Political quote of the day

Jeb (“I am my own man”) Bush has been surrounding himself with so much family you’d think he was a von Trapp. He had his 90-year-old mother trudging through the New Hampshire snow with her walker. Now George W. is riding to his defense in South Carolina, the state that helped save W.’s own presidential prospects in 2000. I remember that primary. When you asked voters why they favored Bush over John McCain, they usually said something like, “If he gets in trouble, he can ask his dad what to do.”

If Jeb gets in trouble, do you think he’ll ask his brother? Does that make anybody feel more secure?

Gail Collins writing in The New York Times.

Camille Paglia on Hillary Clinton

For nearly 25 years, Hillary Clinton, with her simmering subtext of contemptuous bitterness about men, has been pushed along and protected by a host of powerful women journalists in print and TV, Steinem chums or sympathizers who have a lot to answer for. Charmed by Hillary in their exclusive dinners and private chitchats, they encouraged her presidential ambitions. But after two national campaigns, it should be obvious that Hillary has no natural instinct or facility for understanding and communicating with the public on the scale that the presidency demands. Sexism has nothing to do with it.

— Camille Paglia. More from her essay here.

Hatin’ me some Hillary Clinton

Via The Intercept:

During the Democratic presidential debate Thursday evening, MSNBC moderator Chuck Todd picked a question offered by a viewer and pointedly asked Hillary Clinton if she would release the transcripts of her paid speeches to giant investment bank Goldman Sachs. Todd then broadened the question, asking: “Are you willing to release the transcripts of all your paid speeches?”

It was the second time Clinton has been asked if she would release transcripts of the paid speeches she gave behind closed doors. When I asked her in Manchester, New Hampshire, two weeks ago, Clinton simply laughed and turned away.

Asked this time on network television, she said, “I will look into it. I don’t know the status, but I will certainly look into it.”

Chuck Todd asks Hillary Clinton about releasing her paid speech transcripts from The Intercept on Vimeo.

Lovin’ me some Bernie Sanders

Wall Street is perhaps the most powerful economic and political force in this country. You have companies like Goldman Sachs, who just recently paid a settlement fine with the federal government for $5 billion for defrauding investors.

Goldman Sachs was one of those companies whose illegal activity helped destroy our economy and ruin the lives of millions of Americans. But this is what a rigged economy and a corrupt campaign finance system and a broken criminal justice is about. These guys are so powerful that not one of the executives on Wall Street has been charged with anything after paying, in this case of Goldman Sachs, a $5 billion fine.

Kid gets caught with marijuana, that kid has a police record. A Wall Street executive destroys the economy, $5 billion settlement with the government, no criminal record. That is what power is about. That is what corruption is about. And that is what has to change in the United States of America.

 — Bernie Sanders, on the problems with Wall Street, via The Intercept.

Tesla files for dealerships in Michigan

Via The Detroit News:

Tesla Motors Inc. has applied for licenses to sell and service its luxury electric vehicles in Michigan, even though Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation in late 2014 that bans the company’s business model of directly selling cars to customers.

The Palo Alto, California-based automaker submitted applications in November to the Michigan Secretary of State Office, and submitted follow-up information in recent weeks.

Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodham said the department is reviewing the applications and a decision is expected “in the next month or two.” He declined to comment on what additional information was requested by the office, saying it “isn’t uncommon during the application review process.”

Tesla applied for a “Class A” dealership license to sell new and used cars. Under the classification, it also must have a “repair facility as part of their business or have an established relationship with a licensed repair facility,” Woodham said in a Sunday email to The Detroit News.

If the Secretary of State approves the applications, Tesla could begin selling and buying vehicles as long as any local business permits that may be required have been taken care of.

* * *

Michigan Information & Research Service Inc., which first reported the Tesla applications, said that based on the Secretary of State applications in general, Tesla could contract with anyone to sell its cars, except itself.

The Lansing-based capital news service argues the company could even send a former employee to open a Tesla dealership with a franchise agreement “in which it mandates the dealership look, act and do business exactly as the Tesla-run stores.”

This is very big news. Apparently, Tesla has had enough of the bullshit from the Michigan legislature and auto dealers.

In addition, a petition drive has been filed with the State that, if it reaches the required number of signatures, could result in Tesla (and all other auto manufacturers) being set free to sell vehicles directly to customers.

By the way, there are now around 400 Tesla vehicles in the State of Michigan.

More details here.

Do as I say, not as I do

It turns out that in early 2015 the State of Michigan deployed purified water to a State office building in Flint, while telling residents that the water in the City’s system was fine and safe to drink. As we now know, it was not. Shameful.

From The New York Times:

Throughout most of 2015, the administration of Gov. Rick Snyder told the residents of Flint, Mich., that their tap water was safe to drink. But emails released on Thursday suggest the state was concerned about its own employees’ exposure to the city’s water as early as January of last year, even arranging for purified water to be provided at a state office building there.

The emails depict an exchange that month between employees of two state departments that expresses concern about the water’s safety within the Michigan government long before Mr. Snyder acknowledged to residents in the fall that there was a problem.

The correspondence — between employees of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget — was obtained by a liberal advocacy group, Progress Michigan. The news was reported on Thursday by The Detroit Free Press.

Rick Snyder should resign.

Apple quote of the day

Let’s get this out of the way first: Despite what you may have heard, the iPhone is not dying. Neither, by extension, is Apple.

It’s true that in an earnings report on Tuesday, after weeks of speculation by Wall Street that iPhone sales would finally hit a peak, Apple confirmed the news: IPhone sales grew at their lowest-ever rate in the last quarter. And the company projected total sales of as much as $53 billion in the current quarter that ends in March, which would be a decline of 8.6 percent from last year and Apple’s first revenue drop in more than a decade.

But if Apple is now hitting a plateau, it’s important to remember that it’s one of the loftiest plateaus in the history of business. The $18.4 billion profit that Apple reported on Tuesday is the most ever earned by any company in a single quarter.


Disclosure: I am long AAPL.