The Upcoming Trump/Kim Summit in Singapore, if It Happens?

Others have belabored the risks. Here we elaborate the wonderful opportunities, and how to achieve them. The first step is getting beyond the stale diplomacy of history. What is needed now is something we call inventive negotiation.

Perhaps the most famous negotiation parable involves an argument over an orange. The simplest approach was to simply cut it in half, each person getting a fair share.But, when the negotiators began talking to each other, exchanging information about their interests, a better solution to the problem became obvious. The person wanting the orange for juice for breakfast took that part and the person wanting the rind for making marmalade took that part. Both sides ended up with more. Neither agreement is particularly inventive.

The parable of the orange becomes a story about invention when both parties decide to cooperate in planting an orange tree.

The […]

2018-05-28T21:23:04+00:00 May 28th, 2018|North Korea|

Whose Tariffs Are They? Trump’s or Tillerson’s

Image may contain: ocean, sky, water, cloud, twilight, beach, outdoor and nature
This picture begs a thousand words. My favorite vista in all of Orange County sparkles here: Catalina in the background from Crystal Cove State Beach. We all hope that the at-risk states will be able to prevent drilling in this and other pristine ocean vistas around the country. Indeed, it didn’t occur to me until last week, when Donald Trump announced it, that the Florida coast is more beautiful than ours.

But, there’s more haze going on here than you see in this picture. Today all the newspapers announced Trump’s new tariffs on Chinese solar panels and South Korean washer/dryers. Yes, he was threatening to do that. What is interesting is the detail of the barriers he’s erected, a 30% price hike on imported solar panels. The […]

2018-04-18T20:59:32+00:00 January 23rd, 2018|trade|


In my books and classes on negotiation I specifically recommend long-term flexibility in contracts. As circumstances change, so must agreements between responsible partners. As a professor at the University of California I am deeply disturbed by the growing problem of student loans as portrayed in the graph below. And this graph omits the coming problems of inflation and the associated rise in interest rates. My advice? Skip your April payment. Why? Read more.

Graph of student loan debt over time

Of the estimated $1.4 trillion outstanding as student loan debt most will be repaid. Recently the Economist magazine estimated that of the 43 million Americans with student loans, 7 million (or about 16%) are in default.

Today the nation’s largest lenders, among them Wells Fargo and J.P. Morgan, announced proudly the wonderful benefits to them […]

2018-01-14T06:28:46+00:00 January 14th, 2018|Student Loans|

A Sputnik Moment

October 6th, 2017 the Wall Street Journal reports that Russian hackers hacked into the U.S. National Security Agency’s (NSA) hacking system…in 2015! The evidence just keeps piling up.

The Russians for the last hundred years have had big advantages when it comes to mathematics training. Science and mathematics have always been the most prestigious fields, more so than medicine and law, and much more so than business and political science. Given the importance in the Soviet Union placed on nuclear weapons and space exploration, science and math again was emphasized. Government support of students (education was free) and teachers helped the mathematical cream rise to the top. Admissions to the best universities were based on merit.

When invited to a weapons research facility during my 1989 visit to Moscow I was astonished to see in use all the personal computer brands […]

2018-01-14T03:18:04+00:00 October 10th, 2017|National Defense|

Gun Violence, Again

59 killed and near 500 injured in Las Vegas massacre.

How many sentences are in the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? You’d think a whole bunch. But the answer is one. It says: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Webster’s definition of the word ‘sentence’ is longer: “a word, clause, or phrase or a group of clauses or phrases forming a syntactic unit which expresses an assertion, a question, a command, a wish, an exclamation, or the performance of an action, that in writing usually begins with a capital letter and concludes with appropriate end punctuation, and that in speaking is distinguished by characteristic patterns of stress, pitch, and pauses.”

My point is a simple one. Webster’s uses the singular, “an […]

2017-10-10T08:25:31+00:00 October 7th, 2017|Gun Regulation|

ISIS Defeat Signals Time to Exit Iraq

Now that ISIS in Iraq is apparently defeated, the country will begin to reorganize itself. Let’s hope it’s a peaceful process. At least it is starting with a vote on next Monday, September 25th – the Kurds in the north are voting on a referendum on independence.

Twelve years ago during a debate with then Congressman Christopher Cox (R) I suggested a plan for reorganizing the area which took into account cultural differences and ignored political boundaries. Too bad the Republicans in power ignored the idea at the time. My advice is still pertinent. Please see a version of the OPED I wrote at the time, published in the October 21, 2005 edition of the Orange County Register.

Exiting Iraq

The primary lesson in international relations of the last fifty years is that culture trumps politics.  When the British gave […]

2017-09-20T18:30:38+00:00 September 20th, 2017|National Defense|

Contrary to Trump’s Rhetoric, Immigration Is Crucial for the U.S.

Continued support for the DACA Program is in everyone’s best interests.

I really like the dictionary that sits on my desk. Partly because my dog Rally chewed off one corner of it when he was a puppy. That always makes me smile when I pick it up. I do use the online version, but prefer the pages of the actual 10th edition (1998) Merriam-Webster’s. On page 1268 it defines “trumped-up” as an adjective meaning “fraudulently concocted: spurious.” Perhaps Merriam-Webster saw the future?

So much of what comes out of President Trump’s mouth is such. Even his advisors pitch in. For example, economic advisor Peter Navarro’s books on China are mainly xenophobic cherry picking, looking at the trees and blind to the forest of the vital U.S. China economic relationship. Yes, we can find American factories that have moved to China. But the […]

2017-09-20T18:27:55+00:00 September 15th, 2017|Immigration|


A Nobel Prize is at his fingertips. All President Trump has to do is withdraw our 28,500 troops from South Korea. As we are headed to war there otherwise, this single action will save 28,500 American lives and perhaps millions of Koreans’ as well. Estimates are that the North Koreans would fire 5,200 artillery rounds in the first ten minutes of the war. Withdrawing our troops now will make more than 60,000 American mothers, spouses, and children immediately happy to have their GI sons and daughters back from the brink of war.

Is this capitulation to the North Koreans? No, President Truman acceded to the draw more than sixty years ago. What about the brand new $11 billion military base we just built for South Korea? That was Obama’s bad decision. Perhaps a “great negotiator” like Donald Trump can recoup some […]

2018-04-18T20:59:10+00:00 September 15th, 2017|National Defense|