What does it tell you when Warren Buffett, Robert Rubin and John Bogle – perhaps the three best-respected money guys in the country – all favor Kerry? Buffett is the son of a conservative Republican Nebraska congressman. His common sense – and skill at sizing up CEOs – are legend. Rubin, of course, was Bill Clinton’s Treasury Secretary. Bogle, a Republican, founded the exceptionally investor-friendly Vanguard family of funds.

From yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer:

‘There’s a fine line between boldness and recklessness,’ cautions Bogle, a Republican who intends to vote for John Kerry. Boldness must be tempered by foresight and deliberation, Bogle says. ‘We can’t have a country run by philosophers . . . But a good leader is thoughtful. He seeks the counsel of others and is capable of introspection. Before making a decision, he walks around it and tries to see it from all sides. . . . Commitment is admirable in a leader . . . but there’s no virtue in committing yourself to the wrong idea. Staying the course just to stay the course is folly that invites tragedy.”

A FORMER REPUBLICAN SENATOR FOR KERRY

Marlow Cook was a Republican senator from Kentucky from 1968-1975. He writes;

‘Frightened to death’ of Bush
By Marlow W. Cook
Special to The Courier-Journal

I shall cast my vote for John Kerry come Nov 2.

I have been, and will continue to be, a Republican. But when we as a party send the wrong person to the White House, then it is our responsibility to send him home if our nation suffers as a result of his actions. I fall in the category of good conservative thinkers, like George F. Will, for instance, who wrote: “This administration cannot be trusted to govern if it cannot be counted on to think and having thought, to have second thoughts.”

I say, well done George Will, or, even better, from the mouth of the numero uno of conservatives, William F. Buckley Jr.: “If I knew then what I know now about what kind of situation we would be in, I would have opposed the war.”

First, let’s talk about George Bush’s moral standards.

In 2000, to defeat Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. – a man who was shot down in Vietnam and imprisoned for over five years – they used Carl Rove’s “East Texas special.” They started the rumor that he was gay, saying he had spent too much time in the Hanoi Hilton. They said he was crazy. They said his wife was on drugs. Then, to top it off, they spread pictures of his adopted daughter, who was born in Bangladesh and thus dark skinned, to the sons and daughters of the Confederacy in rural South Carolina.

To show he was not just picking on Republicans, he went after Sen. Max Cleland from Georgia, a Democrat seeking re-election. Bush henchmen said he wasn’t patriotic because Cleland did not agree 100 percent on how to handle homeland security. They published his picture along with Cuba’s Castro, questioning Cleland’s patriotism and commitment to America’s security. Never mind that his Republican challenger was a Vietnam deferment case and Cleland, who had served in Vietnam, came home in a wheel chair having lost three limbs fighting for his country. Anyone who wants to win an election and control of the legislative body that badly has no moral character at all.

We know his father got him in the Texas Air National Guard so he would not have to go to Vietnam. The religious right can have him with those moral standards. We also have Vice President Dick Cheney, who deferred his way out of Vietnam because, as he says, he “had more important things to do.”

I have just turned 78. During my lifetime, we have sent 31,377,741 Americans to war, not including whatever will be the final figures for the Iraq fiasco. Of those, 502,722 died and 928,980 came home without legs, arms or what have you.

Those wars were to defend freedom throughout the free world from communism, dictators and tyrants. Now Americans are the aggressors – we start the wars, we blow up all the infrastructure in those countries, and then turn around and spend tax dollars denying our nation an excellent education system, medical and drug programs, and the list goes on. …

I hope you all have noticed the Bush administration’s style in the campaign so far. All negative, trashing Sen. John Kerry, Sen. John Edwards and Democrats in general. Not once have they said what they have done right, what they have done wrong or what they have not done at all.

Lyndon Johnson said America could have guns and butter at the same time. This administration says you can have guns, butter and no taxes at the same time. God help us if we are not smart enough to know that is wrong, and we live by it to our peril. We in this nation have a serious problem. It’s almost worse than terrorism: We are broke. Our government is borrowing a billion dollars a day. They are now borrowing from the government pension program, for apparently they have gotten as much out of the Social Security Trust as it can take. Our House and Senate announce weekly grants for every kind of favorite local programs to save legislative seats, and it’s all borrowed money.

If you listened to the President confirming the value of our war with Iraq, you heard him say, “If no weapons of mass destruction were found, at least we know we have stopped his future distribution of same to terrorists.” If that is his justification, then, if he is re-elected our next war will be against Iran and at the same time North Korea, for indeed they have weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons, which they have readily admitted. Those wars will require a draft of men and women. …

I am not enamored with John Kerry, but I am frightened to death of George Bush. I fear a secret government. I abhor a government that refuses to supply the Congress with requested information. I am against a government that refuses to tell the country with whom the leaders of our country sat down and determined our energy policy, and to prove how much they want to keep that secret, they took it all the way to the Supreme Court.

Those of you who are fiscal conservatives and abhor our staggering debt, tell your conservative friends, “Vote for Kerry,” because without Bush to control the Congress, the first thing lawmakers will demand Kerry do is balance the budget.

The wonderful thing about this country is its gift of citizenship, then it’s freedom to register as one sees fit. For me, as a Republican, I feel that when my party gives me a dangerous leader who flouts the truth, takes the country into an undeclared war and then adds a war on terrorism to it without debate by the Congress, we have a duty to rid ourselves of those who are taking our country on a perilous ride in the wrong direction.

If we are indeed the party of Lincoln (I paraphrase his words), a president who deems to have the right to declare war at will without the consent of the Congress is a president who far exceeds his power under our Constitution.

I will take John Kerry for four years to put our country on the right path.

THINK OF IT AS A MANAGEMENT ISSUE

Ian Jacobsen, Certified Management Consultant, offers this in his special edition of IanSights:

Issue: Whether or Not to Change Leaders

You are a shareholder in a major global enterprise. In early November you will be voting on various issues, including whether to renew the CEO’s contract. The CEO is controversial. Some shareholders are calling for his ouster while others are loyal to him. Though the shareholders’ vote is advisory to the board, they generally follow the shareholders’ directions.

Your challenge As a shareholder, you want to do what’s right for the future of the enterprise and for your investment. Here are some issues about the CEO’s performance:

  • He undertook a hostile takeover based on faulty information and assumptions, and with no realistic plan for dealing with the conflict after the takeover. There is no end in sight to the hostilities. They will likely continue for years and are taking a high toll on both enterprises.
  • Brand image has gone from being the highly respected three years ago to being mistrusted and despised by many now.
  • The enterprise has gone from a record surplus to a record deficit in three years with no end in sight.
  • He reduced prices for the richest customers, adding to the deficit.
  • He polarized shareholders instead of uniting them as promised.
  • He curtailed R&D in a new technology for which your enterprise could have become a world leader.
  • He awarded major contracts to cronies without competitive bidding.

The CEO is proud of his performance and promises more of the same.

There is not a client I have had over the past 21 years that would have kept their CEO under such circumstances. They all have held their CEO to higher standards.

While it may be tempting to say, “You got us into this mess, so you get us out,” most CEOs who have incurred major problems are replaced. They are seen as part of the problem. To paraphrase Albert Einstein, the significant problems we face cannot be solved using the thinking that created them.

You have probably surmised by now that I am writing about George W. Bush. You are a shareholder in the USA. The board is the Electoral College. On November 2, you will have the opportunity to vote on whether to renew his contract or replace him.

Though there are other alternatives, John Kerry is the only candidate with a chance of unseating Bush. Kerry is not perfect (we have never had a perfect president and probably never will), but he offers hope for:

  • Strong moral values
  • Standing up for what he believes in
  • Changing his mind as circumstances change
  • A different view of terrorism and the war
  • More global collaboration
  • Re-establishing respect for and trust in the USA
  • A more robust middle class
  • A more balanced budget

I believe that Kerry is the better alternative.

☞ Me, too!  And Buffett, Rubin and Bogle!  And 31 of the 33 editorial boards that have switched their endorsements from 2000 to 2004.  And a raft of conservative columnists! So know you will be welcome with open arms if, for this one election only, you join with everyone from John Eisenhower to Bob Barr and vote for a change in management.

 

Comments are closed.