Streetwise Professor

October 22, 2013

Maybe Obama Contracted For From the Geniuses Who Build Bulava

Filed under: Economics,Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 7:27 pm

The tragic farce that Obamacare lurches from our nightmares into our reality.  The website is the poster child for an IT FUBAR.

But if only the Tsar had known!  Then none of this would have happened! Because the Tsar is omnipotent-just not omniscient, apparently. (h/t @MaryForbes14).

I actually don’t want to put too much emphasis on the website clusterf*ck, because it will probably be fixed. Eventually. (Cue the “Comeback Kid!” narrative.)  Indeed, I sincerely wish that the website worked, so that people could learn about the complete economic dysfunction that is Obamacare.  (One hypothesis to explain the insane website design that doesn’t permit shopping for plans until you’ve registered is that the government spider doesn’t want you little flies to know what you’re in for until you’re well and truly stuck.)

The Obamacare train wreck shares a lot of similarities with another train wreck from the real land of the Tsars.  Namely, the implosion of something that is supposed to explode, in a very big way: the Bulava missile.

I’ve written about its myriad failures before.  For a while it seemed that the program had been fixed, and was on track.  But then another test failure occurred.  As a consequence, Russia “return[ed] of all its systems to the manufacturer” and suspended sea trials of the subs (the Nevsky and Monomakh) designed to carry it.

This is apropos the discussion going on in the comments regarding the sanity, or lack thereof, of Putin’s defense buildup, and especially his throwing trillions of rubles at the Russian Navy.

Read this, and I think you will see the parallels between Bulava and Obamacare:

Although Defense Minister, Army-General Sergei Shoigu and Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin publicly clashed over the Bulava issue, the commission was due to complete its investigation by October 1. Many specialists, however, believed it would take much longer (RIA Novosti, September 18; Rossiyskaya Gazeta, September 19). The first deputy general director of the Votkinsk factor, Sergey Proskurin, remained cool about the investigation, insisting that his company was “prepared for any commission. We have had inspections after other failed launches of the Bulava, but in no case was a fault of the Votkinsk factory discovered. We assemble the missiles according to the design-engineering documentation, and the level of quality is sufficiently high, and there is proof of this” (Vzglad, September 26).

In short, the Russian answer is that no one is to blame, apparently leaving the Kremlin with the explanation that the Bulava is simply supernaturally jinxed. Independent Moscow-based defense analyst Aleksandr Golts notes that more than 650 defense companies are involved in the overall manufacturing and design and eventual “success” of the Bulava project, and sees the recurring nightmare of repeated failures as a symptom of the weaknesses of the domestic defense industry. “Generally, the rearmament of the Russian Army is entering a new cycle. Without any kind of results,” Golts concludes (

It seems that the situation is no better for the much vaunted Bulava; failure to launch has become a national embarrassment. Bulava production must reach an estimated 128 missiles and many more warheads, overcome system design issues, planning flaws, technical and defense industry weaknesses. It has thus become synonymous with failure and with all that is wrong in Russia’s defense industry. In this context, as steps are taken to correct these flaws and eventually introduce Borei-class submarines equipped with Bulava missiles as part of the nuclear triad, Western governments should remain highly skeptical about other claims from Moscow about progress toward advanced conventional forces or, yet more farcical still, the long promise of “cyber-warfare command, which, like the Bulava, remains good on paper but not as a working instrument. More mysterious still, in this context, is the fact that Shoigu and Rogozin remain in their posts. [All emphasis added.]

The last part is particularly apposite.  Just replace “Shoigu and Rogozin [The Ridiculous!]” with Sebelius [The Stooge!] and the fit is perfect.

Obamacare.  Bringing the best of Russian defense contracting to a doctor near you! Or maybe not.  Because the doctor near you may be out of network, and the doctor in your network may not be near you!

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  1. this shows the total ineptitude of government. the other transparent thing that is amazing to me is the techies. Most of the major ones are Democrats. They either say nothing, or give advice on how to fix it. Total bullshit. If Bush had done the same thing they’d cry a river of tears.

    Comment by Jeff — October 22, 2013 @ 8:13 pm

  2. Probably. Eventually. To some extent. As a result of a CF with your money, the goverment just gets to spend more of your money. Talk of moral hazard and misaligned incentives.

    Comment by Ivan — October 23, 2013 @ 12:18 am

  3. thought of this last night. many of the techies self style themselves as apolitical or independent. I always get look at that label with a jaundiced eye. No one is ever independent, or very few. Most of the independents I know are actually Democrats.

    A lot of the techies are faux libertarians. Only when it’s convenient. When something adverse happens, they run to mommy government.

    Comment by Jeff — October 23, 2013 @ 6:00 am

  4. Americans believe in Santa Claus (US government) while Russians believe in The Grinch (US government). I guess you could say the federal government has become downright mythical.

    Comment by pahoben — October 23, 2013 @ 6:34 am

  5. @Jeff I have thought on the subject of “techies” being mostly Democrat and have tried to understand why. Still not sure. But I suspect it has something to do with risk-aversion. They are generally very risk-averse – not in the sense of asking for higher compensation for risks but higher compensation with no risk 🙂 For example, it is very hard to get a “techy” on board with moderate salary and expected bonuses. They rather get large salaries and small bonuses.

    Comment by MJ — October 23, 2013 @ 11:26 pm

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