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9/20, 9PM





Saturday, September 28, 2002
12:40 PM      

The Jack Welch War Plan
By FRANK RICH [NYT link - requires registration]

... everyone knows that Democrats care every bit as much about our security as Republicans do, patriotically ranking it second in importance only to their own job security. But Mr. Daschle's real frustration is... As the election nears, the Democrats want to talk about the economy, and every time they try, Mr. Bush drowns it out with "Iraq,"...

...this presidency is all of one consistent piece, whether it is managing our money or managing a war. Now, as pre-9/11, it reflects the C.E.O. ethos of the 1990's bubble at least as abundantly as the previous administration did the promiscuous 1960's. ... A chief executive can do no wrong. The directors (for which read Republicans in Congress) and outside directors (that would be the Democrats) are expected to give him a blank check and question nothing, including the accounting, while the grateful shareholders (the benighted voters) watch their portfolios bulge.

Now that we know that this model was a sham, would think the Bush administration might revisit it. But instead it is following a discredited modus operandi more slavishly than ever, even as it prepares to fight a new war. "There is a fine line between arrogance and self-confidence," said Mr. Welch in "Jack: Straight From the Gut," his Bushian-titled memoir. "Arrogance is a killer." Mr. Bush and the C.E.O.'s around him seem as oblivious to this maxim as the C.E.O. who coined it.

...When we poor shareholders worry too loudly about our growing economic pain, the administration's antidote to our woes is not more honesty in bookkeeping but Ken Lay-style cheerleading. This month Mr. Bush's S.E.C. chief, Harvey Pitt, went so far as to tell Americans it is "more than safe" to get back in the market -- as the Dow plummeted for its sixth consecutive month. It's the same pitch Mr. Lay offered his employees in an e-mail -- "I want to assure you that I have never felt better about the prospects for the company" -- on the day Jeffrey Skilling resigned as chief executive in anticipation of Enron's collapse.

...Disinformation has become ubiquitous, even in the government's allegedly empirical scientific data on public health. The annual federal report on air pollution trends published this month simply eliminated its usual (and no doubt troubling) section on global warming, much as accountants at Andersen might have cleaned up a balance sheet by hiding an unprofitable division. At the Department of Health and Human Services, The Washington Post reported last week, expert committees are being "retired" before they can present data that might contradict the president's views on medical matters ?much as naysaying Wall Street analysts were sidelined in favor of boosters who could be counted on to flog dogs like WorldCom or right until they imploded.

...this month's Congressional intelligence hearings presented a chilling portrait of the administration's efforts to cover up its pre-9/11 lassitude about terrorist threats. Exhibit A was Condoleezza Rice's pronouncement from last May: "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center . . . that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile." In fact, the committee reported, U.S. intelligence had picked up a dozen plots of a similar sort, over a period from 1994 to pre-9/11 2001, with some of them specifically mentioning the World Trade Center and the White House as potential targets. In the weeks before the attack the C.I.A. learned that in Afghanistan "everyone is talking about an impending attack." ...

...Certainly it's hard to be reassured by anything said or done by John Ashcroft, who in May 2001 testified to the Senate that "our No. 1 goal is the prevention of terrorist acts." We now know that he was just putting us on. On Sept. 10, 2001, he refused a F.B.I. budget request to add 149 field agents, 200 analysts and 54 translators to its counterterrorism effort. He did so despite the fact, unearthed by Congressional investigators, that the F.B.I. then had only one analyst monitoring Al Qaeda.

...What's truly frightening about Mr. Ashcroft is his incompetence. Even as we learned this week that the Justice Department's prosecutors are so sloppy that they mistakenly turned over 48 classified F.B.I. reports to Zacarias Moussaoui, Seymour Hersh reported in The New Yorker that the attorney general may have blown our chance to get useful Qaeda information out of Mr. Moussaoui by mismanaging his prosecution. ...

...We are already on our way to Baghdad. It's our C.E.O.'s choice as the most profitable target for the next fiscal year, and we are assured that it will go better than some other C.E.O. pet projects, like Dick Cheney's "win-win" Halliburton-Dresser merger. What's more, it is cost free: the chief White House economic adviser, Lawrence Lindsey, said it won't even dent that fine economy the president keeps telling us he is so optimistic about. Maybe there will be some price in blood, but the battle plans leaked daily from the Pentagon never seem to offer any casualty projections, reassuringly enough. ...

I grew up with the notion that it wasn't polite to talk politics. I think there are a lot of people who stil believe that, although I do notice more political discourse in public places than I used to. Ultimately, I think that's a healthy thing. Of course, we might have to create a viable third party before any real progress can be made. An old client of mine used to say "If Con is the opposite of Pro, then what does that say about Congress?


A good friend of mine is getting hammered at work. Someone effectively granted a bunch of lawyers access to some sensitive information which could upset a delicate balance of power at his firm. Even though he didn't release the information, the data is presented through a system he built, so now the jackals are after him because his system wasn't smart enough to prevent stupid human tricks. Last I heard from him, he was preparing for an outside audit of every piece of code he's ever written for them.

The biggest problem here, is that they're trying to use a porous technology to build airtight systems, and every time they find a leak, they want to bust some heads. Of course, there will always be leaks. I hope he manages to get himself out of there soon. Unfortunately, the market for web developers isn't what it used to be, and there is the small matter of "golden handcuffs."

[ link | e-me ]

Friday, September 27, 2002
12:28 PM      

This in the Times today:

"There's no doubt his hatred is mainly directed at us. There's no doubt he can't stand us. After all, this is a guy that tried to kill my dad at one time."

-PRESIDENT BUSH, speaking of Saddam Hussein.

Ugggh! Can't help but think he's invoking the Royal We. No, this isn't a personal thing at all... No, really!


My travel gig seems to have evaporated as quickly as it all came together. Oh, well. I might be leading Flash classrooms soon. I think that will be even more fun. Gotta go.

[ link | e-me ]

Wednesday, September 25, 2002
11:31 PM      

Back in town from Toronto, feeling a bit tired right now. Sleep will do me good.

I liked T.O. but I didn't fall in love with it. The town feels strangely derivative of many other places I've been: London, Boston, Hartford, Dallas (?!)... The people are nice. Lots of in-your-face architecture. But I didn't find the knock-me-out bistro, or the place that was so uniquely "Toronto." Maybe I'll find a couple of such places on my next trip.

I did get some good digipix, and I heard one interesting band at a club called "Chicago." (See what I mean about derivative?) The band's music was an interesting fusion. I'd say their influences included Yellowjackets and Jean-Luc Ponty. Not your average cup of tea, and definitely tasty, especially in today's heavily sampled/recycled music market.

More soon. Sleep now.

[ link | e-me ]
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