"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
-- Proverbs 29:18, King James Bible (KJV)

Friday, February 17, 2017

UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) Opens Investigation of Heineken Purchase of Punch Taverns While Technology Company Monopolies Flourish

It is time to turn from ephemeral political issues to things that really matter long-term to the average man out there in the real world: like the future of beer and pubs in the Brexit-besotted United Kingdom.

As we read at Out-Law.com, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has opened an investigation into the Heineken purchase of Punch Taverns.

Now what could be competitively wrong with that purchase? The number of different beers available in the UK is immense and the number of superb pubs on the British Isles is of course legendary.  Here is what Heineken's managing director, David Forde, wrote about the beverage market in the UK in November, 2014 (fairly recent in terms of publications of this nature):

"Heineken UK is a company that has 42% market share in cider and roughly 24% market share in beer.  And I know you guys know the market well.  It’s a fragmented market.  The UK is a very competitive market.  It’s one of the few markets where the five big global brewers are all present.  We still have a strong regional brewer base in the UK and they have about between 20% and 23% of the market with strong pub estates.  So this is one of the more competitive markets in the UK, or in the world. But we find ourselves with Heineken UK with a remarkably strong position."

Of course, pub acquisition is one way to make sure that your beverage brands retain high visibility and help to expand your markets, if possible. Nevertheless, there is little reason here to worry that the strong competitive beverage climate in the UK will suffer greatly from the Punch Taverns acquisition.

What irritates this writer is that anti-trust and competition authorities in the USA and Europe have no qualms to investigate the highly competitive beverage industry, but seem to do virtually nothing to halt the abusive ongoing and proliferating monopolistic excesses that permeate the oft non-competitive technology industry among the big tech monopoly players (the percentages below are not as recent as they could be, but they give a good general picture of the competitive lay of the land):
  • Qualcomm (90% of small mobile device LTE semiconductors) --- see in this regard the recent FTC Charges Qualcomm With Monopolizing Key Semiconductor Device Used in Cell Phones (is a whopping 90% the monopoly threshold to get the FTC to initiate action??!!!!)
  • Microsoft (89% of the PC operating system market via Windows)
  • Intel (88% of the x86 processor market)
  • Google (88% of the smartphone operating system market via Android)
  • Google (80% of the search engine market share via Google Search)
  • Oracle (55% market share of integrated systems - Oracle is the world's 2nd largest software company, behind 1st-place Microsoft)
  • Amazon (43% of online retail sales in the USA)
  • Facebook (42% of the social network market)
  • Verizon (ca. 35% market share of wireless systems in the USA)
  • AT&T (ca. 32% market share of wireless systems in the USA)
  • Vodafone (ca. 30% telecommunications market share in numerous countries)
  • Apple (ca. 25% of the global tablet market)
  • Hewlett Packard Enterprises (ca. 25% of the enterprise server market)
So, now the competition authorities are going to go after a beverage company with a 24% beer market share in the UK????, a market share LOWER than ANY of the above tech company market shares....

There are 1700 breweries in the UK. One Thousand Seven Hundred. We call that a pretty healthy, competitive industry.

How many competitors are there in each of the above mentioned categories of the technology monopolists and why have the anti-trust and competition authorities in Europe and the USA already long ago not instituted massive corrective measures, and not have passed desperately needed reformed patent laws, to restore healthy competition to the various branches of those technological industries????

That is the question.


Friday, February 10, 2017

U.S. President Trump's Immigration Order Analyzed at FactCheck.org : The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 Gives the President the Proclamation Power : Courts Can Not Second-Guess the President's Motives

U.S. President Trump's immigration order is analyzed at FactCheck.org. This is a classic case in the separation of powers.

The critical paragraph in the above-cited article writes:
"Trump's executive order cites the president's authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, specifically this provision:

"Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate."" [emphasis added]
Our analysis of this matter is as follows:

The holdings of a federal judge as also the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (which has an 80% reversal record before the United States Supreme Court) are clearly in error because they are not applying the above law neutrally but rather are "second-guessing" the wisdom of and reasons for the President's order -- a proclamation which is in his power to make based on the above law.

Whether such an order was wisely drafted or not is not within the power of the courts to review, because such an order is the President's responsibility. Indeed, his decision can be based upon confidential information to which only he has access and which he can not or should not make public.

It can not be as a matter of Constitutional Law that local or appellate judges can play U.S. President by second-guessing the reasons for which a President exercises his lawful powers, as granted by the Constitution and the Congress.

The only legal question here is whether the President has the power to issue the order that he has issued, and that is eminently clear based on the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. He has that power.

That some judge or judges on some court of the land would handle the matter differently is equally clear, but they are not the President, and they are usurping powers in this matter that they do not have, and so the U.S. Supreme Court should decide, once the matter gets to that level of jurisprudence.

Imagine what chaos would ensue if any and all Presidential powers could be limited nationally by some local judge out there who thought differently about the President's actions and orders.

Presidential orders are not at the mercy of local judges. This is because law at this level of the separation of powers can not not be a chaotic button-button, who's got the button process, whereby some judge in the nation substitutes his opinion for that of the President of the United States.

Again, whether the immigration order is a wise one or not is a different question, and one that must be solved within the political process. The legal question, however, is the power of the President. And that power is clear.

Record Germany Trade Surplus Surpasses China : What About Future Trumponomics?

Germany posts record trade surplus: is it exploiting the euro? is the title of an article by Szu Ping Chan at The Telegraph (registration required to view one free premium article per week). Hat tip to CaryGEE.

How will that look in the future in the face of the economic policies expected to be followed by President Trump's administration, known as Trumponomics?

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Trump is Winning ... Again ... as Independent Voters Grow Wary of His Screeching Opponents

The Spectator has it right in Trump has his enemies just where he likes them, writing:
"[T]he US President has perfected the art of winding up his critics to the point that they begin to sound even less reasonable than him. Thus he ensures that, while he will never convince many Democrats that he is their president, support among his own supporters remains solid, and independent voters grow wary of his opponents. Trump built his candidacy around the conceit that a war needs fighting against the liberal elite that has lost bearing on reality, and that elite seems only too keen to prove him right." [emphasis added]
As political centrists, we  emphasize particularly the phrase ... "and independent voters grow wary of his opponents". Exactly.

Hat tip to CaryGEE.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Federal Appointments and the Abolition of The Filibuster - plus - Is the Washington Post Going to Pass the New York Times?

Charles Krauthammer has a winning piece at the Washington Post on the abolition of the filibuster in Thank God for Harry Reid.

Is this the era where the Washington Post passes the now overly partisan New York Times as the best newspaper in the land? The long-time top journalist Krauthammer would be pleased.

As written by Nat Levy at GeekWire about the acquisition of the Washington Post by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in The Jeff Bezos effect? Washington Post is profitable and set to hire dozens of journalists in 2017:

"While many daily newspapers are struggling and cutting staff as a result, the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post is growing rapidly."

Indeed, we find ourselves reading the Washington Post more these days and the "screeching" New York Times less. Newspapers should just report the news and let the readers do the screeching.... Just sayin'....

Chill It on Trump Over-Critical Hype, Says Jeopardy Celebrity Champ Tom Nichols at the Washington Post

Jeopardy Celebrity Champ Tom Nichols has it right at the Washington Post in Chill, America. Not every Trump outrage is outrageous.

Nichols is a very smart guy so it pays to read what he writes....

As written at the Wikipedia:

"Tom Nichols is a professor at the U.S. Naval War College, at the Harvard Extension School, a Sovietologist, and a five-time undefeated Jeopardy! champion."

The Jeopardy bit sounds good and appears to be true.

Hat tip to CaryGEE.

It Ain't Over 'Til Its Over! The Already Legendary Super Bowl 51 - Boston Patriots 34 Atlanta Falcons 28 - A Game for the Ages

It Ain't Over 'Til Its Over!
Super Bowl 51 - Boston Patriots 34 Atlanta Falcons 28
Take a look at the headlines below about a miraculous game
in which the Patriots came back from a 25-point deficit:

NFL official online site - Patriots make Super Bowl history

Sports Illustrated - Legendary!

ESPN - Tom Brady is the greatest of all time. Period.

Fox Sports  - Tom Brady passed Michael Jordan as the greatest clutch player ever

Boston Herald - This removes all doubt, Tom Brady is the greatest

Boston Globe - In a comeback for the ages, Patriots beat Falcons in heart-pounding Super Bowl

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - The Falcons lose the most Atlanta game ever
Nunzio Ingrassia @Nunzioforwork at FoxSports.com
The best newspaper headlines from the Patriots’ Super Bowl win

Scrapped headlines of early newspaper editions pronouncing Atlanta as the game winner.

We would say in summary,
the game showed tremendous leadership at quarterback,
there was great team effort on both sides of the ball,
and a great job of coaching on the sidelines!

And, hey, Atlanta did pretty well too, you know.
The game did go into overtime.

Well done.
This is sports entertainment at its peak.
Congratulations to both teams for this show!
Thank you!

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Metropolitan Museum in New York City in Financial Difficulty ... A Sign of the Times?

Met Museum in Decline? is a question posed by Robin Pogrebin at the New York Times regarding the financially troubled Metropolitan Museum in NYC.

We are certain that such a great institution as the Met will ultimately recover and prosper down the road -- after returning to its core responsibilities -- but its financial difficulties in our opinion may mirror severe similar problems found throughout a "liberal" U.S. society too often marked by what we view as skewed "mainstream" hype, hubris and overreaching (i.e. allegedly "politically correct" activism that extends far beyond "legitimate" duties and roles).

The prevailing "populist" revolt in the USA, the United Kingdom's ongoing path to Brexit, plus strong political populist unrest in Europe in general, seem to reflect an inevitable pendulum swing in mass popular opinion -- a movement which appears to be based on an instinctive, underlying need of the affected nations' inhabitants to restore a sensible balance of powers and interests.

We are not against "liberalism" as such, but it represents at best, only half the world. When the other half is forgotten, trouble ensues.

For example, reporters at the New York Times in their recent political reporting have totally forgotten that something like 60 million voters in the USA are not against the new U.S. President but are likely rooting privately: "Go Trump!".

Where in the pages of the world's leading newspaper is that reported? Either you report the REAL news, i.e. what is actually happening "out there" and not necessarily what media people at the NY Times WANT to happen, or, you become like the Met, a once major player left behind by the times....

The Met may thus not be any kind of a special exception. We ourselves are reading the New York Times less and less these days, because their news reporting has become more and more partisan and vastly overreaching in terms of their actual "news" responsibilities.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill Passes House of Commons Easily and Goes to the House of Lords: Brexit Timetable at The Telegraph

We wrote previously in The Forthcoming Brexit Decision of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom that the Supreme Court would require an Act of Parliament to trigger Brexit and that "Quick approval for Brexit from the House of Commons is considered likely, but gaining such approval from the House of Lords will be more difficult."

As written at The Telegraph by Laura Hughes in Brexit timetable: What happens next in Britain's exit from the EU?, Brexit has in fact quickly and easily passed the House of Commons:
"The European Union (Notification Of Withdrawal) Bill will allow the Prime Minister to invoke Article 50 of the EU treaties and was backed by 498 MPs to 114, a majority of 384, at second reading in the House of Commons, its first stage."
That Bill goes to the House of Lords for debate:
"European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill

A bill to confer power on the Prime Minister to notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU.

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

1 Power to notify withdrawal from the EU

(1)The Prime Minister may notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU.

(2)This section has effect despite any provision made by or under the European Communities Act 1972 or any other enactment.

2 Short title

This Act may be cited as the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017."
We have problems with the all-encompassing wording of the bill in its statement that "(2)This section has effect despite any provision made by or under the European Communities Act 1972 or any other enactment."

The core idea of requiring an Act of Parliament to permit triggering of Brexit is not only to accord by the demands of representative government but also to make sure that all rights and obligations previously in force as a Member of the EU have been examined thoroughly and handled in accordance with the laws in effect.

Obviously, the UK has sovereign power to leave the EU, but the process can not be helter-skelter in terms of legal analysis of the status quo, the obligations that must be fulfilled, and how they are to be fulfilled.

For some of the complex problems involved in leaving the EU, take a look at The Great Repeal Bill in The Law and Brexit at the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation.

See The Telegraph's Brexit timetable: What happens next in Britain's exit from the EU?, for a schedule of anticipated dates of action.

We expect the peers of the House of Lords to be critical in their debate of the Brexit Bill.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Judge Neil Gorsuch Nominated to the Supreme Court by U.S. President Donald Trump

Judge Neil Gorsuch of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has been nominated by President Donald Trump to the now empty United States Supreme Court Justice seat vacated by the passage of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Debra Cassens Weiss has the story for the ABA Journal at Trump nominates Judge Neil Gorsuch to Supreme Court.

Gorsuch is a conservative with impeccable academic credentials. He has been our favorite of the persons listed on Trump's short list for the vacant Supreme Court position and so - as a political centrist - we are pleased with his nomination.

Weiss writes in quoting Judge Gorsuch:
"“When we judges don our robes,” Gorsuch said, “it doesn’t make us any smarter. But it does serve as a reminder of what’s expected of us: impartiality, independence, collegiality and courage.” A judge who likes every outcome he reaches is very likely a bad judge, he said, because the judge stretches for the results he prefers rather than those the law demands."
Looks like an excellent judge to us, regardless of one's political persuasion.