Friday, January 08, 2010

The system ate Obama's homework


"Ultimately the buck stops with me," our Commander-in-Absentia said yesterday. It was a pathetic attempt to associate himself with President Truman's famous line. Except there was a difference: Harry Truman didn't give himself the wiggle room of "ultimately."

Having crowned himself as the buck stopper when there's no one else to blame, he released the results of a no-doubt carefully calibrated report. The Washington Times says:
The report points to "a series of human errors" that kept the government from stopping the attempted bombing, including one involving someone in the government apparently misspelling the suspected bomber's name in a database search. But Mr. Obama and his team repeatedly blamed the system rather than any individuals.
Right, mistakes were made.

What a truly craven person this presidential impostor is. The system, the system, the system. As if the system ran itself, untouchable, with its supposed managers and administrators no more than swivel-chair dummies appointed to fill slots in an organization chart.

If we lived in an age where honor was a living concept, several people would have resigned for their failure to do the job they were meant to do, viz., protect the American public. Failing that, the top banana should have given them a couple of hours to clear out their desks.

But that would imply a government network of real, not rhetorical, responsibility. That is the last thing the Failed Messiah wants, because it would hold him, not an abstract system, responsible. Not ultimately, but here and now.

Mr. Obama said the country remains at war with terrorists and he ordered security agencies to strengthen their analyzing practices so that information that could prevent an attack would not fall through the cracks. He also called on intelligence officials to re-evaluate the process of placing suspected terrorists on the no-fly list.

As reported in the Washington Post, "In a memo to department and agency heads outlining 'corrective actions,' Obama ordered Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair to 'immediately reaffirm and clarify roles and responsibilities' of counterterrorism agencies 'in synchronizing, correlating and analyzing all sources of intelligence related to terrorism.'"

Once more, the language of a hands-off bureaucrat: "Re-evaluate the process." "Reaffirm and clarify roles and responsibilities." Study the situation more carefully. I want another report on my desk in 60 days!

"We are at war against al Qaeda, a far-reaching network of violence and hatred that attacked us on 9/11, that killed nearly 3,000 innocent people, and that is plotting to strike us again. And we will do whatever it takes to defeat them," he said.

Who's this "we," chief? You and your legal beagles have determined that captured "enemies" are to be treated as civilian criminals, even though their lawbreaking ("alleged") took place 5,000 miles from American soil. Nor is our enemy simply al Qaeda, which is only the most violent and famous wing of militant Islam. But I guess talking about Islam strikes too close to home with you.



David said...

Even if Obama really (belatedly) realizes the seriousness of the terrorist threat, it’s not clear that he has the executive ability to really do much about it. As anyone who has ever run anything knows, getting your subordinate people/organizations all pulling in the same direction, conducting activities so that balls don’t get dropped, etc, is *hard work* and you learn it from experience and from watching masters at work. Obama has little or no such experience or exposure.

Even if all the subordinate executives are excellent--and in this case, they're clearly not--things won't work unless the individual at the top *makes* them work.

Obama strikes me more as someone who is trying to give a convincing *performance* as an executive than as someone who is trying to *be* an executive.

Rick Darby said...


"I'm not a president, but I play one on television."

yih said...

"I'm not a president, but I play one on television."
But one thing that seems to keep being overlooked about the skivvies bomber is where he began his aerial journey. Namely Nigeria, a country (in)famous for fraud (and who hasn't gotten one of those emails. I think think they're funny myself).
What I've been hearing that despite the US sent millions of dollars worth of screening equipment to Lagos, he who likely wishes he were dead was not screened at all prior to boarding in Lagos.
And there is also the quite real possibility the what got him through security was a wad of cash.

Dennis Mangan said...
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DP111 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DP111 said...

The last two decades has seen the managerial process take over virtually the entire working of society. Whether it is the civil service, schools, universities, hospitals, air traffic systems, the armed forces, you name it.

In a managerial society, it is the process, that is, following the rules, that counts. As long as a manager, minister, the civil servant of any grade, the teacher, the doctor, the consultant, follows the rules laid down, he will not be reproached, and therefore fired, if things go wrong. It also means that any one with know-how can fool the system, or that people die as the doctor is unwilling to apply real knowledge and take risks, when in conflict with a procedure. It is no surprise then, that in the last two decades, ministers are loath to resign when things go wrong in their department, when in the past, it was the accepted norm.

Such a system works as a machine. Political Correctness can then be viewed as a by-product of a process that does not encourage the individual to think for himself, but to follow a procedure - there being penalties if he does not.

The Israeli system of security requires security personnel to THINK, that is, it is NOT Politically Correct, and is therefore successful. We do not do this, as we follow a managerial system for security, and even waging war. As long as this is the case, terrorists will get through, and people will be killed. We will also be defeated in war, if we ever had to deal with a really capable protagonist. Thankfully, there is no such protagonist on the horizon.

David said...

DP111...what you describe is in part due to the extreme, inappropriate, and unthinking application of the managment philosophy known as Taylorism. See my post mindless verbal Taylorism for more.

One thing I would add is that government activities are *inherently* more bureaucratic than private-sector opportunities. As Peter Drucker put it: Any government that is *not* a government of paper forms rapidly degenerates into a mutual looting society.

DP111 said...


That was a well written essay. Found it very amusing.

Political Correctness goes beyond Taylorism, for two reasons

1. It has gone from the shop floor to society at large

2. PC forcibly gives the individual, a system which allows only PC phrases or thoughts to be spoken. All other spoken thoughts (so far anyway) become crimes. PC therefore is an attempt to silence or destroy freedom of expression.

Thank you again for that link.

David said...

Totally agree that PC goes beyond Taylorism.

There is a song dating from the German peasant rebellions of the middle ages: Die Gedanken Sind Frei (the thoughts are free) one of the many versions of the song, it is Nur Die Gedanken Sind Frei (only the thoughts are free)

Political correctness aims to ensure that not even the thoughts are free.

See my post here for an example, including a link to words & music for the song. said...

Really well said Rick.