Who Else Should Be Offered A Job By The White House If They Will Just Stop What They’re Doing?

So the Big Dog offers a prominent Obama White House job to Joe Sestak if he would take a dive. Par for the course.

L’affaire Sestak raises a more interesting question. Why stop at pure politics? The White House can do more good offering select jobs to others if they give up. More than focusing on its watered down, weak and feckless agenda. Think. Michael Bay, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas to PBS Board? Uwe Boll? Peter Bienart to ‘stand up’ Radio Free Sri Lanka? Shouldn’t Heidi Montag be in the Surgeon General’s office on general principle? If Kanye West ran protocol?

Those — and similar — decisive actions would immeasurably impact the lives of all Americans. More than the botched stimulus bill. Ask Krugman.

This Administration jaw jaws about bold vision and action. No mortal can avert the next natural disaster. But there’s still time to intervene and stop Transformers 3. Just a mental exercise. Ponder who else deserves to be voted into the Administration. And see if your day doesn’t brighten, even at the margins.

Not Feeling It



The Old Media Business Model In Ruins: Part II – Electric Boogaloo

The hits keeps on coming. A pretty good summation of our debased, hyper-saturated meme milieu.

It’s now a luxury for a reporter to write a story about an obscure but important topic. That used to be a job requirement. Now it’s a career risk.

Example: let’s say an interesting startup has a new and different idea. Many reporters now won’t touch it because (a) the story won’t generate page views, and (b) few people search on terms germane to that startup. Potential SEO performance is now a key factor in what gets assigned.

Two reporters from two different publications this month both told us the same thing: if you want to write a story on an interesting but obscure topic, you had better feed the beast by writing a second story about the iPad or Facebook or something else that delivers page views and good SEO.

Page view journalism also means that smaller companies will be crowded out by their larger competitors. And with the current media tsunami out there, if you aren’t seen by your potential customers, you don’t exist.

All the more reason why companies must also generate their own media, to make up for the shrinkage of the independent media industry . . . The dirty little secret of journalism’s focus on page views is that the value of each page view is decreasing, because the value of online advertising is decreasing. This means it’s a strategy that will likely lead to failure.

Hard to feel sympathy for any of them. All predicted long ago ad nauseum – convergence, disintermediation, blah, blah, blah. The logical next step? Be prepared for a new campaign. To convince consumers that ‘crowdsourcing’ and ‘likes’ are more reliable and important than actually verifying facts. To which one might ask rightfully, what really would be different from today?

What Obama Said At West Point Worth Noting

Obama’s address to the Army cadets offered the usual laudatory references to American military’s greatness and history. Including the ‘I’m your commander-in-chief but really ok guy’ jokes. Naturally, Obama’s omission of Wolfowitzian unilateral, unchallenged American power gets pundits’ tongues wagging. His embrace of diplomacy as a much needed option for exhausted recourse to military action welcome but also old news. We ain’t got the mojo no more – militarily or diplomatically. Even the Brazilian president, together with the Turkish prime minister, got the memo when cutting their own deal with Iran.

More important to the Stiftung was Obama’s indirect warning to the military establishment – the salad days are winding down. And with them? The last tangible claim America has to some kind of global centrality. He reminded all listening that American power’s foundation was, is, and will be our economic health. He indirectly alluded to its haggard state. We think it’s noteworthy Obama observed to the military that the American people need to start making things. We must engage in real economic activity (lawyers, politicians, Facebook devotees, media ‘personalities’ and wedding planners excepted) to support a world class military. As ritual requires, any hint of truth must be dosed with copious dollops of ritualistic cant about America’s future has never been brighter because [insert macro here i.e.,'the genius of American enterprise', 'the unparalleled creativity of the American worker', etc.]

Obama hitched his horse to victory in Afghanistan. It’ll be interesting to see how he defines it down.

We have brought hope to the Afghan people; now we must see that their country does not fall prey to our common enemies,” Obama said. “There will be difficult days ahead. But we will adapt, we will persist, and I have no doubt that together with our Afghan and international partners, we will succeed in Afghanistan.

The British? Making moves about leaving.

If It’s Tuesday It Must Be Obama

Tuesday offers ominous signs and portents for Obama’s agenda of Lukewarm Dishwater. No, it’s not that his personal endorsement means squat. Rather, Obama actually would benefit from a Rightist takeover of at least one chamber of Congress. For his legacy and re-election. Tuesday’s results offer a chance that Democrats might muddle through with less carnage. Good for them, possibly bad for Obama and even worse for all of us.

Clinton surely benefitted from Newt after 1994. Clinton, more so than Obama, was a tactical political genius and counter-puncher. So what if the divided government meant a Clinton presidency offered almost no historic liberal achievement. Can you say ‘school uniforms’? In the eyes of many, Clinton remains the best Republican president since Reagan.

Obama’s case is different. He’s no Clintonian boxer. Nor is he the same voracious, natural political animal (in all senses). He’s obviously bright – didn’t Medvedev look into his eyes and see Obama’s IQ? But if Obama has any actionable convictions, they’re more classified than presidential Blackberry txt messages.

He’s not helped by the soggy Cherrios that is the (undeserved) Democratic majority on the Hill. Obama desperately could use *something*, *anything* to give him definition — and a plausible excuse for the inaction, watering down and plain fumbling. The Obama Administration is the Newsweek of American politics.

More

Mercenary ‘Intelligence’ Spats In The Sandbox

The memo also said that Mr. Furlong had a history of delving into outlandish intelligence schemes, including an episode in 2008, when American officials expelled him from Prague for trying to clandestinely set up computer servers for propaganda operations. Some officials say they believe that the C.I.A. is trying to scuttle the operation to protect its own turf, and that the spy agency has been embarrassed because the contractors are outperforming C.I.A. operatives . . .

To skirt military restrictions on intelligence gathering, information the contractors gather in eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal areas is specifically labeled “atmospheric collection”: information about the workings of militant groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan or about Afghan tribal structures. The boundaries separating “atmospherics” from what spies gather is murky. It is generally considered illegal for the military to run organized operations aimed at penetrating enemy organizations with covert agents.

Amusing and even predictable. DoD let the Lockmart contract lapse this month. Still, an ‘investigation’ will result in nothing but a pile of dead trees (and overly ornate PDF file).

Once again Dewey Clarridge pops up like a telemarketer at dinnertime. North by contrast channelled his energies into churning out awful television. Nice to know DoD, Petreaus and Lockmart hired a Czech company to assist intelligence operations (putting a retired senior U.S. General who helped start it all on the payroll).

This Administration will do nothing. No one’s clearances will be revoked. No letters of reprimand. After all, a Tampa-based CENTCOM lawyer said it was kosher. Haven’t we seen *that* dance before? Holder probably has everyone involved on ‘call block.’

Congress in its heart of hearts wonders what’s the fuss? Of more concern is why aren’t more Czech holding entities U.S. front companies showing up at breakfast fund raisers?

Thank goodness one no let it slip to the Pakistanis. Imagine if Pakistanis realized American mercenaries and drones were operating in their country. Killing 20-30 people at a time with – to Americans – monotonous regularity. Even a non-radicalized Taliban faction Pakistani eventually might get pissed off. That kind of ‘nut’ could over react to those few silly drone fusillades and other “war” stuff. And suggest someone go buy propane. Or something.

Why Does Obama Hate Privacy?

Facebook’s much publicized user privacy meltdown is just the lastest example of massive social web services disregarding users’ privacy. Google similarly decided on its own all its users’ private information should by default be visible to any one. Despite the CW that ‘no one expects privacy’ anymore, anti-Facebook sentiment runs white hot. The query ‘how do I remove my Facebook account’ is now among the most popular searches on the web. Expectations of privacy are not quite dead.

Now imagine what happens in other less closely watched situations with all of our information. When it’s more than exposing private messages explaining how one’s spouse is a jerk. You know, involving little things like the 4th Amendment, FISA, etc. Yup, the Feds. (And if the Feds walk all over your privacy, do you really think something like HIPPA stops an insurance company?)

So what gives with Obama’s intransigent disregard of a 2007 law requiring him to appoint members to a privacy panel? The panel’s origins lie back in the dim recess of time when intelligence reform was given at least nominal jaw-jaw. Alas, if the panel was actually set up? McConnell might write an angry letter. And November is coming up. It’s not like intelligence reform, oversight, the 4th Amendment and privacy are important. Just ask Kagan – she has no opinion on them.

Who knew ‘hope and change’ had a sell by date of February 2009?

This Is The Best He Can Do? (Slightly Revised)

It’s a given that Peter Beinart’s flatulence that Kagan should apologize for banning U.S. military campus visits for their policies violating school non-discrimination policies is more of his soft-minded weakness. Like his rah rah for the Bush Administration in the Middle East well into 2005. Not a serious mind for serious (or unserious) people. What about principled Obama supporters distancing themselves from Kagan?

We confess to know almost nothing about Kagan. Not only because she has no substantial body of legal writings. She came of age after the Stitung’s work with and for some of the Nation’s foremost legal minds (including but definitely not limited to Kagan’s colleague, Liz Warren). We know nothing about how her mind works. A deanship or Supreme Court Clerkship? Ticket punches only. How she succeeds in quelling Harvard prima donnas as Lunch Room Monitor irrelevant and delusional – as if Alito, Roberts, Scalia or Thomas will somehow be hypmotized [sic]. Yet her ‘legal mind’ and Harvard faculty Jedi mind tricks are the crux of Obama’s confidence in her.

We can’t speak for you, Dear Reader. We no longer accept ‘Trust Me’ IOUs from this crowd. We look forward to the confirmation hearings (see comment below).

Utah Tea Baggers Eat Bennett

Not even crocodile tears. The tea baggers run amuck with the conch and exile Bennett. Mitt’s sermon is ignored. Utah goes ‘Lord of the Flies.’ We didn’t mind Bennett as a person. Gentle, courtly, polite. He always seemed slightly out of place in the Republican Senate Caucus under and after the Warlord.

But he earned his hard core right wing voting record. Worse, many of his jingoistic staffers went on to infect various lobbying organizations, executive positions. Bennett may be gone but *they* remain an intolerant, judgmental Rightist bacillus that infect this town (and prosper) with Boy King trumphant.

Bennett’s never been a social gadfly and part of the D.C. media circle jerk daisy chain. So his personal defenestration will be analyzed in the days ahead in more clinical, facile terms. Permanent Washington will mourn . . . in the press. Everyone is more concerned what it means for their own rear end.

Values Movement activists continue to loathe the libertarian Tea Partiers, Grover’s Wednesdays Meetings, Armey, etc. But expedience requires biting their tongues in public. They draw greater satisfaction at results: the Tea Party suppression of the Warsaw Moderate Uprising. First Snarlin’ Arlen chased out, then Crist. Now Bennett. But mark these words, Dear Readers, the Values Movement are merely sitting on the sidelines. They tell the Stiftung they look forward to putting the motely band of ‘libertarians’ and disaffected ‘Stalinist-Progressive-Democrats’ in their place. And the Rightist Catholics at least remember the 30 Years War.

Dear Newsweek, Welcome To The Real World

Who cares what happens to Newsweek?