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Bureaucracy as a Political Coalition

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...one can generally infer the actual intent of a system
 by assuming that a surviving system is providing
desirable functions to those who decided to create it.

Bureaucracies are systems of power -- social organizations whose purpose is to control material, informational, and especially human resources.

And as such they very quickly deviate from stated external goals replacing them with internal goals of top bureaucrats.

One way to view corruption is to see it as the way of getting something that should not be for sale by those who have the legal status as trustees of persons or property:

“The corrupt buy or sell what was not supposed to be for sale – a vote, for example, or public property. They turn to personal advantage their legal status as trustees of persons or property. Or they grant only to a privileged few what is purportedly available to all or available only through open and fair competition.”

This represents corruption of the worst kind, corruption of institutional purpose. If you think about it "turning official position into source of personal advantages" is the essence of behavior of bureaucrats. In a way this is immanent feature not a deviation. So the legitimate question is "How do modern organizational forms permit it, and what do they do to deter it?" not "How to eliminate it?" The latter is naive.

In one of his earlier writings, Karl Marx described bureaucracy like this:

"The principle of its knowledge is...authority, and its mentality is the idolatry of authority. But within bureaucracy the spiritualism turns into crass materialism, the materialism of passive obedience, faith in authority, the mechanism of fixed and formal behavior, fixed principles, attitudes, traditions. As far as the individual bureaucrat is concerned, the aim of the state becomes his private aim, in the form of the race for higher posts, of careerism."

Any large enterprise or a department in a large corporation should be viewed as a political coalition, not merely as a functional unit that produces specific type of goods or serves. Typical case of autocratic manager ("kiss up kick down") is just one political form: monarchy reproduced in the firm with all typical attributes (court of sycophants, etc). That means that the fundamental assumption that large public firms maximize profits "as if" an individual owner/decision maker was running the firm is deeply, fundamentally wrong in case of bureaucratic organizations. They behave quite differently. In a large public company conflict exists on several levels:

  1. Managerial vs. shareholder compensation vs. survivability and the future of the firm,

  2. Short-run vs. long-run goal setting (intersects with (1) especially if options are used for managerial compensation). ,
  3. Conflict between the labor and management, recently fought in the area of outsourcing.
  4. Hijacking of management ranks by sociopaths and authoritarian individuals.

If we view the public business firm as a Political Coalition it is clear that the firm’s executive is like a party leader. “His problem …[is] to select a coalition so as to maximize the difference between the demands of his coalition members and the potential return from the environment of the coalition.” [March, p. 674.

Important concept here is the concept of the minimum-winning coalition. It is related to situation in US Senate: when building a coalition in Senate, it is important not to give away more than needed for 51 votes.

The book Bureaucratic Phenomenon by Crozier's  was a landmark in the development of both the sociology of organizations and the study of French society in the 1960s. He analkysed the role of trade unions in the US and France during the cold war.

This led to his main cultural finding that in bureaucracies exists the fear of face-to-face communication. And it requires impersonal mediation to avoid confrontation with those in authority.  That's why number of layers of management never reflects that real necessities of the organization.


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[May 28, 2018] Movie: From Here To Eternity

May 28, 2018 | www.amazon.com

D. Blackdeer on September 3, 2001

From Here to Eternity

1953 Best Picture (eight Academy Awards) about Army soldiers dealing with corrupt leadership in Hawaii just prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Burt Lancaster heads the cast as First Sergeant Milt Warden, a top soldier trapped in an infantry company commanded by the incompetent and corrupt Captain Dana "Dynamite" Holmes, played by Philip Ober.

Holmes is an incapable officer seeking promotion as the regiment's boxing coach while Warden holds the company together. Conditions are status quo until Private Robert E. Lee Pruitt, played by Montgomery Clift, arrives from the bugler corps.

Holmes attempts to recruit Pruitt as the new middleweight boxer, but Pruitt refuses for personal reasons. Holmes then embarks on a campaign of harassment, ordering the other boxers in the company to service Pruitt with frequent punishment and extra work detail to change his mind. In the meantime, Warden falls for Holmes's wife Karen played by Deborah Kerr, and risks his career in an adulterous relationship that soon develops into a serious love affair.

Frank Sinatra turns in a great performance as "Maggio," a fellow soldier who becomes Private Pruitt's best friend during the ordeal. Other marvelous features are the supporting cast providing terrific characters around the main actors, and the production's location at the historic Schofield Barracks on Oahu. It's easy to see why this was Best Picture in 1953.

JCY 500 on July 21, 2014
A film for all time

One of my all-time favorite films. Superb performances by Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra, Donna Reed, and Montgomery Clift in a gripping tale set in an army base on Hawaii in the period leading up to the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Frank Sinatra was born to play the part of Angelo Maggio in what is, along with Manchurian Candidate, his best work.

The most impressive acting is from Clift. The extended scene with Donna Reed, as she unsuccessfully pleads with him to not attempt to rejoin his unit, is simply breathtaking. What he does with his eyes and simple gestures so richly reveals his inner torment.

[May 27, 2018] The Sand Pebbles (1966)

Notable quotes:
"... Apparently misunderstood by some critics on its release, it is a powerful and intrinsically human anti-war film. It is not a happy film, but it is totally absorbing and thought provoking. ..."
May 27, 2018 | www.imdb.com

Throughly enjoyable. barberoux 28 March 2003

"The Sand Pebbles" was a throughly enjoyable movie. The setting was exotic and the story engaging. Though it starred Steve McQueen, who did an excellent job, its strength was the ensemble acting with a very talented cast including Richard Crenna, Richard Attenborough, Mako and Candice Bergen. The story was nicely involved and, though it portrayed the sailor's prejudices, did not feel condescending toward the Chinese as many war-type movies do. The men were caught up in the turbulent times and many of the conflicts portrayed seem to come more from troubled psyches. It is not Ramboish macho crap. I found the portrayals of the people and times entertaining. I had read the book so maybe I read more into the movie than others seeing it cold. It was a very good movie and well worth a watch.

The Sand Pebbles - a powerful and human anti-war film fernies 11 October 2000 `

The Sand Pebbles' has been one of my favourite films since I first saw it on television in 1976. The widescreen version does justice not just to the sweeping panoramas of the quite breathtaking Chinese scenery, but also to the sweeping events and themes of the story. It is in every way a `big' film, dealing with political and military intervention (clear parallels with Vietnam at the time of release), nationalism, racism, and the horrors of war. Yet for all its heavy themes, it is most successful in the depiction of its very human characters. These characters are not just the means of conveying the `messages' of the film, or fodder for the gripping and well-staged action scenes. They are individuals in their own right, involved in something far greater than their own destinies. Some are unpleasant and ignorant while others are honourable but lost in the sea of historic events surrounding them. Some, like Jake Holman (Steve McQueen), demand sympathy and respect as they struggle to come to terms with their personal challenges brought to the fore by these historically significant and politically dangerous events.

Inevitably there are slow and confusing passages as the political implications are expounded, but these are more than compensated for by our emotional engagement as we become involved in the stories of the people caught up in the political fall-out. Robert Wise's direction is strong and emotionally charged, complemented perfectly by Jerry Goldsmith's wonderfully haunting and ominous music. Steve McQueen gives what was probably the performance of his career (receiving his only Academy Award nomination), and he is supported by a wonderful cast including Richard Attenborough, Richard Crenna, Candice Bergen (aged just 19), and especially Mako. But it is really McQueen's film. His very presence lifts scenes and he manages to convey authenticity and gain the sympathy of the viewer with consummate ease. Apparently misunderstood by some critics on its release, it is a powerful and intrinsically human anti-war film. It is not a happy film, but it is totally absorbing and thought provoking.

[May 27, 2018] From Here to Eternity The Complete Uncensored Edition (Modern Library 100 Best Novels)

May 27, 2018 | www.amazon.com

0 out of 5 stars with a tip of the hat to predecessors like "Golden Boy" and and Kipling's military tales By Jeffrey A. Beard on December 20, 2016 Ahead of it's time--feels contemporary in it portrayal of the morals and mores of peacetime barracks life, with a tip of the hat to predecessors like "Golden Boy" and and Kipling's military tales; still poignant and pointed after all these years. 3 1/2 stars


By Gerard J. St. John on June 15, 2015

I'll Bet That's Prewitt!

From Here to Eternity has long been one of my favorite movies. I cannot resist watching its reruns on television. Recently, I decided to read book, the 802-page hardcover volume.

Everyone knows that a book is always better than the movie, and that was the case here – but not by much. The casting for the movie was superb. You cannot read about Pvt. Prewitt in the book without seeing in your mind's eye Montgomery Clift; Sgt. Warden, without seeing Burt Lancaster; or Maggio, without seeing Frank Sinatra. The book reminds me of a string of short stories, mainly focusing on Prewitt and Warden during their assignment at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii shortly before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Prewitt is an outstanding welterweight (147 lbs) prizefighter who refuses to fight for the company's boxing team. Also, he is a gifted bugler who was once assigned to duty at Arlington National Cemetery. Prewitt's company commander, who is also in charge of the boxing team, orders the NCOs to give Prewitt "the treatment", i.e., all of the tough, dirty jobs, until he agrees to join the boxing team. Warden, the company's first sergeant, sympathizes with Prewitt but has no authority to override the orders of the company commander.

Most of the stories in the book were covered in the movie, with the exception of the one involving a group of homosexuals in the Honolulu area, and one involves a suicide by a member of the company boxing team. A few details of some of the other stories were revised slightly in the movie, but not to any significant level.

The author's writing style is interesting in many respects. For example, there is extensive discussion about psychology, philosophy, religion, and morality with respect to the persons and events that are the subject of the book. These comments give added meaning to the events in the book – and also account for its substantial length. On the other hand, such intellectual discussion is totally out of character coming from persons who had minimal education, and virtually no contact with liberal arts. The author seems to be cognizant of this disconnect when he mentions that a particular character or characters "read a lot of books." There is even one character that mysteriously shows up as a prisoner in the stockade, apparently for the purpose of abetting this type of discussion. He disappears from the book by walking out of the stockade in a successful escape. His purpose in the narrative appears to have been completed when he painted the philosophical setting of life in the stockade.

The author frequently uses poor grammar and spelling in an apparent effort to present a realistic speech pattern of the day-to-day language of the minimally educated soldiers. In addition to being inconsistent with the high level discussions of psychology and philosophy, it is a technique that doesn't work well.

All told, it is an excellent book that captures the atmosphere of an overseas military post. You feel like you were there.

By Peter Monks on July 21, 2012
Unmatched description of peacetime soldiers

"From Here to Eternity" is, together with Sword of Honour (Penguin Modern Classics) , one of the greatest books ever written about peacetime soldiering or soldiers not actually engaged in combat. While Waugh captures the absurdity, tedium and frustration inherent in being a junior officer marooned in military backwaters, in "From Here to Eternity" Jones is almost unmatched in describing in-barracks military life from a soldiers point of view. My only reservations are the author's occasionally excessive digressions to allow Malloy in particular to expound on what are the authors thinly-veiled views on politics and class, and that Jones shares with Mailer's The Naked and the Dead an inability to create an officer that is anything other than a caricature (Jones does a - slightly - better job in The Thin Red Line . While as individuals Jones' officers are one-dimensional, their collective introspection and emphasis on sports and the relatively trivial or routine at the expense of preparing seriously for war is accurate enough. The real strength of "From Here to Eternity" is Jones' ability to vividly illustrate the life of a soldier in peacetime, complete with the indignity, absurdity and coarseness that is often inherent in military life when not sustained by an immediate objective or sense of purpose. If there is a book that does a better job of portraying garrison life I am yet to find it.

By Garrett Zecker on December 1, 2016
The Greatest Generation" on the 75th Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor

I read this book as a part of wanting to accomplish The Modern Library's 100 Best Novels. It is also a preface to watching the film which is on the list of 1001 Films To See Before You Die (visit beforewediefilms-dot-com for the blog I write with my wife). It was opportunistic to finish this book this week as we are marking the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

From Here To Eternity is the first novel James Jones wrote, and he had set out to complete a novel that captured the essence of his life and those of his fellow soldiers in the peacetime army. It examines several characters who wander about trying to make sense of life, relationships, money, art, hobbies, work, brotherhood, and the pecking order while living the regimented military life. While the narrative mainly focuses on a young recruit named Prewitt, it also weaves through other stories of people who surround Prew in a somewhat inconsistent manner. The book is funny, touching, bold, and in many ways an extraordinary view into the pre-WWII lives of "the greatest generation."

I read this book over several months and had to put it down a few times. I am an avid reader and read voraciously, but the first half of the book was so dry that it seemed to be almost a catalogue of non-things happening. It wasn't until the halfway mark that the strings dangling off of the characters interactions began getting tied up in actual events, and it was at this point that my fascination with the characters and Jones' incredible building of so many characters as actual three-dimensional people began to take shape. It turns out that for the entirety of the time that I was bored, Jones expertly characterized hundreds of people for their true calling and individual moments of truth. When they were put into situations where they had to face a bad marriage, adultery, a broken heart, loss, death, being out of control of things, regimented systems, interpersonal conflict, and a hundred other challenges, it became immediately clear that Jones was putting the meat on the bones of these incredibly strong and true people to face what life was about to throw at them. The result was incredible for me, and while at times I was wishing the book wasn't so needlessly long, by the end I was wishing there was more.

Jones' prose is very interesting in the novel, as it switches between the pedestrian and (albeit, realistically) vulgar to some paragraphs that were truly memorable. The simple playing of TAPS by Prewitt danced the narrative camera from person to person and created this gorgeous symphony of experience that was a beautiful four or five pages if I remember correctly. Another was a night where one soldier was sleeping with another man's wife, but the horror of the betrayal is stripped away with Jones' writing to reveal the beauty of truly feeling free, and contented, and in love.

I read Open Road's "Restored" edition, which I only understand to include a lot more that the author wanted to include in the original but was asked to remove (some sexual language and vulgarity), and some portions that were almost completely censored because of obscenity laws (including entire chunks focused on homosexuality in the army and civilian life). I have never read the original, but what I read here felt true and real, and I am happy to have experienced Jones' preferred text my first time through.

A truly excellent book, well deserving of the National Book Award.

By Steve on March 11, 2015
So Very Good

I feel like an idiot. I'm 65 years and just discovered James Jones. This book is excellent in so many ways. I hated for it to end but instead of wallowing in self pity, I immediately read the other two in the trilogy, "The Thin Red Line" and "Whistle" and then his WWII. I will give each of those five stars as well. These plus "The Naked and the Dead" by Norman Mailer are simply fantastic.

I read "From Here to Eternity" in the Kindle edition but purchased all three as used hardcover editions. These are books you will want to keep as real paper books.

By Amazon Customer on July 1, 2013
Probably My Favorite Novel Ever

I doubt very much whether I have anything new or important to say about From Here to Eternity. It's a great book, but its greatness was well known long before I was born, let alone before I got around to reading it. Anyway, here goes...
As an author James Jones is brutally honest. He's also what every tortured high school English student probably begged God for at one point in their life: an author who does not use symbolism (or anyway, he claimed as much in an interview with some Paris based book reviewer back in the 50's). There are several advantages to this, technique, at least when the author put as much care into it as Jones did here. I feel he provides a vast insight into the human psyche in a host of situations. The shifting narrator helps there as well. Jones also does a wonderful job transporting the reader to wherever his characters are whether its a military base, a field exercise, or the stockade. Of course the downside to all the vast amount of introspection and exhaustive detail is that it makes for a looonng book, and there are even a few points where it drags for me. Moreover, since Jones pulls no punches it can be a dark book in places (in particular I had hard time with the portrayal of one character in a protracted drunken stupor because I've seen someone do the same thing in real life, and its extremely unpleasant), and there were other spots where it dragged for me. Finally, there are a couple of portrayals I'm not sure I agree with. The sequence of thoughts portrayed in the suicide scene is (I'm positive) impossible since it was a suicide by gunshot and the bullet would move faster than any sensation or thought it could have caused. Also, I have to question the idea that all senior officers of the era were worthless (its not that Jones ever implies that the officers he writes of represent the whole army, but clearly every senior officer he describes is a disgrace to his uniform, in fact the only decent officer he portrays at all is an ROTC replacement Lieutenant). On the other hand if the book wasn't intelligently (and sympathetically) written with very deep characters, I would not have even been able to tell whether Jones was portraying good or bad officers, so this is still a relatively minor criticism. In any case, if you want a detailed, unbridled, unvarnished look at the life of enlisted men in the US on the eve of WWII, I don't see how you could do much better than this novel. For me personally, I'm very glad to have had such a peak at the time and place. My Grandfather was about 4 years younger than Jones and also spent time on Oahu during WWII. He was an MP around 1943 (at which point Jones would have been somewhere on Guadalcanal or New Georgia). My Grandfather also died when I was just 6 years old, which was, of course, before I ever got to ask him what his time in the army was like (or could have begun to comprehend even if I had asked). So to me this book transcended literature alone, it put me in touch with a little piece of my own family that I never thought I'd get to know. For that I owe Jones a huge debt of gratitude. He showed me a part of my own family's past I never thought I'd get to see. Of course for most people, it won't hold that kind of meaning, it will just be a novel. But even then its a very good one, though also a long one. I highly recommend the whole trilogy" From Here to Eternity, The Thin Red Line, and Whistle. Of the three, I think From Here to Eternity is the best. The Thin Red Line is great as well, probably the best way anyone will ever come to understand combat without either being there themselves and suffering PTSD as both Jones and the characters he portrayed did or at least becoming a psychologist and tending to soldiers suffering from PTSD, and Whistle is also a very strong work, although possibly the toughest read of all because it is so tragic. From Here to Eternity was the last project of a literary agent who had previously worked with Faulkner and Hemingway. Since it was Jones's debut, it may also have been his greatest work. I've never read anyone else like James Jones, and there may not be anyone else like James Jones.

By J. BUCKWALTER on January 12, 2015
which I also recommend.

A must read for anyone interested in a novel with epic scope, issues of power/leadership/control, the "breaking" of men, war, and struggles for freedom and dignity. I was also surprised at how well he writes women! It's not often I have very fond and vivid memories of reading a book, but this was one long, languid dream. Will definitely be rereading. Psychologically, it reminded me very much of the black & white Sean Connery prison film "The Hill", which I also recommend.

By russell bentley on February 12, 2016
A Must read for a New Generation

This favorite book of my youth was bought as a present for a young relative. I think it is an important piece of literature that everyone should read and I am quite happy to pass it on to another generation. Its development of characters and portrayal of human nature is the equal of Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath".

By Terence M. Kelley on May 3, 2009
All for Naught

From Here to Eternity is James Jones' masterfully envisioned tale of soldiers and their lovers on the eve of 1941's Pearl Harbor invasion. The rest of the world is already at war, and the neutral United States has begun a peacetime draft as the prospect of war seems inevitable. Despite this impending calamity, the soldiers of Schofield Barracks go on about their daily lives as if nothing had or ever will change: they spend their days routinely and begrudgingly performing their military duties and their nights drinking and whoring, while rarely examining their existences for any greater meaning.

At the center is Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt who has just requested a transfer out of the Regimental Bugle Corps, where he had a soft existence, and into an infantry company, where he will perform "straight duty," soldiering as any other man of the ranks. He immediately incurs the wrath of his commanding officer, Captain Dana "Dynamite" Holmes, when he refuses to join the company boxing team, preferring to think of himself as retired from boxing after blinding another man in a sparring match. Holmes needs Prewitt to box if he wants to field a championship team, and his superior, Lieutenant Colonel Jake Delbert soon makes clear that such a victory would likely earn him a long sought promotion. The conflict thus established, the characters hurtle unwittingly towards America's humiliation at Pearl Harbor and their own mortal humiliations.

Even Prewitt in his self-righteous suffering is guilty of pride--there are no innocents in this book as in life. Jones draws the Army as a microcosm of society: men and women at odds with their surroundings as they search for meaning. Ultimately, all the characters efforts are in vain; even as they struggle mightily against one another, the reader knows that on December 7th their lives will all be smashed as trivial and meaningless by a calamity far greater than any of them.

By Phil Aaronson on March 18, 2013
Great Writing

I read once that Hemingway said that James Jones was the best writer of his generation. I don't know if this is true, but for years I have had this book on my "list" to read. I have finally gotten around to it and am thoroughly enjoying it. I've read a lot of war stories over the years but this is much more than a war story. Jones' insights into human nature are penetrating and revealing, and his writing has retained its power and freshness over the years.

By David Pancost on March 5, 2017
Recommended with conditions

If you love the movie and are interested in war narratives, as I am, this novel is a must read. But by itself it's overlong and tedious. The movie has a strong, driven narrative. The novel is a big baggy monster, with long tedious discussions of semi philosophical nonsense. Think Moby Dick without substance. Some things I found especially interesting. Hints of Catch 22. There's an Indian chief, a crazy officer or three, and and heaps of Heller irony but without the laughter. Anger. Everyone is angry with themselves, with the army, with sex, with their lovers, with poverty and with depression America. Sex. There's a strong gay theme. This is true of The Thin Red Line, too, but here it's more cynical. Army life. If you've ever been in uniform, this will strike you as genuine, much more so than The Naked and the Dead or any other novel which comes to mind. To be sure, there's a good deal of exaggeration, but mood and details ring true.

[May 27, 2018] Guard of Honor (Modern Library) James Gould Cozzens 9780679603054 Amazon.com Books

May 27, 2018 | www.amazon.com

stars


July 16, 2000 Format: Hardcover | Verified Purchase

A viable candidate for the "Great American Novel"

If a contemporary reader is looking for one novel that captures with unerring precision the nature of the military and society in World War II, look no further than "Guard of Honor." The setting is authentic, and the characters are drawn with abundant sympathy and an utter lack of remorse. The issues, the personalities, the key incident -- all reflect Cozzens' skill deep insight into human nature and the nature of military bureaucracies, the latter resulting from his service on the Air Corps staff during the war. I cannot recommend this novel highly enough.

Five Stars

One of the best novels about WWII that I've read. Impressive in its knowledge of how organizations actually function.

Ursiform on April 15, 2001
WWII from another angle

Unlike many war books, which focus on either the glory or horror of battle, or both, Cozzens looks at troubles on the home front during World War II. His setting is a Florida airbase, and the action centers around the arrival of black pilots who are being trained as part of an experiment in integrating the cockpit. A few whites support the effort, a few more oppose it, but most characters are more concerned with their own self interest than with larger moral issues. The common desire to win the war doesn't eliminate social problems at home, nor does it trump human pettiness. Cozzens weaves together several interlocking stories, and while the final fabric lacks the exquisite integration that a truly great writer might achieve, it all manages to hold together in the end. Likewise his prose, while occasionally capable of taking flight, is generally adequate but workmanlike. This book is well worth reading, but go into it expecting a very good novel, not a towering classic of WWII literature.

Gene Cisco on January 17, 2009
Base Affairs

This is surely a masterful novel, though I would caution against depicting this as strictly a World War II epic. Anyone who thinks this has only nostalgic value is mistaken. It is classic in every way.

Gripping and mesmerizing at once, with moments of astounding resonance for today. "20/20" covered (01/09)last night the salaries of employees high and low, the way they are valued, with the result being according to their "usefulness." In this war yarn, various ranked individuals maneuver to avoid blame and scandal, etc. and it plays out according to their usefulness to command figures; in other words war or peace, it remains the same.

Whenever the plot movement lags and minor things intrude, Cozzens' palette of description never fails to amaze. Reading this work, I now realize where "Sgt. Bilko," "Hogans Heroes," and "MASH," derived their inspiration from.

The human comedy known as "life" survives within "Guard Of Honor's" pages in sweeping form. Makes no difference whether on base or in a large corporation, the class mentality survives. Which leaves us with the question to success, whether it will be determined by genetics or usefulness. Base life is much like a city within a city and Cozzens' succeeds in his entertaining military back drop to the human struggle. Cozzens makes it clear that the bullets and shells we avoid are not on the battlefield alone, no?

A customer on March 19, 1999
Fighting a war without bullets

Guard of Honor is a book about fighting a war in which not a single bullet is fired in anger. Readers looking for blood and glory will find it here only in the refracted light of the home front. But, this book IS about blood and glory; as well as boredom, loneliness, stupidity, comradeship, insanity, bureaucracy, death and many other things associated with the armed forces.

Cozzens decision to place his novel in Florida during World War II actually allows him to analyze the military culture in the minutest detail without the adrenaline distraction that actual combat would produce. It's a risky choice, but it works brilliantly.

The story contains a bewildering number of characters but is centered around two generous and kind men: Colonel Ross and Captain Hicks. Ross represents the command structure trying to hold an unwieldy organization together through the insanity of war. Hicks is the common man thrown into the same situation. How their lives play out is the heart of the book.

If you want explosions and gore, this book is not for you. If you want to know how the military lives, thinks and breathes read this book and cherish its portrait of a world very different from civilian life.

[May 15, 2018] Military Bureaucracy

Notable quotes:
"... The Fourth Star ..."
"... The Fourth Star ..."
"... Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife ..."
"... Dereliction of Duty ..."
May 15, 2018 | www.outsidethebeltway.com

Military Bureaucracy

James Joyner · Monday, October 26, 2009 · No comments

Two separate reviews of The Fourth Star , a new book by David Cloud and Greg Jaffee, touch on a theme that has fascinated me since I wrote a dissertation on the subject.

fourth-star-generals NYT foreign correspondent Dexter Filkins (via SWJ ):

"The Fourth Star" paints wonderfully dramatic portraits of the four senior officers highlighted here, but at its heart it's a story about bureaucracy. As an institution, the United States Army has much more in common with, say, a giant corporation like General Motors than with a professional sports team like the New York Giants. You can't cut players who don't perform, and it's hard to fire your head coach. Like General Motors, the Army changes very slowly, and once it does, it's hard to turn it around again.

Actually, it's arguably easier to "cut" bad soldiers than bad football players nowadays, since the latter often have huge signing bonuses and hold teams hostage in a salary cap era. But, otherwise, Filkins is right. While the military is relatively efficient, it's not only a bureaucracy but the very thing bureaucracy was modeled after. Which makes it amusing when conservatives simultaneously rant about the inefficiency of bureaucracy while extolling the virtues of military efficiency. (The military, along with their brethren in the intelligence community and foreign service, does tend to be more motivated and obedient to orders from above than your average bureaucracy.)

New Kings of War blogger " Captain Hyphen ."

One of the most trenchant discussions of these wrong "lessons learned" post-Vietnam is General David Petraeus' PhD dissertation , which the review of The Fourth Star mentions tangentially. While Petraeus might have "irritated many of his fellow officers on his way up," he also identified an important bureaucratic reality, noting it in his dissertation: any serving officer who writes a PhD dissertation critical of the US Army as an institution and publishes it as a book will not rise to the ranks of the general officer corps. Petraeus, of course, heeded his own advice, as his dissertation remained safely tucked away in the Princeton library (until the age of scanning and posting to the Internet; h/t to Paula Broadwell for sharing the link). He was able to continue his upward trajectory, unlike such recent soldier-scholars as Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) John Nagl , whose Oxford DPhil became Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife , arguably a self-inflicted career wound as an Army officer because of its coherent, incisive critique of the Army's failures as a learning organization.

Brigadier General H.R. McMaster , however, is the exception that proves the rule, because it was only the patronage of General Petraeus that made him a general officer after twice being passed over for promotion from colonel to brigadier general. McMaster's Dereliction of Duty was the oft-cited, seldom-read mantra of senior officers in the last decade and appeared to be part of the hold-up for his advancement. Further compounding the delay, his successful counterinsurgency campaign as the commander of an armored cavalry regiment in Tall Afar made his conventionally-minded brigade commander peers look bad (or at least that's one interpretation of how it was viewed within the Army).

How a bureaucracy without lateral entry promotes and selects its leaders is a vital issue with implications measured in decades, dollars, and lives. I look forward to reading how Cloud and Jaffe capture this dynamic in the US Army today.

One could argue McMaster exemplifies, rather than serving as an exception, to the rule. Generally, being passed over -- let alone twice -- for promotion pretty much indicates that you're done. Certainly as a prospective general officer. Conversely -- and I don't claim to have any inside scoop here -- Nagl certainly seemed to be an officer on a fast track who left the Army voluntarily to 1) so his family could settle down and 2) to take advantage of a flood of opportunities to apply his expertise in the think tank arena. It seemingly proved a wise choice, as he soon wound up as president of CNAS.

[May 15, 2018] Bureaucrats Versus Artists by W. Patrick Lang

Notable quotes:
"... In fact, "Intelligence" is simply another word for "information" and in ages gone by the term was used in that way by authorities like Clausewitz or Jomini. ..."
"... Like any labor of scholarship involving the study of human beings by human beings, the work is nearly always conducted with incomplete and ambiguous information as a basis for the analysis. ..."
May 10, 2018 | www.unz.com

"Were we right or were we wrong?" This was Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) George Tenet's central question in his 2004 talk to the faculty and students of his alma mater, Georgetown University. What he was talking about, of course, was the critical political issue of whether or not the Intelligence Community (IC) of which he was the titular head "got it right" in telling the American people and their government that Iraq was a clear danger to the United States, as opposed to being a threat to regional states, and if that danger was substantial enough to serve as a justifiable basis for war, invasion and occupation. In Tenet's address there was much of self-protection and an implicit warning that neither he nor the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) would accept to be "scapegoated" in a search for the roots of misadventure in Iraq. His words establish a claim to blamelessness for the CIA and the larger Intelligence Community in the decisions leading up to the Iraq campaign and a related claim to have done as well as could fairly have been expected. In other words, he wished to be thought innocent in this matter. Is that reasonable? Is it fair to expect American citizens and officials to believe that the Intelligence Community did its work well in helping the government of the United States to make sound decisions about Iraq? This is an important question, because if they did not, then why were their judgments so flawed in spite of the incredible amounts of taxpayer money lavished on the agencies of the IC? Why should so much money have been lavished on these agencies if they could do no better?

In spite of the importance of this question, impatience with the performance of the intelligence people ought to be somewhat dependent on the outcome of a national debate as to what should be expected of the process labeled "intelligence." Reporters sometimes ask rhetorically if decisions should really be made on the basis of intelligence. At first hearing questions like this seem to be both naďve and nonsensical since it is obvious that information is the stuff that decisions must be founded on. Nevertheless, decipherment of these statements leads to an understanding that those who say things like this think that "intelligence" is a form of thinking both esoteric and obscure, a dark art, separate and distinct from the normal way of knowing things and subject to acceptance or rejection by special rules of perception. In other words, they think that it is something like astrology, to be judged by its own "rules."

In fact, "Intelligence" is simply another word for "information" and in ages gone by the term was used in that way by authorities like Clausewitz or Jomini. There is nothing mystical or mysterious about the process by which information or "intelligence" is collected, collated, analyzed and disseminated. "Intelligence" is scholarship conducted in the service of the state. The great bulk of the information used as data in this scholarship comes out of the huge archival files of the major agencies supplemented by daily "feedings" of; diplomatic chit-chat, aerial and satellite reconnaissance, intercepts of communications and hopefully the products of espionage (clandestine HUMINT). Like any labor of scholarship involving the study of human beings by human beings, the work is nearly always conducted with incomplete and ambiguous information as a basis for the analysis.

This natural phenomenon is aggravated by the desire of the studied group to hide something, usually, that which is under study. When George Tenet said before his Georgetown audience that "We never get things altogether right in the Intelligence business, nor altogether wrong," he was correct but his statement was irrelevant to a discussion of the utility of the intelligence process since the quality of the analytic product depends on many variables, among them; good information and the quality of the minds brought to bear on the imperfect information. It is both trite and a truism that "intelligence is an art and not a science." What this means is that human beings may succeed or they may fail in making judgments based on less than complete data and that the skill, intelligence and experience of those involved is the most important factor in determining the outcome. To say that "Intelligence" is a flawed process is simply meaningless in a discussion of the effectiveness of the state in making decisions. If the "Intelligence Community" as it now exists were abolished, some other group would have to assume the burden of performing the same functions for the benefit of the state. What would they be called? Perhaps it might be, "The Agency for Special Planning?"

The issue of the effectiveness and efficiency of the existing Intelligence Community is a separate but linked question from that of knowing whether or not the elected or appointed officials of the Bush Administration may have intruded themselves inappropriately into the deliberations of the Intelligence Community in a way that led to distortions in the estimates of Iraq's significance that were presented to the president and the Congress. It is widely believed now that this occurred but that is not the subject of this essay.

The question under examination here is simple. Premise: "The Intelligence Community produced poor quality intelligence on Iraq." Therefore, one asks – Are there imbedded structural defects in the present United States Intelligence Community that contributed either directly or indirectly to the production of estimates that were unsound and which failed the nation? And, moreover, are there characteristics in the present intelligence community of the United States which now prevent and will prevent it from "reforming" itself? It is clear that the inability of the Intelligence Community to forecast or estimate Iraq's true condition was a major failure. Why did this happen, and how can the defects in the "community" be repaired? What "limits" are there in the psychology and structure of the government that may prevent "repair" of the system?

ORDER IT NOW

The author's conclusion after a working lifetime of studying the flaws in the system from within the community and from the evidence of continuing contacts with old colleagues and new friends in the intelligence agencies is that there are a multitude of problems in the intelligence forces of the United states and that most of them have grown up over a very long time, are now "built into" the system and are unlikely to be resolved without outside intervention by the Congress of the United States. It is impossible to consider them all but a few of the most important are so intractable as to be worth discussing here:

-Leadership. There is a natural tendency in the general public to believe that the upper levels of the Intelligence Community are filled with learned, avuncular and sensitive people somehow reminiscent of "George Smiley," the wonderful British spy and spymaster whose presence fills the earlier novels of John Le Carre. The character, "Smiley" is wise, sadly pessimistic, a profound student of mankind and devoted to his "people." He has a deeply empathic nature, is widely read, speaks several languages and is so dedicated to his craft and its ethic that he fears nothing and will take any risk either to protect his own "people" or to "launch" operations that, if they fail may destroy him. What a marvelous conception this man is!

There are people like that in the leadership of US Intelligence. There are a few, but there once were many more and they are fewer all the time. In fact, the "system" works in such a way that people like "Smiley" are feared and distrusted by the bureaucratic politicians who really run the intelligence agencies. What are really to be found in the upper echelons of the "community" are either people who early in their government service became specialized in the generalized management of organizations (often after early substantive analytic work) or others who were "staff " of some kind, (budgetary planners, lawyers. liaison staff, etc.) The Directors of the various agencies are naturally attracted to such people because they are focused on the administrative functions of the agencies and the protection of their ultimate superior, the Director. This makes them a kind of "insurance policy " for the directors of the agencies.

The old veterans of the intelligence trade often make a distinction between "real intelligence officers" and "managers." "Real intelligence officers" are those who are known to be qualified and capable of the difficult work of analysis and field collection of information and who are known to have the moral character required to stand up to the pressure that is present in every political administration to make the "reality" presented by the "Intelligence Community" conform to the " reality" envisioned by the policy of the administration in power. The "managers" are essentially courtiers grouped about the throne of whichever baron of the Intelligence Community they may serve. The "managers" functions center on liaison with the other barons, lobbying the Congress for money and "protection" of the boss (the Director of their agency). Such people as the "managers" are easily recognized by the directors of the agencies as very valuable to their career survival in the stylized "dance" conducted around Washington by the various parts of the United States Government but they are not well suited to leading "real intelligence officers" to feats of brilliant analysis or imaginative collection operations because they are always in a "defensive crouch" fearing that the "real intelligence officers" will cause trouble for them or "the boss" through disagreement with the "picture" desired by the administration of the day or in Human Intelligence (HUMINT) operations (espionage) gone bad which result in publicity that could be damaging to the "managers'" careers. Incredibly, these are the people who tend to be promoted to "line" command "at the top" in the collection, and analytic functions of the agencies over the heads of the "real intelligence officers."

This pattern of rule by the "managerial" class is now so well established in the intelligence agencies that it is simply expected that senior jobs which control large parts of the agencies in the analytic and HUMINT collection fields will be held by "managers" as opposed to "real intelligence officers." This tendency is so firmly rooted now that the author has often heard very senior "real intelligence officers" described as "just an analyst," or "just an operator" in the context of a selection board picking someone for a high level leadership job in the very field in which the "real intelligence officer" is an authority respected throughout the government.

This tendency is perpetuated and reinforced by a process of "mirror-imaging" in personnel selections in which the ever-growing number of "managers" who are in senior leadership position simply select others like them in the next generation for the top jobs. This results in a leadership cadre in the Intelligence Community which is more and more hostile to the risks demanded as the price of real success in collection and analysis and more and more favorable to the self indulgence of a focus on the "turf battles and budget wars" endemic to Washington and at the same time less and less driven by the desire to do good intelligence work. The personnel management disaster described above is ultimately the responsibility of the directors of the agencies that make up the Intelligence Community. If they wanted to have a different focus in their agencies, there would be a different focus. There have been many fine and devoted heads of the various American intelligence agencies, but all too often the directors themselves are members of the "managerial class" within the Intelligence Community or simply politically selected party functionaries. All too often directors see themselves as "travelers" on a journey to yet further heights within the government and therefore not "decisively committed" to the work of their people. For many directors, the "managerial class" within their agencies is a natural ally in controlling the "wilder impulses" of the "real intelligence officers" in the organization.

ORDER IT NOW

-Risk Aversion. One of the most trite and tedious of the many things said in the national media and in the U.S. Congress about the failures of the Intelligence Community in Iraq and with regard to so many issues is that "HUMINT (espionage in this context) must be improved!" Repetition of this thought has become obligatory in any "serious" discussion of security issues but in fact, no one has done much to improve US espionage capabilities. This would be amusing in its inanity if the underlying phenomenon were not so serious. In fact, the media and the Congress are largely responsible for creating the operating environment in which the wreck of once formidable American espionage capabilities became inevitable. In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, the public and its representatives convinced themselves that the intelligence services were somehow the enemies of the American people. The FBI COINTELPRO program aimed at Director Hoover's personal list of enemies and the Nixon Administration's meditations (the Houston Plan) on the possibility of effectively combining all U.S. counterintelligence groups into one force contributed to that idea. The Houston Plan was never approved or implemented but the concept itself was enough to "trigger" demand for congressional investigations into the "misdeeds" of U.S. counterintelligence groups.

Rather inevitably the "witch hunt" spread to include U.S. clandestine intelligence. The "Church Committee" in the US Senate resulted. Up until that time it was generally believed in the population of the United States that the intelligence services were filled with honorable people trying to protect the country, but the spirit of that age disagreed and a barrage of "literature" and films spread the idea that career intelligence officers were amoral opportunists animated by a kind of nihilistic sadism. "The Three Days of the Condor," "The Bourne Identity," and similar rubbish which portrayed a universe unfamiliar to anyone who had ever worked in intelligence filled people's heads with the idea that the clandestine services were to be tolerated but only just barely tolerated and that they must be closely watched and restricted. American espionage capabilities began to decline from that time and the process has not yet been reversed.

A mass of regulations were enacted in those and following years which tied the hands of the clandestine services so effectively that they have never recovered. Several categories of people were placed "off limits" as possibilities for recruitment as foreign agents (for example, reporters, professors, employees of American companies) without regard for the fact that these very people have inherent access to people and information often needed to carry out effective intelligence work. The rationale seemed to be that some kinds of people needed to be "protected" from the "dirty" business of espionage. The same kind of "thinking" has caused the clandestine services to rely far too much on "liaison" relationships with foreign intelligence services as a substitute for conducting American run espionage against difficult targets. The reason? Disclosure of foreign operations does not entail the career risk for the "managers" that the failure of an American operation would bring.

The creation of this kind of operating environment served as a powerful "enabling" mechanism for the not so gradual assumption of power in the intelligence agencies by the "managerial class." In an atmosphere dominated by fear of violation of legislated restrictions on behavior and the use of clandestine funds, it was only natural that the directors of the agencies would look to those who had little interest in driving forward the limits of accomplishment and every interest in "limiting the damage" and "preventing surprises" for themselves and "the boss." This has resulted in a degree of control over operations by lawyers and financial officers that is suffocating to the ability of skilled operatives to mount the kind of potentially rewarding but risky operations that would be needed, for example, to penetrate "Al-Qa'ida." Clandestine operations are inherently dangerous. It follows that if they are evaluated by people who "know the cost of everything but the value of nothing," they will inevitably be disapproved before execution if the risks are considerable. Those in Congress who wrote the rules used as excuses to disapprove these operations will then "bleat" pitifully about the need for "better HUMINT" the next time a disaster occurs.

Analysis by Committee. Much the same phenomena exist on the analytic "side" of the intelligence business. Brilliant people from the best schools "sign up" for a career in intelligence work from a sense of patriotism, intellectual curiosity, and a desire to "make a difference" in the world. What typically happens to them after that is that they are "eaten alive" by bureaucracies utterly controlled by the "managerial" mentality. Young analysts are called on to write papers that demand a fresh look, hard work and an undying devotion to the truth. The draft papers they write are not their property and these papers should not be subject to the vanities of "pride of authorship" so common in other works of scholarship, but neither should they be treated with a lack of respect for the views of the analysts and the creativity that the authors bring to the task. Too often, the "editing by committee" system that prevails results in papers that are not only irrelevant to the security needs of the nation but are actually misleading because of their lack of intellectual honesty.

In the "managerial" world, nothing matters so much as "staying in step" with the consensus in the various agencies of the intelligence world as well as making sure that analysis does not deny the political leadership of the country an intellectual "platform" from which they can proclaim their vision of the future. The "mere" belief of the analysts counts for little in the judgment of the "managers" when weighed against the career destroying effect of disapproval or disfavor from on high.

As a result analysis is "ironed out" in a "layer cake" system of committees at ever-higher layers of bureaucracy. These committees are made up of supervisors at the appropriate layer and they "take care" to insure that the interests of the various parties within an agency are protected in the text that goes forward to the next higher layer and that untoward results are avoided. When this process is ended, what is typically produced is a stereotypical example of the "lowest common denominator," not something on which the country should "hang its hat" in making decisions affecting the national fate, and certainly. Such papers are inevitably reflective of the kind of "group think" that grows up in any highly integrated and hierarchical bureaucracy that controls the career long expectations of its inhabitants. In other words, an individual analyst has no chance whatever of having his or her views expressed at the national level unless a large and self-serving group of careerists approve them and find them not to be threatening to their collective view of what serves the group's perceived best interest in terms of its relations with the rest of the intelligence community and the sitting government.

ORDER IT NOW

The rule of the "managerial class" in the intelligence community ensures the permanence of this "system." The ruling group will reproduce itself through "mirror imaging" ad infinitum and will be maintained in position through the perceived self-interest of the kind of people who typically become directors of the major intelligence agencies. This is not to say that there have not been brave, courageous and creative directors of the major intelligence agencies. The author has had the honor of serving under several. It was a pleasure and they know who they are, but the sad truth, known to all who have served for extended periods in intelligence is that most directors are part of the problem. The truth is that intelligence is an art best practiced by gifted eccentrics, people widely and deeply educated, favored by nature and training with intuition beyond the average and who care more for the truth than anything else. Such people consistently will follow their "nose" and their instincts on a trail of information like bloodhounds until they arrive at a truth that matters to the people of the United States. In the espionage field of endeavor, the function of managers is to be "enablers," to make workable the environment in which gifted case officers can break through the manifold barriers that will enable the penetration of groups that threaten the lives of our people. What must be avoided is the selection of managers who instinctively feel that their function is to "hold back" the operators and analysts in order to preserve "peace" within the bureaucracy.

Domination of the Intelligence Function by the Executive Branch: All the intelligence agencies are parts of the Executive Branch. The CIA is a separate organization within the Executive Branch and directly subordinated to the president. The Defense Intelligence Agency is part of the Defense Department as is the National Security Agency. The State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) is obviously part of that department. All these groups are deeply imbedded within these "ministries" of government in a constitutional system which ensures that the authority of the political party that controls the white House will control the intelligence agencies as well. This means that the temptation that will always be presented to politicians to attempt to shape" both information collection and the analysis of that information to their taste is likely to be overwhelming.

In most American administrations, the most senior authorities (generally elected) are wise enough to know that without sound and objective judgments from the intelligence agencies, the information upon which they base decisions is worthless. The reason one creates separate information gathering and analysis systems under the rubric of "intelligence" is that there is an inherent "conflict of interest" in any system that allows policy decision makers to be the same people who judge what the reality is upon which such decisions are based. Decision makers can always choose to decide policy questions based on their own view of the world, but it is intuitively obvious that this is not the best way to insure good decisions. For this reasons the most senior authorities generally restrain their subordinates on the policy side of government and prevent excessive interference with the process of judging information.

The danger is that the wisdom of that attitude is not universally appreciated and in some government past, present or future, policy officials may choose to drive the intelligence people supporting their deliberations towards judgments unsupported by convincing and dependable evidence. If one doubts the seriousness of the possible consequences of such a "cattle drive" one need only consider such historical examples of misadventure as the US strategic obsession with the likelihood of a Japanese first strike on the Philippines in 1941. This led the US Government to focus attention of its analytic force in that direction so firmly that Japanese preparations for an attack in Hawaii were completely missed. Another example would be the obsession with the "inevitability" of victory that influenced intelligence to "miss" completely enemy preparations for the Tet Offensive of 1968 in spite of the mass of information available that indicated something really "big" on the way. In both cases the results of policy or strategic thinking having been allowed to "intrude" on analysis were simply catastrophic. Strong leadership by "real intelligence officers" can help to prevent such disasters. The "dissent" taken by the State Department in the October 2002 NIE on Iraq may well have been an example of the survival of such leadership.

How can this be prevented? This problem exists across the world in every country where serious foreign policy and military issues must be considered and decisions on policy and strategy made on the basis of a systematic consideration of available data. In every country there is the problem of trying to insure that the judgments of the information or intelligence people are untainted by external pressures. There have been various methods and structures adopted to deal with this danger to the national security. In some places external "think tanks" are used to "test" the result of internal analysis. In others countries, reliance is placed on the competitive analysis of two or more intelligence agencies, often one military and the other civilian.

In Israel, within the Directorate of Military Intelligence there exists something called the "Devil's Advocate" a name borrowed from the process of canonization within the Catholic Church in which a cleric is appointed to oppose the sainthood of one who has been presented for consideration for that honor. In the Israeli "Devil's Advocate" section, the officers so employed have the job of opposing the analysis accepted by the government and of preventing the acceptance of institutional "group think" as the basis for decisions. For the senior Israeli officers who serve in the "Devil's Advocate" section it is understood that opposition to the judgments of the rest of the intelligence community will have a career price and that the officers who do this work should look forward to a fruitful life in retirement from the army soon after their service in this job. Nevertheless, they perform a vital; perhaps "priceless" is not too strong a word, service for their country. None of these devices seem altogether suitable for the United States as a "safeguard" against overwhelming pressure to bring their analysis into conformity with policy. The sheer scale of the institutions involved in American life dictate modification of the methods used in smaller governments. Some approach that combines the better features of these institutional "fixes" would probably be appropriate.

Can the "Intelligence Community" change itself to eliminate the problems discussed above?

It cannot.

The United States "Intelligence Community" is a "mature bureaucracy," a group of institutions that have reached a stable equilibrium in their internal politics and in their relationships


Heros , May 10, 2018 at 7:09 am GMT

I guess Lang is talking about what he refers to as the "Borg". His biggest problem is that he is one of them, as this long disinformation article shows.

How can you even pretend there were "intelligence failures" after these guys murdered the Kennedy's and pulled off the 9/11 new Pearl Harbor.

As usual, Lang is just laying a smoke screen for his war criminal Masonic brothers.

jilles dykstra , May 10, 2018 at 7:11 am GMT
Of course Iran is a danger to the USA.
In 1953 there was the CIA coup, that ended democratic Iran, and brought the USA puppet shah in power.
In 1979 Muslim clerics had the audacity to send the puppet away, and put themselves in power.
Since then they, with success, resisted the USA yoke.
Right now Assad is a danger to the USA, he's still alive, and, with help of Russia, and some help of Erdogan, in power.
Both regimes undermine USA prestige in the world.
Randal , May 10, 2018 at 9:12 am GMT
Fascinating stuff, thanks. One of the best articles I've read on Unz, in fact, and that's saying quite a lot because there's been a lot of great stuff here over the past few years.
anonymous [340] Disclaimer , May 10, 2018 at 10:11 am GMT
Mr. Lang hasn't appreciated my pending questions about his first two columns here at Unz Review, but I have a couple more, one substantive, the other editorial.

1. What does Mr. Lang specifically advocate, if anything?

He urges Congress to revamp a bureaucracy. But he says that when Congress addressed that bureaucracy in the mid-1970s as part of the post-Vietnam "'witch hunt'" it "tied the hands of the clandestine services so effectively that they have never recovered." (He seems to see himself as one of those so bound. But that's not made clear in the context of anything between 1968 (Tet) and the circa 2002 warmongering against Iraq.)

So if a Congressman during a hearing were to ask Mr. Lang how his work had been hampered before he retired, and for his specific recommendations going forward, what would he say?

2. What's "up" with the needless quotation marks?

Sceptical , May 10, 2018 at 10:23 am GMT
This is an interesting critique of the current state of the intelligence community. The author's contention that the system has devolved into a bureaucratic muddle under the thrall of the executive branch seems accurate but:

The disregard for the Church Committee and pining for the days of the gifted operator being free from pesky managerial control seems misplaced. I know most Americans have a limited sense of history and memory but, for example, look at the blowback from the Mossadegh coup, the bad intelligence we received from Gehlen about the Soviets, MK ULTRA, Robert Parry's revelation that members of the intelligence community interfered with Carter's attempt to negotiate the release of the hostages held by the mullahs. There are many more such examples. I am not so sure that the "good ol days" were that great. Also, is it even true that the Executive branch is in control(does the tail wag the dog)?

divadab , May 10, 2018 at 10:58 am GMT
Interesting analysis – apparently reflecting imperial institutions bureaucratized to the point of calcification, like an alzheimers brain. I wonder if by extension the senior ranks of the military in general have become inhabited by risk-averse careerists? Can this explain at least partly its lack of success in warmaking since Vietnam?
xxxyyyzzzttt , May 10, 2018 at 12:03 pm GMT
Lang is what we draft soldiers use to call "Lifers"; people who define their life by their love of guns and bombs etc. Reading him daily over the years brings to mind Kissinger's denigration of military men's intelligence or Hitler's comment that Generals don't understand economics. Not intelligence in the sense of IQ ( I have learned a lot from him; smarter than me no doubt). Rather intelligence in the sense of not being able to see reality through the lens of their love of shoot 'em up bang bang.
For example, he really would have us believe that there is something wrong with "Intelligence". They make mistakes. Not the reality that they provide the rational for the wars he is so proud to have been a part of. He is proud of his killing deeds in Vietnam, which was largely the result of what: failed intelligence in the Gulf of Tonkin? He is proud of the role he played in the killing Kaddafi's baby daughter. Was this the result of failed intelligence about terrorism? Come on Pat your are like the Robert Duval character in Apocalypse Now who "loved the smell of Napalm in the morning." Intelligence has not failed the likes of you. It provides the rational for you to do what is you live to do – killing. You spent your adult life killing or being responsible for killing people whose only crime was to be sitting on oil.
When you were doing your killing in Vietnaum, draftees like me were saying "hell no I won't go". There was a saying at the time: "What if someone gave a war and no one showed up". If people like you would stop showing up we would not have troops stationed in 125 countries in the world today. Guys like you show up because you love the shit and you could care less about the accuracy of Intelligence. Intelligence is the opium of the people. It gives them a reason to pay people like you to act out your childhood fantasies about war.
Repectually!
art guerrilla , May 10, 2018 at 12:21 pm GMT
@Heros

@ heros-
thank you, saved me a bunch of snarking at the author
.
as for the article itself, I rarely don't finish articles and comment on them, but the sophistry is so wide and deep, it was impossible to finish
.
the author -as does the korporate/lapdog media- makes a number of presumptions which are not supported by current reality (which is -in fact- the reason for their role as gatekeepers) firstly, AS IF we had a system which makes decisions based on facts, the greatest good for the greatest number, and -you know- reality
we do not
.
what we have imposed upon us, is a PURPOSEFULLY corrupted and broken system which is used by the 1% to enforce their will all the 'fact finding', 'research', etc, etc, etc, is so much window dressing and bullshit to justify doing what they want to do and has NOTHING to do with what eggheads, pontificators, pundits, academics, etc have researched, experimented on, or theorized
.
repeat: it is ALL bullshit to make the insane decisions FOR the 1% seem like the only choice we have

Kemerd , May 10, 2018 at 12:55 pm GMT
Oh Americans! One thing about brits that I like is tbat they never hesitated talking about their empire or imperial interests. But all americans seem to have have blinkers (set by their imperial hubris or genuine belief that their country stands for the good) even supposedly intellectuals cannot escape it. Taleb calls them intellectual yet idiot, l suppose Lang is one of them.
Anonymous [196] Disclaimer , May 10, 2018 at 1:57 pm GMT
The intelligence community, while apparently giving useful tactical-level information sometimes , is now, from what I seen, just a propaganda tool. Look at the Skripal farce. The IC of the "five eyes" confirmed Russia was behind trying to kill the Skripals by smearing his door handle with nerve agent (so ludicrous it's like something out of A Fish Called Wanda ). Or Russian collusion and the Steele dossier and golden showers. Or Clapper as head of the NGA in 2003 claiming they had satellite photographic proof Saddam was moving WMD's. Or Assad's "chemical attacks on his own people". What's worse is that the IC hucksters (not IC, per se, just those pitching the wares) no longer even bother putting on an elaborate dog and pony show, show & tell, and holding vials of inert anthrax at the U.N. Pretty soon we won't even need the IC middleman, though I'm sure the six-figure contractors, who now make up the bulk of the IC, will still be collecting the big bucks for "protecting America".

What is truth?," asked an exasperated Pontus Pilate after being badgered by a certain (((group))) to take action and put a certain innocent God-man to death. Somethings never change.

utu , May 10, 2018 at 2:25 pm GMT
Totally false article.

Mr. Lang created a false dichotomy which basically is reduced to No True Scotsman fallacy written from the position of the true Scotsman. There are no true Scotsmen.

Things are much simpler. It all comes down to integrity which is a question of morality. Mr. George Slam Dunk Tenet produced what he was asked to produce. There was a war to be had and he had to do his job and show that he was a team player and he did it. This was not an issue of bad intelligence or that somebody made a mistake. If anybody had integrity there in CIA he would refuse and be ready to resign. I haven't heard of anybody resigning or being fired prior to war in 2003. The additional dimension was a fear of physical threat. Mr. George Slam Dunk Tenet had attacks of anxiety fearing that he or his family would be hit while driving around Washington DC on business or with his family. Was it because there was something wrong with Mr. Tenet psychologically or was the idea planted in his mind by somebody who had enough credibility to make Mr. Tenet believe it? If the latter it shows that in Washington DC thing are done not differently than in some third wold capitol.

G Standfast , Website May 10, 2018 at 2:40 pm GMT
From the TV adaptation of Smiley's People, spoken by George Smiley as portrayed by Alec Guinness (49:30):

In my time, Peter Guillam, I've seen Whitehall shirts go up and come down again. I've listened to all the excellent arguments for doing nothing and reaped the consequent frightful harvest. I've watched people hop up and down and call it progress. I've seen good men go to the wall and the idiots get promoted with dazzling regularity. All I'm left with is me. And the thirty odds years of Cold War without the option.

English Outsider , May 10, 2018 at 2:57 pm GMT
@Heros

Oh, SUCH nonsense. What hope is there of a sensible attempt to alter the disastrous course Western foreign policy is taking if anyone can read a stunning piece of analysis like that and come up with such a reply?

Anon [198] Disclaimer , May 10, 2018 at 3:18 pm GMT
@English Outsider

The author has a valid point regarding "groupthink" in the intelligence services but his descriptions of the alternatives don't seem to hold much water. It's not like even it its glory days American HUMINT was anywhere near up to, say, Soviet standards.

LeaNder , May 10, 2018 at 3:19 pm GMT
@art guerrilla

as for the article itself, I rarely don't finish articles and comment on them, but the sophistry is so wide and deep, it was impossible to finish

But nevertheless you feel entitled to judge an author whose article you haven't even read? At what point did you decide it was sophistry pure and simple?

WorkingClass , May 10, 2018 at 3:51 pm GMT
Blah blah blah. Then more blah blah. Why would anyo0ne read this shit. The CIA is an abomination. It should be destroyed. Glad I could help.
Linda Green , May 10, 2018 at 3:58 pm GMT
The purpose of the Iraq war was to reunite Iran and Iraq as a bulwark against Israel. The goal was achieved. The resurgent Iran we are seeing today is the fruit of the Iraq war.

Watch what is happening rather than what the talking heads are saying. And keep your friends close and enemies closer.

If you listen closely you can hear the knashing of teeth in Israel that big brother stopped re-arranging the chess pieces in the M.E. after he installed a Iran allied shia (Nouri Al-Maliki) as leader of Iraq.

Mission Accomplished!

utu , May 10, 2018 at 4:19 pm GMT
@Heros

His biggest problem is that he is one of them, as this long disinformation article shows.

Exactly!

hyperbola , May 10, 2018 at 4:33 pm GMT
The elephant in the outhouse is again kept hidden by Lang. This alone is enough to disqualify anything he says.

Israeli Spies in the US

https://www.merip.org/mer/mer138/israeli-spies-us

. Intelligence Pact
It seems that, as Blitzer contends, Washington and Tel Aviv made a deliberate effort in the mid-1950s to put an end to these covert operations against one another. Most observers assign responsibility for this to top CIA official James Angleton .. Sharing information on Arab countries may have been one example of this. Another may have been assistance in getting nuclear weapons for Israel. According to Seymour Hersh, "sources close to" Angleton told former New York Times reporter Tad Szulc that the CIA helped the Israelis obtain technical nuclear information in the late 1950s. "This fits in with something I had been told by a high-level CIA official," Seymour Hersh added in 1978, "that Angleton, then in charge of CIA liaison with Israeli intelligence, gave the Israelis similar technical information in the mid-1960s." [19] During this period, enriched uranium was vanishing from an American atomic energy company with close ties to the Israeli government. [20] ..
A similar pattern of cooperation between US and Israeli intelligence agencies exists in the area of military procurement. "Israelis were caught in the Pentagon with unauthorized documents," one US official told former Congressman Paul Findley, "sometimes scooping up the contents of 'inboxes' on desk tops." This official recalled that a number of Israelis were very quietly asked to leave the US as a result of such activities; no formal charges were ever filed against them. Several US officials told Findley that the Israelis would submit orders for military items they were not supposed to have or even to know about -- using top-secret code numbers and sometimes precise specifications. Presumably they obtained the information from friendly executive branch contacts, but no official efforts were undertaken to discover the sources of the leaks. [22] ..

art guerrilla , May 10, 2018 at 4:35 pm GMT
@LeaNder

@leander
.
1. it appears you are guilty of the 'sin' you accuse me of: my post SAID why I thought it was sophistry (as well as in agreement with heros analysis) in short, because IT DENIES OBVIOUS REALITY
the author prattles on AS IF 'intelligence'/information that is gleaned by spooks or WHOEVER, actually matters in what decisions our 1% superiors make on our 99% behalf (but NOT for our 99% benefit)
.
2. don't be such an authoritarian tool: FORGET about what the 1% SAY is what guides their decisions, etc, LOOK AT WHO BENEFITS, you scared, shorn, sheeple again, in short, as they EXPLICITLY STATED in the bulldozing run up to the eye-rack-eee war part 1, they 'fixed the intelligence' around the ALREADY MADE DECISION TO ATTACK for the greedy reasons of Empire, NOT because sad damn who's sane was our hitler-of-the-month ™
*snort*
it is difficult to take such propaganda victims as yourself seriously; you are stuck on the superficial layer of what Empire presents as 'reality', and don't see (or even GUESS) that there is a man behind the curtain pulling the levers to bedazzle you
.
bread and circuses, kampers, bread and circuses
hee hee hee
ho ho ho
ha ha ha
ak ak ak

hyperbola , May 10, 2018 at 4:43 pm GMT
@English Outsider

Pity the English. They have been slaves of a racist-supremacist, foreign sect ever since Cromwell let the sect back in the country. Time for Americans to again free themselves from the "city of london" sect.

The goy and the golem: James Angleton and the rise of Israel

http://mondoweiss.net/2017/11/golem-angleton-israel/

.. "Angleton was was a leading architect of America's strategic relationship with Israel that endures and dominates the region to this day," Jefferson Morley writes in The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton. More than any other man, the longtime chief of U.S. counterintelligence made possible Israel's shift "from an embattled settler state into a strategic ally of the world's greatest superpower."

Angleton did so chiefly by burying any effort in the U.S. intelligence establishment to question Israel's acquisition of nuclear weapons in the 1960s. "Angleton's loyalty to Israel betrayed U.S. policy on an epic scale," Morley writes. "Instead of supporting U.S. nuclear security policy, he ignored it." ..

schrub , Website May 10, 2018 at 4:57 pm GMT
My first contact with CIA was while visiting the remote Mojave Airport in California in the early 1980s during a motorcycle trip to Death Valley. While there I noticed numerous Boeing 707 airline sized planes parked off a faraway field in the distance. There must have been at least twenty five or thirty of these airline size planes just sitting in isolation from the rest of the planes at the airport.

At first, I thought the planes were merely being mothballed (stored) there until I saw one of them start to move. Curious, I remember asking one of the workers at the airport about who owned the large planes and was told that no one really knew but it was referred to as the "spook airline" because the planes and their use were shrouded in absolute secrecy. Nobody knew who piloted the planeseither because their pilots arrived at the airport either in smaller executive size planes or in vans that went without stopping directly up to the planes after entering the airport property.

it was only later that I discovered these planes belonged to Air America, the "the CIA airline" and were apparently used to ferry large numbers of mostly mercenary soldiers to areas the CIA was interested in at the time. I also learned that the Mojave Airport was only one of several other similar such bases of Air America operation. A friend described laughingly described Air America as the "Coup Airline" because of the CIA's propensity for the overthrowing of unfriendly governments.

About this same time, I also started reading more and more articles about the fact that our elected representatives, even at the highest levels, didn't actually fully know what the CIA was up to because of the CIA's so-called, ultra secret "black budgets" which allowed it to operate without any sort of control from our elected representatives below the Presidental level who claimed they didn't want to know about these "black" activities out of fear of getting blamed once the activities arising out of them became known.

I also started reading about rumors that parts of the CIA had become essentially self-funding using illicit activities like drug running and arms sales to avoid any sort of even marginal budget control by even the President of the US. The CIA's own airline would, of course, provide the ideal transportation vehicle to facilitate such activities.

Essentially this meant that a significant part of the CIA had been allowed to essentially go rogue without any sort of real supervision whatsoever. Unfortunately, The Mossad, would have been more than happy to step in and provide this oversight using friendly Zionists already embedded within the agency.

There are those who now claim that parts of the CIA are hotbeds of Israeli controlled spying activities operating specifically within its unsupervised "black budgets".

State department leader Dean Acheson warned this would happen in the mid-1940′s when plans started being made to turn the wartime OSS into the CIA. I have always thought his opinion might have been formed by his secret wartime access to the Venona Transcripts which extensively detailed how intelligence agencies in both the US and the UK had become hotbeds of Communist spying activities. (Sort of like the Israelis and the CIA today. )

Read about Acheson's very prescient criticism here

https://carnegieendowment.org/2005/12/20/case-for-abolishing-cia-pub-17846

The CIA cannot be fixed. It is too far gone. It should be abolished.

English Outsider , May 10, 2018 at 5:15 pm GMT
I would earnestly recommend that you go to the Colonel's site, SST, and read, from the beginning long ago, his articles analysing the defects of Western foreign policy and what leads to those defects. You will find there the most powerful and informed thinking on this subject that there is.

I myself don't really belong here because I'm a tooth and nail Deplorable as well as a foreigner. But so what? We both know that what our respective elites are doing is wrong. We both know that there has to be some other way. If we don't seek out balanced and considered analysis then we might as well run off and join those many dissidents for whom dissidence is merely a hobby, or those many others for whom it merely offers occasion for dispute.

Them Guys , May 10, 2018 at 5:28 pm GMT
So, these inner problem's within every major intel agency can be basically summed up in just four word's ..Beware the jews within.

Now back to my soon to be finished one page book that will sum up everything false we were told or taught regarding WWII in all it's many areas .."The Complete Untold Truth about, WWII" .

"Them Germans was Correct!" The End.

Best one page book length expose' one can obtain in the vast search for real fact based Truth, of which international jewry so hate's for one to learn of eh.

bjondo , May 10, 2018 at 5:29 pm GMT
Get rid of the intelligence agencies.
If Jewsa needs info about a region, country, even itself, ask Russia, China. Answers will be intelligent, diplomatic, accurate, and relevant.

Billions saved can go to help, real help not bombs, countries destroyed for Israel and impoverished by Goldman Sachs, Monsanto, ilk.

LeaNder , May 10, 2018 at 5:39 pm GMT
@LeaNder

I asked at what precise part of his piece you smelt sophistry. Maybe I have lost my ability in reading comprehension of your language. Could well be? Apparent from being more generally not too fond of sloganeering.

a number of presumptions which are not supported by current reality

Those would be specifically?

Them Guys , May 10, 2018 at 5:52 pm GMT
@schrub

Just look at how during the reign of Chabad Rabbi Dov Zakiem appointed as Head of Pentagon $$$ controls etc What began as a mention to tv reporters a day prior to 9/11 event's of somehow pentagon cannot account for a Missing $2.3-TRILLION!!! Has as of last date I read any new revelations of that missing cash, morphed into almost $9.5-TRILLION missing!!! And that last amount was like several month's ago.

What a Cohencidence eh? And just think what new and worse swindle scams Israel and it's mossad wonderkins can come up with to do next with so large an amount of Black Budget ready cash available?

Yes Yes I know that several hasbara clown's and tribal member's will say no such stolen cash ever goes to 100% innocent Israel and it's equally innocent jewry aka "The World's Biggest and Only Victim's that ever matter".

But daily now another 10,000 folks in America awaken to fact that research proves beyond all doubt that virtually Every evil and bad and immoral and unethical type issue or event since 3,500 yr's ago has More jewdeo fingerprint's all over it than any other cause period.

And once red pilled and awakened to such real truth's .None are able to return to their former asleep position even if they wished to No amount of jewish hasbara propagandas will ever be able to undo real truth once that cats been let out of the bag so to speak.

Mossad/Israel state moto:.."By Deception(lies!) You Shall Cause War's" .Indeed they do eh.

AriusArmenian , May 10, 2018 at 5:54 pm GMT
The author is right as far as he goes but he ignores the CIA/Wall Street complex that was established by Allen Dulles – that complex is at the very core of the US Deep State.
That complex is held together from the top; notice that only the very connected are put in charge of the CIA and connected means very tied into Wall Street.
The CIA, in spite of their low period in the 1970′s, has been very effective in controlling the US media.
Note how the Brennan secret team created a trap that the democrats walked right into.
And note how they have the FBI taking the fall while the CIA continues to operate in the shadows.
I like the author; he brings some sanity but he is still a creature of US supremacism.
He doesn't like me; he has blocked me from commenting at his site.
But I still hope he speaks out as far as he goes.
Hot Nuns of Castle Anthrax , May 10, 2018 at 6:06 pm GMT
It is helpful to learn the point of view of the knightly orders, which, as in the middle ages, constitute a parasitic class indoctrinated to see nothing but the stylized ethical set pieces proper to their order.

Here are a few things Lang cannot acknowledge without jeopardizing his identity:

Impunity. Doesn't show up in the list of CIA flaws, but it's staring him in the face, right there in black and white: the Central Intelligence Agency Act, the Rogers/Huston get-out-of-jail-free card, the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, the operational files exemption, the political questions doctrine, and lots of secret law and regulations. Under municipal law (strictly speaking, it doesn't meet minimal legal standards, it's administrative red tape,) CIA can get away with anything. So they are institutionally criminal. This is a sore point, frantically repressed. Even vague recollections of old movies are enough to trigger the traditional posturing of honor-based chivalric cultures.

Operations. Beltway courtiers are constrained to discuss CIA's intelligence function in isolation from its overwhelmingly dominant, and inherently criminal, clandestine operations function. In reality, all analysts are paid to do is complain about NCS crime. Then when their next criminal racket gets caught, NCS trots out some analysts to say, 'We at CIA warned about this.' CIA operations includes gun-running, drug-dealing, human trafficking and pedophile blackmail, murder, torture, coercive interference, and aggression by armed bands and irregulars. Intelligence is not CIA's business.

Rule of law. Lang, in the context of the USG going to war, writes, "If the "Intelligence Community" as it now exists were abolished, some other group would have to assume the burden of performing the same functions." Right. That other group would be the duly constituted authority under US supreme law, the UN Security Council, which the intelligence community devoted most of their efforts to subverting with foreign corrupt practices and fabricated war propaganda. It's not like CIA got stuck with this job, they usurped it.

Heros , May 10, 2018 at 6:20 pm GMT
@English Outsider

Having had my comments deleted and been blocked several times on SST, I can tell anyone who would listen to not listen to your advice and waste hours poring over that myopic blog. Myopic, because anytime someone writes an interesting comment that contradicts any of Lang's masonic beliefs, Lang gets nasty. Even TwistedGenius has had to dance around a snarling Lang because he crossed some secret line.

Sure, Lang was right about a lot of things from 2003-2007. But he was also often wrong and no one ever dared to call him on it.

Once again, I will point out Lang's complete failure to deviate from the narrative on things like all these gun-grabbing "mass shootings". As I recall Lang was even very wishy washy about the second amendment, offering to sell his guns in a government gun grab. So he lies to us about about what his masonic brethren are up to on this front.

But of course the biggest void in his analysis is the JQ. He attends barmitzfa's, purim, and who knows what other kind of cabal rituals. He cannot deal with the JQ because he is borg, and he knows what kind of punishment would await him. And angry jews crying for blood revenge aren't any where near as bad as when the masonic brotherhood turns on you.

RobinG , May 10, 2018 at 6:27 pm GMT
@Sceptical

(does the tail wag the dog)?

Good question. Where does Trump get his ludicrous talking points on Iran and Syria?

smelly oil and gas , May 10, 2018 at 7:01 pm GMT
@Heros

Agree but I think it is much more than a smoke Screen and preparation for war.
The 527 paid slave drivers and their bureaucrats and military (called the USA) has become a permanent false flag operation. The 9/11 advisory explained:
1. slave drivers have been ordered to spy on slaves,
2. slave drivers have been ordered to silence all slave protests and objections,
3. slave drivers have been ordered to study the slaves like rats in cage,
4. slave drivers have been ordered to deprive the slaves until production is sufficient to satisfy the Pharaohs.
5. slave drivers have been ordered to keep the USA dark, slaves are not allowed to know or learn anything
they don't pay for.
6. Slaves are expected to listen to Pharaoh produced, media distributed propaganda at least 12 hours per day.

Americans now live in fear of the Bastards from the Dark Side Kingdom of Lies.

The problem is how to save America from the USA. The USA is milking our cattle, selling our eggs, fencing us in with costly schooling and licenses to be eligible to get work, spying on our thoughts, destroying our earning platforms, price and ticket gating our access to information, bottling and selling to us, our once free water and air, and generally putting Americans at risk to attack from the global outside and famine blight from the inside.

[Nov 27, 2017] This Is Why Hewlett-Packard Just Fired Another 30K

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Imagine working at HP and having to listen to Carly Fiorina bulldoze you...she is like a blow-torch...here are 4 minutes of Carly and Ralph Nader (if you can take it): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vC4JDwoRHtk ..."
"... My husband has been a software architect for 30 years at the same company. Never before has he seen the sheer unadulterated panic in the executives. All indices are down and they are planning for the worst. Quality is being sacrificed for " just get some relatively functional piece of shit out the door we can sell". He is fighting because he has always produced a stellar product and refuses to have shit tied to his name ( 90% of competitor benchmarks fail against his projects). They can't afford to lay him off, but the first time in my life I see my husband want to quit... ..."
"... HP basically makes computer equipment (PCs, servers, Printers) and software. Part of the problem is that computer hardware has been commodized. Since PCs are cheap and frequent replacements are need, People just by the cheapest models, expecting to toss it in a couple of years and by a newer model (aka the Flat screen TV model). So there is no justification to use quality components. Same is become true with the Server market. Businesses have switched to virtualization and/or cloud systems. So instead of taking a boat load of time to rebuild a crashed server, the VM is just moved to another host. ..."
"... I hung an older sign next to the one saying Information Technology. Somehow MIS-Information Technology seemed appropriate.) ..."
"... Then I got to my first duty assignment. It was about five months after the first moon landing, and the aerospace industry was facing cuts in government aerospace spending. I picked up a copy of an engineering journal in the base library and found an article about job cuts. There was a cartoon with two janitors, buckets at their feet and mops in their hands, standing before a blackboard filled with equations. Once was saying to the other, pointing to one section, "you can see where he made his mistake right here...". It represented two engineers who had been reduced to menial labor after losing their jobs. ..."
"... So while I resent all the H1Bs coming into the US - I worked with several for the last four years of my IT career, and was not at all impressed - and despise the politicians who allow it, I know that it is not the first time American STEM grads have been put out of jobs en masse. In some ways that old saying applies: the more things change, the more they stay the same ..."
"... Just like Amazon, HP will supposedly make billions in profit analyzing things in the cloud that nobody looks at and has no use to the real economy, but it makes good fodder for Power Point presentations. I am amazed how much daily productivity goes into creating fancy charts for meetings that are meaningless to the actual business of the company. ..."
"... 'Computers' cost as much - if not more time than they save, at least in corporate settings. Used to be you'd work up 3 budget projections - expected, worst case and best case, you'd have a meeting, hash it out and decide in a week. Now you have endless alternatives, endless 'tweaking' and changes and decisions take forever, with outrageous amounts of time spent on endless 'analysis' and presentations. ..."
"... A recent lay off here turned out to be quite embarrassing for Parmalat there was nobody left that knew how to properly run the place they had to rehire many ex employees as consultants-at a costly premium ..."
"... HP is laying off 80,000 workers or almost a third of its workforce, converting its long-term human capital into short-term gains for rich shareholders at an alarming rate. The reason that product quality has declined is due to the planned obsolescence that spurs needless consumerism, which is necessary to prop up our debt-backed monetary system and the capitalist-owned economy that sits on top of it. ..."
"... The world is heading for massive deflation. Computers have hit the 14 nano-meter lithography zone, the cost to go from 14nm to say 5nm is very high, and the net benefit to computing power is very low, but lets say we go from 14nm to 5nm over the next 4 years. Going from 5nm to 1nm is not going to net a large boost in computing power and the cost to shrink things down and re-tool will be very high for such an insignificant gain in performance. ..."
"... Another classic "Let's rape all we can and bail with my golden parachute" corporate leaders setting themselves up. Pile on the string of non-IT CEOs that have been leading the company to ruin. To them it is nothing more than a contest of being even worse than their predecessor. Just look at the billions each has lost before their exit. Compaq, a cluster. Palm Pilot, a dead product they paid millions for and then buried. And many others. ..."
"... Let's not beat around the bush, they're outsourcing, firing Americans and hiring cheap labor elsewhere: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-09-15/hewlett-packard-to-cut-up-to-30-000-more-jobs-in-restructuring It's also shifting employees to low-cost areas, and hopes to have 60 percent of its workers located in cheaper countries by 2018, Nefkens said. ..."
"... Carly Fiorina: (LOL, leading a tech company with a degree in medieval history and philosophy) While at ATT she was groomed from the Affirmative Action plan. ..."
"... It is very straightforward. Replace 45,000 US workers with 100,000 offshore workers and you still save millions of USD ! Use the "savings" to buy back stock, then borrow more $$ at ZIRP to buy more stock back. ..."
"... If you look on a site like LinkedIN, it will always say 'We're hiring!'. YES, HP is hiring.....but not YOU, they want Ganesh Balasubramaniamawapbapalooboopawapbamboomtuttifrutti, so that they can work him as modern day slave labor for ultra cheap. We can thank idiot 'leaders' like Meg Pasty Faced Whitman and Bill 'Forced Vaccinations' Gates for lobbying Congress for decades, against the rights of American workers. ..."
"... An era of leadership in computer technology has died, and there is no grave marker, not even a funeral ceremony or eulogy ... Hewlett-Packard, COMPAQ, Digital Equipment Corp, UNIVAC, Sperry-Rand, Data General, Tektronix, ZILOG, Advanced Micro Devices, Sun Microsystems, etc, etc, etc. So much change in so short a time, leaves your mind dizzy. ..."
Sep 15, 2015 | Zero Hedge

SixIsNinE

yeah thanks Carly ... HP made bullet-proof products that would last forever..... I still buy HP workstation notebooks, especially now when I can get them for $100 on ebay .... I sold HP products in the 1990s .... we had HP laserjet IIs that companies would run day & night .... virtually no maintenance ... when PCL5 came around then we had LJ IIIs .... and still companies would call for LJ I's, .... 100 pounds of invincible Printing ! .

This kind of product has no place in the World of Planned-Obsolesence .... I'm currently running an 8510w, 8530w, 2530p, Dell 6420 quad i7, hp printers hp scanners, hp pavilion desktops, .... all for less than what a Laserjet II would have cost in 1994, Total.

Not My Real Name

I still have my HP 15C scientific calculator I bought in 1983 to get me through college for my engineering degree. There is nothing better than a hand held calculator that uses Reverse Polish Notation!

BigJim

HP used to make fantastic products. I remember getting their RPN calculators back in th 80's; built like tanks. Then they decided to "add value" by removing more and more material from their consumer/"prosumer" products until they became unspeakably flimsy. They stopped holding things together with proper fastenings and starting hot melting/gluing it together, so if it died you had to cut it open to have any chance of fixing it.

I still have one of their Laserjet 4100 printers. I expect it to outlast anything they currently produce, and it must be going on 16+ years old now.

Fuck you, HP. You started selling shit and now you're eating through your seed corn. I just wish the "leaders" who did this to you had to pay some kind of penalty greater than getting $25M in a severance package.

Automatic Choke

+100. The path of HP is everything that is wrong about modern business models. I still have a 5MP laserjet (one of the first), still works great. Also have a number of 42S calculators.....my day-to-day workhorse and several spares. I don't think the present HP could even dream of making these products today.

nope-1004

How well will I profit, as a salesman, if I sell you something that works? How valuable are you, as a customer in my database, if you never come back? Confucious say "Buy another one, and if you can't afford it, f'n finance it!" It's the growing trend. Look at appliances. Nothing works anymore.

Normalcy Bias

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_obsolescence

Son of Loki

GE to cut Houston jobs as work moves overseas http://www.bizjournals.com/houston/news/2015/09/15/ge-to-cut-houston-job... " Yes we can! "

Automatic Choke

hey big brother.... if you are curious, there is a damn good android emulator of the HP42S available (Free42). really it is so good that it made me relax about accumulating more spares. still not quite the same as a real calculator. (the 42S, by the way, is the modernization/simplification of the classic HP41, the real hardcord very-programmable, reconfigurable, hackable unit with all the plug-in-modules that came out in the early 80s.)

Miss Expectations

Imagine working at HP and having to listen to Carly Fiorina bulldoze you...she is like a blow-torch...here are 4 minutes of Carly and Ralph Nader (if you can take it): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vC4JDwoRHtk

Miffed Microbiologist

My husband has been a software architect for 30 years at the same company. Never before has he seen the sheer unadulterated panic in the executives. All indices are down and they are planning for the worst. Quality is being sacrificed for " just get some relatively functional piece of shit out the door we can sell". He is fighting because he has always produced a stellar product and refuses to have shit tied to his name ( 90% of competitor benchmarks fail against his projects). They can't afford to lay him off, but the first time in my life I see my husband want to quit...

unplugged

I've been an engineer for 31 years - our managements's unspoken motto at the place I'm at (large company) is: "release it now, we'll put in the quality later". I try to put in as much as possible before the product is shoved out the door without killing myself doing it.

AGuy

Do they even make test equipment anymore?

HP test and measurement was spun off many years ago as Agilent. The electronics part of Agilent was spun off as keysight late last year.

HP basically makes computer equipment (PCs, servers, Printers) and software. Part of the problem is that computer hardware has been commodized. Since PCs are cheap and frequent replacements are need, People just by the cheapest models, expecting to toss it in a couple of years and by a newer model (aka the Flat screen TV model). So there is no justification to use quality components. Same is become true with the Server market. Businesses have switched to virtualization and/or cloud systems. So instead of taking a boat load of time to rebuild a crashed server, the VM is just moved to another host.

HP has also adopted the Computer Associates business model (aka Borg). HP buys up new tech companies and sits on the tech and never improves it. It decays and gets replaced with a system from a competitor. It also has a habit of buying outdated tech companies that never generate the revenues HP thinks it will.

BullyBearish

When Carly was CEO of HP, she instituted a draconian "pay for performance" plan. She ended up leaving with over $146 Million because she was smart enough not to specify "what type" of performance.

GeezerGeek

Regarding your statement "All those engineers choosing to pursue other opportunities", we need to realize that tech in general has been very susceptible to the vagaries of government actions. Now the employment problems are due to things like globalization and H1B programs. Some 50 years ago tech - meaning science and engineering - was hit hard as the US space program wound down. Permit me this retrospective:

I graduated from a quite good school with a BS in Physics in 1968. My timing was not all that great, since that was when they stopped granting draft deferments for graduate school. I joined the Air Force, but as an enlisted airman, not an officer. Following basic training, I was sent to learn to operate PCAM operations. That's Punched Card Accounting Machines. Collators. Sorters. Interpreters. Key punches. I was in a class with nine other enlistees. One had just gotten a Masters degree in something. Eight of us had a BS in one thing or another, but all what would now be called STEM fields. The least educated only had an Associate degree. We all enlisted simply to avoid being drafted into the Marines. (Not that there's anything wrong with the Marines, but all of us proclaimed an allergy to energetic lead projectiles and acted accordingly. Going to Canada, as many did, pretty much ensured never getting a job in STEM fields later in life.) So thanks to government action (fighting in VietNam, in this case) a significant portion of educated Americans found themselves diverted from chosen career paths. (In my case, it worked out fine. I learned to program, etc., and spent a total of over 40 years in what is now called IT. I think it was called EDP when I started the trek. Somewhere along the line it became (where I worked) Management Information Systems. MIS. And finally the department became simply Information Technology. I hung an older sign next to the one saying Information Technology. Somehow MIS-Information Technology seemed appropriate.)

Then I got to my first duty assignment. It was about five months after the first moon landing, and the aerospace industry was facing cuts in government aerospace spending. I picked up a copy of an engineering journal in the base library and found an article about job cuts. There was a cartoon with two janitors, buckets at their feet and mops in their hands, standing before a blackboard filled with equations. Once was saying to the other, pointing to one section, "you can see where he made his mistake right here...". It represented two engineers who had been reduced to menial labor after losing their jobs.

So while I resent all the H1Bs coming into the US - I worked with several for the last four years of my IT career, and was not at all impressed - and despise the politicians who allow it, I know that it is not the first time American STEM grads have been put out of jobs en masse. In some ways that old saying applies: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

If you made it this far, thanks for your patience.

adr

Just like Amazon, HP will supposedly make billions in profit analyzing things in the cloud that nobody looks at and has no use to the real economy, but it makes good fodder for Power Point presentations. I am amazed how much daily productivity goes into creating fancy charts for meetings that are meaningless to the actual business of the company.

IT'S ALL BULLSHIT!!!!!

I designed more products in one year for the small company I work for than a $15 billion corporation did throughout their entire design department employing hundreds of people. That is because 90% of their workday is spent preparing crap for meetings and they never really get anything meaningful done.

It took me one week to design a product and send it out for production branded for the company I work for, but it took six months to get the same type of product passed through the multi billion dollar corporation we license for. Because it had to pass through layer after layer of bullshit and through every level of management before it could be signed off. Then a month later somebody would change their mind in middle management and the product would need to be changed and go through the cycle all over again.

Their own bag department made six bags last year, I designed 16. Funny how I out produce a department of six people whose only job is to make bags, yet I only get paid the salary of one.

Maybe I'm just an imbecile for working hard.

Bear

You also have to add all the wasted time of employees having to sit through those presentations and the even more wasted time on Ashley Madison

cynicalskeptic

'Computers' cost as much - if not more time than they save, at least in corporate settings. Used to be you'd work up 3 budget projections - expected, worst case and best case, you'd have a meeting, hash it out and decide in a week. Now you have endless alternatives, endless 'tweaking' and changes and decisions take forever, with outrageous amounts of time spent on endless 'analysis' and presentations.

EVERY VP now has an 'Administrative Assistant' whose primary job is to develop PowerPoint presentations for the endless meetings that take up time - without any decisions ever being made.

Computers stop people from thinking. In ages past when you used a slide rule you had to know the order of magnitude of the end result. Now people make a mistake and come up with a ridiculous number and take it at face value because 'the computer' produced it.

Any exec worht anythign knew what a given line in their department or the total should be +or a small amount. I can't count the number of times budgets and analyses were WRONG because someone left off a few lines on a spreadsheet total.

Yes computer modeling for advanced tech and engineering is a help, CAD/CAM is great and many other applications in the tech/scientific world are a great help but letting computers loose in corporate and finance has produced endless waste AND - worsde - thigns like HFT (e.g. 'better' more effective ways to manipulate and cheat markets.

khnum

A recent lay off here turned out to be quite embarrassing for Parmalat there was nobody left that knew how to properly run the place they had to rehire many ex employees as consultants-at a costly premium

Anopheles

Consultants don't come at that much of a premium becaue the company doesn't have to pay benefits, vacation, sick days, or payroll taxes, etc. Plus it's really easy and cheap to get rid of consultants.

arrowrod

Obviously, you haven't worked as a consultant. You get paid by the hour. To clean up a mess. 100 hours a week are not uncommon. (What?, is it possible to work 100 hours a week? Yes, it is, but only for about 3 months.)

RaceToTheBottom

HP Executives are trying hard to bring the company back to its roots: The ability to fit into one garage...

PrimalScream

ALL THAT Meg Whitman needs to do ... is to FIRE EVERYBODY !! Then have all the products made in China, process all the sales orders in Hong Kong, and sub-contract the accounting and tax paperwork to India. Then HP can use all the profits for stock buybacks, except of course for Meg's salary ... which will keep rising astronomically!

Herdee

That's where education gets you in America.The Government sold out America's manufacturing base to Communist China who holds the debt of the USA.Who would ever guess that right-wing neo-cons(neo-nazis) running the government would sell out to communists just to get the money for war? Very weird.

Really20

"Communist"? The Chinese government, like that of the US, never believed in worker ownership of businesses and never believed that the commerical banking system (whether owned by the state, or private corporations which act like a state) should not control money. Both countries believe in centralization of power among a few shareholders, who take the fruits of working people's labor while contributing nothing of value themselves (money being but a token that represents a claim on real capital, not capital itself.)

Management and investors ought to be separate from each other; management should be chosen by workers by universal equal vote, while a complementary investor board should be chosen by investors much as corporate boards are now. Both of these boards should be legally independent but bound organizations; the management board should run the business while the investor board should negotiate with the management board on the terms of equity issuance. No more buybacks, no more layoffs or early retirements, unless workers as a whole see a need for it to maintain the company.

The purpose of investors is to serve the real economy, not the other way round; and in turn, the purpose of the real economy is to serve humanity, not the other way around. Humans should stop being slaves to perpetual growth.

Really20

HP is laying off 80,000 workers or almost a third of its workforce, converting its long-term human capital into short-term gains for rich shareholders at an alarming rate. The reason that product quality has declined is due to the planned obsolescence that spurs needless consumerism, which is necessary to prop up our debt-backed monetary system and the capitalist-owned economy that sits on top of it.

NoWayJose

HP - that company that sells computers and printers made in China and ink cartridges made in Thailand?

Dominus Ludificatio

Another company going down the drain because their focus is short term returns with crappy products.They will also bring down any company they buy as well.

Barnaby

HP is microcosm of what Carly will do to the US: carve it like a pumpkin and leave the shell out to bake in the sun for a few weeks. But she'll make sure and poison the seeds too! Don't want anything growing out of that pesky Palm division...

Dre4dwolf

The world is heading for massive deflation. Computers have hit the 14 nano-meter lithography zone, the cost to go from 14nm to say 5nm is very high, and the net benefit to computing power is very low, but lets say we go from 14nm to 5nm over the next 4 years. Going from 5nm to 1nm is not going to net a large boost in computing power and the cost to shrink things down and re-tool will be very high for such an insignificant gain in performance.

What does that mean

  1. Computers (atleast non-quantum ones) have hit the point where about 80-90% of the potential for the current science has been tap'd
  2. This means that the consumer is not going to be put in the position where they will have to upgrade to faster systems for atleast another 7-8 years.... (because the new computer wont be that much faster than their existing one).
  3. If no one is upgrading the only IT sectors of the economy that stand to make any money are software companies (Microsoft, Apple, and other small software developers), most software has not caught up with hardware yet.
  4. We are obviously heading for massive deflation, consumer spending levels as a % are probably around where they were in the late 70s - mid 80s, this is a very deflationary environment that is being compounded by a high debt burden (most of everyones income is going to service their debts), that signals monetary tightening is going on... people simply don't have enough discretionary income to spend on new toys.

All that to me screams SELL consumer electronics stocks because profits are GOING TO DECLINE , SALES ARE GOING TO DECLINE. There is no way , no amount of buy backs will float the stocks of corporations like HP/Dell/IBM etc... it is inevitable that these stocks will be worth 30% less over the next 5 - 8 years

But what do I know? maybe I am missing something.

In anycase a lot of pressure is being put on HP to do all it can at any cost to boost the stock valuations, because so much of its stock is institution owned, they will strip the wallpaper off the walls and sell it to a recycling plant if it would give them more money to boost stock valuations. That to me signals that most of the people pressuring the board of HP to boost the stock, want them to gut the company as much as they can to boost it some trivial % points so that the majority of shares can be dumped onto muppets.

To me it pretty much also signals something is terribly wrong at HP and no one is talking about it.

PoasterToaster

Other than die shrinks there really hasn't been a lot going on in the CPU world since Intel abandoned its Netburst architecture and went back to its (Israeli created) Pentium 3 style pipeline. After that they gave up on increasing speed and resorted to selling more cores. Now that wall has been hit, they have been selling "green" and "efficient" nonsense in place of increasing power.

x86 just needs to go, but a lot is invested in it not the least of which is that 1-2 punch of forced, contrived obsolesence carried out in a joint operation with Microsoft. 15 years ago you could watch videos with no problem on your old machine using Windows XP. Fast forward to now and their chief bragging point is still "multitasking" and the ability to process datastreams like video. It's a joke.

The future is not in the current CPU paradigm of instructions per second; it will be in terms of variables per second. It will be more along the lines of what GPU manufacturers are creating with their thousands of "engines" or "processing units" per chip, rather than the 4, 6 or 12 core monsters that Intel is pushing. They have nearly given up on their roadmap to push out to 128 cores as it is. x86 just doesn't work with all that.

Dojidog

Another classic "Let's rape all we can and bail with my golden parachute" corporate leaders setting themselves up. Pile on the string of non-IT CEOs that have been leading the company to ruin. To them it is nothing more than a contest of being even worse than their predecessor. Just look at the billions each has lost before their exit. Compaq, a cluster. Palm Pilot, a dead product they paid millions for and then buried. And many others.

Think the split is going to help? Think again. Rather than taking the opportunity to fix their problems, they have just duplicated and perpetuated them into two separate entities.

HP is a company that is mired in a morass of unmanageable business processes and patchwork of antiquated applications all interconnected to the point they are petrified to try and uncouple them.

Just look at their stock price since January. The insiders know. Want to fix HP? All it would take is a savvy IT based leader with a boatload of common sense. What makes money at HP? Their printers and ink. Not thinking they can provide enterprise solutions to others when they can't even get their own house in order.

I Write Code

Let's not beat around the bush, they're outsourcing, firing Americans and hiring cheap labor elsewhere: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-09-15/hewlett-packard-to-cut-up-to-30-000-more-jobs-in-restructuring It's also shifting employees to low-cost areas, and hopes to have 60 percent of its workers located in cheaper countries by 2018, Nefkens said.

yogibear

Carly Fiorina: (LOL, leading a tech company with a degree in medieval history and philosophy) While at ATT she was groomed from the Affirmative Action plan.

Alma Mater: Stanford University (B.A. in medieval history and philosophy); University of Maryland (MBA); Massachusetts Institute of Technology

==================================================================

Patricia Russo: (Lucent) (Dedree in Political Science). Another lady elevated through the AA plan, Russo got her bachelor's degree from Georgetown University in political science and history in 1973. She finished the advanced management program at Harvard Business School in 1989

Both ladies steered their corporations to failure.

Clowns on Acid

It is very straightforward. Replace 45,000 US workers with 100,000 offshore workers and you still save millions of USD ! Use the "savings" to buy back stock, then borrow more $$ at ZIRP to buy more stock back.

You guys don't know nuthin'.

homiegot

HP: one of the worst places you could work. Souless.

Pancho de Villa

Ladies and Gentlemen! Integrity has left the Building!

space junk

I worked there for a while and it was total garbage. There are still some great folks around, but they are getting paid less and less, and having to work longer hours for less pay while reporting to God knows who, often a foreigner with crappy engrish skills, yes likely another 'diversity hire'. People with DEEP knowledge, decades and decades, have either gotten unfairly fired or demoted, made to quit, or if they are lucky, taken some early retirement and GTFO (along with their expertise - whoopsie! who knew? unintended consequences are a bitch aren't they? )....

If you look on a site like LinkedIN, it will always say 'We're hiring!'. YES, HP is hiring.....but not YOU, they want Ganesh Balasubramaniamawapbapalooboopawapbamboomtuttifrutti, so that they can work him as modern day slave labor for ultra cheap. We can thank idiot 'leaders' like Meg Pasty Faced Whitman and Bill 'Forced Vaccinations' Gates for lobbying Congress for decades, against the rights of American workers.

Remember that Meg 'Pasty Faced' Whitman is the person who came up with the idea of a 'lights out' datacenter....that's right, it's the concept of putting all of your computers in a building, in racks, in the dark, and maybe hiring an intern to come in once a month and keep them going. This is what she actually believed. Along with her other statement to the HP workforce which says basically that the future of HP is one of total automation.....TRANSLATION: If you are a smart admin, engineer, project manager, architect, sw tester, etc.....we (HP management) think you are an IDIOT and can be replaced by a robot, a foreigner, or any other cheap worker.

Race to the bottom is like they say a space ship approaching a black hole......after a while the laws of physics and common sense, just don't apply anymore.

InnVestuhrr

An era of leadership in computer technology has died, and there is no grave marker, not even a funeral ceremony or eulogy ... Hewlett-Packard, COMPAQ, Digital Equipment Corp, UNIVAC, Sperry-Rand, Data General, Tektronix, ZILOG, Advanced Micro Devices, Sun Microsystems, etc, etc, etc. So much change in so short a time, leaves your mind dizzy.

[Aug 29, 2017] New York Police scrap 36,000 Windows smartphones

The story is probably more complex and Regisr is as close to yellow press as one can get but discarding 36K smartphones in one year is something that smells incompetence. BTW Lumia 83 can be upgraded to Windows 10 so this was not a problem.
Aug 29, 2017 | www.theregister.co.uk
Bonkers buy-up by bungling billionairess By Kieren McCarthy in San Francisco 28 Aug 2017 at 18:48 SHARE ▼ The New York Police Department will scrap 36,000 smartphones, thanks to a monumental purchasing cock-up by a billionaire's daughter.

The city spent millions on the phones back in October 2016 as part of its drive to bring the police force into the 21st century. And the woman behind the purchase – Deputy Commissioner for Information Technology, Jessica Tisch – praised them for their ability to quickly send 911 alerts to officers close to an incident.

There was only one problem: Tisch chose Windows-based Lumia 830 and Lumia 640 XL phones, and Microsoft officially ended support for Windows 8.1 in July.

Even though those two models are eligible to be upgraded to Windows 10 Mobile, the NYPD will need to redesign more than a dozen custom apps it created to run on Windows 8.1. And every phone will need to be manually updated to the new operating system. In addition, Microsoft is only promising to support upgraded Windows 10 phones through to June 2019.

In other words, the phones are effectively obsolete and so, according to the New York Post , the police department has decided to scrap them altogether and go with iPhones instead.

That decision has not come as a huge surprise: even when the purchasing decision was made, Windows-based phones held just three percent of the market. In fact, back in 2016 when the program was launched, pretty much everyone applauded the idea of giving cops smartphones but were baffled as to why anyone would go with Windows phones over Android or iOS.

Tsk, tsk, Tisch

Well, according to department sources quoted by the New York Post, the procurement disaster was all down to Ms Tisch – who, it turns out, is the daughter of former Loews CEO and billionaire James S Tisch.

"She drove the whole process," one unhappy cop told the paper, name-checking Jessica. "Nobody purchases 36,000 phones based on the judgment of one person," he complained. "I don't care if you're Jesus fucking Christ, you get a panel of experts."

Which is a fair point, since we have no hesitation in saying that even an expert panel of one would have concluded that Windows phones were a turn in the wrong direction for a huge police department.

According to other sources, the reason Tisch plumbed for the Lumia was because the NYPD was using Microsoft software on its video surveillance system – a system that Tisch has closely associated herself with and, back in 2012, demonstrated and boasted about to the press, raising eyebrows .

You can see how an inexperienced IT manager might think that it made sense to go with Microsoft all the way. But then that is also why anyone who carries out IT procurement into an area they are not expert on gets a team of people to review all the possibilities before they spend huge sums of money.

"She was in charge. It was her project, no question about that," another department source told the Post.

So why has the notoriously tight-lipped NYPD decided to dump on one of its own? It may be that Ms Tisch put a few noses out of joint with her smartphone plan, first announced in 2014.

At the time, then-police commissioner Bill Bratton specifically identified Tisch as being the driving force for the plan and joked: "She's a terror if she doesn't get her way, so I usually let her get her way. So she's certainly getting her way with this technology."

Oh dear.

We have asked the NYPD for confirmation and comment on the decision to scrap the phones. We'll get back if and when they respond.

[Aug 28, 2017] Bombastic boss gave insane instructions to sensible sysadmin, with client on speakerphone

Aug 28, 2017 | www.theregister.co.uk
When data disappeared, everyone knew exactly where to point the finger By Simon Sharwood, APAC Editor 25 Aug 2017 at 07:02 SHARE ▼ The Register 's weekly reader-contributed tales of workplace woe.

This week, meet "Craig," who shared a story of working for a small IT services company that hired a new "team leader".

Craig used italics because after meeting his new boss he quickly surmised the title "was an entire contradiction, as he was neither."

One fine day, Craig was given the job of sorting out an email issue at a small family owned legal firm. Craig knew the client well: he'd previously fixed their jammed printers, added new users to the company domain and lots of other mundane stuff.

On this occasion things were a bit more urgent as one of the senior partners had email issues and there was a whiff of data loss in the air. Enter the new team leader, who dispatched Craig to the client with thundered instructions to "JUST GO AND FIX IT!"

Upon arrival, Craig liaised with "Dianne", a worker at the law firm who helped him when he visited.

With Dianne's help Craig quickly figured out that senior partner's .PST file was corrupted. Craig tried his usual tricks but they didn't work, in part because "Outlook was throwing a hissy fit at every opportunity." So he called back to base to consult a colleague, but the phone was answered by the new team leader who insisted on taking control of the situation.

At this point, Craig put the call on speaker so that Dianne could hear it.

Both were treated to the new boss suggesting use of a .PST repair tool, which Craig had already tried.

"I don't care, run it again," was the response, so Craig obeyed and duly reported it had not worked.

"Delete the account and recreate it" was the next instruction, which again was hardly news to Craig and again didn't work.

So the boss got extreme and told Craig to "delete Outlook and Office from the registry."

Craig didn't like that idea and told the team leader so, while shaking his head at Dianne, making lots of bad-idea motions and telling his boss he felt this was not a sensible course of action.

"Just fucking do what I tell you" was the reply. Which got Dianne smiling as she now appreciated Craig's situation and realised the boss had no idea he was on speaker.

Craig protested that this was a dangerous course of action likely to create further problems in an already-unstable system and endanger the client's data.

To which the team leader responded that Craig was a lowly functionary and should do what he was told by his betters.

So Craig did as he was told, deleting any registry entry that mentioned Outlook while watching Dianne start to take notes about the incident.

Of course the glorious leader's idea didn't work and Craig was soon able to show Dianne that the partner's emails had gone, in all probability forever. Which is a bad look anywhere but even worse at a law firm.

Dianne was furious.

Craig was calm. He whipped out a third-party .PST repair tool he favoured, applied it to the backup of the partner's file he'd made just in case things went pear-shaped, and recovered just about all of the at-risk emails.

"Dianne hailed me as a hero," Craig recalls. And not long afterwards he was vindicated when the client sent his employer a letter saying that they'd be fired if the new team leader ever had anything to do with their IT again.

Said leader was gone two months later after other clients complained about his skills and service ethic.

"I was glad to see the back of him because he was an utter dickhead," Craig told us in his email to On-Call.

Has your boss ever asked you to do something dangerous? Write to share your story and it might be your anonymised name getting readers chuckling in a future edition of On-Call. ®

[Jul 04, 2017] A plea for bureaucratic socialism

Notable quotes:
"... As to your point on Bernie vs. "small Bernies" , I agree totally. This political system has developed corruption to the "point of know return" (my Kansas religion in summary), and cannot be changed incrementally, despite the strongest wishes of the peaceful and partial "Left" that has no unity and has too many bought "leaders" to be effective. A system that has made legitimate opposition illegal has made illegitimate opposition necessary. This, and the sudden turn of events that can occur during crises, will rule our future. ..."
Jul 04, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

UserFriendly , July 4, 2017 at 7:02 am

I'm not sure if the fact that this makes sense to me means I'm a genius or I'm totally off the deep end . but if anyone has time to kill this is interesting and at times funny and informative,

Slavoj Žižek – A plea for bureaucratic socialism (June 2017)

https://youtu.be/2OYSMWJafAI

maria gostrey , July 4, 2017 at 9:23 am

zizek was described in the most recent harpers as the "marxist philosopher gadly from slovenia." the specific nature of this description i found amusing, as if harpers needed to differentiate zizek from the "marxist philosopher gadly from albania".

amusing & hopeful, as i ponder a world of public discourse which includes so many "marxist philosopher gadflies" that this sort of description would become commonplace.

Mike , July 4, 2017 at 1:20 pm

To be honest, "socialism" was always understood to be the preparation for a LESS bureaucratic society, with some calling that communism, some naming it anarchism, the rest not thinking about it much.

The bureaucratic period was a transition, with the bureaus acting to inform the public of their rights and responsibilities, and protecting those rights during a period when capitalist and reactionary nationalist ideologies would still be prevalent among the populations. It would be a setup of new assumptions, the new unquestionables, that government was to protect, like capitalism is protected now. The problem is not the bureaus, but the power they give the the fearless leaders. Responsabilisation, s'il vous plait.

Žižek is provocative, in presentation a 60s radical a la Jerry Rubin, and loves to overstate his cases, so whatever he writes is sure to be "funny". The little communism in him is affected by his understanding of Slovenia's bad economic performance during the late stage of Titoism, and with a little German/US/English/Vatican help, that was quickly, if bloodily, settled.

Left in Wisconsin , July 4, 2017 at 2:25 pm

The point he is making in the talk is that there can be no revolution without being able to ensure that the water system, schools, hospitals, etc. function as people expect. He is criticizing the notion that fundamental change can be achieved merely by putting lots of people in the streets, that the larger the size of the protests, the closer we are to fundamental change.

And of course he is absolutely right. Here in the U.S., the vast majority of my left-ish friends have one of two mindsets. Either:

a) everything depends on electing Bernie, or the next Bernie, or some better Bernie; or

b) that view is incredibly naive; what we need to do is organize all the time (even when elections are far off!) and we need to get a lot of little Bernies elected.

The faith in democracy is touching, I guess. But the notion that having (some) politicians on our side is the extent of our strategy is a sign of how far away we are. How many accountants, bankers, engineers, etc. do we have on our side compared to how many we would need? Do we have any? I've been ranting of late that the other side has literally millions of economists on their side and we have, what, maybe 1000? Who mostly don't agree with each other? But you can probably run a society without economists. You can't without engineers.

Mike , July 4, 2017 at 3:03 pm

His talking points do come under some criticism in the comments from that web page (ignore the comments on his nervous tics – the medium is NOT the message), but he is absolutely right that we must replace the administrative roles under capitalism with a similarly effective system under socialism. My point is that this must be accompanied by a maniacal attempt at restructuring the administrative function, placing it under watch 24/7/365 (sorry, CIA haters, but we will have to use that role to watch the fox-house) even to the point of immediate recall and ankle-bracelets. Any bureaucratic position must be controlled as if a drug gang offered to help you fight off another drug gang, and had taken over your living room. How to do that without debilitating the system itself is the question anarchists repeat, and socialists answer very weakly.

As to your point on Bernie vs. "small Bernies" , I agree totally. This political system has developed corruption to the "point of know return" (my Kansas religion in summary), and cannot be changed incrementally, despite the strongest wishes of the peaceful and partial "Left" that has no unity and has too many bought "leaders" to be effective. A system that has made legitimate opposition illegal has made illegitimate opposition necessary. This, and the sudden turn of events that can occur during crises, will rule our future.

My gut feeling is that uprisings of a local or at most regional level will occur. They will be brutally put down, and maybe something will grow from that, or we are headed for a King or Queen. But the growth of opposition will be from the bottom, not the liberal-ish and reformist "Left" as it is now. If not that, then nothing.

[May 24, 2017] The cost cannot be measured only in lost opportunities, lives and money. There will be a long hangover of shame

May 24, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Michael N. Moore , says: February 11, 2013 at 12:13 pm

In my opinion the most under-reported event of the Iraq war was the suicide of military Ethicist Colonel Ted Westhusing. It was reported at the end of a Frank Rich column that appeared in the NY Times of 10-21-2007:

"The cost cannot be measured only in lost opportunities, lives and money. There will be a long hangover of shame. Its essence was summed up by Col. Ted Westhusing, an Army scholar of military ethics who was an innocent witness to corruption, not a participant, when he died at age 44 of a gunshot wound to the head while working for Gen. David Petraeus training Iraqi security forces in Baghdad in 2005. He was at the time the highest-ranking officer to die in Iraq."

"Colonel Westhusing's death was ruled a suicide, though some believe he was murdered by contractors fearing a whistle-blower, according to T. Christian Miller, the Los Angeles Times reporter who documents the case in his book "Blood Money." Either way, the angry four-page letter the officer left behind for General Petraeus and his other commander, Gen. Joseph Fil, is as much an epitaph for America's engagement in Iraq as a suicide note."

" 'I cannot support a msn that leads to corruption, human rights abuse and liars,' Colonel Westhusing wrote, abbreviating the word mission. 'I am sullied.' "

Michael N. Moore , says: February 13, 2013 at 2:46 pm
As per the request of James Canning for more information on Col. Ted Westhusing, please see:

http://www.correntewire.com/a_disturbing_suicide_note_from_iraq

Or the book "Blood Money" by T. Christian Miller

thefatefullightning , says: June 4, 2013 at 1:09 pm
"The tiny pink candies at the bottom of the urinals are reserved for Field Grade and Above." --sign over the urinals in the "O" Club at Tan Son Nhut Airbase, 1965.

Now that sentiment, is Officer-on-Officer. The same dynamic tension exists throughout all Branches and ranks.

My background includes a Combat Infantry Badge and a record of having made Spec Four , two times. If you don't know what that means, stop reading here.

I feel that no one should be promoted E-5 or O-4, if they are to command men in battle, unless they have had that life experience themselves. It becomes virgins instructing on sexual etiquette.

Within the ranks, there exists a disdain for officers, in general. Some officers overcome this by their actions, but the vast majority cement that assessment the same way.
What makes the thing run is the few officers who are superior human beings, and the NCOs who are of that same tribe. And there is a love there, from top to bottom and bottom to top, a brotherhood of warriors which the civilian population will forever try to discern, parse and examine to their lasting frustration and ignorance.

It is the spirit of this nation [Liberty, e pluribus unum and In God We Trust ] that is the binding filament of it all. The civilians responsible for the welfare of the armed services need to be more fully aware of that spirit and they need to bring it into the air-conditioned offices they inhabit when they make decisions about men who know sacrifice.

Terrence Zehrer , says: July 15, 2013 at 12:48 pm
But the Pentagon is excellent at what it does – extort money from the US taxpayer. I call it treason.

"Massive military budgets erode the economic foundation on which true national security is dependent."

– Dwight Eisenhower

[May 24, 2017] Rank Incompetence by William S. Lind

Notable quotes:
"... The schools teach a combination of staff process and sophomore-level college courses in government and international relations. No one is taught how to be a commander in combat. One Army lieutenant colonel recently wrote me that he got angry when he figured out that nothing he needs to know to command would be taught to him in any Army school. ..."
"... The promotion system reinforces professional ignorance. ..."
Feb 01, 2013 | www.theamericanconservative.com
It was tragic that the career of General David Petraeus was brought down by a mere affair. It should have ended several years earlier as a consequence of his failure as our commander in Afghanistan. Petraeus, like every other theater commander in that war except Stanley McChrystal, could have been replaced by a concrete block and nothing would have changed. They all kept doing the same things while expecting a different result.

Thomas Ricks's recent book The Generals has reintroduced into the defense debate a vital factor the press and politicians collude in ignoring: military incompetence. It was a major theme of the Military Reform Movement of the 1970s and '80s. During those years, a friend of mine who was an aide to a Marine Corps commandant asked his boss how many Marine generals, of whom there were then 60-some, could competently fight a battle. The commandant came up with six. And the Marine Corps is the best of our services.

Military incompetence does not begin at the rank of brigadier general. An old French proverb says that the problem with the generals is that we select them from among the colonels. Nonetheless, military competence-the ability to see quickly what to do in a military situation and make it happen-is more rare at the general officer level. A curious aspect of our promotion system is that the higher the rank, the smaller the percentage of our competent officers.

Why is military incompetence so widespread at the higher levels of America's armed forces? Speaking from my own observations over almost 40 years, I can identify two factors. First, nowhere does our vast, multi-billion dollar military-education system teach military judgment. Second, above the rank of Army, Marine Corps, or Air Force captain, military ability plays essentially no role in determining who gets promoted. (It has been so long since our Navy fought another navy that, apart from the aviators, military competence does not seem to be a consideration at any level.)

Almost never do our military schools, academies, and colleges put students in situations where they have to think through how to fight a battle or a campaign, then get critiqued not on their answer but the way they think. Nor does American military training offer much free play, where the enemy can do whatever he wants and critique draws out why one side won and the other lost. Instead, training exercises are scripted as if we are training an opera company. The schools teach a combination of staff process and sophomore-level college courses in government and international relations. No one is taught how to be a commander in combat. One Army lieutenant colonel recently wrote me that he got angry when he figured out that nothing he needs to know to command would be taught to him in any Army school.

The promotion system reinforces professional ignorance. Above the company grades, military ability does not count in determining who gets promoted. At the rank of major, officers are supposed to accept that the "real world" is the internal world of budget and promotion politics, not war. Those who "don't get it" have ever smaller chances of making general. This represents corruption of the worst kind, corruption of institutional purpose. Its result is generals and admirals who are in effect Soviet industrial managers in ever worse-looking suits. They know little and care less about their intended product, military victory. Their expertise is in acquiring resources and playing the military courtier.

[May 24, 2017] A Condensation of Military Incompetence

Notable quotes:
"... Now think about it a minute. These are the people to whom we have given the authority to make life and death, godlike, decisions, over thousands of their subordinates and millions of people in less fortunate foreign lands. As you will see toward the end of this article, their manifest failings have had some rather serious consequences-that could have been much worse-in an episode in Korea in the 1960s that is revealed in full here for the first time. ..."
May 24, 2017 | www.dcdave.com

What with all the glorification of our "heroes" in uniform, a glorification that seems to grow in inverse proportion to the real need for them, a person could begin to feel afraid to utter aloud the sort of jokes that people used to make. For instance, you might feel the need to look over your shoulder before you repeat the old George Carlin observation that "military intelligence" is an oxymoron.

The growing military hype and the sort of military intelligence with which I became all too familiar in my two years of service, 1966-1968, came together on this Veterans Day weekend. The picture of the U.S. Navy's finest engaged in the Sisyphean task of mopping dew off the basketball court that had been laid on the deck of the USS Yorktown said it all. That was in coastal South Carolina on Friday night, November 9, in what was to have been a big military advertisement to kick off the weekend. The same fiasco played itself out on the deck of the USS Bataan in Jacksonville, Florida, except that the college basketball players there put themselves in harm's way for an entire half, attempting to play on the virtual skating rink that the very predictable condensation had made of the surface.

... ... ...

Now think about it a minute. These are the people to whom we have given the authority to make life and death, godlike, decisions, over thousands of their subordinates and millions of people in less fortunate foreign lands. As you will see toward the end of this article, their manifest failings have had some rather serious consequences-that could have been much worse-in an episode in Korea in the 1960s that is revealed in full here for the first time.

... ... ...

Before we were to do our one dry run we had a planning meeting, presided over by the lieutenant colonel from Eighth Army Headquarters in charge of the operation, at which the action plan was handed out. Right off the bat we noticed a problem. Each of the teams was identified with a number. We were team four. Each of the islands was also assigned a number, one through four, and they were called "sites." Our team four was to go to site one, team three was to go to site two, and so on.

We wanted badly to suggest that it might be a better idea to match up the sites and the team designations, so that team one went to site one, etc., but we were told that we would have an opportunity to make suggestions for the final action plan after we had done our dry run, so we held our fire.

... ... ...

"We're implementing the action plan," said he, or words to that effect. "Move out immediately."

Patting myself on the back for the decision I had made, and in a state of rather high excitement, I pulled out the phone number of the contact in the Kimpo engineer battalion to make sure that there would be boats for us when we got to our destination.

It's a good thing the phone worked-the military phones were something of a hit-or-miss thing at that time in Korea-considering his response. "We haven't had any move-out order," he responded to me.

I immediately got back on the phone to the Eighth Army lieutenant to ask him what was up.

"Hold that first order," he said. "We've decided to give it a little more time."

Now I was thinking that it was an especially good thing that I had not taken the "immediately" part of his move-out order too literally, and I was really glad I had gotten that boatman's phone number. Considering the weather conditions, "high and dry" doesn't precisely describe the position we would have found ourselves in at the evacuation site without the boats and without even a need for them, but it comes close.

Having heard many reports of predicted river flooding on the news where the levels expected are based upon levels already recorded upstream, I inquired of the lieutenant as to the basis on which the final decision would be made. I remember his response as though it were yesterday:

"Colonel 'Geronimo' is down looking at the river."

As it turned out, no one drowned because some would-be rescue helicopter had landed at Site 3 instead of the correct Site 2 because he had received an emergency radio call from Ground 3, and we never suffered from the lack of manpower that the Korean Army might have provided at our site. None of the islands flooded that day-or that year-and the "hold" on that first call from the Eighth Army lieutenant continued into perpetuity.

... ... ...

David Martin

November 15, 2012

[Apr 06, 2017] In capitalism the inherent maladies of bureaucracies serve to discourage lower echelons and keep them in their place without directly associating the blame for hierarchal authoritarianism with top executives

Notable quotes:
"... There's a long-standing tension in organizations between innovation and bureaucracy. Excessive layers of management and byzantine processes often shoulder the blame when a promising idea fails to make it to market or a nimble start-up thwarts a mature competitor. ..."
"... In capitalism the inherent maladies of bureaucracies serve to discourage lower echelons and keep them in their place without directly associating the blame for hierarchal authoritarianism with top executives. That is to say that bureaucratic dysfunction plays a key role in the essential function of the petite bourgeoisie to maintain the bourgeois capitalist system. OTOH, bureaucratic dysfunction plays a similar key role in all hierarchal authoritarian systems. ..."
Apr 06, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Tom aka Rusty... Reply Thursday, April 06, 2017 at 07:54 AM [In his "Little Red Book" the machinations of self-serving bureaucrats was one of Chainman Mao's biggest pet peeves. ]

https://hbr.org/2005/10/bureaucracy-becomes-a-four-letter-word

"Bureaucracy" Becomes a Four-Letter Word

by William H. Starbuck

From the October 2005 Issue


There's a long-standing tension in organizations between innovation and bureaucracy. Excessive layers of management and byzantine processes often shoulder the blame when a promising idea fails to make it to market or a nimble start-up thwarts a mature competitor.

That tension can be traced back at least 340 years, to an inadvertent collaboration between two government officials in France. In 1665, with the French economy in turmoil, King Louis XIV appointed Jean-Baptiste Colbert as his comptroller general of finance. Colbert prosecuted corrupt officials and reorganized commerce and industry according to the economic principles known as mercantilism. To assure the populace that the government would act fairly in monetary disputes, he demanded that officials abide by certain rules and apply them uniformly to everyone.

Then, in 1751, Jean Claude Marie Vincent de Gournay became France's administrator of commerce. Gournay was outraged by what Colbert had put in place and railed against the multitude of government regulations he believed were suppressing business activity. To describe a government run by insensitive creators and enforcers of rules, who neither understood nor cared about the consequences of their actions, he coined the term bureaucratie. Translation: "government by desks."

*

[There are democratic solutions to the dilemma posed by bureaucracies, but there are no republican solutions for it. Important to note, that both the little "d" in democratic and the little "r" in republican are profoundly significant to solving the dilemma of bureaucracy, or not.

Mao's brand of communism was too paranoid, paternal, and hierarchal to work any better than a common ordinary garden variety republic. It seemed like Mao actually wanted to be more democratic in governing and in the work place but could not really bring himself to do it as he was a neurotically compulsive micromanager just as any dictator would need to be.

In capitalism the inherent maladies of bureaucracies serve to discourage lower echelons and keep them in their place without directly associating the blame for hierarchal authoritarianism with top executives. That is to say that bureaucratic dysfunction plays a key role in the essential function of the petite bourgeoisie to maintain the bourgeois capitalist system. OTOH, bureaucratic dysfunction plays a similar key role in all hierarchal authoritarian systems.

... ... ...

[Feb 26, 2017] Functional stupidity is organizationally-supported lack of reflexivity, substantive reasoning, and justification. It entails a refusal to use intellectual resources outside a narrow and "safe" terrain

Feb 26, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

Demian : Jan 6, 2015 6:33:36 PM | 27

@Ghubar Shabih #23:
"Never ascribe to bad faith what can be explained by incompetence."
Yuri Orlov wrote an interesting post about organizational incompetence. To quote the paper he bases his post on:
Functional stupidity is organizationally-supported lack of reflexivity, substantive reasoning, and justification. It entails a refusal to use intellectual resources outside a narrow and "safe" terrain . It can provide a sense of certainty that allows organizations to function smoothly. This can save the organization and its members from the frictions provoked by doubt and reflection. Functional stupidity contributes to maintaining and strengthening organizational order. It can also motivate people, help them to cultivate their careers, and subordinate them to socially acceptable forms of management and leadership. Such positive outcomes can further reinforce functional stupidity.
But clearly the destructive effects of US foreign policy are often deliberately malevolent. Orlov also has a post about that :
By Anglo-imperialists I mean the combination of Britain and the United States. The latter took over for the former as it failed, turning it into a protectorate. Now the latter is failing too, and there are no new up-and-coming Anglo-imperialists to take over for it. But throughout this process their common playbook had remained the same: pseudoliberal pseudocapitalism for the insiders and military domination and economic exploitation for everyone else. Much more specifically, their playbook always called for a certain strategem to be executed whenever their plans to dominate and exploit any given country finally fail. On their way out, they do what they can to compromise and weaken the entity they leave behind, by inflicting a permanently oozing and festering political wound. " Poison all the wells " is the last thing on their pre-departure checklist.

[Nov 19, 2016] The Democratic party lost its soul. Its time to win it back

Notable quotes:
"... For one thing, many vested interests don't want the Democratic party to change. Most of the money it raises ends up in the pockets of political consultants, pollsters, strategists, lawyers, advertising consultants and advertisers themselves, many of whom have become rich off the current arrangement. They naturally want to keep it. ..."
"... For another, the Democratic party apparatus is ingrown and entrenched. Like any old bureaucracy, it only knows how to do what it has done for years. Its state and quadrennial national conventions are opportunities for insiders to meet old friends and for aspiring politicians to make contacts among the rich and powerful. Insiders and the rich aren't going to happily relinquish their power and perquisites, and hand them to outsiders and the non-rich. ..."
"... I have been a Democrat for 50 years – I have even served in two Democratic administrations in Washington, including a stint in the cabinet and have run for the Democratic nomination for governor in one state – yet I have never voted for the chair or vice-chair of my state Democratic party. That means I, too, have had absolutely no say over who the chair of the Democratic National Committee will be. To tell you the truth, I haven't cared. And that's part of the problem. ..."
"... Finally, the party chairmanship has become a part-time sinecure for politicians on their way up or down, not a full-time position for a professional organizer. In 2011, Tim Kaine (who subsequently became Hillary Clinton's running mate in the 2016 election) left the chairmanship to run, successfully, for the Senate from Virginia. ..."
"... The chair then went to Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, a Florida congresswoman who had co-chaired Clinton's bid for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008. This generated allegations in the 2016 race that the Democratic National Committee was siding with Clinton against Bernie Sanders – allegations substantiated by leaks of emails from the DNC. ..."
"... So what we now have is a Democratic party that has been repudiated at the polls, headed by a Democratic National Committee that has become irrelevant at best, run part-time by a series of insider politicians. It has no deep or broad-based grass-roots, no capacity for mobilizing vast numbers of people to take any action other than donate money, no visibility between elections, no ongoing activism. ..."
Nov 19, 2016 | www.theguardian.com

For one thing, many vested interests don't want the Democratic party to change. Most of the money it raises ends up in the pockets of political consultants, pollsters, strategists, lawyers, advertising consultants and advertisers themselves, many of whom have become rich off the current arrangement. They naturally want to keep it.

For another, the Democratic party apparatus is ingrown and entrenched. Like any old bureaucracy, it only knows how to do what it has done for years. Its state and quadrennial national conventions are opportunities for insiders to meet old friends and for aspiring politicians to make contacts among the rich and powerful. Insiders and the rich aren't going to happily relinquish their power and perquisites, and hand them to outsiders and the non-rich.

Most Americans who call themselves Democrats never hear from the Democratic party except when it asks for money, typically through mass mailings and recorded telephone calls in the months leading up to an election. The vast majority of Democrats don't know the name of the chair of the Democratic National Committee or of their state committee. Almost no registered Democrats have any idea how to go about electing their state Democratic chair or vice-chair, and, hence, almost none have any influence over whom the next chair of the Democratic National Committee may be.

I have been a Democrat for 50 years – I have even served in two Democratic administrations in Washington, including a stint in the cabinet and have run for the Democratic nomination for governor in one state – yet I have never voted for the chair or vice-chair of my state Democratic party. That means I, too, have had absolutely no say over who the chair of the Democratic National Committee will be. To tell you the truth, I haven't cared. And that's part of the problem.

Nor, for that matter, has Barack Obama cared. He basically ignored the Democratic National Committee during his presidency, starting his own organization called Organizing for America. It was originally intended to marshal grass-roots support for the major initiatives he sought to achieve during his presidency, but morphed into a fund-raising machine of its own.

Finally, the party chairmanship has become a part-time sinecure for politicians on their way up or down, not a full-time position for a professional organizer. In 2011, Tim Kaine (who subsequently became Hillary Clinton's running mate in the 2016 election) left the chairmanship to run, successfully, for the Senate from Virginia.

The chair then went to Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, a Florida congresswoman who had co-chaired Clinton's bid for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008. This generated allegations in the 2016 race that the Democratic National Committee was siding with Clinton against Bernie Sanders – allegations substantiated by leaks of emails from the DNC.

So what we now have is a Democratic party that has been repudiated at the polls, headed by a Democratic National Committee that has become irrelevant at best, run part-time by a series of insider politicians. It has no deep or broad-based grass-roots, no capacity for mobilizing vast numbers of people to take any action other than donate money, no visibility between elections, no ongoing activism.

[Nov 12, 2016] Why We Hate HR

Notable quotes:
"... Strategic Human Resource Management ..."
Aug 08, 2005 | fastcompany.com

In a knowledge economy, companies with the best talent win. And finding, nurturing, and developing that talent should be one of the most important tasks in a corporation. So why does human resources do such a bad job -- and how can we fix it?

From: Issue 97 | August 2005 | Page 40 | By: Keith H. Hammonds | Illustrations by: Gary Baseman

Because let's face it: After close to 20 years of hopeful rhetoric about becoming "strategic partners" with a "seat at the table" where the business decisions that matter are made, most human-resources professionals aren't nearly there. They have no seat, and the table is locked inside a conference room to which they have no key. HR people are, for most practical purposes, neither strategic nor leaders.

I don't care for Las Vegas. And if it's not clear already, I don't like HR, either, which is why I'm here. The human-resources trade long ago proved itself, at best, a necessary evil -- and at worst, a dark bureaucratic force that blindly enforces nonsensical rules, resists creativity, and impedes constructive change. HR is the corporate function with the greatest potential -- the key driver, in theory, of business performance -- and also the one that most consistently underdelivers. And I am here to find out why.

Why are annual performance appraisals so time-consuming -- and so routinely useless? Why is HR so often a henchman for the chief financial officer, finding ever-more ingenious ways to cut benefits and hack at payroll? Why do its communications -- when we can understand them at all -- so often flout reality? Why are so many people processes duplicative and wasteful, creating a forest of paperwork for every minor transaction? And why does HR insist on sameness as a proxy for equity?

It's no wonder that we hate HR. In a 2005 survey by consultancy Hay Group, just 40% of employees commended their companies for retaining high-quality workers. Just 41% agreed that performance evaluations were fair. Only 58% rated their job training as favorable. Most said they had few opportunities for advancement -- and that they didn't know, in any case, what was required to move up. Most telling, only about half of workers below the manager level believed their companies took a genuine interest in their well-being.

None of this is explained immediately in Vegas. These HR folks, from employers across the nation, are neither evil courtiers nor thoughtless automatons. They are mostly smart, engaging people who seem genuinely interested in doing their jobs better. They speak convincingly about employee development and cultural transformation. And, over drinks, they spin some pretty funny yarns of employee weirdness. (Like the one about the guy who threatened to sue his wife's company for "enabling" her affair with a coworker. Then there was the mentally disabled worker and the hooker -- well, no, never mind. . . .)

But then the facade cracks. It happens at an afternoon presentation called "From Technicians to Consultants: How to Transform Your HR Staff into Strategic Business Partners." The speaker, Julie Muckler, is senior vice president of human resources at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. She is an enthusiastic woman with a broad smile and 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson & Johnson and General Tire. She has degrees in consumer economics and human resources and organizational development.

And I have no idea what she's talking about. There is mention of "internal action learning" and "being more planful in my approach." PowerPoint slides outline Wells Fargo Home Mortgage's initiatives in performance management, organization design, and horizontal-solutions teams. Muckler describes leveraging internal resources and involving external resources -- and she leaves her audience dazed. That evening, even the human-resources pros confide they didn't understand much of it, either.

This, friends, is the trouble with HR. In a knowledge economy, companies that have the best talent win. We all know that. Human resources execs should be making the most of our, well, human resources -- finding the best hires, nurturing the stars, fostering a productive work environment -- just as IT runs the computers and finance minds the capital. HR should be joined to business strategy at the hip.

Instead, most HR organizations have ghettoized themselves literally to the brink of obsolescence. They are competent at the administrivia of pay, benefits, and retirement, but companies increasingly are farming those functions out to contractors who can handle such routine tasks at lower expense. What's left is the more important strategic role of raising the reputational and intellectual capital of the company -- but HR is, it turns out, uniquely unsuited for that.

Here's why.

1. HR people aren't the sharpest tacks in the box. We'll be blunt: If you are an ambitious young thing newly graduated from a top college or B-school with your eye on a rewarding career in business, your first instinct is not to join the human-resources dance. (At the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, which arguably boasts the nation's top faculty for organizational issues, just 1.2% of 2004 grads did so.) Says a management professor at one leading school: "The best and the brightest don't go into HR."

Who does? Intelligent people, sometimes -- but not businesspeople. "HR doesn't tend to hire a lot of independent thinkers or people who stand up as moral compasses," says Garold L. Markle, a longtime human-resources executive at Exxon and Shell Offshore who now runs his own consultancy. Some are exiles from the corporate mainstream: They've fared poorly in meatier roles -- but not poorly enough to be fired. For them, and for their employers, HR represents a relatively low-risk parking spot.

Others enter the field by choice and with the best of intentions, but for the wrong reasons. They like working with people, and they want to be helpful -- noble motives that thoroughly tick off some HR thinkers. "When people have come to me and said, 'I want to work with people,' I say, 'Good, go be a social worker,' " says Arnold Kanarick, who has headed human resources at the Limited and, until recently, at Bear Stearns. "HR isn't about being a do-gooder. It's about how do you get the best and brightest people and raise the value of the firm."

The really scary news is that the gulf between capabilities and job requirements appears to be widening. As business and legal demands on the function intensify, staffers' educational qualifications haven't kept pace. In fact, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a considerably smaller proportion of HR professionals today have some education beyond a bachelor's degree than in 1990.

And here's one more slice of telling SHRM data: When HR professionals were asked about the worth of various academic courses toward a "successful career in HR," 83% said that classes in interpersonal communications skills had "extremely high value." Employment law and business ethics followed, at 71% and 66%, respectively. Where was change management? At 35%. Strategic management? 32%. Finance? Um, that was just 2%.

The truth? Most human-resources managers aren't particularly interested in, or equipped for, doing business. And in a business, that's sort of a problem. As guardians of a company's talent, HR has to understand how people serve corporate objectives. Instead, "business acumen is the single biggest factor that HR professionals in the U.S. lack today," says Anthony J. Rucci, executive vice president at Cardinal Health Inc., a big health-care supply distributor.

Rucci is consistently mentioned by academics, consultants, and other HR leaders as an executive who actually does know business. At Baxter International, he ran both HR and corporate strategy. Before that, at Sears, he led a study of results at 800 stores over five years to assess the connection between employee commitment, customer loyalty, and profitability.

As far as Rucci is concerned, there are three questions that any decent HR person in the world should be able to answer. First, who is your company's core customer? "Have you talked to one lately? Do you know what challenges they face?" Second, who is the competition? "What do they do well and not well?" And most important, who are we? "What is a realistic assessment of what we do well and not so well vis a vis the customer and the competition?"

Does your HR pro know the answers?

2. HR pursues efficiency in lieu of value. Why? Because it's easier -- and easier to measure. Dave Ulrich, a professor at the University of Michigan, recalls meeting with the chairman and top HR people from a big bank. "The training person said that 80% of employees have done at least 40 hours in classes. The chairman said, 'Congratulations.' I said, 'You're talking about the activities you're doing. The question is, What are you delivering?' "

That sort of stuff drives Ulrich nuts. Over 20 years, he has become the HR trade's best-known guru (see "The Once and Future Consultant," page 48) and a leading proponent of the push to take on more-strategic roles within corporations. But human-resources managers, he acknowledges, typically undermine that effort by investing more importance in activities than in outcomes. "You're only effective if you add value," Ulrich says. "That means you're not measured by what you do but by what you deliver." By that, he refers not just to the value delivered to employees and line managers, but the benefits that accrue to investors and customers, as well.

So here's a true story: A talented young marketing exec accepts a job offer with Time Warner out of business school. She interviews for openings in several departments -- then is told by HR that only one is interested in her. In fact, she learns later, they all had been. She had been railroaded into the job, under the supervision of a widely reviled manager, because no one inside the company would take it.

You make the call: Did HR do its job? On the one hand, it filled the empty slot. "It did what was organizationally expedient," says the woman now. "Getting someone who wouldn't kick and scream about this role probably made sense to them. But I just felt angry." She left Time Warner after just a year. (A Time Warner spokesperson declined to comment on the incident.)

Part of the problem is that Time Warner's metrics likely will never catch the real cost of its HR department's action. Human resources can readily provide the number of people it hired, the percentage of performance evaluations completed, and the extent to which employees are satisfied or not with their benefits. But only rarely does it link any of those metrics to business performance.

John W. Boudreau, a professor at the University of Southern California's Center for Effective Organizations, likens the failing to shortcomings of the finance function before DuPont figured out how to calculate return on investment in 1912. In HR, he says, "we don't have anywhere near that kind of logical sophistication in the way of people or talent. So the decisions that get made about that resource are far less sophisticated, reliable, and consistent."

Cardinal Health's Rucci is trying to fix that. Cardinal regularly asks its employees 12 questions designed to measure engagement. Among them: Do they understand the company's strategy? Do they see the connection between that and their jobs? Are they proud to tell people where they work? Rucci correlates the results to those of a survey of 2,000 customers, as well as monthly sales data and brand-awareness scores.

"So I don't know if our HR processes are having an impact" per se, Rucci says. "But I know absolutely that employee-engagement scores have an impact on our business," accounting for between 1% and 10% of earnings, depending on the business and the employee's role. "Cardinal may not anytime soon get invited by the Conference Board to explain our world-class best practices in any area of HR -- and I couldn't care less. The real question is, Is the business effective and successful?"

3. HR isn't working for you. Want to know why you go through that asinine performance appraisal every year, really? Markle, who admits to having administered countless numbers of them over the years, is pleased to confirm your suspicions. Companies, he says "are doing it to protect themselves against their own employees," he says. "They put a piece of paper between you and employees, so if you ever have a confrontation, you can go to the file and say, 'Here, I've documented this problem.' "

There's a good reason for this defensive stance, of course. In the last two generations, government has created an immense thicket of labor regulations. Equal Employment Opportunity; Fair Labor Standards; Occupational Safety and Health; Family and Medical Leave; and the ever-popular ERISA. These are complex, serious issues requiring technical expertise, and HR has to apply reasonable caution.

But "it's easy to get sucked down into that," says Mark Royal, a senior consultant with Hay Group. "There's a tension created by HR's role as protector of corporate assets -- making sure it doesn't run afoul of the rules. That puts you in the position of saying no a lot, of playing the bad cop. You have to step out of that, see the broad possibilities, and take a more open-minded approach. You need to understand where the exceptions to broad policies can be made."

Typically, HR people can't, or won't. Instead, they pursue standardization and uniformity in the face of a workforce that is heterogeneous and complex. A manager at a large capital leasing company complains that corporate HR is trying to eliminate most vice-president titles there -- even though veeps are a dime a dozen in the finance industry. Why? Because in the company's commercial business, vice president is a rank reserved for the top officers. In its drive for bureaucratic "fairness," HR is actually threatening the reputation, and so the effectiveness, of the company's finance professionals.

The urge for one-size-fits-all, says one professor who studies the field, "is partly about compliance, but mostly because it's just easier." Bureaucrats everywhere abhor exceptions -- not just because they open up the company to charges of bias but because they require more than rote solutions. They're time-consuming and expensive to manage. Make one exception, HR fears, and the floodgates will open.

There's a contradiction here, of course: Making exceptions should be exactly what human resources does, all the time -- not because it's nice for employees, but because it drives the business. Employers keep their best people by acknowledging and rewarding their distinctive performance, not by treating them the same as everyone else. "If I'm running a business, I can tell you who's really helping to drive the business forward," says Dennis Ackley, an employee communication consultant. "HR should have the same view. We should send the message that we value our high-performing employees and we're focused on rewarding and retaining them."

Instead, human-resources departments benchmark salaries, function by function and job by job, against industry standards, keeping pay -- even that of the stars -- within a narrow band determined by competitors. They bounce performance appraisals back to managers who rate their employees too highly, unwilling to acknowledge accomplishments that would merit much more than the 4% companywide increase.

Human resources, in other words, forfeits long-term value for short-term cost efficiency. A simple test: Who does your company's vice president of human resources report to? If it's the CFO -- and chances are good it is -- then HR is headed in the wrong direction. "That's a model that cannot work," says one top HR exec who has been there. "A financial person is concerned with taking money out of the organization. HR should be concerned with putting investments in."

4. The corner office doesn't get HR (and vice versa). I'm at another rockin' party: a few dozen midlevel human-resources managers at a hotel restaurant in Mahwah, New Jersey. It is not glam in any way. (I've got to get a better travel agent.) But it is telling, in a hopeful way. Hunter Douglas, a $2.1 billion manufacturer of window coverings, has brought its HR staff here from across the United States to celebrate their accomplishments.

The company's top brass is on hand. Marvin B. Hopkins, president and CEO of North American operations, lays on the praise: "I feel fantastic about your achievements," he says. "Our business is about people. Hiring, training, and empathizing with employees is extremely important. When someone is fired or leaves, we've failed in some way. People have to feel they have a place at the company, a sense of ownership."

So, yeah, it's corporate-speak in a drab exurban office park. But you know what? The human-resources managers from Tupelo and Dallas are totally pumped up. They've been flown into headquarters, they've had their picture taken with the boss, and they're seeing Mamma Mia on Broadway that afternoon on the company's dime.

Can your HR department say it has the ear of top management? Probably not. "Sometimes," says Ulrich, "line managers just have this legacy of HR in their minds, and they can't get rid of it. I felt really badly for one HR guy. The chairman wanted someone to plan company picnics and manage the union, and every time this guy tried to be strategic, he got shot down."

Say what? Execs don't think HR matters? What about all that happy talk about employees being their most important asset? Well, that turns out to have been a small misunderstanding. In the 1990s, a group of British academics examined the relationship between what companies (among them, the UK units of Hewlett-Packard and Citibank) said about their human assets and how they actually behaved. The results were, perhaps, inevitable.

In their rhetoric, human-resources organizations embraced the language of a "soft" approach, speaking of training, development, and commitment. But "the underlying principle was invariably restricted to the improvements of bottom-line performance," the authors wrote in the resulting book, Strategic Human Resource Management (Oxford University Press, 1999). "Even if the rhetoric of HRM is soft, the reality is almost always 'hard,' with the interests of the organization prevailing over those of the individual."

In the best of worlds, says London Business School professor Lynda Gratton, one of the study's authors, "the reality should be some combination of hard and soft." That's what's going on at Hunter Douglas. Human resources can address the needs of employees because it has proven its business mettle -- and vice versa. Betty Lou Smith, the company's vice president of corporate HR, began investigating the connection between employee turnover and product quality. Divisions with the highest turnover rates, she found, were also those with damaged-goods rates of 5% or higher. And extraordinarily, 70% of employees were leaving the company within six months of being hired.

Smith's staffers learned that new employees were leaving for a variety of reasons: They didn't feel respected, they didn't have input in decisions, but mostly, they felt a lack of connection when they were first hired. "We gave them a 10-minute orientation, then they were out on the floor," Smith says. She addressed the weakness by creating a mentoring program that matched new hires with experienced workers. The latter were suspicious at first, but eventually, the mentor positions (with spiffy shirts and caps) came to be seen as prestigious. The six-month turnover rate dropped dramatically, to 16%. Attendance and productivity -- and the damaged-goods rate -- improved.

"We don't wait to hear from top management," Smith says. "You can't just sit in the corner and look at benefits. We have to know what the issues in our business are. HR has to step up and assume responsibility, not wait for management to knock on our door."

But most HR people do.

H unter Douglas gives us a glimmer of hope -- of the possibility that HR can be done right. And surely, even within ineffective human-resources organizations, there are great individual HR managers -- trustworthy, caring people with their ears to the ground, who are sensitive to cultural nuance yet also understand the business and how people fit in. Professionals who move voluntarily into HR from line positions can prove especially adroit, bringing a profit-and-loss sensibility and strong management skills.

At Yahoo, Libby Sartain, chief people officer, is building a group that may prove to be the truly effective human-resources department that employees and executives imagine. In this, Sartain enjoys two advantages. First, she arrived with a reputation as a creative maverick, won in her 13 years running HR at Southwest Airlines. And second, she had license from the top to do whatever it took to create a world-class organization.

Sartain doesn't just have a "seat at the table" at Yahoo; she actually helped build the table, instituting a weekly operations meeting that she coordinates with COO Dan Rosensweig. Talent is always at the top of the agenda -- and at the end of each meeting, the executive team mulls individual development decisions on key staffers.

That meeting, Sartain says, "sends a strong message to everyone at Yahoo that we can't do anything without HR." It also signals to HR staffers that they're responsible for more than shuffling papers and getting in the way. "We view human resources as the caretaker of the largest investment of the company," Sartain says. "If you're not nurturing that investment and watching it grow, you're not doing your job."

Yahoo, say some experts and peers at other organizations, is among a few companies -- among them Cardinal Health, Procter & Gamble, Pitney Bowes, Goldman Sachs, and General Electric -- that truly are bringing human resources into the realm of business strategy. But they are indeed the few. USC professor Edward E. Lawler III says that last year HR professionals reported spending 23% of their time "being a strategic business partner" -- no more than they reported in 1995. And line managers, he found, said HR is far less involved in strategy than HR thinks it is. "Despite great huffing and puffing about strategy," Lawler says, "there's still a long way to go." (Indeed. When I asked one midlevel HR person exactly how she was involved in business strategy for her division, she excitedly described organizing a monthly lunch for her vice president with employees.)

What's driving the strategy disconnect? London Business School's Gratton spends a lot of time training human-resources professionals to create more impact. She sees two problems: Many HR people, she says, bring strong technical expertise to the party but no "point of view about the future and how organizations are going to change." And second, "it's very difficult to align HR strategy to business strategy, because business strategy changes very fast, and it's hard to fiddle around with a compensation strategy or benefits to keep up." More than simply understanding strategy, Gratton says, truly effective executives "need to be operating out of a set of principles and personal values." And few actually do.

In the meantime, economic natural selection is, in a way, taking care of the problem for us. Some 94% of large employers surveyed this year by Hewitt Associates reported they were outsourcing at least one human-resources activity. By 2008, according to the survey, many plan to expand outsourcing to include activities such as learning and development, payroll, recruiting, health and welfare, and global mobility.

Which is to say, they will farm out pretty much everything HR does. The happy rhetoric from the HR world says this is all for the best: Outsourcing the administrative minutiae, after all, would allow human-resources professionals to focus on more important stuff that's central to the business. You know, being strategic partners.

The problem, if you're an HR person, is this: The tasks companies are outsourcing -- the administrivia -- tend to be what you're good at. And what's left isn't exactly your strong suit. Human resources is crippled by what Jay Jamrog, executive director of the Human Resource Institute, calls "educated incapacity: You're smart, and you know the way you're working today isn't going to hold 10 years from now. But you can't move to that level. You're stuck."

That's where human resources is today. Stuck. "This is a unique organization in the company," says USC's Boudreau. "It discovers things about the business through the lens of people and talent. That's an opportunity for competitive advantage." In most companies, that opportunity is utterly wasted.

And that's why I don't like HR.

Keith H. Hammonds is Fast Company's deputy editor.

[Sep 15, 2016] Satyajit Das The Business of Politics naked capitalism by Satyajit Das

Notable quotes:
"... I think the key difference between successful politicians and business people is patience. When you look at the careers of successful politicians, you can often see many years of pure relentless grind going into a few years of glory in a senior position. Endless committee meetings, rubber chicken dinners, being nice to people you loath, the inevitable humiliation of losing elections. Most business leaders simply lose patience after a few years after they go into politics. ..."
"... "The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it." ..."
"... Neoclassical economics hid the work of the Classical Economists and the difference between "earned" and "unearned" income. ..."
"... Once you hide this it is easy to make it look as though the interests of business and the wealthy are the same. ..."
"... There should not really be any tax on "earned" income, all tax should fall on "unearned" income to subside the productive side of the economy with low cost housing and services. ..."
"... "The Labour and time of the poor is in civilised countries sacrificed to the maintaining of the rich in ease and luxury. The Landlord is maintained in idleness and luxury by the labour of his tenants. The moneyed man is supported by his extractions from the industrious merchant and the needy who are obliged to support him in ease by a return for the use of his money. But every savage has the full fruits of his own labours; there are no landlords, no usurers and no tax gatherers." ..."
"... Adam Smith saw landlords, usurers (bankers) and Government taxes as equally parasitic, all raising the cost of doing business. ..."
"... "…who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it." Adam Smith just described the modern Republican Party and movement Conservatives. ..."
"... The children of the US elite were the storm troopers of this ideology and they headed out from their elite US universities to bring this new ideology to developing nations. ..."
"... "The Chicago Boys" headed out from the University of Chicago to bring the new way to South American nations and "The Berkley Mafia" headed out from the University of Berkeley, California to bring the new way to Indonesia ..."
"... Any means were deemed acceptable to implement the one true solution and the new ideology, e.g. torture, terror, death squads, snatching people off the streets and making them disappear permanently. Any left wing resistance had to be quashed by whatever means necessary ..."
"... Their revolutions always massively increased inequality, a few at the top became fabulously wealthy and extreme and widespread poverty became prevalent at the bottom. Mixing with the people at the top, the elite US storm troopers deemed their revolutions a huge success. This ideology was ready to roll out across the world. ..."
"... Under this new ideology, the UK dream is to emulate the idle, rich rentier with a BTL portfolio, living off "unearned" income extracted from the "earned" income of generation rent, whilst doing as little as possible and enjoying a life of luxury and leisure. ..."
"... Obfuscating the relationship between free markets and the role of government is coming to an end. So much failure and misdirection cannot hide forever. The cognitive dissonance set up in society is unsustainable- people don't like to feel or experience crazy. ..."
"... Markets are stronger and healthier when backed by functioning government. Defining what good government is and demanding it is required today. That is the revolutionary force, finally turning back the negative campaign against government and demanding good government- fighting for it. ..."
"... "Enoch Powell…once remarked that all political lives end in failure. It is also true of most business leaders." But that is also what they say about love. No good end can come of it. ..."
"... This bit of convenient fiction caught my eye: "Political leaders must also manage for the entire population rather than the narrow interest of investors." ..."
"... Perhaps political leaders should do this but, as has been recently shown, there is no basis in reality that this is any kind of requirement (as in "must"). ..."
"... Perhaps his use of "must" in this case is talking about the intrinsic requirement. In other words, even if they are managing negatively for some and positively for others, they are managing for all. ..."
Sep 15, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Satyajit Das, a former banker. His latest book is 'A Banquet of Consequences ' (published in North America as The Age of Stagnation to avoid confusion as a cookbook). He is also the author of Extreme Money and Traders, Guns & Money

Electorates believe that business leaders are qualified for and likely to be effective in politics. Yet, with some notable exceptions, business people have rarely had successful political careers.

The assumption is that corporate vision, leadership skills, administrative skills and a proven record of wealth creation will translate into political success. It presupposes personal qualities such drive, ambition and ruthlessness. The allure is also grounded in the romantic belief that outsiders can fix all that is wrong with the political process. The faith is misplaced.

First, the required skills are different.

Successful business leaders generally serve a technical apprenticeship in the business, industry or a related profession giving them familiarity with the firm's activities. Political success requires party fealty, calculating partisanship, managing coalitions and networking. It requires a capacity to engage in the retail electoral process, such as inspirational public speaking and an easy familiarity with voters in a wide variety of settings. It requires formidable powers of fund raising to finance campaigns. Where individuals shift from business to politics in mid or later life, he or she is at a significant disadvantage to career political operatives who have had years to build the necessary relationships and organisation to support political aspirations.

Second, the scope of the task is different. A nation is typically larger than a business. The range of issues is broader, encompassing economics, finance, welfare, health, social policy as well as defence and international relations. Few chief executives will, during a single day, have to consider budgetary or economic issues, health policy, gender matters, privacy concerns, manage involvement in a foreign conflict in between meeting and greeting a range of visitors varying from schoolchildren to foreign dignitaries as well as attending to party political matters.

Political leaders must also manage for the entire population rather than the narrow interest of investors. They must take into account the effect of decisions on a wide range of constituencies including many implacably opposed to their positions.

Third, business objectives, such as profit maximisation, are narrow, well defined and constant. Political objectives are amorphous and ideological. The emphasis is on living standards, security and social justice. Priorities between conflicting objectives shift constantly. The benefits of decisions by governments in infrastructure, education and welfare are frequently difficult to measure and frequently will not emerge for a long time.

Business decisions rarely focus on the societal impact. Firms can reduce workforce, shift production overseas, seek subsidies or legally minimise taxes. Politicians must deal with the side effects of individual profit maximisation decisions such as closed factories, reduced employment, welfare and retraining costs, security implications as well as social breakdown and inequality or exclusion.

Fourth, the operating environment is different. Businesses usually operate within relatively defined product-market structures. In contrast, governments operate in a complex environment shaped by domestic and foreign factors, many of which they do not control or influence. Government actions require co-operation across different layers of government or countries. Businesses can withdraw from certain activities, while government do not have the same option.

Fifth, within boundaries set by laws and regulations, business leaders enjoy great freedom and power to implement their policies. Boards of directors and shareholders exercise limited control, usually setting broad financial parameters. They do not intervene in individual decisions. Most important government actions require legislative or parliamentary support. Unlike commercial operations, government face restrictions, such as separation of powers, restraints on executive or governmental action and international obligations.

Business leaders have unrivalled authority over their organisation based on threats (termination) or rewards (remuneration or promotion). Political leaders cannot fire legislators. They face significant barriers in rewarding or replacing public servants. Policy implementation requires negotiations and consensus. It requires overcoming opposition from opposing politicians, factions within one's own party, supporters, funders and the bureaucracy. It requires overcoming passively resistance from legislators and public servants who can simply outlast the current incumbent, whose tenure is likely to be shorter than their own.

The lack of clear goals, unrivalled authority and multiple and shifting power centres means that political power is more limited than assumed Many Presidents of the United States, regarded as the most powerful position on earth, have found that they had little ability to implement their agendas.

Sixth, unless they choose to be, business leaders are rarely public figures outside business circles. Politicians cannot avoid constant public attention. Modern political debate and discourse has become increasingly tabloid in tone, with unprecedented levels of invective and ridicule. There is no separation of the public and the personal. Business leaders frequently find the focus on personal matters as well as the tone of criticism discomforting.

There are commonalities. Both fields attract a particular type of individual. In addition, paraphrasing John Ruskin, successful political and business leaders not only know what must be done but actually do what must be done and do it when it must be done. A further commonality is the ultimate fate of leaders generally. Enoch Powell, himself a long-serving Member of the British Parliament, once remarked that all political lives end in failure. It is also true of most business leaders.

PlutoniumKun, September 15, 2016 at 4:27 am

I think the key difference between successful politicians and business people is patience. When you look at the careers of successful politicians, you can often see many years of pure relentless grind going into a few years of glory in a senior position. Endless committee meetings, rubber chicken dinners, being nice to people you loath, the inevitable humiliation of losing elections. Most business leaders simply lose patience after a few years after they go into politics.

Much the same seems to apply to military leaders, although off the top of my head I can think of more successful examples of the latter than of business people (Eisenhower and De Gaulle come to mind). Berlusconi comes to mind as a 'successful' politician and businessman, but then Italy does seem to be an outlier in some respects.

One key difference I think between 'good' politicians and 'good' businesspeople is in making decisions. Good businesspeople are decisive. Good politicians never make a decision until they absolutely have to.

PhilU, September 15, 2016 at 4:40 am

This is clearly a consequence of 'The government is like a household' misinformation campaign, which I think is really conceptualized as 'government is like a small business.' So why not get a businessman to run the thing?

Yves Smith Post author, September 15, 2016 at 5:03 am

Interesting point. It also comes out of 30+ years of demonization of government as being less well run than business, when IMHO the problems of government are 1. the result of scale (think of how well run GM and Citigroup were in the mid 200s…and both are better now that they have downsized and shaped up) and 2. inevitable given that you do not want government employees making stuff as they go, i.e., overruling the legislature and courts. The latter point is that some rigidity is part of how government works, and it's necessary to protect citizens.

Sound of the Suburbs , September 15, 2016 at 6:06 am

Adam Smith on the businessmen you shouldn't trust:

"The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it."

What they knew in the 18th century, we have forgotten today, but nothing has changed.

He wouldn't like today's lobbyists.

Sound of the Suburbs , September 15, 2016 at 6:09 am

Neoclassical economics hid the work of the Classical Economists and the difference between "earned" and "unearned" income.

Once you hide this it is easy to make it look as though the interests of business and the wealthy are the same.

We lowered taxes on the wealthy to remove free and subsidised services for those at the bottom. These costs now have to be covered by business through wages. All known and thoroughly studied in the 18th and 19th Centuries, they even came up with solutions.

There should not really be any tax on "earned" income, all tax should fall on "unearned" income to subside the productive side of the economy with low cost housing and services.

This allows lower wages and an internationally competitive economy.

Adam Smith:

"The Labour and time of the poor is in civilised countries sacrificed to the maintaining of the rich in ease and luxury. The Landlord is maintained in idleness and luxury by the labour of his tenants. The moneyed man is supported by his extractions from the industrious merchant and the needy who are obliged to support him in ease by a return for the use of his money. But every savage has the full fruits of his own labours; there are no landlords, no usurers and no tax gatherers."

Adam Smith saw landlords, usurers (bankers) and Government taxes as equally parasitic, all raising the cost of doing business.

He sees the lazy people at the top living off "unearned" income from their land and capital.

He sees the trickle up of Capitalism:
1) Those with excess capital collect rent and interest.
2) Those with insufficient capital pay rent and interest.

He differentiates between "earned" and "unearned" income.

The UK dream is to emulate the idle, rich rentier with a BTL portfolio, living off "unearned" income extracted from the "earned" income of generation rent, whilst doing as little as possible and enjoying a life of luxury and leisure.

KYrocky , September 15, 2016 at 8:28 am

"…who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it." Adam Smith just described the modern Republican Party and movement Conservatives.

Sound of the Suburbs , September 15, 2016 at 6:14 am

We have seen left wing revolutions before; we are now dealing with a right wing revolution.

Left wing revolutions usually involve much violence and eventually lead to tyranny, as any means are deemed acceptable to implement the one true solution and the new ideology. Pol Pot was the most extreme example where he decided to return to year zero by wiping out the bourgeoisie in Cambodia. When the dust has settled the revolution just leads to a new elite who maintain their ideology with force and brutality.

When Francis Fukuyama talked of the end of history, a new year zero was envisaged, this one based on a right wing ideology. A right wing revolution that could take place globally and was not confined to individual nations like left wing revolutions.

Its theories had already been tested in South America and Indonesia where extreme brutality was employed to implement their one true solution and the new ideology. The children of the US elite were the storm troopers of this ideology and they headed out from their elite US universities to bring this new ideology to developing nations.

"The Chicago Boys" headed out from the University of Chicago to bring the new way to South American nations and "The Berkley Mafia" headed out from the University of Berkeley, California to bring the new way to Indonesia.

Any means were deemed acceptable to implement the one true solution and the new ideology, e.g. torture, terror, death squads, snatching people off the streets and making them disappear permanently. Any left wing resistance had to be quashed by whatever means necessary.

Their revolutions always massively increased inequality, a few at the top became fabulously wealthy and extreme and widespread poverty became prevalent at the bottom. Mixing with the people at the top, the elite US storm troopers deemed their revolutions a huge success. This ideology was ready to roll out across the world.

Under this new ideology, the UK dream is to emulate the idle, rich rentier with a BTL portfolio, living off "unearned" income extracted from the "earned" income of generation rent, whilst doing as little as possible and enjoying a life of luxury and leisure.

Norb , September 15, 2016 at 7:27 am

Obfuscating the relationship between free markets and the role of government is coming to an end. So much failure and misdirection cannot hide forever. The cognitive dissonance set up in society is unsustainable- people don't like to feel or experience crazy.

Markets are stronger and healthier when backed by functioning government. Defining what good government is and demanding it is required today. That is the revolutionary force, finally turning back the negative campaign against government and demanding good government- fighting for it.

Fighting fraud and corruption follows these same lines. Reading about the various forms of fraud and corruption here at NC daily provides the framework to address the problem. The real work begins convincing fellow citizens to not accept the criminality- the new normal. It is sometimes distressing seeing the reaction of fellow citizens to these crimes not as outrage, but more along the lines of begrudging admiration for the criminals. The subtile conditioning of the population to accept criminality needs a countervailing force.

Modern mass media projects a false picture of the world. The meme they push is that violence and corruption are so pervasive in the world, vast resources must be expended addressing the problem, and when these efforts fail, settle for apathy and avoidance. The creation of the Businessman/Politician is the perfect vehicle to move this agenda forward.

Politics controlling and driving business decisions must be reestablished, not the other way around- business driving politics and society. That truly is the distinction between authoritarianism and democracy. Small authoritarians are tolerable in society- large ones not so much.

KPL , September 15, 2016 at 9:14 am

Bang on. Especially being a political leader in a democracy is too tough and I am surprised that people want the job given the landmine they have to navigate and the compromises you have to make on a daily basis. Similarity is closest when you compare a benevolent dictator and a successful businessman, something like how Lee Kuan Yew ran Singapore.

Robert Hahl , September 15, 2016 at 9:41 am

"Enoch Powell…once remarked that all political lives end in failure. It is also true of most business leaders." But that is also what they say about love. No good end can come of it.

RobC , September 15, 2016 at 12:15 pm

There is a mistaken assumption here that business people are responsible for their own or their organization's success. Or even that they're qualified as business people. The higher up the business ladder you go, the more it is other people making the important decisions, even deciding what you think, do and say.

In this way it's similar to politics. It's likely that neither the successful business person nor the politician is qualified for their roles, that nobody can be. Also their roles are essentially to be authorities, and likewise nobody is truly qualified nor has the justification or legitimacy for authority.

shinola , September 15, 2016 at 12:28 pm

This bit of convenient fiction caught my eye: "Political leaders must also manage for the entire population rather than the narrow interest of investors."

Perhaps political leaders should do this but, as has been recently shown, there is no basis in reality that this is any kind of requirement (as in "must").

Robert Coutinho , September 15, 2016 at 2:07 pm

Perhaps his use of "must" in this case is talking about the intrinsic requirement. In other words, even if they are managing negatively for some and positively for others, they are managing for all.

[Aug 16, 2016] Normalized Deviance

angrybearblog.com
  1. Zachary Smith August 15, 2016 3:26 pm

    To likbez August 15, 2016

    There is a new essay at Consortium News which describes the issue we're talking about.

    https://consortiumnews.com/2016/08/15/us-war-crimes-or-normalized-deviance/

    It's worth a look.

  2. likbez August 16, 2016 5:23 pm

    to Zachary Smith August 15, 2016 3:26 pm

    Thank you.

    This term "Normalized Deviance" reminds me Dixon's study of military incompetence which deepened the traditional observation that peacetime armies and wartime armies prefer (and promote) very different types of officers. Actually it is sycophants and "yes men" who are promoted at peace time, especially "kiss up, kick down" type.

    They gradually pervert the organization and when war strikes commit blunders.

    The same process occurs within three letter agencies, which degenerate into propaganda arms of White House. Some observers claim that this process started at full force in CIA under Bush I and State Department under Clinton.

    https://consortiumnews.com/2011/08/29/rise-of-another-cia-yes-man/

[Aug 15, 2016] Rise of Another CIA Yes Man – Consortiumnews

Notable quotes:
"... As for Michael Morell, as with many other successful CIA careerists, his strongest suit seemed to be pleasing his boss and not antagonizing the White House. If past is precedent, his loyalty will be to Petraeus, not necessarily to the truth. ..."
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... At the Center of the Storm, ..."
"... President's Daily Brief ..."
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... apologia pro vita sua ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
"... The first is from a recently retired Senior Intelligence Service officer. ..."
"... The second comment (on the remarks above) is from Larry C Johnson, former CIA intelligence officer. ..."
"... Comment from Mary McCarthy, former Senior Intelligence Service officer and White House official. ..."
"... A schizophrenic 'Team B' element was infiltrated into the original integrity of the CIA, (billed as 'Team A'), as and soon after Bush served as Director, 1976. He is, after all, who made the CIA what it is today, who presided at the ceremony of the cornerstone for the (second) Headquarters Building and so recognized by namesake on the bronze plaque by the front door. ..."
"... The corroborating correlation I most notice is that nine-eleven is the commemorative founding date of the CIA, 1947. ..."
consortiumnews.com
August 29, 2011

Exclusive: The gross manipulation of CIA analysis under George W. Bush pushed a new generation of "yes men" into the agency's top ranks. Now one of those aspiring bureaucrats will be Gen. David Petraeus's right-hand man, writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern. (Also, at end of article, see special comments from several CIA insiders.)

As Gen. David Petraeus prepares to take the helm at CIA in September, he can expect unswerving loyalty from his likely deputy, Michael Morell, who has been acting director since July when Leon Panetta left to become Secretary of Defense.

Like many senior CIA officials in recent years, Morell's record is checkered, at best. He held key jobs in intelligence analysis over the past decade as the CIA often served as a handmaiden to the war propagandists.

As for Michael Morell, as with many other successful CIA careerists, his strongest suit seemed to be pleasing his boss and not antagonizing the White House. If past is precedent, his loyalty will be to Petraeus, not necessarily to the truth.

Forgive me if my thinking about loyalty to the facts seems "obsolete" or "quaint" or if it seems unfair to expect CIA analysts to put their careers on the line when politicians and ideologues are misleading the nation to war but those were the principles that analysts of my generation tried to uphold.

The recent tendency at CIA to give politicians what they want to hear rather than the hard truth is not healthy for the Republic that we were all sworn to serve.

And, if Petraeus's own past is precedent, loyalty to the four-star general will not always be synonymous with loyalty to the truth.

Burnishing an Image

However, you will get no indication of this troubling reality from the flattering, but thin, feature about Michael Morell, "Mr. Insider Will Guide Petraeus at the CIA," by Siobhan Gorman in the Wall Street Journal on Aug. 26.

Gorman is normally a solid reporter; but either she did not perform due diligence and let herself be snookered, or her editors stepped in to ensure her story was consonant with the image Petraeus and the Establishment wish to create for Morell.

Before her "rare" interview with Morell, Gorman should have taken a close look at former CIA Director George Tenet's memoir, At the Center of the Storm, to learn what Tenet says about Morell's record during the last decade's dark days of misleading and dishonest intelligence.

In Tenet's personal account of the CIA's failures around 9/11 and the Iraq War, Morell Tenet's former executive assistant is generally treated kindly, but Tenet puts Morell at the center of two key fiascoes: he "coordinated the CIA review" of Secretary of State Colin Powell's infamous Feb. 5, 2003 address to the United Nations and he served as the regular CIA briefer to President George W. Bush.

Putting Access Before Honesty

So, Morell was there as Bush blew off early CIA warnings about the possibility of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden being "determined to strike in the US" and while Bush and his neoconservative inner circle were concocting intelligence to justify invading Iraq.

Tenet credits Morell with suggesting to analysts that they prepare a report on the terrorist threat, which became the President's Daily Brief that was handed to Bush on Aug. 6, 2001, at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Bush brushed aside the warning with a reported comment to the CIA briefer, "all right, you've covered your ass," and went off fishing.

Though Tenet said Morell got along well with Bush, it appears the President didn't pay much heed to any CIA information coming from Morell, at least not anything that went against what Bush wanted to hear nor did Morell seem to risk offending the President by pushing these contrary points.

After the Aug. 6 PDB was delivered, Tenet wrote that he needed to follow it up, and did so with a trip to Crawford 11 days later, when Tenet remembers Bush driving him around in a pickup truck as Tenet made "small talk about the flora and fauna."

Morell also was the CIA briefer with Bush in Florida on the morning of 9/11 when news arrived about the attacks on New York City's Twin Towers. Later, Bush told Morell "that if we [the CIA] learned anything definitive about the attack, he wanted to be the first to know," Tenet wrote, adding:

"Wiry, youthful looking, and extremely bright, Mike speaks in staccato-like bursts that get to the bottom line very quickly. He and George Bush had hit it off almost immediately. In a crisis like this, Mike was the perfect guy for us to have by the commander-in-chief's side."

However, it appears Morell was not willing to risk his rapport with Bush by challenging the President's desire to pivot from retaliatory strikes against Afghanistan to a full-scale invasion of Iraq based on false and misleading intelligence.

Tenet also described Morell's role in organizing the review of the "intelligence" that went into Powell's speech, which let slip the dogs of war by presenting a thoroughly deceptive account of the Iraqi threat, what Powell later called a "blot" on his record.

Though the CIA embraced many of Powell's misleading assertions, Tenet recounted one exchange in which Morell stood up to John Hannah, an aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, regarding Iraq's alleged efforts to obtain yellowcake uranium from Niger.

"Hannah asked Mike Morell, who was coordinating the review of the speech for CIA, why the Niger uranium story wasn't in the latest draft," Tenet wrote. "'Because we don't believe it,' Mike told him. 'I thought you did,' Hannah said. After much wrangling and precious time lost in explaining our doubts, Hannah understood why we believed it was inappropriate for Colin to use the Niger material in his speech."

Despite that one pushback, the CIA analysts mostly bent to pressures coming from the White House for an alarmist treatment of allegations about the "weapons of mass destruction," which turned out not to be in Iraq.

Of the CIA's finished intelligence product, it was reportedly the PDB delivered by Morell that most exaggerated the danger.

Not Mistaken, Dishonest

It is sad to have to recall that this was not "erroneous," but rather fraudulent intelligence. Announcing on June 5, 2008, the bipartisan conclusions from a five-year study by the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Jay Rockefeller described the intelligence conjured up to "justify" war on Iraq as "uncorroborated, contradicted, or even non-existent."

Rockefeller's comments call to mind what Tenet told his British counterpart, Sir Richard Dearlove, on July 20, 2002, after former Prime Minister Tony Blair sent Dearlove to the CIA to get the latest scoop on how the U.S. planned to "justify" the attack on Iraq.

According to the official British minutes of a cabinet-level planning session chaired by Blair on July 23, 2002, at 10 Downing Street, Tenet made clear to Dearlove that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" to bring "regime change" to Iraq.

Could it be that Tenet would let the British in on this dirty little secret and keep George W. Bush's personal briefer, Michael Morell, in the dark? Seems unlikely.

But even if Morell were not fully informed about the high-level scheme for war, would he have been with his prized relationship with the President the most appropriate senior official to "coordinate the CIA review" of Powell's speech?

The 'Sinister Nexus'

In the Wall Street Journal feature, reporter Gorman was assured of something else about Morell's role in preparing the intelligence on Iraq. According to Gorman, "His [Morell's] team didn't handle the analysis that erroneously concluded the Iraqi government had weapons of mass destruction." I guess that depends on your definition of "team."

But what about alleged ties between Iraq and al-Qaeda, the second bogus issue used to "justify" attacking Iraq? There Morell seemed to be on better ground, telling Gorman that his "team" had concluded that there had been earlier contacts between Iraqi intelligence and al-Qaeda, but there were no links to al-Qaeda operations at the time.

Still, Morell didn't seem to have pressed this point very hard while coordinating the CIA's review of Powell's UN speech. If Morell had, one has to wonder why Powell was fed, and swallowed, the line about a "sinister nexus between Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network?"

ABC's Brian Ross shot down that canard just hours after Powell spoke. Citing a BBC report from London, Ross noted that British intelligence had concluded there was no evidence to support the theory that al-Qaeda and Iraq were working together.

Virtually all intelligence analysts with no axes to grind, after sifting through thousands of reports, had long since come to that same conclusion.

Did Secretary Powell have to learn about the Iraq/al-Qaeda disconnect from the BBC? Later, Powell was livid at having been led down the garden path by the likes of Tenet, Tenet's pandering deputy John McLaughlin, and Morell, a Tenet protégé.

Tenet and McLaughlin were also co-liars-in-chief regarding those mobile biological weapons factories, a yarn spun by the infamous source called "Curveball." In his memoir, Tenet doesn't describe Morell's role in promoting, or at least acquiescing in depicting, the charlatan "Curveball" as a reliable intelligence source for a key portion of Powell's speech.

And, if you think it's unfair to expect CIA bureaucrats to risk their careers by challenging the political desires of the White House, it's worth noting the one major exception to the CIA's sorry record during George W. Bush's presidency and how honest CIA analysts helped prevent another unnecessary war.

After former chief of State Department intelligence Tom Fingar was put in charge of National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs), a thoroughly professional NIE in late 2007 concluded unanimously and "with high confidence" that Iran had stopped working on a nuclear weapon in mid-2003.

President Bush's own memoir leaves no doubt that this Estimate played a huge role in spiking White House plans for war on Iran. It's a pity that the Estimate on Iran should be an exception to the rule.

Much to Be Humble About

Yet, in the Wall Street Journal feature, Michael Morell lectures Gorman on the basics and the limits of intelligence analysis.

"We end up having bits of information that have a multitude of possible explanations," said Morell. "You've got to be really humble about the business we're in."

Well, yes indeed. The WSJ also ran a sidebar with a list of the following CIA failures and Morell's facile potions for cures:

–2001, Sept. 11 attacks: A failure of both intelligence collection and analysis. Lesson: A need to better penetrate U.S. adversaries.

–2003, Iraq weapons of mass destruction: Analysts erroneously concluded Iraq had WMDs. Lesson: Analysts must describe confidence levels in conclusions, consider alternate explanations.

–2009, Bombing of CIA base in Khost, Afghanistan: Doubts about the asset-turned-suicide-bomber didn't get to the right people. Lesson: Share information with the people who most need it.

Is this Morell fellow on the ball, or what?

Let's address these one by one:

–9/11 need not have happened if Tenet and his protĂ©gĂ©s simply shared the information needed by the FBI and others. See, for instance, Consortiumnews.com's " Did Tenet Hide Key 9/11 Info ?" Or, Tenet and Morell might have risked their cozy relationship with Bush by challenging his casual dismissal of the existing multiple warnings.

–The WMD not in Iraq? How about promoting and rewarding honest analysts; no "fixing" allowed. Face down White House pressure. We used to do it all the time. We used to have career protection for doing it.

–On the tragedy at Khost? Well, how about some basic training in tradecraft, including rudimentary security precautions.

And speaking of rudimentary security precautions: Morell bragged to Gorman that he had recently flown to Kabul to brief Petraeus, carrying a blue briefing book emblazoned with the CIA seal and detailing the CIA's every critical program, organization and operation.

"It was the most highly classified guide that I've ever seen in my life" was Petraeus's wow-response.

The appropriate reaction, in my professional view, would have been to fire Morell on the spot for recklessness. He should know better. They down aircraft, blow up motorcades and shoot people in Afghanistan, you know. Is it really such a great idea to carry a briefing book with the CIA's most sensitive secrets into that environment?

Moreover, bragging about this cavalier approach to protecting sensitive documents sends shivers down the backs of foreign intelligence officers, adding to their reluctance to share delicate information with us.

Loosening Leashes on Dogs of War

There is ironic serendipity in the fact that the WSJ feature on Morell appeared on Aug. 26, exactly nine years after the fraudulent speech given by Vice President Dick Cheney before the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Nashville.

And just four days before the nation's bookstores host In My Time , Cheney's apologia pro vita sua . (The advance promotion includes his personal warning that the book will have "heads exploding" all over Washington.)

There are huge lessons in what happened and what did not happen immediately after Cheney's Aug. 26, 2002, thinly disguised call for an attack on Iraq, and how those who recognized the lies could not summon enough courage to try to stop the juggernaut toward war.

The Fawning Corporate Media and the cowering careerists at CIA were among the main culprits. But there were others who, if they have a conscience and are honest with themselves, may still be finding it difficult to look in the mirror nine years later.

In his August 2002 speech, Cheney launched the virulent propaganda campaign for an aggressive war against Iraq, telling the audience in Nashville:

"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us."

This was no innocent mistake by the Vice President; it was a bald-faced lie, a falsehood that opened the gates to a hellish conflict that has ripped apart Iraq, bringing untold death and destruction.

Nine years later it is well worth recalling this lie on behalf of the 4,500 U.S. troops killed in Iraq, the many more wounded, the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, and the five million displaced from their homes.

Let it be widely understood that on Aug. 26, 2002, Dick Cheney set the meretricious terms of reference for war.

Hear No Evil, Speak No Truth

Sitting on the same stage that evening was former CENTCOM commander Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, who was being honored at the VFW convention. Zinni later said he was shocked to hear Cheney's depiction of intelligence (Iraq has WMD and is amassing them to use against us) that did not square with what he knew.

Although Zinni had retired two years before, his role as consultant had enabled him to stay up to date on key intelligence findings.

"There was no solid proof that Saddam had WMD. … I heard a case being made to go to war," Zinni told Meet the Press three and a half years later .

Zinni is normally a straight shooter with a good bit of courage. And so, the question lingers: why did he not go public when he first heard Cheney's lie?

What seems operative here, I fear, is an all-too-familiar conundrum at senior levels where people have been conditioned not to rock the boat, not to risk their standing within the Washington Establishment.

Almost always, the results are bad. I would bet a tidy sum that Zinni regrets having let his reaction be shaped, as it apparently was, by a misguided kind of professional courtesy and/or slavish adherence to classification restrictions.

After all, he was one of the very few credible senior officials who might have prevented a war of aggression, which the Nuremberg Tribunals after World War II branded the "supreme international crime."

Zinni was not the only one taken aback by Cheney's words. Then-CIA Director George Tenet said Cheney's speech took him completely by surprise.

In his memoir, Tenet wrote, "I had the impression that the president wasn't any more aware than we were of what his number-two was going to say to the VFW until he said it." But like Br'er Fox, Tenet didn't say nothing.

Tenet claims he didn't even check it all out with either Cheney or Bush after Cheney's speech. Yet, could Cheney's twisting of the data not have been anticipated? Indeed, weren't Tenet and his CIA in on the determination to make a case for war?

In a way, that conclusion is a no-brainer. As mentioned above, just five weeks before Cheney's speech, Tenet himself had explained to his British counterpart that the President had decided to make war on Iraq for regime change and "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

Cheney simply was unveiling the war rationale to the public. Several weeks later, when Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Bob Graham insisted on a National Intelligence Estimate before any vote in Congress, Tenet told his folks to prepare one that dovetailed with Cheney's unsupported rhetoric.

Sadly, my former colleagues did. And where was Michael Morell in this process? Clearly, he did nothing to destroy his career or put himself too much on the outs at the White House.

The Sales Job

When Bush's senior advisers came back to town after Labor Day 2002, the next five weeks were devoted to selling the war, a major "new product" that, as then-White House chief of staff Andy Card explained, one shouldn't introduce in the month of August.

Card, too, apparently had no idea that Cheney would jump the gun as "fixer-in-chief." At that point, the Tenets, McLaughlins and Morells of this world fell right into line.

After assuring themselves that Tenet was a reliable salesman, Cheney and then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld allowed him to play a supporting role in advertising bogus claims about aluminum tubes for uranium enrichment and mobile trailers for manufacturing biological warfare agents.

The hyped and bogus intelligence succeeded in scaring Congress into voting for war on Oct. 10 and 11, 2002.

In my view, it strains credulity to think that Michael Morell was unaware of the fraudulent nature of this campaign. Yet, like all too many others, he mostly kept quiet, and he got promoted. That's how it works in Washington these days.

This kind of malleability regarding twisting facts to support war has worked well for Petraeus, too.

Today, there is little chance Petraeus can be unaware of Morell's pedigree. Given Petraeus's own experience in climbing the career ladder, the general may even harbor an admiration for Morell's extraordinary willingness to please.

The two will make a fine pair for Official Washington, though not for those "quaint" folks who put a high premium on integrity.

As for Dick Cheney who was once given the well-deserved sobriquet "Vice President for Torture" in a Washington Post editorial, I just wish he would disappear so he would stop bringing out the worst in everyone.

I found my own feelings mirrored in a plaintive comment from a good friend who prays a lot. She said, "I keep praying for Dick Cheney, especially when he goes into the hospital. But he always comes out again."

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was a PDB briefer of Vice President George H.W. Bush and the Secretaries of State and Defense during President Ronald Reagan's first term, and earlier in his career chaired National Intelligence Estimates. He serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) .

Note: I sent a draft of the above article to former colleagues, intelligence officers who served in CIA more recently than I and left after clocking many years at very senior levels. The comments I received from them turned out to be so germane and incisive that I include them below for those wanting a better feel for what really goes on.

The first is from a recently retired Senior Intelligence Service officer.

Ray:

You make a good case that Morell isn't going to be the objective, unpoliticized deputy that Petraeus is going to need. He may be what Petraeus wants, but not what he needs to do a good job.

You make the case that, like McLaughlin, he's going to give the veneer of an analyst's integrity to decision making without any of the burdens (integrity, nonpoliticization, tradecraft, etc.) that make the analyst imprimatur meaningful. Like McLaughlin, he seems eager to play handmaiden to a predetermined agenda.

In fact, the case you make, correctly, is that Morell is the quintessential intelligence community bureaucrat who has survived and prospered by subscribing to a particular worldview and steering clear of the alternatives declared off-limits by the U.S. right wing.

A couple of more specific comments:

–Your use of the word "loyalty": Morell will be loyal to his boss i.e., he will not upset him the way McLaughlin was loyal to Tenet. That ignores, of course, that the deputy's job is to protect his boss from himself and from his own biases.

McLaughlin's "loyalty" to Tenet wound up screwing Tenet, and Morell's "loyalty" to Petraeus is going to do the same. A man like Petraeus shows up with HUGE blind spots, and Morell rather than help him see into those blind spots almost certainly will reinforce them.

Your use of the word "loyalty" conveys that it's a virus that will harm Petraeus. And that's what it is.

The "winds blowing from the White House" requires a little elaboration. Just as Panetta was captured, so has this White House been via the person of CIA veteran John Brennan on site. Brennan, of course, is the fellow who could not get confirmed as director because of his well known past history, so he's running things from the White House.

The number of Obama flip-flops on intelligence issues has been stunning. The "winds," you might say, have been blowing from CIA's own Tenet protégé Brennan.

I personally would say Morell, like McLaughlin, knows and accepts that the operations people and their rightwing allies in the Admin, at the Pentagon, and in the Congress (and there are many!) set the direction the wind blows; Morell will always urge his boss to tack accordingly.

In fact, the parallels with McLaughlin are strong, an analysis directorate fellow of modest capabilities, desperate for acceptance by the operations people and the rightwing downtown, jettisoning tradecraft and going with the flow.

The Gorman piece in the WSJ was disgraceful cooptation in action. The fact that she could list his many failures as "lessons learned" was amazing. It's as if the rightwing were signaling to Petreaus not to judge Morell by his repeated failures and repeated inaction; judge him by our right-wing love for him.

On the many failures, I don't have first-hand knowledge of Morell's role in the historic intelligence cook-job of WMD and the fateful State of the Union lies about yellow cake; all I know is that Alan Foley was the designated representative in that coordination.

But your sourcing of Tenet on that is compelling, and I think your sanity-check on Morell's performance is fair.

–Words like "wow-response" are also fair, and effective. The "wow" factor is used to shock and awe people to squeeze them into the tiny space in which conformity is expected and challenges rejected.

For me, particularly with a weak Administration with no policy bearings like this one, the problem is that operations are done for operations' sake sans policy, sans review.

I'm reading Joby Warrick's book, and his worship of targeters is somewhat jarring when there's no discussion of the number of innocent people killed and no discussion of why this is an "intelligence" vice military mission. We know why, but his readers don't making such worship rather cynical.

You're probably right that it "strains credulity" that Morell didn't know how fraudulent the whole National Intelligence Estimate on WMD in Iraq was. I just don't know, however, whether he was able intellectually to see what was going on.

He was so close to power and so close to their mindset and so eager to stay in their good graces that he may have believed all the horse manure.

Wrapped up as he was, he may not have fully appreciated the thing was especially because key elements of the intelligence community funneling info to him were also true-believers, as were those in charge of community analysis.

Who could ever have been giving Morell an alternative view? The most senior people were all true-believers. It was very much frowned upon to ask real questions.

So how could a man of Morell's background and capabilities ask them? If you preferred not to say outright that Morell was guilty of fraud, you could be somewhat more charitable and put it this way: He was surrounded by true-believers and didn't have the fortitude or candlepower, or even perceived space, to question the bogus intelligence he was involved in validating.

Not a good harbinger for the future.

The second comment (on the remarks above) is from Larry C Johnson, former CIA intelligence officer.

Your observations provide important context. The lies that paved the road to war in Iraq are being revived this week as part of the 10-year anniversary of 9/11.

We have not learned a damned thing. Meanwhile, Iraq remains a deadly place for the various Iraq factions and our actions have completely disrupted the balance of power in the Middle East. Of course, neither the media nor the majority of the pundits want to focus on that.

And a brief but important point made by first commenter in reaction:

And cranking up for Iran?

Comment from Mary McCarthy, former Senior Intelligence Service officer and White House official.

You asked if I knew Morell and what he is like. I do; you nailed it.

The only moment of discomfort is when you use Tenet as a compass point for the actual truth. Because, of course, Tenet often has his own version of the facts.

Nancy Abler, August 29, 2011 at 11:08 am

My comment is actually a question. What political person or group was most instrumental in changing the inherent integrity of the CIA to a politically obeisant CIA? And when?

  1. J. C. Murphy August 29, 2011 at 5:51 pm There is a daily compilation of news articles that appears on one of the DoD websites. I won't mention the name, but many of you are probably familiar with it. It's not classified information. I am a “non-combatant”, but I view it my duty to know what is actually going on. When you wear the 'chicken', that's kind of obligatory. Since I kind of assume that it's a “cooked” reading list, I check it out every day at lunch-time. Then, I go home in the evening and read what they say about the same stories on Alternet, TruthOut, TruthDig, CrooksandLiars, TheDailyBail, WhatReallyHappened, TheRealNews, etc.

    When I read Gorman's article, I almost fell out of my chair. Especially the part about the “Blue Book”, a hard copy of every significant intelligence initiative we have. And I swear to God, the first thing that went through my mind was, “I can't wait to hear what Ray McGovern has to say about this”. I hope that blue book had a close encounter with the nearest 'industrial strength' shredder. Better yet, the biohazardous waste incinerator at the nearest U.S. Military health facility.

    Ray, you're the best. Godspeed-

  2. Ethan Allen August 29, 2011 at 6:31 pm Though I have taken issue with Mr. McGovern on several occasions, this take on the professional veracity of Michael Morell reflects an improved awareness of honest candor and informed opinion. The concurrence of Mary McCarthy and "the retired Senior Intelligence Officer" mentioned are reassuring endorsements.
    I found this excerpt to be a particularly interesting observation:

    "Almost always, the results are bad. I would bet a tidy sum that Zinni regrets having let his reaction be shaped, as it apparently was, by a misguided kind of professional courtesy and/or slavish adherence to classification restrictions."

    It is this very "..slavish adherence to classification restrictions." that seems to continue to plague many of those who continue to be paid, even in ostensible retirement, with public largess; but none-the-less hold such nefarious pledges to secrecy in higher regard than their oath to the Constitution and the people it is designed to support and protect.

  3. Meremark August 29, 2011 at 7:47 pm –
    Ray, good man, my two senses:

    Saying, "The hyped and bogus intelligence [ foisted by media-mania in 'only' 5 weeks after Labor Day, 2002 ] succeeded in scaring Congress into voting for war on Oct. 10 and 11, 2002," does shortchange, bypass, and omit quite a bunch of conducts of equal or more importance (than 'hype and bogosity') that SCARED Congress to fear, panic, and comply at being commanded orders to self-destructively rubberstamp plans prepared for military invasion of Iraq.

    On first reading I mistook the year and thought the statement said 'between Labor Day and mid-October 2001' falsified intelligence scared Congress to make blind endorsement (of the PATRIOT Act) for Bush Admin 'throw-weight' - which truly happened then, (false claims fooled Congress), but such a brief description (as I misread it) applied to those dates in 2001, the year before, would be ignoring the scaring (and scarring) effect of the anthrax letters mailed to Congress.

    Anyway, it is all of-a-piece according to my estimation. Bush losing (to Clinton) in 1992 begat (Bush's) vendetta viciousness which begat a militaristic making of foreign policy which begat (Bush conceiving and appointing) a panel the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) to hop on a hype of Defense Quadrennial Review which begat a seeded "new Pearl Harbor" bearing for compartmentalized planners to steer toward in unison, and in parallel, which begat installing proxy Bush Junior as 'cover' misdirection overshadowing surreptitious operations which begat the inside-job obtaining in nine-eleven op which begat paralytic mortification of Congress which begat Patriot Act passage which begat destabilizing and off-balancing Middle East incusions which begat stovepipes (of 'war reporters') for massmedia distribution of the hype and bogosity scheduled to come "after August", 2002, which begat Executive war-crimes powers rubberstamped by Congress which begat oil confiscation from devastating Iraq and decapitating the House of Hussein … "to get him back," vengefully, "to finish the job" (and incidentally silence a partner confided privy in years-earlier crimes against humanity). ( Three men can keep a secret, if two are dead – Ben Franklin) In result: rule the world and control all its petroleum. or the other way 'round.

    If any segment of that plan in operation, 1993-2003, had failed then EVERYthing planned to follow on from the juncture (of the failure) would have NONE of it have happened. Most critically, if Junior had not been made Cover-Up Controller (POTUS) then nine-eleven op would not have happened. (Or if nine-eleven op had failed or been exposed truly, then taking over Iraq (oil production) would not have happened.

    Overall, my first comment is to the point that Congress's going along (obedience) for ceding war-power Authority, by its Oct. 2002 demented actions, was a longer psychological breaking-down procedure than only a 6-week public relations saturation-campaign of 'bad intelligence.'

    My second point is to crack your optimistic rose-colored glasses, Ray, through which you see the institution (of a 'secret' intelligence community, namely the CIA) as an intrinsic 'good' or good 'thing' permanently, and, transiently, the human-natured agents of the institution as individually good or bad cases, assets, apples … and if all the bad apples were taken or kept out of the institutional barrel, the provided fruits of such a cultivated institution would be good (natured) without doubt. I claim that the Tenets and McLaughlins and Morells and all the 'bad' apple-shining agents you may care to name, if they were to be cast out and departed from the intelligence community, what remained - in its very precept and principles, its conceived raison d'etre - was and evermore is inHERently 'bad' or a 'bad' thing … malevolent, malignant, a malady, undemocratic, anti-American.

    Not only is the institution of the CIA with its elite secrets and secret elites unjustified, true Justice should would and could (obviate), sanction, and sentence condemnation on its immoral purpose, motives, and practice. I kinda got this view (I share) of 'it' (discounting ordinary citizens' sensibility as unable to handle the truths of a certain privileged secret illicit and irrighteous 'license-to-kill') from Harry Truman; (versus Allen Dulles).

    Put all surveillance apertures, including orbiting-satellite views, including visual and every spectrum scanned, on the internet … as public money provides. Thus, then, all the malevolent agents and reagents in the world are objectively the seen , not the subjectively-serving seers .

    Ray, you can't make supremacism right in the CIA and USG by removing its wrongs in a process of elimination to reach its core value. You can't domesticate an antisocial tiger by changing or cleansing its stripes.

    One small note to end on for your consideration, Ray, regarding your uncertainty whether the President is riding the tiger or the tiger is riding the President, ("… Obama flip-flops on intelligence issues ???"). Consider the findings of investigation into Obama's biographic lineage, childhood, formative rearing, and deliverance achieved. Evidence (strongly and strangely suppressed) appears for conviction that he is but one specimen (the most prominent) of the MK-ULTRA human(life) experimentation, 1951-2011, making and made a (Legendary) 'manchurian candidate.' Made in USA branded brain.

    Evidenced in the original, although behind a subscription-required paywall yet soon a published book, appears here:
    http://www.waynemadsenreport.com/

    and appears in essential excerpt, here:
    http://www.veteranstoday.com/2010/08/18/wayne-madsen-obamas-cia-connections-part-i-and-ii/

    -

    Answer to Nancy Abler , 11:08 am, questions of what person most instrumentally corrupted the integrity of the CIA?, and (maybe) when? how?

    The most explanation I have read is Chapter 16 of George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography, by Webster Tarpley and Anton Chaitkin, here:
    http://tarpley.net/online-books/george-bush-the-unauthorized-biography/chapter-16-campaign-1980/

    A schizophrenic 'Team B' element was infiltrated into the original integrity of the CIA, (billed as 'Team A'), as and soon after Bush served as Director, 1976. He is, after all, who made the CIA what it is today, who presided at the ceremony of the cornerstone for the (second) Headquarters Building and so recognized by namesake on the bronze plaque by the front door.

    The corroborating correlation I most notice is that nine-eleven is the commemorative founding date of the CIA, 1947.

[May 12, 2016] Screw The Next Generation Anonymous Congressman Admits To Blithely Mortgaging The Future With A Wink A Nod

Notable quotes:
"... "Most of my colleagues are dishonest career politicians who revel in the power and special-interest money that's lavished upon them." ..."
"... "My main job is to keep my job, to get reelected. It takes precedence over everything." ..."
"... "Fundraising is so time consuming I seldom read any bills I vote on. Like many of my colleagues, I don't know how the legislation will be implemented, or what it'll cost." ..."
"... " Voters are incredibly ignorant and know little about our form of government and how it works." ..."
"... "It's far easier than you think to manipulate a nation of naive, self-absorbed sheep who crave instant gratification." ..."
"... "We spend money we don't have and blithely mortgage the future with a wink and a nod. Screw the next generation." ..."
"... Best line in the God Father. "Their Saps, They fight for other people". Sounds like pop talking. God damn right that's Pop talking. Come here you. ..."
"... The only function of a bureaucracy is to perpetuate the bureaucracy. ..."
"... Trump is getting so much attention because the citizenry doesn't know how the govt was designed to work, and is looking for a "leader" to fix things up. ..."
"... The power lies in Congress, by design, appropriately so, as it most closely represents the will of the People. And therein lies the eleventh-hour problem. ..."
"... This book will be exposed as a hoax. It is doubtless a compilation of quotes from multiple Congrees-critters over the years. I doubt any of these assholes would risk exposure in this manner. They don't have the guts. ..."
May 12, 2016 | Zero Hedge

A shockingly frank new book from an anonymous Democratic congressman turns yet another set of conspiracy theories into consirpacy facts as he spills the beans on the ugly reality behind the scenes in Washington. While little will surprise any regular readers, the selected quotes offered by "The Confessions Of Congressman X" book cover sheet read like they were ripped from the script of House of Cards... and yet are oh so believable...

A devastating inside look at the dark side of Congress as revealed by one of its own! No wonder Congressman X wants to remain anonymous for fear of retribution. His admissions are deeply disturbing...

"Most of my colleagues are dishonest career politicians who revel in the power and special-interest money that's lavished upon them."

"My main job is to keep my job, to get reelected. It takes precedence over everything."

"Fundraising is so time consuming I seldom read any bills I vote on. Like many of my colleagues, I don't know how the legislation will be implemented, or what it'll cost."

The book also takes shots at voters as disconnected idiots who let Congress abuse its power through sheer incompetence...

" Voters are incredibly ignorant and know little about our form of government and how it works."

"It's far easier than you think to manipulate a nation of naive, self-absorbed sheep who crave instant gratification."

And, as The Daily Mail so elqouently notes, the take-away message is one of resigned depression about how Congress sacrifices America's future on the altar of its collective ego...

"We spend money we don't have and blithely mortgage the future with a wink and a nod. Screw the next generation."

"It's about getting credit now, lookin' good for the upcoming election."

Simply put, it's everything that is enraging Americans about their government's dysfunction and why Trump is getting so much attention.

10mm

Best line in the God Father. "Their Saps, They fight for other people". Sounds like pop talking. God damn right that's Pop talking. Come here you.

SidSays

"My main job is to keep my job, to get reelected. It takes precedence over everything."

The only function of a bureaucracy is to perpetuate the bureaucracy.

chunga

The shining city on a hill is chock full of assholes like this. They've run out of other people's money for this purpose so bad, generations to come are screwed. Unless of course they are all stamped away and their bullshit repudiated.

The scummiest scum of humans go into politics.

Cabreado

"and why Trump is getting so much attention."

No, that is perilously false.

Trump is getting so much attention because the citizenry doesn't know how the govt was designed to work, and is looking for a "leader" to fix things up.

I've been pecking away for years that the attention must be on Congress. No takers here at ZH either, for the most part.

Again... a finally corrupt and defunct Congress is what must be dealt with post haste, and a "Trump" or any other will not be the answer to changing the trajectory.

The power lies in Congress, by design, appropriately so, as it most closely represents the will of the People. And therein lies the eleventh-hour problem.

financialrealist

I've said it time and again. Just today I posted "our entire system is based on subjective financial asset valuations to support the needs of today with no consideration of tomorrow". Politicians and their money grubbing corporate assholes thought of future generations don't transcend beyond their own line of sight. We do not have a government or system for the people. We have a government who's sole purpose is to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else. Burn the fucker down

Captain Willard

This book will be exposed as a hoax. It is doubtless a compilation of quotes from multiple Congrees-critters over the years. I doubt any of these assholes would risk exposure in this manner. They don't have the guts.

[Sep 29, 2013] Ronald Coase A respectful dissent by David P Goldman

Sep 10, 2013 | Asia Times

I have an alternate theory of the firm, namely that large firms exist to protect mediocrity - from the lunatics and conmen on one hand, and disruptive innovators on the other. An entrepreneur, my former partner Jude Wanniski liked to say, is a fellow who walks into your office wearing a propeller beanie and carrying a perpetual-motion machine convinced that he's going to be a trillionaire. Ex ante it's hard to tell the loonies from the real thing. For every Thomas Edison there are a hundred candidates for commitment to state mental health facilities.

Most people don't like disruption. They want to acquire a skill, work reasonable hours, secure reasonable pay, watch television in the evening and play golf or whatever on the weekends. They don't look deeply into the matters that concern them and are content to do what other people in their position do. If they are diligent, reliable, well-mannered and polite, they are just the sort of folk that the human relations types at corporations prefer. Without a way to socialize, train and employ such people the world would come to a halt, because they make up the vast majority. And that is the great contribution of corporations to social welfare: they find ways to make mediocre people useful.

By training, supervising and deploying the great mediocre mass, corporations earn the trust of consumers who are equally mediocre. Consumers want reliable and predictable products that do not challenge their tastes, habits, and skills. Corporations spend most of their research and development funds ascertaining these tastes and habits and designing products that conform to them.

If they do their job properly, they prevent the supply chain from substituting anti-freeze for corn syrup or talcum for milk power. Unfortunately, corporations also do a good job of extirpating the sort of people who get bored with such products and attempt to do something new. Those people often become entrepreneurs and attempt to challenge the system.

Such challenges are not always beneficial. During the 1990s, the dot.com bubble proceeded on the unstated premise that the future of the US economy lay in downloading music and watching pornography. Innovation chased youth culture down the wrong rabbit hole.

Corporations do not innovate well, and economies die without innovation. Disruptive entrepreneurs destroy corporations who have done their job of cultivating mediocrity a bit too long, and create new corporations that, in turn, will cultivate their own sort of mediocrity.

Sometimes this goes haywire, as the US financial industry did during the 2000s. Left to its own devices, the financial industry created the sort of product that mediocre customers thought they wanted, namely AAA-rated securities. No-one needs imagination to own AAA's. Unfortunately, the financial engineers put the financial equivalent of anti-freeze into the corn syrup and poisoned the financial system. In the mediocre culture of corporations, advancement is attained by making your numbers and hoping that when a suppurating mass of toxic waste finally explodes it will do so on someone else's watch, long after you have been promoted.

Mediocrity can under special circumstances become a Petri dish for the incubation of some dangerous problems. The advent of financial engineering introduced a predator into the system against which mediocrity had no natural defenses. In the financial industry, at least, the mediocre became corrupt: millions of homeowners lied on mortgage applications, and tens of thousands of bank employees encouraged or at least countenanced the lies, both serious crimes under American law.

... ... ...

[Aug 19, 2013] DHS Whistleblower Censored from 60 minutes #N3

You should not assume that inefficiency of bureaucracies extends to the area when their vital interests are breached. They will fight tooth and nail with those who they consider dangerous for their interests.
YouTube

Oona Craig:

DHS is no different than the Cheka was in Bolshevik Russia and the Stasi in Bolshevik East Germany -- and run by the same tribe.

PlasmaBurns:

We need to start putting the constitution in every email, that way the Government will actually start reading it...

furballbear:

Julia Davis' story is completely true and she even made a documentary about it titled Top Priority: The Terror Within which shows that the United State's "war on terror" is a scam.

Support Julia Davis by purchasing her documentary and support the US Constitution by demanding that the USA PATRIOT Act be repealed.

furballbear:

No the whole intent is to make money. That's why it's finally become clear to even the average American that the 'War on Terror' is nothing more than a money grab.

Brave whistleblowers like Julia Davis and Edward Snowden need to keep speaking up so that we can finally repeal the ridiculous USA PATRIOT Act.

Funk Obama

our very own government perpetrates many of these attacks. To make money, amend laws, create new ones, and take away our civil liberties. That's all true, but the most sinister of it all has to do with occultism. This many sound ridiculous to many of you, but those that are truly in power of this planet are spirit worshipers that practice HUMAN SACRIFICE. The whole intent is to kill people.

Ken Anderson

It occurs to me that the NSA keeps Americans safe in much the same way as the Gestapo kept Germans safe in the 1930s and 1940s. Is this really what we want?

[Sep 08, 2011] The Business firm as a political coalition by James March

James March

Main point -- March sees the business firm as one complex organization that in organizational behavior resembles a political system because it has conflict systems and power struggles.

As the Modern Business firm is a large complex institution that makes decisions within a market economy. It is inadequate to just view the firm economically as an entrepreneur or politically in just the area of economic policies, so March proposes that the business firm should be seen as a political system and this would help to explain both the economic theories of the firm and the problems of political systems.

In order for us to view the business firm as a political system, we must first understand what is entailed in a political system (it is basically a conflict system) and what are the theories of resolving these conflicts.

Conflict systems

What is a conflict system?

Conflict systems can be used to describe the behavior of individuals in a learning experiment, the interaction between parties in a legislative setting or the internal dynamics of a small group when solving a problem. Basically it can be used in describing the behavior of small groups when they are setting agendas, normally two characteristics will occur.

Using the example of the business firm:

  1. There are consistent basic units-The executives at the bottom level of the power rank are independent decision-makers who will prefer one state of the company to the other possibilities that exist.
  2. There is conflict-conflict will arise in the firm when the executives' demands can not be met by the system and they do not accept any other alternative offered by the firm.

Some features of the conflict system

  1. The elementary unit of one study can be the conflict system of another.
  2. The individual can be treated as the system in some cases and as the elementary unit in other cases.
  3. Small groups can be considered as both elementary units and systems.

Theories of Conflict resolution

There are two theories of conflict resolution, the theories of political coalition states that in order to resolve conflict; a superordinate goal is imposed to which conflict can then be mediated. The second theory being theories of the business firm, conflict can be resolved using a process which avoids comparing usefulness when making decisions.

A) The imputation of a superordinate goal

Any conflict system that is observed is seen to be acting according to what is detailed by the superordinate goal, a superordinate goal can be imputed if:

  1. There is an assumption of an existing joint preference ordering for the system at any moment in time. For example in the firm, a superordinate goal can be set if there is a mutual consensus among the employees, unity in preference for the system at any one time.
  2. It is assumed that the system will choose the most preferred alternative behavior.

For example a tree would seek to be exposed to the sun as much as possible pending certain conditions that limits its goal but it is actually trying to resolve the conflict of maximizing it total exposure to the sun as that is a scarce resource.

Effective use of an imputed superordinate goal demand that the goal has to be constant and it has to be a meaningful goal. This imposition of a superordinate goal helps in making decisions about the allocation of scarce resources.

B) The description of a conflict resolution process

Any system that " behaves" can be said to be acting under a superordinate goal but it is also having a conflict resolution process. Therefore 2 conditions are needed in describing a theory for conflict resolution.

  1. The end decision is based on a simple premise.
  2. It can be assumed that there is joint consensus for elementary decisions.

But for the process of conflict resolution to be successful, the basic decision process has to be treated as basic units and there must be analytic procedures to explain the model, so that the theory can make meaningful predictions.

Studies of the Firm as an economic conflict System

The firm is treated as a part of a larger conflict system with the objective of maximizing long term profits where given a fixed set of prices the firm will set the lowest cost factor for the highest output. The economic theory of the firm is joint preference ordering which is profit maximization. Such a theory has poor predictive qualities, so profit maximization is replaced by a more general function. For the economist their definition of the firm implied that the firm represents a conflict system, in terms of superordinate goals, to be vulnerable to useful classification. Economic theories of the firm are useful only in constructing macro –economic theories of the firm but they are not useful in the micro description of the firm. To explain the firm's decision making behavior as just profit maximizing would be simply too general an approach. March goes on to give a critic of the economic theory of the business firm, (which he says is not a true reflection of the firms behavior in the actual setting.)

Studies of political conflict systems

In this theory, there are various groups with different interests therefore they make different demands on the system. The allocation of resources therefore is dependent on the coalition of interest groups and their control over the system. In these political systems there is an emphasis on "power, internal struggle and expediency: a de-emphasis of order, cooperation and problem solving." and process oriented conflict resolution method is used.

The Firm as A Political Coalition

In describing the process of conflict resolution, we assume that the firm is a political coalition, with the executive of the firm as the main actor. Nothing is set yet, no goals are given and the table is open for bargaining.

Assuming that there is also a set of potential participants who will pay the price required participating in the firm. They can be customers, employees, suppliers etc. They demand something from the firm and this will sway the results of the negotiation being made between the political broker and the firm, for it could strengthen or weaken the bargaining power of the broker. The demands do have a certain consistency. Consistency of the pairs of demands depends on external conditions, of which some pairs are complementary to the goals of the political broker and this is the marginal "cost" of any participant to the coalition. At the same time several assumptions are made.

  1. The level of demands moves in responds to experience
  2. The attention given to the demands depends on the perception of the problems.
  3. The coalitions of participants also have a certain " value " which is of use to the environment involved.

Using the example of the government coalition, where in democracy the party with more than 50% power will be able to do anything but not the party without that 50% support. In the same way in alternative business coalition, different participants are allocated different marginal value for different coalition.

March sees the executive as the lead actor whose goal is to maximize his own gains from the firm, so he needs to find a coalition that will best support his goals. But his problem is how to find one coalition that has complementary goals with his, so that he would incur a low " marginal cost" and the coalition must be powerful enough to help him succeed in his goal. That is the " marginal value " of the coalition. This whole description of the firms behavior for March resembles more of a political coalition than it is being described in economic sense, especially in the following 4 ways.

  1. The focus of attention is on the people who are actually the organizers of the coalition like stockholders. Their demands would be a form of constrains on the lead actors and would help determine future coalitions.
  2. This theory focuses on the short run solutions to the problems faced by the coalition.
  3. The theory places an importance on policy demands and payments rather than trying to meet demands.
  4. The importance of institutional constrains on the problems of the coalition are stressed.

The theory of the business firm as a political coalition is empirically supported and has face validity, as it is more in line with the observed attitudes of business decision making.

From March's vivid description of the firm as a political coalition, it shows that he is out to show that the firm's behavior resembles more of an organization than what the economist would describe the firm as, an entrepreneur.

Introduction of Computer.

With the introduction of the Computer program model, a new dimension to the process description models of conflict systems is added. These models may not best describe the business firm as a political coalition but they allow us to explore the possibility of seeing the business firm as a political coalition. The computer models being process descriptive are a natural form of theory in this particular area and their introduction makes it possible to study the business firm's behavior as a political coalition even further.

What are the implications for the study of Political Conflict Systems?

  1. The business firm can be viewed as a political conflict system; it serves as a test for which we can see how being in a non-political setting had modified the political.
  2. The computer programs models used in the analysis of political systems within the business firms were a success showing how computer language can be used for the treatment of political conflict systems generally.
  3. In theory the similarity between the political business coalition and the political government coalition implies that the behavior models of the firm could be useful as a form of comparison with the models of governmental decision making

The behavior of the firm when making decisions as a coalition suggests that it is a form of political coalition and this contributes to the development of the theory of the firm as well as to the theory of politics.

[Jul 04, 2011] The bureaucratic phenomenon

AcaWiki

Crozier's book can be seen as a response to both the rational approach to organizations and to the human relations approach. Crozier argues that organizations act as the site for conflict and politics and argues against what he argues is a simplistic Weberian account of organizations and efficient and largely rational spaces. Instead, he seems them as sites for negotiation of complex power relations. Crozier explains that:

The classic rationalists did not consider the members of an organization as human beings, but just as cogs in the machine. For them, workers were only hands. The human relations approach has shown how incomplete this rationale was. It has also made it possible to consider workers as creatures of feeling, who are moved by the impact of the so-called rational decisions taken above then, and will react to them. A human being, however, does not have only a hand a heart. He also had a head, which means that he is free to play his own game (p. 149).

The first half of his book focuses on two settings in which he has done extensive research and which he reports a long serise of detailed examples of the nature of work and management. His two examples are each located in France: "The Clerical Agency" and "The Industrial Monopoly". Crozier chose these examples not only because he was French, but also because he claims that socially and culturally France has developed in such a way that it created organizations that closely resembled the Weberian notion of an ideal bureaucracy.

His book essentially argues that bureaucracies are often dysfunctional and his analysis aims to unpack conflicts and power struggles to understand why this is.

His theory is based on the observation that in situations where almost every outcome has been decided in advance according to a set of impersonal and predefined rules and regulations, the only way in which people are able to gain some control over their lives is to exploit 'zones of uncertainty' where the outcomes are not already known.

Attacking both the rationalists and the human relations school for ignoring the role that such power struggles play in the shaping of an organization he argues that organizational relations are in fact a series of strategic games where the individuals attempt either to exploit any areas of discretion for their own ends, or to prevent others from gaining an advantage.

The result of this is that goals are subverted and the organization becomes locked into a series of inward looking power struggles. Thus, paradoxically, the result of attempting to design an efficient organization that runs on rational and impersonal lines is to create a situation where the opposite to is true.

Finally, Crozier argues that bureaucratic systems are characterized by the existence of a set of vicious circles that find their source in centralization and impersonality:

The bureaucratic phenomenon by Michel Crozier

Alibris

In "The Bureaucratic Phenomenon" Michel Croier demonstrates that bureaucratic institutions need to be understood in terms of the cultural context in which they operate. The originality of the study lies in its association of two widely different approaches: the theory of decision-making in large organizations and the cultural analysis of social patterns of action.

The book opens with a detailed examination of two forms of French public service. These studies show that professional training and distortions alone cannot ex plain the rise of routine behavior and dysfunctional "vicious circles." The role of various bureaucratic systems appears to depend on the pattern of power relation ships between groups and individuals. Croier's findings lead him to the view that bureaucratic structures form a necessary protection against the risks inherent in collective action. Since systems of protection are built around basic cultural traits, the author presents a French bureaucratic model based on centralization, strata isolation, and individual sparkle-one that that can be contrasted with an American, Russian, or Japanese model. He points out how the same patterns can be found in several areas of French life: education, industrial relations, politics, business, and the colonial policy. Bureaucracy, Croier concludes, is not a modern disease resulting from organizational progress but rather a bulwark against development. --[??? innovation -- NNB]

The breakdown of the traditional bureaucratic system in modern France offers hope for new and fruitful forms of action.

Michel Croier was the founder and director of the Centre de Sociologie des Organisations and senior research fellow of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. He is currently a member of the Academie des Sciences Morales et Politiques. He is the author or co-author of numerous books including The Stalled Society, The Crisis of Democracy, and The Trouble with America. Erhard Friedberg is professor of sociology and director of the Master of Public Affairs at Sciences Po in Paris. He is the author of numerous books including Actors and Systems (with Michel Croier) and Local Orders--Dynamics of Organized Action.

The bureaucratic phenomenon - AcaWiki

Crozier's book can be seen as a response to both the rational approach to organizations and to the human relations approach. Crozier argues that organizations act as the site for conflict and politics and argues against what he argues is a simplistic Weberian account of organizations and efficient and largely rational spaces. Instead, he seems them as sites for negotiation of complex power relations. Crozier explains that:

The classic rationalists did not consider the members of an organization as human beings, but just as cogs in the machine. For them, workers were only hands. The human relations approach has shown how incomplete this rationale was. It has also made it possible to consider workers as creatures of feeling, who are moved by the impact of the so-called rational decisions taken above then, and will react to them. A human being, however, does not have only a hand a heart. He also had a head, which means that he is free to play his own game (p. 149).

The first half of his book focuses on two settings in which he has done extensive research and which he reports a long serise of detailed examples of the nature of work and management. His two examples are each located in France: "The Clerical Agency" and "The Industrial Monopoly". Crozier chose these examples not only because he was French, but also because he claims that socially and culturally France has developed in such a way that it created organizations that closely resembled the Weberian notion of an ideal bureaucracy.

His book essentially argues that bureaucracies are often dysfunctional and his analysis aims to unpack conflicts and power struggles to understand why this is.

His theory is based on the observation that in situations where almost every outcome has been decided in advance according to a set of impersonal and predefined rules and regulations, the only way in which people are able to gain some control over their lives is to exploit 'zones of uncertainty' where the outcomes are not already known.

Attacking both the rationalists and the human relations school for ignoring the role that such power struggles play in the shaping of an organization he argues that organizational relations are in fact a series of strategic games where the individuals attempt either to exploit any areas of discretion for their own ends, or to prevent others from gaining an advantage.

The result of this is that goals are subverted and the organization becomes locked into a series of inward looking power struggles. Thus, paradoxically, the result of attempting to design an efficient organization that runs on rational and impersonal lines is to create a situation where the opposite to is true.

Finally, Crozier argues that bureaucratic systems are characterized by the existence of a set of vicious circles that find their source in centralization and impersonality:

The Bureaucratic Organization

A Theory of Bureaucratic Dysfunction - Michel Crozier (1964)

In " The Bureaucratic Phenomenon " the French Sociologist, Michel Crozier set out to re-examine Weber's concept of the efficient ideal bureaucracy in the light of the way that bureaucratic organizations had actually developed and constructed a theory of bureaucratic dysfunction based on an analysis of case studies.

The core of his theory stems from the observation that in situations where almost every outcome has been decided in advance, the only way for people to gain control over their lives is to exploit any remaining 'zones of uncertainty'. He argues that organizational relations become little more than strategic games that attempt to exploit such zones, either for their own ends, or to prevent others from gaining an advantage. The result is that the organization becomes locked into a series of inward looking power struggles - so called 'vicious circles' - that prevent it learning from its errors.

Thus, in order to be rational and egalitarian, bureaucracies attempt to come up with a set of impersonal rules to cover every event. The first result of this is that, because the outcome of such decisions are predetermined, hierarchical relationships become less important and the senior levels lose the power to govern.

Secondly, in order to maintain the impersonal nature of decision making, decisions cannot must be made by the people who might be affected. The result of this is that most problems are resolved by people who have no direct knowledge of them.

Thirdly, the elimination of opportunities for bargaining and negotiation creates an organization consisting of a series of isolated strata. The result is peer group pressure to conform to the norms of the strata regardless of individual beliefs or the wider goals of the organization.

Finally, individuals or groups that gain control the zones of uncertainty wield disproportionate power in an otherwise regulated and egalitarian organization. This leads to the creation of parallel power structures, which in turn results in decisions being made based on factors unrelated to those of the organization as a whole.

Open letter to BlackBerry bosses Senior RIM exec tells all as company crumbles around him By: Jonathan S. Geller

Jun 30, 2011

There's no question Research In Motion is in the midst of a major transitional period. The company is planning to launch a brand new product line based on a brand new operating system within the next 12 months, and even though the first device born out of RIM's new QNX OS was impressive in some ways, it was incomplete. There still is a chance for RIM to deliver some really interesting competitive products, but time is quickly running out, as we have written time and time again. The thing is, RIM has always been a company controlled by two people - Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis. For all the things that have worked, they have missed the boat countless times and we're now seeing the results.

We have received an open letter to Mike and Jim from a high-level RIM employee (whose identity we have verified), and in an amazingly honest and passionate plea, this letter gives fascinating insights into what RIM must fix, and fast. RIM did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Read the open letter in its entirety after the break.

P.S. If you're an employee of RIM and want to send us your thoughts and feelings on the company, you can send them to us via email or leave a comment below.

I have lost confidence.

While I hide it at work, my passion has been sapped. I know I am not alone - the sentiment is widespread and it includes people within your own teams.

Mike and Jim, please take the time to really absorb and digest the content of this letter because it reflects the feeling across a huge percentage of your employee base. You have many smart employees, many that have great ideas for the future, but unfortunately the culture at RIM does not allow us to speak openly without having to worry about the career-limiting effects.

Before I get into the meat of the matter, I will say I am not part of a large group of bitter employees wishing to embarrass us. Rather, I believe these points need to be heard and I desperately want RIM to regain its position as a successful industry leader. Our carriers, distributors, alliance partners, enterprise customers, and our loyal end users all want the same thing… for BlackBerry to once again be leading the pack.

We are in the middle of major "transition" and things have never been more chaotic. Almost every project is falling further and further behind schedule at a time when we absolutely must deliver great, solid products on time. We urge you to make bold decisions about our organisational structure, about our culture and most importantly our products.

While we anxiously wait to see the details of the streamlining plan, here are some suggestions:

1) Focus on the End User experience

Let's obsess about what is best for the end user. We often make product decisions based on strategic alignment, partner requests or even legal advice - the end user doesn't care. We simply have to admit that Apple is nailing this and it is one of the reasons they have people lining up overnight at stores around the world, and products sold out for months. These people aren't hypnotized zombies, they simply love beautifully designed products that are user centric and work how they are supposed to work. Android has a major weakness - it will always lack the simplicity and elegance that comes with end-to-end device software, middleware and hardware control. We really have a great opportunity to build something new and "uniquely BlackBerry" with the QNX platform.

Let's start an internal innovation revival with teams focused on what users will love instead of chasing "feature parity" and feature differentiation for no good reason (Adobe Flash being a major example). When was the last time we pushed out a significant new experience or feature that wasn't already on other platforms?

Rather than constantly mocking iPhone and Android, we should encourage key decision makers across the board to use these products as their primary device for a week or so at a time - yes, on Exchange! This way we can understand why our users are switching and get inspiration as to how we can build our next-gen products even better! It's incomprehensible that our top software engineers and executives aren't using or deeply familiar with our competitor's products.

2) Recruit Senior SW Leaders & enable decision-making

I'm going to say what everyone is thinking… We need some heavy hitters at RIM when it comes to software management. Teams still aren't talking together properly, no one is making or can make critical decisions, all the while everyone is working crazy hours and still far behind. We are demotivated. Just look at who our major competitors are: Apple, Google & Microsoft. These are three of the biggest and most talented software companies on the planet. Then take a look at our software leadership teams in terms of what they have delivered and their past experience prior to RIM… It says everything.

3) Cut projects to the bone.

There is a serious need to consolidate our focus to just a handful of projects. Period.

We need to be disciplined here. We can't afford any more initiatives based on carrier requests to squeeze out slightly more volume. Again, back to point #1, focus on the end users. They are the ones making both consumer & enterprise purchase decisions.

Strategy is often in the things you decide not to do.

On that note, we simply must stop shipping incomplete products that aren't ready for the end user. It is hurting our brand tremendously. It takes guts to not allow a product to launch that may be 90% ready with a quarter end in sight, but it will pay off in the long term.

Look at Apple in 1997 for tips here. I really want you to watch this video because it has never been more relevant. It is our friend Steve Jobs in 97 and it may as well be you speaking to RIM employees and partners today. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LEXae1j6EY

4) Developers, not Carriers can now make or break us

We urgently need to invest like we never have before in becoming developer friendly. The return will be worth every cent. There is no polite way to say this, but it's true - BlackBerry smartphone apps suck. Even PlayBook, with all its glorious power, looks like a Fisher Price toy with its Adobe AIR/Flash apps.

Developing for BlackBerry is painful, and despite what you've been told, things haven't really changed that much since Jamie Murai's letter. Our SDK / development platform is like a rundown 1990′s Ford Explorer. Then there's Apple, which has a shiny new BMW M3… just such a pleasure to drive. Developers want and need quality tools.

If we create great tools, we will see great work. Offer shit tools and we shouldn't be surprised when we see shit apps.

The truth is, no one in RIM dares to tell management how bad our tools still are. Even our closest dev partners do their best to say it politely, but they will never bite the hand that feeds them. The solution? Recruit serious talent, buy SDK/API specialist companies, throw a truckload of money at it… Let's do whatever it takes, and quickly!

5) Need for serious marketing punch to create end user desire

25 million iPad users don't care that it doesn't have Flash or true multitasking, so why make that a focus in our campaigns? I'll answer that for you: it's because that's all that differentiates our products and its lazy marketing. I've never seen someone buy product B because it has something product A doesn't have. People buy product B because they want and lust after product B.

Also an important note regarding our marketing: a product's technical superiority does not equal desire, and therefore sales… How many Linux laptops are getting sold? How did Betamax go? My mother wants an iPad and iPhone because it is simple and appeals to her. Powerful multitasking doesn't.

BlackBerry Messenger has been our standout, yet we wasted our marketing on strange stories from a barber shop to a horse wrangler. I promise you, this did nothing to help us in the mind of the average consumer.

We need an inventive and engaging campaign that focuses on what we are about. People buy into a brand / product not just because of features, but because of what it stands for and what it delivers to them. People don't buy "what you do," people buy "why you do it." Take 3 minutes to watch the this video starting from the 2min mark: http://youtu.be/qp0HIF3SfI4

6) No Accountability – Canadians are too nice

RIM has a lot of people who underperform but still stay in their roles. No one is accountable. Where is the guy responsible for the 9530 software? Still with us, still running some important software initiative. We will never achieve excellence with this culture. Just because someone may have been a loyal RIM employee for 7 years, it doesn't mean they are the best Manager / Director / VP for that role. It's time to change the culture to deliver or move on and get out. We have far too many people in critical roles that fit this description. I can hear the cheers of my fellow employees now.

7) The press and analysts are pissing you off. Don't snap. Now is the time for humility with a dash of paranoia.

The public's questions about dual-CEOs are warranted. The partnership is not broken, but on the ground level, it is not efficient. Maybe we need our Eric Schmidt reign period.

Yes, four years ago we beat Microsoft when everyone said Windows Mobile with Direct Push in Exchange would kill us. It didn't… in fact we grew stronger.

However, overconfidence clouds good decision-making. We missed not boldly reacting to the threat of iPhone when we saw it in January over four years ago. We laughed and said they are trying to put a computer on a phone, that it won't work. We should have made the QNX-like transition then. We are now 3-4 years too late. That is the painful truth… it was a major strategic oversight and we know who is responsible.

Jim, in referring to our current transition recently said: "No other technology company other than Apple has successfully transitioned their platform. It's almost never done, and it's way harder than you realize. This transition is where tech companies go to die."

To avoid this death, perhaps it is time to seriously consider a new, fresh thinking, experienced CEO. There is no shame in no longer being a CEO. Mike, you could focus on innovation. Jim, you could focus on our carriers/customers… They are our lifeblood.

8) Democratise. Engage and interact with your employees - please!

Reach out to all employees asking them on how we can make RIM better. Encourage input from ground-level teams-without repercussions-to seek out honest feedback and really absorb it.

Lastly, we're all reading the news and many are extremely nervous, especially when we see people get fired. We need an injection of confidence: share your strategy and ask us for support. The headhunters have already started circling and we are at risk of losing our best people.

Now would be a great time to internally re-brand and re-energize the workplace. For example, rename the company to just "BlackBerry" to signify our new focus on one QNX product line. We should also address issues surrounding making RIM an enjoyable workplace. Some of our offices feel like Soviet-era government workplaces.

The timing is perfect to seriously evaluate at our position and make these major changes. We can do it!

Sincerely,

A RIM Employee

More letters to RIM; employees rally alongside anonymous exec by Jonathan S. Geller

Jul 1, 2011

BGR published an open letter to Research In Motion yesterday from an anonymous high-level RIM executive who begged for senior management to take notice of all of the issues within RIM. The exec explained how the company should make some changes to focus on the talent and potential within RIM, and also to focus on end users instead of carriers. After we published the article, RIM responded. It wasn't pretty, and it really didn't address a single point that was made by the original plea. It wasn't just RIM that responded, however - we received dozens of emails from current and former RIM employees detailing their stories, and essentially all agreeing with the open letter that was published on BGR. Among the correspondence were several new "open letters" written by RIM employees, and the BGR team has gone through them at length. There were nearly a dozen gems amid the emails we received, and while we may address various highlights in the coming weeks, we can't publish them all at this time. We thank each and every person who took the time to email us with their thoughts, but there were two in particular that stood out from the crowd. One is from a former RIM employee and the other is from a current employee, and both sources have been vetted. The full, unedited letters can be read after the break.

Letter 1

This letter brilliantly articulated just about everything I've thought and/or heard relating to the company in the last two years.

I was an employee at RIM for a year and a half. I worked in the legal and business affairs departments, and despite having originally thought I'd landed the jackpot job-wise, it took no time for me to begin planning my exodus.

My first week started with a complete change in my title and duties without anyone telling me, and when I dared ask what was happening, the director (my boss) and her BFF the OD business partner ganged up on me and threatened to let me go, setting the tone for the remainder of my time there.

Over a year an a half, the four of us in the same position dwindled to just me and yet I was responsible for getting all four jobs done for the better part of a year, since this is how long it took the department to hire other entry-level people. Two individuals who had less education and experience (not to mention drive or intelligence) than me were promoted several times while my boss continued to tell me up and down that I had reached my ceiling at RIM due to my lack of education (two degrees!) and experience (5 years!)–as an administrative assistant. Rather than attempt to fight this system I figured I could transfer departments, only the company policy requires the supervisor to act as a liaison and reference for internal applicants. The insanely high turnover rate meant the department head wouldn't let anyone go, in addition to refusing to promote from within (pets excepted). People were pitted against each other and an incredibly tense and hostile work environment was fostered. People around the office started referring to the office politics as "Survivor: RIM edition." And we all remember the great movement to make recycling physically impossible across the entire company because one person let some confidential information slip.

Then, as I was saving up to return to school and make a better life for myself, I received a series of nasty emails from HR letting me know that since my boss had failed to log my vacation time a year earlier on SAP (despite my insistence on her doing it at three different times), I would have two full paycheques deducted to "pay back" the company for what was being portrayed as my mistake. I never received an apology and almost had to drop out of school due to the loss of a full month's pay. On my last day my boss deliberately avoided me at all cost. The best part is that I recently heard that my boss just got promoted to the VP of the business affairs department.

I write this not to rant about my discouraging situation (it was a few years ago), but rather to relate that my experiences seem (even now as I maintain contact with many work friends) to be the rule rather than the exception across the company. Individuals who have fresh ways of thinking and who try to do things in new ways are not only reprimanded, but demoted (did I not mention I was also demoted at one point for asking too many questions?). Passive-aggression fills the halls where collegial interaction should thrive. The amount of red tape required to get just about anything done is exhausting, slowing progress and removing all incentive for employees at any level to innovate. Success cannot be borne of a 2005 status quo when the world looks a lot different now than it did even 12 months ago.

Despite what I endured at the company, I continue to support RIM as I love its products and sincerely wish it the best. Perhaps if it can take the recommendations from the employee's open letter to heart, change will be ignited sooner rather than later, and employees and consumers alike will gain as RIM refines its most crucial relationships.

Letter 2

Inside RIM there is a small-ish (maybe 200-300) group of employees who's only focus is keeping the BlackBerry services (Email, Browsing, BBM, the network, etc) running for our customers. We're a 24/7/365 organization, maintaining 10′s of thousands of servers, network devices, services and basically anything that keeps devices working with our service. Keeping this massive service running smoothly, and keeping visible downtime to a minimum is a monumental task, made worse by the poor management decisions we deal with every day.

If I could have time with Mike and Jim to talk about the problems I see, I would happily reinforce what your executive said, and add a few things:

  1. No longer "In Motion": The operations teams are full of extremely skilled and talented individuals who are excessively good at what they do - they were hired for that reason. We have pulled in resources from many of the best companies, from literally around the world. Many come with years of experience in the industry, and a lot of 'been there, done that' knowledge that is invaluable. However, each one of us has been handcuffed by overdone, poorly planned and every more poorly executed process. It can take weeks of time to make small changes, and months to make major ones. Whenever something goes wrong (incident, problems, even non-customer impacting) a lengthy and involved process of finger pointing starts, and without fail, a new process is born. And, sadly, since the announcement came out about the financial problems and layoffs, it's become worse. Many of the managers are saying we need to rely more heavily now than ever on process. To those of us who need to deal with this process, which consumes days of work generating documents that no one will read, it's an obvious case of CYA on the managers part. If they say 'but we followed the process!', they seem to hope their heads won't be on the line. We are no longer a company that is innovative and energetic, we are drowning in paperwork. RIM needs to capitalize on the resources they have - hundreds of very smart, dedicated and driven individuals that can solve problems without needing a flowchart or document. We need to get out of this process paralysis, and back "In Motion".
  2. AT&T: Internally, there's a large joke that we should be called "RIM-T&T". A lot of our senior leadership has come from there, and they come in with ideas from an old, stodgy, process driven industry. Having worked in a telecom like position in the past, I know how much paperwork and process they love - AT&T (and Bell, and other carriers) are dealing with a century of regulation, knowledge and process. Maybe they have some great best practices, but you don't see 'new and innovative' happening a lot at AT&T. It also opens up a lot of questions about business directions when many senior leaders came from one of our carrier partners. RIM is not AT&T. RIM is not Microsoft. RIM is not Google. RIM is not Palm. RIM is RIM, and needs a RIM created focus, RIM ideas, and RIM leadership.
  3. Poor leadership: My small team of people has over 75 projects assigned to us right now. Why? Because leaders are afraid to say no. And we're not the only ones - if you polled the various teams around operations, you'd probably find each and every team / individual has a list that is completely unattainable. But, no one is putting a foot down to say "ok, enough". No one wants to upset someone above them by saying "no, we don't have the time" or "no, that's not valuable" or "no, you clearly don't understand what it is we do around here". Instead, there is (again) a lot of CYA and placating going on. Add to this a lot of process, and you have a workforce that is unable to deliver things quickly, properly, or with any degree of pride in their work.
  4. Morale: Being swamped by process, led by poor leaders, and buried in too many projects understandably leaves all of us feeling hopeless. When there isn't a light at the end of the tunnel, but you are still expected to work 12 hours a day (and only paid for 8), it becomes difficult to stay focused on what needs to happen to make things better. Then, throw in notice of layoffs without any discussion internally, defer promised raises, and cut out expenses that may have been used to bolster morale (staff social events, travel, professional conference attendance), and you have a large workforce of people who are disillusioned about their future. And we're supposed to be working harder to make the company strong right now.
  5. Guts: As the other writer said, there are far too many people sitting back and letting others do their work, and nothing happens to them. Everyone knows who these under performers are, but no one does anything about it. Having spoken very directly about this matter with a number of managers, the common thread is that it's more work to try and get rid of them than to simply put up with them. A combination of laziness and poor OD processes is causing RIM to rot from the inside. We are actually happy to see layoffs here (assuming they don't target us), because we're hoping the right people are pulled out and that will open room for us to work properly, or even replace them with someone skilled and who wants to work hard.
  6. Products: If you walk around and talk to RIM employees (in operations, I'm sure the development teams are better) about the products we make, you'll find most of us a) don't know anything about our new products, b) don't like our current products and c) pine for the old products. There is so much secrecy in the company, no one knows anything about new things until we see it on the news. That means we're not able to tell our friends and family anything about new things, and that reflects badly on RIM. The current products are slow and underpowered. It's generally acknowledged that our devices are inferior to other devices, and indeed, many people have personal devices from our competitors. Our old devices, when we were leading, are snappy, nice to use and highly functional. We need to get back to that. Bells and whistles are nice, but when reading email on the device is difficult, I don't care if I can play podcasts. Internally, the feedback we can provide is ignored or filed as a 'bug' and then ignored. RIM has a big set of internal testers, but ignores their feedback to their own detriment.
  7. Sales channels: I heard someone telling this story around the office. Their sister went in to a local carrier store to buy a new BlackBerry, replacing an Android phone they didn't like. They walked in with $400 in hand and wanted a BlackBerry, and walked out with an iPhone. When the sister asked the carrier sales rep for a BlackBerry, they talked her out of a BlackBerry by telling her how bad they are, then offered her an iPhone for $39. How could the sister resist, after having the Blackberry trashed (slow, useless, hard to use), and then a price like that for a competing product dangled in front of her? When our only avenue to selling our devices is through a 'neutral' 3rd party, and is just as happy to sell someone a competitors product as ours, we are at their mercy.
  8. Marketing: My friends love to poke me and make fun of our ads. Sure, BlackBerry seems to be sponsoring a lot of concerts and baseball games, but looking at my circle of friends and family, no one cares about that. Our marketing is boring, our ads are plain, and completely uninteresting. The whole campaign around the Playbook seems to be "IT DOES FLASH! LOOK!" … but honestly, my mother doesn't know or care about that. She wants to know 'can I play Angry Birds?".

If I could only tell Mike, Jim and the rest of the C*O crowd one thing, it would be this: stop keeping the incredible pool of smart, talented and capable people handcuffed by poorly thought through process. It's destroying the company, and destroying those of us that have to manage it. Being able to move quickly and innovate is what will save the company, and that goes completely opposite all our process.

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