalists, and academic research communities. Deshpande explains how universities and research institutes like SRI International are at the center of gravity for innovation today.
ITSEF is a part of the Security Innovation Network (SINet). For more information on SINet, click here.

Why We Need A National Cybersecurity Advisor

Cybersecurity1 On Thursday the San Jose Mercury News published an opinion article that I wrote "Private sector must be partners in national cybersecurity".  I wrote this article to bring attention to the upcoming Senate debate on the newly introduced bill calling for the establishment of an  Office of the National Cybersecurity Advisor.  For a copy of the draft bill,Download CybAdvisr1.  Introduced by Senators Rockefeller and Snowe, the bill creates a major opportunity for collaboration between the public and private sectors in an area that is critical to our nation's national and economic security.

An excerpt from the article: 

"Criminals attacking our nation in cyberspace do not discriminate between the government and private industry. The need for collaborative information sharing and unified threat protection shouldn't either. As the public debate develops on this Senate bill, there will be many who reject the notion of what the media is dubbing as a "cyberczar." Instead, thought leaders from both the public and private sectors should revisit the fundamental notion of how we should go about defining successful approaches to joint problem solving.

Equally important, a new protocol for confidential information sharing must be established as soon as possible, and this information could be disseminated through a round-table of top-level corporate Internet security experts, venture capitalists who are experts in new security technologies and methods, and government representatives from the Defense, Commerce and Homeland Security communities.

Because it is a matter of national and economic security, establishing an office for a national cybersecurity adviser who reports to the president will bring unanticipated benefits. America is already late to realize that we must embrace a new and integrated collaboration between the public and private sectors to truly promote innovation. To ignore this reality in cybersecurity will only make it more difficult for our country to effectively protect itself from attack. Let's not wait for a cyberattack equivalent to 9/11 to completely break our technology backbone before we are ready to fix it."

There is abundant
evidence that the U.S. Government is most comfortable being purely reactive to
crisis and suffers from a prioritization problem based on where the current
fires are burning—our leaders typically are not driven to anticipate the next set
of forest fires that are currently below the public radar.
  In cybersecurity, the government’s
historic approach to public-private partnerships has been that the private
sector informs the government what they are experiencing, and the government shares
little outside of mandating broad certification frameworks for government
business in return.
  This
historical information asymmetry must be eliminated—it is totally
counterproductive and prevents huge benefits from information sharing and
establishing best practices.

New Study Shows America is Losing the Best and the Brightest Foreign Entrepreneurs

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We should pay serious attention to the message that we are getting from the next generation of entrepreneurs: that America is no longer as appealing as it was.  Multiple measures of economic trend reversals strongly support the argument that America's global competitiveness is declining, and the worst part is that our misguided current immigration policy is contributing to this trend. The Kauffman Foundation released a study on March 17th that points to the negative implications for our country and also distinguishes between the desire to protect American jobs and the destruction of future jobs created by immigrant entrepreneurs.   

The study "indicates that reducing the number of immigrant students in U.S. jobs may be detrimental to the economic health of the country by accelerating the return of talented immigrant students to their home countries.

“Highly skilled foreign national students used to come to the U.S. to study and stay. They start innovative companies that employ millions or  used their engineering and science skills to benefit U.S. companies. Many now believe there are better future prospects in their own countries,” said Robert E. Litan, vice president of Research and Policy at the Kauffman Foundation. “Policymakers are misguided if they believe these talented next-generation entrepreneurs and innovators threaten U.S. jobs. They, in fact, offer the promise of more jobs by building successful, high-growth companies—either in their own businesses or those for which they work.”

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The study, conducted by Duke professor and Harvard researcher Vivek Wadhwa and titled “Losing the world’s best and brightest: America’s New Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Part V,” surveyed 1,224 foreign nationals currently studying in institutions of higher learning in the United States or who had graduated by the end of the 2008 academic school year. The survey was comprised of responses from 229 students from China (and Hong Kong), 117 students from Western Europe and 878 students from India.

“What many people do not realize is that these foreign nationals are making a job, not taking a job,” said Wadhwa. “According to research by the National Science Foundation, foreign students received more than 60 percent of all engineering doctorates and more than half of all science and mathematics doctorates awarded in the United States. That’s a lot of talent to lose to other countries.”

According to the findings, many respondents do not wish to live in the United States permanently, with 55 percent of Indian, 40 percent of Chinese and 30 percent of European students reporting that they want to return home within five years. This shows a stark reversal from past retention rates. In the past, greater than 75 percent of Indian and Chinese students who received science and engineering advanced degrees in the United States remained in the country for extended periods or permanently.


Among the study’s findings:

•    A key impetus behind students’ intentions to depart is the fear that they will not be able to find a job in the United States upon graduation and their growing belief that the U.S. economy will lag global growth rates in the near future. 

•    Chinese students, in particular, strongly feel the best job opportunities lie in their home country—52 percent said their home country has the best job opportunities versus 32 percent of Indian respondents and 26 percent of Europeans respondents. This contrasts starkly with the beliefs of most skilled immigrants in the 1980s and 1990s that the best opportunities were in the United States.

•    The vast majority of foreign students—85 percent of Indians and Chinese and 72 percent of European—are concerned about obtaining work visas; 74 percent of Indians, 76 percent of Chinese and 58 percent of Europeans are also worried about obtaining jobs in their fields.

•    A large percentage of respondents have entrepreneurial hopes; 64 percent of Indian, 66 percent of European and 68 percent of Chinese students indicated they want to start a business within the next decade. For Indian and Chinese students, the majority (53 percent and 55 percent respectively) hope to start businesses in their home countries. Only 35 percent of European students wish to open a business in their home country.

•    All nationalities hold the U.S. educational system in high regard. Indians and Chinese, in particular, found that the United States educational offerings are better than their home countries’, including preparing foreign graduates for entry into their home country’s workforce.

•    Respondents from India and China both expect that the next generation of innovative products and services in their home countries will increase during the next quarter century at a much faster pace than in the United States.

The students’ desires to return to their native country echoes a sentiment expressed by highly skilled Chinese and Indian immigrant entrepreneurs who were surveyed in the recent Kauffman Foundation study, “America’s Loss is the World’s Gain.” In this study, 47.8 percent of Chinese and 46 percent of Indians who had returned to their native country said that they were unlikely to return to the U.S. Additionally, 60.7 percent of Chinese and 53.5 percent of Indian respondents said that opportunities to start their own businesses are better in their home country than in the United States, and 50.2 percent and 56.6 percent respectively considered it likely that they would do so within five years. This study is fifth in a series of reports Wadhwa has conducted on immigrant entrepreneurship for the Kauffman Foundation.

Immigrants historically have contributed to some of America’s most successful businesses and innovations. Between 1990 and 2007, the proportion of immigrants in the U.S. labor force increased from 9.3 percent to 15.7 percent, and a large and growing proportion of immigrants bring high levels of education and skill to the United States. Immigrants have contributed disproportionately in the most dynamic part of the U.S. economy—the high-tech sector—co-founding firms such as Google, Intel, eBay and Yahoo. In addition, immigrant inventors contributed to more than a quarter of U.S. global patent applications. Immigrant-founded U.S.-based companies employed 450,000 workers and generated $52 billion in revenue in 2006.

“Better job prospects, a loosening of visa restrictions and an economic rebound in the United States could prove powerful magnets to recapture would-be entrepreneurs holding newly minted sheepskins,” Wadhwa said. “Incentive programs to encourage foreign immigrant entrepreneurship—perhaps pairing fast-track residency status with launching of companies—also could help ensure that those who want to stay and start companies can do so.”

I am a first-generation American, born in Puerto Rico.  Both of my parents were naturalized Americans.  I'd like to think that America will recognize that the rich diversity of our nation's cultural tapestry must be reinvigorated before we lose the next generation of entrepreneurs to greener pastures. 

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ITSEF III– Protecting our Nation’s Critical Infrastructure and Our Innovation Ecosystem Are Both Matters of National Security

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Mark Weatherford, the Chief Information Security Officer at the State of California, posted on his blog, Securing GovSpace, about his experience as a panelist at the third annual IT Security Entrepreneurs Forum.  He commented on his overall experience as well as on the panel which I moderated "Is There an Innovation Crisis in America?":

"While all of the sessions were unique and informative, the panel discussion on "Is There An Innovation Crisis in America" was very enlightening.  When the Innovation Crisis panel was asked by moderator Pascal N. Levensohn to identify the top two things government should do to increase innovation, the three panelists (Dr. Curtis R. Carlson, Dr. Gururaj "Desh" Deshpande, and Lesa Mitchell) were almost unanimous is saying that the government should be providing more funding for research.  Dr. Carlson also said that Sarbanes Oxley should be eliminated for small companies since it creates such a huge burden and Ms. Mitchell stated, somewhat humorously, that when we issue a PhD to a foreign student, the diploma should come with a green card to keep them working here in America.
"

Lesa's comment was not meant to be humorous– in fact, the National Venture Capital Association publicly advocates that U.S. PhD recipients who are foreign nationals should receive a green card "stapled" to their degree if they are willing to commit to build a new company here in America.

 One of the key takeaways from the rich content presented across the various panels is that technological innovation and cybersecurity are intimately linked.  Protecting our innovation ecosystem, particularly our basic research in science and technology, is key to our national security.

We are planning to post the full video of the ITSEF III Innovation panel on the web in a few days, which will be the first time that an ITSEF panel releases its content to the public.  Lots more to come on this important topic.

American Innovation Is In Crisis: Why and How To Fix It

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I’ve been to Washington, D.C. twice in the last two weeks to
speak with legislators and government agency representatives about the need for
a renewed public policy commitment dedicated to supporting long-term innovation in
America. This morning I gave a keynote speech at the Cybersecurity Applications
and Technologies Conference for Homeland Security (CATCH)
, delivering the
message that U.S. innovation and entrepreneurship, the crucial growth engines of
the U.S. economy, are at risk of stalling out. This alarming trend, if not
reversed, will create serious repercussions in America.

Without new approaches to collaboration among government institutions,
corporations, universities, and venture capitalists, U.S.
entrepreneurs will increasingly face overwhelming obstacles to success. The
freedom to fail has always been one of the greatest strengths of the American
economy. But this is now in jeopardy because a climate of risk aversion now
dominates the country’s financial institutions.

Corporate R&D budgets, new university endowment commitments to
venture capital, and new commitments by private investors to funding of
entrepreneurs are all declining in real time. The negative ripple effect from
this collectively reduced pool of risk capital is not yet evident in our
economic statistics, but it will have a profound and
negative impact on the ecosystem that has traditionally nurtured entrepreneurs
in the small business ventures that drive new job creation in America.

Part of the solution must include a
renewed and proactive effort to continue to attract, educate and retain the
world’s best scientists to pursue innovation in the United States. It is also
crucial that more venture capital be invested in efforts to pursue
breakthrough, as opposed to incremental, innovation.

Images Three major negative trends have put America’s innovation
ecosystem at risk.  One has been
that American spending on research and development has emphasized incremental
innovation over basic research for more than two decades. Another problem is
that total U.S. R&D funding as a percentage of GDP has been declining while
other nations have increased their spending and successfully developed
coordinated technology innovation programs while also actively supporting the
commercial development of emerging companies. The recent systemic failure of
global financial institutions has exacerbated the dislocation of America’s
innovation ecosystem by severely curtailing an already diminished pool of risk
capital to fund future innovation. 

It
is not too late to overcome these obstacles, partly because American technology
entrepreneurs remain undeterred in their pursuit of success. 

For the full text of my prepared remarks, CLICK HERE.

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On March 18th I will be moderating a panel on the
innovation crisis at the third annual IT Security Entrepreneurs Forum at
Stanford with Lesa Mitchell of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Desh
Deshpande, founder and Chairman of Sycamore Networks
, and Curt Carlson, CEO of SRI
International
.  For more information
on how to attend this important conference, CLICK HERE

Sarajevo, Lehman Brothers, and the Panic of 2008

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The assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand at
Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, is commonly cited as the “proximate trigger” which
ushered in World War I.  The
resolution of this first Great War led not only to the collapse and fragmentation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Russian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire.  It also sowed the seeds for World War II, and, in redrawing
the map of the Middle East, laid the foundations for the strife that continues to plague
this entire region today.

In my view, financial historians will commonly cite the death
of Lehman Brothers on September 15, 2008
 at the hands of Treasury Secretary Henry
Paulson
  (with the consent and support of other US financial policy makers), as America’s
Financial Sarajevo.  The death of Lehman will become generally recognized as the “proximate trigger” which led to the financial Panic
of 2008
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Why? In short, the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy brought home
the reality that counterparty risk actually mattered in the murky world of
financial derivatives and the now infamous trade known as a Credit Default Swap
(CDS)
.  The demise of Lehman, in
one fell swoop, changed everything in the opaque world of the CDS, fueling a
cascading contagion of fear between buyers and sellers of all types of
derivative securities. 

Most damaging, the reality of Lehman’s failure brought
global financial markets to a virtual halt by causing banks to fear trading
with each other, essentially draining the oil that lubricates global bank
liquidity.  The second order impact
of Lehman’s failure was to ravage the razor thin balance sheets of CDS
underwriters from AIG on down
, requiring massive infusions of government
capital to prevent a post-Lehman domino effect of insolvent financial
institutions around the globe.

A Case Study in the Unintended Consequences of Financial Market Regulation: The Death of the Small Cap U.S. IPO?

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The first 100 days of the Obama administration
are widely expected to usher in a new era of U.S. capital markets regulation designed to restore the
public’s trust in the decimated institutions that provide much of the liquidity
infrastructure for the global capitalist system.
  It is imperative that improved financial oversight be
achieved swiftly through the enactment of effective regulation so that the
markets can re-equilibrate and resume their normal function.
  Without these necessary changes, global
economic growth will continue to falter.

At the same time, we must recognize that
regulations enacted in haste can have severe, negative unintended
consequences.
  The current moribund
state of the American IPO market is a real-time case study in such unintended
regulatory consequences.
  Of equal
import is the fact that the IPO drought is structural, not cyclical, and this
has far reaching implications for the future of innovation in America.
 

On November 19th, Grant Thornton
released a white paper, “Why Are IPO’s in the ICU?” written by David Weild,
former Vice Chairman of the NASDAQ, and Edward Kim, former head of NASDAQ
product development, both now principals at Capital Markets Advisory Partners.
 

To download the white paper click Download Why are IPOs in the ICU_11_19 :  


The paper was presented to the NYSE and
National Venture Capital Association’s Blue Ribbon Regional Task Force, which
has been convened to make specific recommendations to the Obama administration
in January regarding changes that must occur if America is to restore the small cap IPO
as a compelling and differentiated positive feature of our capital markets.

The paper is concise and makes a cogent case as to how we got here.  If you want to understand why the IPO
market has died and why the middle market for public emerging growth companies
has effectively ceased functioning, you must read this paper.

 I agree with the paper’s overall thesis and with
a number of its important assertions, including:
  

* While conventional wisdom may
say the U.S. IPO market is going through a cyclical downturn, exacerbated by
the recent credit crisis, many are beginning to share a view of a new and much
darker reality: The market for underwritten IPOs, given its current structure,
is closed to most (80 percent) of the companies that need it.
 


* The lack of an IPO market has
caused venture capitalists to avoid financing some of the more
far-reaching and risky ideas that have no obvious Fortune 500 buyer.
Gone are the days when most venture
capitalists would so willingly pioneer new industries and technologies (e.g.,
semiconductors, computers and biotechnology) that have no obvious outlet other
than the IPO market.


* Regulators may have unwittingly
done a real disservice to mom and pop investors by enabling traders to hijack
the markets for speculation. This phenomenon can be seen by the large Wall
Street firms who have witnessed their top 10 (by revenue) institutional
investors — which only a decade ago were “long-
only”
mutual funds such as Fidelity and Alliance — be displaced by hyper-trading
long-short hedge funds.


* The U.S. will lose its
competitive advantage in developing, incubating and applying new technologies.
Technologists are already returning to foreign jurisdictions like China and
India where government has devised an increasing array of economic and capital markets
incentives to compete
.

The lack of IPO’s in the U.S. has broad, negative
implications for continued risk taking by U.S. venture capitalists. If we have
no public market liquidity for emerging growth companies, there will be no next
generation of American technology giants. The demise of the technology IPO has also
contributed to the structural breakdown in the broader cycle of research and
development that underlies the American innovation crisis heralded by Silicon
Valley thought leaders such as Judy Estrin.

 

If you have constructive recommendations for reforms that
you believe should be enacted to support a renewed IPO market, please contact me
at pascal@levp.com, and I will forward
your suggestions to the NVCA.

Why I am Voting for Barack Obama for President of the United States

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I have been a registered Independent voter since 1994.  Like many Americans, I've given more thought to this election than to any previous political contest. Many of us share a deep sense of unease as we witness a degree of instability and see a snowballing lack of confidence in  our country's economic and political institutions that was considered impossible in America. I feel strongly that my vote in 2008 may well be the most important exercise of this civic duty in my life. 

In supporting Barack Obama, like General Colin Powell, I also believe that Senator Obama is a "transformational figure".  I trust Barack Obama's judgment and believe in his ability to successfully lead this country through the dark period that engulfs our national psyche.  I also believe he is sincere in his desire to "do the right thing" for America.  His specific position on eliminating capital gains taxes for start-ups supports long-term investing through innovation and venture capital.  This approach recognizes that there are no quick fixes to our economic problems and that America needs to resume a path toward sustainable long-term economic growth through new job creation.  

In my view, the Washington Post's endorsement of Barack Obama for President on October 17 most closely reflects my own personal opinions.  Below, I have quoted some excerpts from the Post's editorial which capture the essence of my strong support for Barack Obama:

"Mr. Obama is a man of supple
intelligence, with a nuanced grasp of complex issues and evident skill at
conciliation and consensus-building. At home, we believe, he would respond to
the economic crisis with a healthy respect for markets tempered by justified
dismay over rising inequality and an understanding of the need for focused
regulation. Abroad, the best evidence suggests that he would seek to maintain
U.S. leadership and engagement, continue the fight against terrorists, and wage
vigorous diplomacy on behalf of U.S. values and interests. Mr. Obama has the
potential to become a great president. . . .

A McCain presidency would not equal
four more years [of the Bush administration], but outside of his inner circle,
Mr. McCain would draw on many of the same policymakers who have brought us to
our current state. We believe they have richly earned, and might even benefit
from, some years in the political wilderness. . . .

There are two sets of issues that
matter most in judging these candidacies. The first has to do with restoring
and promoting prosperity and sharing its fruits more evenly in a globalizing
era that has suppressed wages and heightened inequality. Here the choice is not
a close call. Mr. McCain has little interest in economics and no apparent feel
for the topic. His principal proposal, doubling down on the Bush tax cuts,
would exacerbate the fiscal wreckage and the inequality simultaneously. Mr.
Obama's economic plan contains its share of unaffordable promises, but it
pushes more in the direction of fairness and fiscal health. Both men have
pledged to tackle climate change. . . .

Mr. Obama also understands that the
most important single counter to inequality, and the best way to maintain
American competitiveness, is improved education, another subject of only modest
interest to Mr. McCain. . . .

A better health-care system also is
crucial to bolstering U.S. competitiveness and relieving worker insecurity. Mr.
McCain is right to advocate an end to the tax favoritism showed to employer
plans. This system works against lower-income people, and Mr. Obama has
disparaged the McCain proposal in deceptive ways. But Mr. McCain's health plan
doesn't do enough to protect those who cannot afford health insurance. Mr.
Obama hopes to steer the country toward universal coverage by charting a course
between government mandates and individual choice, though we question whether
his plan is affordable or does enough to contain costs. . . .

It is almost impossible to predict what
policies will be called for by January, but certainly the country will want in
its president a combination of nimbleness and steadfastness — precisely the
qualities Mr. Obama has displayed during the past few weeks. When he might have
been scoring political points against the incumbent, he instead responsibly
urged fellow Democrats in Congress to back Mr. Bush's financial rescue plan. He
has surrounded himself with top-notch, experienced, centrist economic advisers
— perhaps the best warranty that, unlike some past presidents of modest
experience, Mr. Obama will not ride into town determined to reinvent every
policy wheel. Some have disparaged Mr. Obama as too cool, but his
unflappability over the past few weeks — indeed, over two years of campaigning
— strikes us as exactly what Americans might want in their president at a time
of great uncertainty. . . .

…Mr. Obama, as anyone who reads his
books can tell, also has a sophisticated understanding of the world and
America's place in it. . . .We hope he would navigate between the amoral
realism of some in his party and the counterproductive cocksureness of the
current administration, especially in its first term. On most policies, such as
the need to go after al-Qaeda, check Iran's nuclear ambitions and fight
HIV/AIDS abroad, he differs little from Mr. Bush or Mr. McCain. But he promises
defter diplomacy and greater commitment to allies. His team overstates the
likelihood that either of those can produce dramatically better results, but
both are certainly worth trying. . . .

Thanks to the surge that Mr. Obama
opposed, it may be feasible to withdraw many troops during his first two years
in office. But if it isn't — and U.S. generals have warned that the hard-won
gains of the past 18 months could be lost by a precipitous withdrawal — we can
only hope and assume that Mr. Obama would recognize the strategic importance of
success in Iraq and adjust his plans. . . .

We also can only hope that the alarming
anti-trade rhetoric we have heard from Mr. Obama during the campaign would give
way to the understanding of the benefits of trade reflected in his writings. A
silver lining of the financial crisis may be the flexibility it gives Mr. Obama
to override some of the interest groups and members of Congress in his own
party who oppose open trade, as well as to pursue the entitlement reform that
he surely understands is needed. . . .

… the stress of a campaign can reveal
some essential truths, and the picture of Mr. McCain that emerged this year is
far from reassuring. To pass his party's tax-cut litmus test, he jettisoned his
commitment to balanced budgets. He hasn't come up with a coherent agenda, and
at times he has seemed rash and impulsive. And we find no way to square his
professed passion for America's national security with his choice of a running
mate who, no matter what her other strengths, is not prepared to be commander
in chief. . . .

… Mr. Obama's temperament is unlike
anything we've seen on the national stage in many years. He is deliberate but
not indecisive; eloquent but a master of substance and detail; preternaturally
confident but eager to hear opposing points of view. He has inspired millions
of voters of diverse ages and races, no small thing in our often divided and
cynical country. We think he is the right man for a perilous moment."

Driving in the U.S. DECLINES over 4% since last year– let’s get it down 10% by year-end!

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The Department of Transportation revealed a very important statistic today:

Compared with March a year earlier, Americans drove an estimated 4.3 percent less — that’s 11 billion fewer miles, the DOT’s Federal Highway Administration said Monday, calling it “the sharpest yearly drop for any month in FHWA history.” Records have been kept since 1942.

Americans are starting to act. This is a good thing. How’s that for a grass roots twin initiative in American foreign policy and energy security policy? And nobody in Washington even called for it. Imagine what could happen if we had leadership in this country?