Roger Berkley: ‘Gee, it turns out that Israel is doing just what Barack Obama has advocated and John McCain has opposed. Here’s a juicy side story: the negotiations are taking place with U.S. approval. So as Bush attacked Obama in front of the Knesset, his administration was supporting peace talks between Israel and Syria, a state sponsor of terrorism (Hezbollah and Hamas). Hypocrisy from Bush and more knee jerk bad policy from the ‘straight talk express.”


Click here for the whole article (thanks, Mark L.), but this is the nub of it:

“They say in the stock market, ‘Buy into a business that’s doing so well an idiot could run it, because sooner or later, one will,'” Buffett said. “The U.S. is sort of like that. I think the country will do fine whether it’s the Democratic or Republican candidate, but I strongly prefer the Democrats.”


I pay for CreditSecure from American Express, and it mails me a quarterly review that includes, among other things, my credit score from one of the three rating agencies.

The report could have just as easily shown all three scores, but instead it gives instructions for getting the other two at no extra charge, ‘instantly,’ on line.

I go to that URL and am instantly asked to sign up for on-line access. In the fine print, I see something that seems to suggest that if I take the time to sign up, I would no longer get the mailed reports. It’s not completely clear (one might almost say hidden), so I called to check and – sure enough.

So basically this is a ploy by Amex to get me to lower their printing and mailing costs, hoping I won’t notice or mind.

At least for me, a straightforward message would have been honest and more effective.

Dear Customer: We’d like you to consider switching to our on-line service. The advantage to you: you can access your credit situation 24/7 at no extra cost and have the satisfaction of knowing you did something good for the environment. The advantage to us: we lower our costs and have the satisfaction of knowing we did something good for the environment. If you consider this a ‘win-win,’ please go on-line and sign up!

Instead, they tried to trick me into it.

Or how about this: those web sites, like DirecTV, that ask whether you want to receive occasional marketing offers – with the default box checked (‘yes, I do’) – so you uncheck it . . . but then when it turns out you used hyphens in your phone number (or some other glitch that forces you to go back and redo an error) they’ve quietly rechecked the marketing boxes in the hope you’ll make whatever little correction was needed without noticing that – while everything else remained the same – the empty check boxes had reverted to being checked. And now they have your permission to send you marketing offers and sell your email to others.

These are tiny manipulations that amount to little more than over-eager salesmanship, with perhaps a pinch of duplicity – and a dollop of cynicism – thrown in. But they bug me.

Like the late-night infomercial guy GIVING AWAY his book of SECRETS THE BIG DRUG COMPANIES DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW – yours absolutely FREE because the author just wants you to have this life-changing information. How can he do it? Because he’s the author, he says, so he doesn’t need to take a royalty, and because he publishes the book himself. (And, well, because he’s just a very caring, very successful guy.)

The book is ABSOLUTELY FREE and will help you enormously. He does not mention the $14.95 in shipping and handling, perhaps a third of which is the cost of shipping and handling, with $10 left over for the author.

Or how about FedEx, who would much rather you ship your 10 boxes by three-day ExpressSaver air for $907 – and so make it very easy – than have you ship FedEx Ground for $208, and so make you (or at least me) nuts?

Gosh it feels good to vent.


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