Tuesday dawns

| April 7, 2009
Places you'd rather be

Dawn is a feeling...

AFTERNOON LINKS! Yes, there are actual afternoon links!

ITEM: Maybe it’s because he paid all his taxes — actor Kal Penn (of the “House” TV series and the “Harold and Kumar” movies) joins the White House staff.

ITEM: President Obama visits Baghdad. Good for him, and I mean that in all sincerity. My son Jon (CPL Webster, USMC)  just finished his tour of duty in Iraq in February, and he’s likely to be in Afghanistan by the end of the year. And I’m glad  — and again I mean this sincerely — that Pres. Obama was given as warm a welcome by the troops there as was President Bush on each of his visits to Iraq.

ITEM: So, how is the economic upheaval affecting law firms? Pretty harshly, by all accounts (emphasis mine):

Look, with minor exceptions, the reality is that M&A work is dead. Real estate work is non-existent. Putting aside bankruptcy, in every historic bust, litigation was the work that saved the day. But when we talk to law firms about litigation even in the patent world, I’m being told clients are cutting back. They’ve decided to cut back on the volume of prosecution work and are postponing any litigation they can. You can bring a lawsuit and prevail at trial but still not be assured of winning because today you don’t know whether you will be able to collect on the judgment.

One of our clients – a leading and successful IP boutique – told me that one of their very best long-term patent clients has decided to put off all their outside legal work except what is absolutely necessary to preserve the asset value of the corporation.

Let me summarize this way: Clients are pushing the reset button. They are insisting on smaller teams for their litigation and corporate work. We’ve heard a lot about this in the last few weeks. Clients are redesigning the value paradigm.

Much of the work that went outside they no longer deem to be of the same value. Work once viewed as essential is now viewed as elective. Work once viewed as high in value is no longer needed or is viewed as much less in value and warranting a much lower price. Commoditization is spreading to more and more work. It may well retreat some in the long run but in the short run it will operate with force.

FRESH MORNING LINKS! Now with less pork!

ITEM: Best headline of the day: “New Media vs. Gnostic Bureaucracies”. It also happens to be an outstanding article; here’s a key passage:

News media enterprises today are subject to market forces and are facing consequences – the destruction of many recently prosperous enterprises and types of enterprises.

But the modern nation-states – and the supranational organizations like the United Nations — are stiflingly bureaucratic. They are less subject to market forces than are businesses, and in reaction to the current economic panic – a crisis of abundance, not of scarcity – the big governmental and intergovernmental bureaucracies are opportunistically seizing more power.

The bureaucracies have a shifting parasite-host relationship with the social engineer, the “international development professional,” and the other types of soulless technocrat whom the late Samuel Huntington called “Davos Man” and Frederick Wilhelmsen called “the egomaniac, lusting gnostically to dominate all existence.” Just contemplate what has taken place in Washington the past two months, and at the Group of 20 Summit in London last week, where Chinese totalitarians, Russian authoritarians, cosmopolitan eugenicists, and Western “democratic” socialists strained to stitch together a Frankenstein monster from the jumble of formaldehyde jars holding the maimed remains of capitalism.

As the saying goes, read the whole thing.

ITEM: Robert Avrech, over at Big Hollywood, recounts his encounter with a stalked woman in a gun shop in Culver City (CA):

“I can’t believe I’m here. I’ve been against guns and violence my whole life.”

I let this pass. Now is not the time for a self-righteous lecture.

ITEM: Defense Sec’y Robert Gates seeks to expand the government payroll by 39,000 while reducing private sector defense contractors. He’s cutting some key weapons programs as well:

Gates also proposed canceling some of Boeing’s missile defense programs, including one to equip a modified 747 aircraft with a laser that can shoot down missiles soon after they’re launched, saying the program “has significant affordability and technology problems and the program’s proposed operational role is highly questionable.”

Boeing would also be hurt because it makes one-third of the F-22 fighter jet and the Pentagon plans to stop ordering additional aircraft. Gates would also cancel the Air Force’s program to build a new search-and-rescue helicopter, which had been awarded to Boeing. And it would not order more of Boeing’s C-17 cargo planes. Boeing could also see a military satellite program, known as TSAT, end.

Didn’t we go through this with Clinton? And didn’t we really, really regret it when 9/11 happened? I already quoted Santayana a few days ago, so I’ll quote Benjamin Franklin instead: “Experience is a dear school, but fools will learn at no other.”

ITEM: And if Obama appears to be repeating Clinton’s mistakes with the military, he likewise seems to be repeating Jimmy Carter’s mistakes with geopolitics:

Rarely has a Presidential speech been so immediately and transparently divorced from reality as Mr. Obama’s in Prague. The President delivered a stirring call to banish nuclear weapons at the very moment that North Korea and Iran are bidding to trigger the greatest proliferation breakout in the nuclear age. Mr. Obama also proposed an elaborate new arms-control regime to reduce nuclear weapons, even as both Pyongyang and Tehran are proving that the world’s great powers lack the will to enforce current arms-control treaties.

ITEM: Speaking of not learning from experience or history, the Associated Press now wants to go after “content pirates”. Good luck with that; after all, the RIAA has been so successful in its efforts to date.

ITEM: Creeping socialism/fascism update: Investor’s Business Daily raises the on-going issue as to why the Obama Administration won’t let banks give back TARP funds — is it to maintain control over these institutions?

ITEM: I considered embedding this Onion video, but I thought it might be a bit too, ah, graphic for some of our readers: Hot new video game consists solely of shooting people point-blank in the face. I did find it hilarious, though, particularly in its skewering of the more pretentious side of the video game industry.

ITEM YOU PROBABLY WON’T SEE ELSEWHERE IN THE MSM: The Washington Times reports that the Bush Administration’s African AIDS effort saved 1.1 million lives.


ITEM: Creeping socialism/facism alert: Remember the Phoenix police? The ones who seized the computer of a blogger critical of them? Well, now they’re detaining photographers for allegedly violating Homeland Security statutes by allegedly taking photographs of a Federal building (the photographers stated they were actually shooting in the opposite direction).  When the photographers asked what statute they were violating, the policeman said, “Google it.” Hat tip to the Drunk Report.

ITEM: From various accounts, the US is planning to send Italy far more than the $50,000 reported on wire services as emergency aid in the aftermath of the major earthquake outside of Rome. But a reader over at the Corner at NRO e-mailed Jonah Goldberg with an interesting question:

If Italy accepts their bailout money, will Obama have the power to remove [Italian Prime Minister] Berlusconi?

Good question. 🙂

ITEM: Speaking of Obama and Europe, some of the commentators over there are less than impressed with his oratorical prowess:

… am I alone in finding him increasingly to be something of a bore?

His performance at the first press conference in London with Gordon Brown featured moments in which he sparkled – his riff on loving the Queen was a high-point. But most of the serious answers that I listened to were interminable, windy and not very impressive. At points there were pauses so long that it appeared he had simply lost his train of thought.

Today, we were treated to another set-piece Obama speech, and my didn’t he go on a bit? The crowd in Prague was huge, and initially wildly enthusiastic, but what he served up was not any more impressive than his damp squib in Berlin last year. Is there a computer which churns this stuff out for him? . . .

Empires rising and falling, destinies being defined and a Golden City standing as a monument to unconquerable spirit… goodness, what a ham. When he really gets going he’s worse than Tony Blair.

But Obama was only warming up. “When I was born,” (Everything usually leads back to him, you’ll notice)… “the world was divided, and our nations were faced with very different circumstances. Few people would have predicted that someone like me would one day become an American President.” (Him again)…

“Few people would have predicted that an American President would one day be permitted to speak to an audience like this in Prague. And few would have imagined that the Czech Republic would become a free nation, a member of NATO, and a leader of a united Europe. Those ideas would have been dismissed as dreams”. (Not by Ronald Reagan they wouldn’t have been, when most of Obama’s Democrat friends thought the then US President’s robust approach to the Cold War made him a loony on the loose).

ITEM: As for the continuing crisis, this graph apparently is quite popular all over the net:

The key take-away from the graph above is to note the series of “bounces” in each bear market, where the stock prices rise for weeks or even months before declining again and to an even lower level. The big dispute right now is whether the market has hit bottom or whether it’s just going through a temporary rise. I have no clue, but then, I have no stocks. Or bonds.

As for the overall historical trends, this chart — covering 140 years — shows the ups and down over time:

The takeway here is: stocks go up and stocks go down. The overall trend is up, but that trend is measured in decades.

Ain’t we got fun? ..bruce w..

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Category: Credit Backlash, Creeping socialism, Economics, Geopolitics, Legal, Links roundup, Main, Movies, Obama Administration, Recession Watch, Stimulus, Television, US Politics

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.

Comments (1)

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  1. RyssA says:

    Hi, you probably don’t know me, but I’m an old friend of Jon’s from Utah. Actually an old girlfriend. :). I’ve been trying to figure out a way to get in touch with him, seeing as how the last time I ever spoke to him was just before he deployed. I was wondering if you could be any help in that area? I’d appreciate any help, if any, possible.

    Thank you!
    Ryssa Corsetti