We’ll Always Have Paris

By Lloyd Graff

Donald Trump’s brand is his outrageousness, but mixed in with his narcissism and insults are some occasionally thought provoking statements. After the Paris attacks he said that if people had been armed, the loss of life would have been minimized in Paris.

I actually think he is right about that, though it may not be a winning argument for everybody on the street packing a firearm. Military, paramilitary or martial arts training is a plus for civilians who will not be passive victims. The three Americans who disarmed the terrorist recently on the Brussels to Paris train are a case in point. Two of them were ex-military. The widespread military service in Israel with many soldiers off duty but armed is a deterrent to terrorists. In Europe, many police officers are not armed. In America most officers carry a weapon, as do guards in public venues. The idea of weapons being available to personnel at schools is not appealing, but what used to be “unthinkable” is “thinkable” today.

The horror of the past week recalls the classic 1942 film, Casablanca, dripping with irony today. The terrorist mastermind was from a Moroccan family living in Belgium. Today’s refugees are fleeing war in Muslim countries to find freedom in Europe. But I’ll never forget Rick a refugee in Morocco saying to Ilsa, “We’ll always have Paris.”

“We’ll always have Paris”


I have found two provocative studies on medical issues, both hopeful. One is based on a huge empirical study of 200,000 nurses and doctors over a 30-year time period. The study watched them age and die. One remarkable finding was that the death rate for the non-smokers who drank 3-5 cups of coffee a day was 15% lower than that of the non-coffee drinkers. For those who drank more than 5 cups, longevity was 12% higher. Caffeininated versus decafinated had no significance. For smokers, the longevity increase was zero. Bring on the joe.

The other study is much smaller but quite remarkable, as reported by Leslie Stahl on the CBS Sunday Morning news show. She visited Indianapolis where  a group of Parkinson’s patients are seemingly arresting the progression of the debilitating illness by pursuing boxing. Their vigorous monitored workouts, which include footwork, light bag, heavy bag and actual ring fighting, seem to significantly improve their outcome with the disease. On the face of it, this seems counter-intuitive, as professional boxers such as Muhammad Ali sometimes suffer from the ailment later in life, but more and more data is coming out on the value of such exercise, including punching.

I have seen a variation with my wife Risa. She is an “over 50” World Champion in Taekwondo. She also has been diagnosed with osteoporosis. At 64 she is working on her 4th degree black belt with no symptoms of osteoporosis, though the tests of her bones indicate its progression.

Exercise, particularly the kind associated with boxing and martial arts, seems to have a significant positive impact.


It is unfortunately looking less and less likely that the beloved Section 179 depreciation allowance for capital equipment buyers will appear in December as it did last year. Many small and mid-size businesses have kept money in reserve the last few years to buy new and used machinery in December when section 179 popped up like a very early crocus.

The Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA) will get a chance to testify before Congress on December 3 for it, but with the Christmas holidays and gridlock in Washington it still seems unlikely to me that there will be enough momentum to whisk in 179 before the clock runs out for 2015. A real shame.


Funny coincidence for a big basketball fan. LeBron James and Steph Curry, both winners of the Most Valuable Player Award in the NBA, were born in the same hospital in Akron, Ohio, 39 months apart. Who do you think is the more dominant player in the game, today?


Earlier this week Starwood Hotels was acquired by Marriott for approximately $12 billion. One huge hotel chain acquiring another huge chain. This is in an interesting corporate combination of complimentary lodging companies getting married, but it doesn’t signal a bunch of new hotels or resorts being built.

What is more stunning to me is the investment of $1.5 billion in June by a private equity firm in a very young company called Airbnb, a clever website which connects a visitor from Philly with a vacant apartment in Norfolk and takes a piece of the action for arranging the match. Without building a room or cleaning a swimming pool, Airbnb has brought hundreds of thousands of vacant homes and apartments into play.

This presents a new and probably unexpected, competitor into the lodging world without putting a spade in the ground.

Personally, I have yet to use Airbnb or its competitors, but my son Ari used it extensively on a vacation to Sardinia last year. I am very intrigued by the prospect of staying in a unique space in a fun place that I would have never had access to before.

Will Airbnb justify the recent pricing in the private investment world? Who knows? But I do think the gobble gobble merger strategy of the big chains is partially a reaction to the very real threat that a business like Airbnb presents to old school firms like Starwood and Marriott.

Question: Should we allow thousands of fleeing refugees into the United States?

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22 thoughts on “We’ll Always Have Paris

  1. HLW

    Re the article on Paris: I am a firm believer in 2nd Amendment and right to carry – but the terrorists in most of these incidents typically bring greater firepower and it would take an exceptional marksman to drop one or more in a firefight. I understand the desire to take action but a 30-50 yard shot across a dark auditorium with a Glock or snubnose .38 would be tough even if the other guys weren’t shooting back. A very difficult choice to be sure but probably still safe to conclude it’s better to be armed than not – run if you can, shoot back if you must.

    Re the osteoporosis story: I practiced martial arts and worked out extensively on the heavy and speed bag as a young man (and still do – although to a lesser degree at my current age of 56). A few years ago, I happened to visit a doctor for an X-ray and he commented on my high overall level of bone density. Although osteoporosis runs in my family, it appears that frequent punching may be keeping it at bay – at least for the short term.

  2. Chuck


    Personally I’m strongly against such, can you tell. And I don’t care about the argument that this country was founded by immigrants, refugees, etc. I know one thing, those immigrants and/or refugees did not come to American with the intentions of trying to blow it or it’s people up!!! President Obama should be charged with treason and treated as such for continuing to suggest such as thing. Any American that still thinks this is a good idea needs their damn head examined!!!!!

  3. Misterchipster

    We have a legal process for immigration and eventual citizenship, why should any one be allowed to circumvent this process? It is time tested and legal. I would argue that we need to stay with what we know especially in troubled times like we have now. I know many people that have “done it the right way” and every one appreciates the opportunity that has been afforded them and have been worthy of the privilege that they have been given. I also know many people that are not here legally and they are the most likely to abuse our county and system, often while authorities look the other way. By not protecting our borders we are destroying this country from within.

    1. Noah Graff

      The point is not to let people in illegally or not to vet them. The point is to allow refuge to certain people fleeing tyranny.

      The vetting process is supposed to be very stringent for refugees from Arab countries. It’s safer to let them in than people who come on a tourist visa with very little or no checking.

  4. Jerry Johnson

    Absolutely not. And, there is no way in which to properly vet these people in spite of what Ben Rhoads says. Did you know that he got his college degree in Fiction Writing? Honestly, that’s been reported.
    And how about this for some additional insight. Reading between the lines, and
    In case you have any doubt……..
    When you read this you will understand why Obama refuses to say the words “radical Islam.” Did you know that We Now Have a Muslim Government? … John Brennan, current head of the CIA converted to Islam while stationed in Saudi Arabia. Obama’s top advisor, Valerie Jarrett,~~is a Muslim who was born in Iran where her parents still live. Hillary Clinton’s top advisor, Huma Abedin,~~is a Muslim, whose mother and brother are involved in the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Assistant Secretary for Policy Development for Homeland Security, Arif Aikhan,~~is a Muslim. Homeland Security Advisor, Mohammed Elibiary,~~ is a Muslim. Obama advisor and founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, Salam al-Marayati,~~ is a Muslim. Obama’s Sharia Czar, Imam Mohamed Magid, of the Islamic Society of North America~~ is a Muslim. Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighbor-hood Partnerships, Eboo Patel,~~is a Muslim. And last but not least, our closet Muslim himself,~~ Barack Hussein Obama. It’s questionable if Obama ever officially took the oath of office when he was sworn in. He didn’t repeat the oath properly to defend our nation and our Constitution. Later the Democrats claimed he was given the oath again….in private? CIA director John Brennan took his oath on a copy of the Constitution,~~not a Bible. Congressman, Keith Ellison took his oath on a copy ~~of the Qur’an. Congresswoman Michele Bachman was vilified and almost tarred and feathered by Democrats when she voiced her concern about Muslims taking over our government. Considering all these appointments, it would explain why Obama and his minions are systematically destroying our nation, supporting radical Muslim groups worldwide, opening our southern border, and turning a blind eye to the genocide being perpetrated on Christians all over Africa and the Middle East. The more damage Obama does, the more arrogant he’s become! Our nation and our government has been infiltrated by people who want to destroy us. It WILL only get worse. Plus John Kerry’s son in law is an Iranian muslim. Had enough?

    1. Noah Graff

      Are you saying that no muslims should be allowed to serve in government? Are you saying we need to fear every muslim?

      Just checking. Wanted to understand what you are trying to imply.

  5. Gordy

    Another angle to consider
    There is a certain piece of baggage that comes along with this idea that some states (Illinois for example) likely have a problem with. Take in only another 1000 people on welfare averaging 1000 a week and you just added 52,000,000 to the budget. Illinois finally has a governor who understands this, and that money is simply not there. Not like the fed printing money with reckless abandon, states can only issue bonds, and who in their right mind is going to buy an Illinois bond issue to fund Syrian refugees.

  6. Seth Emerson

    Jerry Johnson ought to look up references before he make a fool of himself in public. Don’t believe his direct copying from the “Internet” sites. Look it up yourself!

  7. ed kays

    I believe most terrorists are cowards. They only carry out their acts when they are certain there will be little or no resistance. The ability to protect yourself by carrying a concealed weapon does not guarantee you won’t be a victim, but it sure increases the odds in your favor. How often do you see terrorists carry out an act of cowardice at your local gun range.

    The fact is if you are not a native American, you are an immigrant in this country. I have no problem if those people come here as long as they do it by the rules. They have to apply, pass the background checks, and then they are good to go.

  8. John Trivilino

    In regards to Risa working on her 4th degree black belt, my hat is off to her. A word of advice to you, my friend: make sure she is on your side before meeting her in that dark alley.

  9. Lloyd Graff

    John, I probably should not dignify your post with a comment but it truly bugs me. I often get that “you better be careful of her” crap, which smacks of old fashioned male chauvinism–as if male strength and physical dominance should be at the heart of a marriage relationship.

    I am enormously proud of Risa and my daughter Sarah and daughter in law Elissa who are all powerful, resourceful independent women. I wouldn’t want it any other way. Risa’s physicality and confidence have developed over time. She grew up in Charlotte when Southern girls didn’t do TaeKwonDoe. She came to it w hen she watched our kids get into it. They all left it, but she was drawn to it and the practice has helped her build confidence and taught her other skills such as emergency aid. She saved a little girl’s life with CPR on a commuter train during the height of the AIDs panic. The child was bleeding from the month but she administered mouth to mouth resuscitation anyway to the 3 month old black child as the mother screamed.
    So I don’t worry about Risa’s strength. I revel in it.

  10. Lloyd Graff

    Last Saturday night We met our sn Ari, wife and baby for a dinner in the city. It was right after the Paris attack. We went to a Middle Eastern place called Turquoise. Great eggplant and Schwarma, by the way. The clientele was a mix of people, several dressed in Muslim robes with women in Head scarves. There were also a lot of Jews and young people of no obvious ethnic origin. It was Chicago, Saturday night, good food, Arab proprietor, Asian waitress. Immigrants have built this country. In Silicon Valley Google is filled with them and begging to get more.
    Let’s be real. There is a threat from radicalized Muslims, but many of the crazies are converts. We need to be careful but we have to live our lives with inclusiveness (and some wariness and security) or we are not America.

  11. Ian

    Lloyd – It would appear that your posters are pretty negative on the subject of refugees. What ever happened to:
    “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”?

    1. Jack

      Fixed it for you.

      Give me your tired, your poor, your suicide bombers.
      Your radicals yearning to kill Americans.

      If you could guarantee they won’t slip in with the refugees, many would be more welcoming.

      Ian – Do you lock your doors.

  12. Joe W

    The upheaval in the Middle East has led to many different types of refugees. Many of the participants in the fighting are usually defined as terrorist groups. In many cases now, terrorist groups are fighting each other as well as other parties. For example, ISIS which appears to be mostly winning is attacking basically peaceful people as well as members of other opposing groups, some of which are terrorists themselves. Do we really want to admit members of other terrorist groups just because they are losing to ISIS and want to flee? There are also multiple reports that many of the “refugees” are ISIS sympathizers who are taking advantage of the confusion to sneak into western countries. Since we do not have files on every member of every one of these terrorist groups, in what reasonable accurate way can we check out all of the “refugees”? One thing that most of the Islamic terrorist groups have in common is that they hate the west in general and the US in particular. Unfortunately, this hate of the west extends to many people who are not terrorists. Do we really want to admit people who hate us, even if they view us as the lesser evil because of the very real threat that ISIS poses to them. ISIS appears to be fighting both a crusade against westerners and Christians as well as a war against Moslems who don’t adhere to their form of Islam, much like the Protestant-Catholic wars that wracked Europe in the Middle Ages. As a result many people who hate us and Europe are fleeing to these places to escape ISIS, but they will not make good citizens. Historically immigrants came to the US because they admired us and saw our country as their ticket to a better life.

  13. Kim

    Not a whole lot of compassion from comments today. Sure, I’d rather not get killed by a terrorist either, but I’m a lot more likely to get killed in a car accident — and I’m still going to drive home.

    Though no amount of vetting is ever going to ensure a terrorist doesn’t manage to get in we cannot live in fear – or they have won. Of course I’d like to feel safe going about my life, and I do, but unfortunately very bad things do happen — kids at school get killed by classmates, movie goers get killed too. Will shutting out people make us safer? Or will those poor people get angry by a world turned against them and become our worst fears? No, we can’t solve all the world’s problems, goodness knows we have enough of our own, but isn’t turning a cold shoulder to these people only likely to make things worse?

  14. Lloyd Graff

    Nick Kristof’s column in the NY Times said “we were them”” referring to the Jewish refugees, mostly children coming on the ship St. Louis in 1939, only to be turned away because the politicians raised the Red Flag of Communism. Jews were Commies who were intent to overthrow the government. Total fomenting falsehoods in the name of Patriotism. Sounds sadly familiar for the Syrian refugees and the Isis Scare.

  15. Chuck

    I got an idea. For all you refugee loving, soft-hearted, we need to save the world folks why don’t you open up that spare room or two in your home and let them live there! I’m sure you can also see fit to let them use one of your two or three cars for travel, open up your business and hire them as employees, provide them a hot meal in the evening, and entertain them at a theatre or sporting even, of course all on your own dime.

    However, don’t force me to live amongst your house guest, work with your house guest, or play with your house guest. Nor force me to commit what I work so hard to earn to help support your house guest. All with the hopes I don’t get blown the hell up!!!

    Common sense sure is in short supply these days. How soon we forget 9/11 or the almost depression like economy of 2008/09. Let’s just throw more gasoline on the fire and hope we don’t get burned!!!


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