Microsoft-Yahoo!

It’s a weird world we live in where the best analysis of the Microsoft-Yahoo! merger is written by a Forbes journalist pretending to write in the voice of Apple CEO Steve Jobs, but here you go:

The problem is [Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer] has no vision, and no imagination. He’s all left brain. Hence this Yahoo offer. All he can see is that Google keeps beating the snot out of Microsoft and after all these years his coders still can’t create a search engine that works as well as Google’s and no matter what Microsoft does they can’t catch up. He’s tired of banging his head against the wall, so finally he just says, To hell with it, let’s buy someone and see what happens. His board is just as tired and bereft of ideas so they say, Sure, whatever, go for it.

But here’s the really dark part of all this. He knows it won’t work. He has to know this. He’s not stupid. The cultures will never fit together. And the deal is too big. It’s not manageable. And it’s completely anathema to Microsoft. It’s totally out of character for them. It goes against everything the company has ever stood for. Ballmer knows this, and he’s doing it anyway. Because this is exactly what every old-guard CEO does when all else fails. I mean it’s right there in the official playbook that you get in business school. And ultimately, smart as he is, Ballmer is an old-school kind of guy. He’s not really a tech guy. He has a mindset that was formed in Detroit, where he grew up. He’s a Big Three automaker kind of guy. And this is a Big Three move. It’s Ford buying Jaguar and Land Rover and Volvo because they can’t think of anything else to do.

Land Use and Climate Change III

The bill I blogged about last week on climate change and the GMA is out of committee, says Josh Feit, but that may or may not be a good thing:

Yesterday, the bill got the yay vote out of committee and the green light from leadership to get it into Rules (the last stop before it goes to the floor.) That sounds like good news, but I say keep your eye on this one. There is heavy opposition from business.

I think part of the reason it was nudged out of committee (some sly Dem opponents on the committee reportedly gave it the thumbs up) is because it’s easier to mug things in the crowded Rules Committee where bills die all the time without the spotlight of contentious policy committee votes.

Foreign Policy

I appreciated Obama’s line in last night’s debate that he wanted to not just end the war, but “end the mindset that got us into war in the first place.” I thought that was his sharpest and most on-point critique of Clinton yet. Yet I thought he missed another opportunity to lay out a contrast with her, on the issue of negotiating with rogue states.

Clinton has dogged Obama for saying that he would meet with leaders of Iran, Syria, etc. in his first year in office. She said it’s “naive and irresponsible” to do so. But she also continues to say things like this (from the transcript):

And I also think it’s important to send that message to the region, because I think that Iran, Syria, the other countries in the neighborhood are going to find themselves in a very difficult position as we withdraw. You know, be careful what you wish for. They will be dragged into what is sectarian divisiveness with many different factions among the three main groups. Therefore, we need to start diplomatic efforts immediately getting the Iranians and Syrians and others to the table. It’s in their interest, it’s in our interest, and it certainly is in the Iraqis’ interest.

Obama should have come back and nailed her on this. He could have said, “how are you going to bring Iran and Syria to the table when you think it’s irresponsible to meet with them?” He could have even gotten in one of his signature zinger jokes, like, “man that’s going to be one empty table” or something. It would have instantly been the most memorably line of the night, and unlike other joke lines that get endless play the day after, this one would have been a substantive foreign policy critique that would have played right into Obama’s wheelhouse.