Thursday throes

| March 12, 2009
(Image stolen from American Digest)

(Image stolen from American Digest)

We aim to please (most mostly we aim to hit) . . .

MID-MORNING UPDATE: The FBI raids the office of the DC Chief Technology Officer, who is (or was) Vivek Kundra, who is now the new CTO for the Obama Administration. However, it appears that the focus is not on Kundra, but on two other employees who work in that office and who were both arrested by the FBI this morning. Much more of this, and I’ll start feeling sorry for Obama. Hat tip to Drudge.

Preparing for the next great land rush, with a wonderful equation for estimating the market value of located terrestrial planets.

And speaking of land rushes: the English Marsh frog Invasion. With maps and photos.)

The inside story (if one can trust a thief) of one of the greatest criminal heists ever. (Hat tip to Boing Boing.)

Back to our original links . . .

Warren Buffett famously said that “It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who’s been swimming naked.” He was talking about economic issues, but I think it can be applied to the Obama Administration in other ways as well.

Example #1: The Washington Post editorial board weighs in on the failed Chas Freeman nomination to the NIC:

It wasn’t until Mr. Freeman withdrew from consideration for the job, however, that it became clear just how bad a selection Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair had made. Mr. Freeman issued a two-page screed on Tuesday in which he described himself as the victim of a shadowy and sinister “Lobby” whose “tactics plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency” and which is “intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government.” Yes, Mr. Freeman was referring to Americans who support Israel — and his statement was a grotesque libel. . . .

What’s striking about the charges by Mr. Freeman and like-minded conspiracy theorists is their blatant disregard for such established facts. Mr. Freeman darkly claims that “it is not permitted for anyone in the United States” to describe Israel’s nefarious influence. But several of his allies have made themselves famous (and advanced their careers) by making such charges — and no doubt Mr. Freeman himself will now win plenty of admiring attention. Crackpot tirades such as his have always had an eager audience here and around the world. The real question is why an administration that says it aims to depoliticize U.S. intelligence estimates would have chosen such a man to oversee them.

Ouch! That’s got to leave a mark, both on Freeman and on the Obama Administration.

Example #2 — whack! Another mark on the Obama Administration left by David Ignatius in an WaPo op-ed:

We’re still in the Neville Chamberlain phase when it comes to the economic crisis. The government is talking about sacrifice and solutions, but it hasn’t yet made the tough decisions that will put the economy back together. Economist David Smick had it right in The Post this week when he said the administration had a three-pronged strategy: delay, delay and delay. The administration announces a rescue package but doesn’t deliver details; it promises budget discipline but saves the hard decisions for later.

One reason this season feels so political is that Obama has stacked his administration with politicians and former government officials. You might think that with the greatest financial crisis of his lifetime, the president would want a few business leaders with experience managing large organizations in crisis. But no.

As they say, read the whole thing. It’s not like the Ignatius and the WaPo editorial board are conservatives, either. However, the WaPo op-ed page managed to uphold its leftist creds with this piece of economic silliness. The Christian Science Monitor begs to differ.

Finally, example #3: R. Emmett Tyrell says that he misses Bill Clinton as President and that Obama’s disasters may salvage Clinton’s Presidential legacy. The Apocalypse is near, indeed.

Meanwhile, as the New York Times blames the Freeman fiasco “on the Jooooos” (in Ace of Spades’ euphonious phrase), Gail Collins and David Brooks engage in some mutual navel-gazing about how clever they are while ostensibly talking about the Obama administration.

Funny, the mainstream media usually loves polls of experts; I wonder why this one isn’t getting much play outside of the Wall Street Journal.

The mainstream media also loves stories about big corporations suppressing artistic expression, which again makes me wonder why this story has seen so little press coverage.

The State Department and — surprise! — the mainstream media take a “speak no evil” approach to the “reset button” fiasco. As the writer says, can you imagine the media reaction if this had happened in the Bush administration?

Now consider the following:

The men who run these organizations are not a bunch of coked out cowboys slinging their pistols in the air as they party day and night. No, these are intelligent, educated men with the resources to surround themselves with some of the sharpest minds on the planet. They run global, multi-billion dollar businesses that operate around the clock, around the world. They know the power of knowledge. They have the latest in technologies and weaponry, they use satellites for communications and surveillance. They employ their own private armies–fully trained and armed to teeth–in order to protect their operations.

Rusty Fleming, over at Big Hollywood, is describing the Mexican Drug Trafficing Organizations (DTOs) that increasingly are the law and government in areas of Mexico. Go read the whole article. And then consider the Obama Administration’s laser focus on this issue.

Now consider this article by Dan Gerstein over at Forbes.com:

[In the opinions of the people Gerstein talked with, US Treasury Sec’y Tim] Geithner has been a terrible political salesman–at a time when instilling confidence is an essential part of his job. For some–more often political people than finance types–this could eventually become fatal. . . . Nearly everyone started from the same sympathetic vantage point: The Treasury secretary has the hardest job in the world right now. . . . Nevertheless, many [of the people] I heard from seriously questioned whether Geithner was the right man for this largely political task. By far the most common complaint was that Geithner has yet to show he has what it takes to instill confidence in the markets and on Main Street and build the political support to do what’s necessary to stabilize our financial system. . . . One leading communications adviser said Geithner is “apparently incapable of articulating the problems and the solutions. He comes across as weak and lacking confidence–exactly the opposite of what we need.” This [person] went so far as to suggest that Geithner think about resigning at some point because “[his] problems are not fixable.”

And so on. The kicker: these are all Democrats talking to Gerstein.

Look on the bright side: here are eight financial analysts who are optimistic about the future.

I recently re-read Robert Heinlein’s classic The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, which (IMHO) is his masterpiece and one of the finest novels of the 20th Century.  The novel came to mind when I read this story about China:

The grass-mud horse is an example of something that, in China’s authoritarian system, passes as subversive behavior. Conceived as an impish protest against censorship, the foul-named little horse has not merely made government censors look ridiculous, although it has surely done that.

It has also raised real questions about China’s ability to stanch the flow of information over the Internet — a project on which the Chinese government already has expended untold riches, and written countless software algorithms to weed deviant thought from the world’s largest cyber-community.

Government computers scan Chinese cyberspace constantly, hunting for words and phrases that censors have dubbed inflammatory or seditious. When they find one, the offending blog or chat can be blocked within minutes.

Xiao Qiang, an adjunct professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, who oversees a project that monitors Chinese Web sites, said in an e-mail message that the grass-mud horse “has become an icon of resistance to censorship.”

Heh. Calling Simon Jester! Calling Simon Jester! And if you want to know what the foul name actually is, check with the experts at Language Log.

Boy, talk about a blast from the past:

One of my favorite ads as a kid, and I was remembering the dialog about 3 seconds ahead of hearing it. Hat tip to James Lileks at the Bleat.

This chart gets worse each time it’s updated (hat tip to Gateway Pundit):

Were all doomed

We're all doomed

And speaking of another blast from the past:

For the Clinton Administration, it’s time to regroup and refocus. The White House seems to have dissipated the good will and political capital built up with the unveiling of Clinton’s long-term economic program. Initially, the President’s courage in looking the deficit monster in the eye, after years of Washington denial, was refreshing. His promise to pare government spending, however modest, was welcomed. An inspired State of the Union address helped boost the President’s poll standings and win congressional passage of his budget resolution in record time.

But now, Clinton’s economic strategy is in serious trouble. The stunning Republican defeat of his stimulus package calls into question the President’s leadership. Health-care reform, wrapped in secrecy, appears to be growing in size and expense. Early business supporters now cower under the drumbeat of new taxes, regulations, and mandates that emanate from every corner of the Administration, from Health & Human Services to the Labor Dept.

What’s wrong? The President has lost his focus. In his first 100 days, Clinton unveiled proposals on gays in the military, abortion rights, the environment, national service, school and labor-law reforms. All the while, his health-care planners were cobbling together a sweeping package that could cost up to $150 billion and require a broad new array of taxes. (Business Week, 5/10/1993)

Possible wars of the future (hat tip to Futuristic):

  • The Great Siberian War Of 2030
  • The Revival Of Chinese Nationalism: Challenges To American Ideals
  • The Future Of Undersea Warfare
  • Chinese And Russian Asymmetrical Strategies For Space Dominance (2010-2030)

Headline of the day: “Precision measurement of W boson mass portends stricter limits for Higgs particle.” Glad we’ve got that settled.

The inexorable gravity of economic reality comes to Google:

The accountants have taken over the Googleplex, once a hotbed of amiably unprofitable innovation. The notion that ads would pay the way for everything has been dropped — and “fee” is replacing “free.”

The inexorable gravity of economic reality also comes to Lex Luthor (hat tip to io9.com):

Finally, the Onion sets up the next big blockbuster movie:


Experts Agree Giant, Razor-Clawed Bioengineered Crabs Pose No Threat

Time to go earn my keep, since I can’t keep my earnings.  ..bruce w..

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Category: Books, Commentary, Economics, Geopolitics, Intelligence, Links roundup, Main, Military, Obama Administration, Recession Watch, Stimulus, Television, US Politics, Video

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at bwebster@bfwa.com, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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