Streetwise Professor

March 8, 2009

The Tortoise and the Hare

Filed under: Economics,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 9:53 am

We now have an explanation for Obama’s shabby treatment of UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown: the President was le tired.  And overwhelmed by the workload.  Maybe he needs some of this so he can keep running like a Kenyan.  

One would think that this would spark some reconsideration of the drooling coverage of Obama’s physique and athletic prowess.  One would be wrong.  

Despite what one might infer from reading the press, Obama is in fact human, and human beings require proper sleep.  Fatigue is a deadly enemy of clear thinking.  Avoiding fatigue requires prudent pacing.  This is something that Obama clearly does not understand, with the hyperactive plan-of-the-day-we-need-to-strike-everything-while-the-iron-is-hot MO of the first six weeks of his administration.  He seriously risks the fate of the Hare in Aesop’s fable.  

This MO likely arises from two things.  The first is the arrogance (fed and enabled by get-a-room press coverage) that characterizes Obama and his minions.  The second is the sense that this is a historical moment to achieve long-dreamt-of goals of expanding government power.  With a shell-shocked populace, post-election euphoria, and an incompetent and disorganized opposition, the administration senses that America can be reshaped according to its crypto-socialist vision.  

One top of the fatigue excuse, somebody from the State Department slagged the UK, saying that it is just one of 190 nations, and deserves no special treatment.  Indeed, UK power is on the wane, but it still possesses sufficient importance as a financial center (especially in times of financial crisis), military resources, and diplomatic heft (e.g., a veto in the UN–just like Russia) to separate it from the rest.  Moreover, the country is an ally, a member of NATO.  Finally, loyalty should matter.

So now we see the contours of the Obama foreign policy, such as it is.  Insult our friends/allies (cf., considering selling the Poles and Czechs down the river on missile defense; leaving Iraq hanging).  Suck up to our adversaries/enemies (e.g., Iran, North Korea.)  Now that’s what I call Smart Power!

In other foreign policy follies, The Smartest Woman in the World stomped in it with both feet with the Reset Button fiasco in her meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.  (The true story can now be told.  The button with the “Overcharge” label was supposed to have been delivered to the IRS but was misdirected to the State Department.)

Watching this video is cringe inducing on so many levels, even overlooking the wrong choice of word.  Even if the word had been right, the whole exercise would have been incredibly lame and inappropriate.  Cute-siness in such circumstances trivializes serious matters, and is extraordinarily grating.  (As is Hillary’s talking-to-the-kindergarten class tone and annoying cackle.)  And another thing.  Why is the Russian word, wrong as it may be, written in Latin characters, rather than Cyrillic?  I mean, that looks really retarded; if you want to convey to the Russians that you understand their language, (a) get the words right, and (b) write their language the way that they write their language.  

Doesn’t anybody in the State Department know Russian?  

So, to recap.  On the domestic front, in the midst of a financial crisis, the Treasury Department is effectively unstaffed.  And on the diplomatic front, amidst numerous foreign policy challenges, the State Department is fully staffed by monolingual, tin eared idiots.  

In other news of Miss Hillary, she joined the A Crisis is a Terrible Thing to Waste crowd:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told an audience on Friday “never waste a good crisis”, as she highlighted the opportunity of rebuilding economies in a greener, less energy intensive model.

. . . .

Clinton told young Europeans at the European Parliament that global economic turmoil provided a fresh opening. “Never waste a good crisis … Don’t waste it when it can have a very positive impact on climate change and energy security,” she said.

There is absolutely no logical connection between these issues whatsoever, except to the extent that the measures advanced to address climate change–cap and trade (effectively a tax) and massive tax financed subsidies to “green technologies”–will dramatically impede economic growth and thereby dramatically slow the resolution of the crisis.  (This is a price you might be willing to pay, depending on your view of the seriousness of climate change, but at least be honest about that price.)  

But, apropos the Kinsley definition of a gaffe, this comment is very revealing, especially in light of other comments in a similar vein, and actions consistent with this worldview.  This again lays bare the Neroism of this entire administration.  The reveling in economic destruction because it provides the political cover to achieve an agenda that could not be realized if advanced honestly on its own merits.

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  1. Hey, what could be tiring our little Empty Suit out, he’s got Reid and Pelosi writing his domestic policy, no sleep lost there. And, Big Mama is handling State raiding the gift shop for trinkets to take abroad.

    Here’s a nice short summary of out First Losers nothingness:

    Well, it’s becoming obvious he’s not really much of a manager, decider, legislation-craftsman, or supervisor. His vetting process is in shambles and key Treasury slots are still vacant. His Treasury Secretary is a classic under-performer and Obama encourages that tendency by talking about everything other than our immediate recovery needs. He lets Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid do the legislating.

    What does he like to do? Summits. These are in essence campaign events — faux town-halls where nary a discouraging word is heard and no real work is done. And he loves those campaign rallies around the country.

    The little fool is getting more sleep than the most Americans staring down the barrel of his hubris and economic folly. You’ve got to wonder how long the lame sycophants in the liberal media are going to carry water for Rip Van Winkle. A year from now expect to see him in animation because his handlers have run out of ploys.

    Go ahead, ask me if I have come to hate the guy?

    Comment by penny — March 8, 2009 @ 4:33 pm

  2. What could possibly be exhausting our feckless Empty Suit in the White House, he’s got Pelosi and Reid writing his domestic policy and Big Mama in the State Dept. raiding the gift shop for trinkets to take abroad. The best ever description of Obama’s uselessness:

    Well, it’s becoming obvious he’s not really much of a manager, decider, legislation-craftsman, or supervisor. His vetting process is in shambles and key Treasury slots are still vacant. His Treasury Secretary is a classic under-performer and Obama encourages that tendency by talking about everything other than our immediate recovery needs. He lets Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid do the legislating — and they’ve come up with an embarrassing stimulus and an omnibus spending-bill even Democrats aren’t swallowing.

    What does he like to do? Summits. These are in essence campaign events — faux town-halls where nary a discouraging word is heard and no real work is done. And he loves those campaign rallies around the countr.

    I wonder when the media elite will figure out that their Anointed One is an idiot.

    Comment by penny — March 9, 2009 @ 8:52 am

  3. Yep, that red button was pretty cheesy. What did they do, plagiarize Staples (

    Also, don’t they have any Russian specialists anywhere in Washington?!? For a reasonable commission, I would be more than happy to help 😉

    Comment by Michel — March 9, 2009 @ 6:54 pm

  4. Yeah, it would have been very easy to get the right translation. Maybe the Russian Foreign Ministry had translated Biden’s speech into Russian–in which case they could have used the very same word the FM did. Alternatively, just look at 10 Russian papers reporting on Biden’s speech, see what word they used. Or . . . there should be 100 different ways to getting the right word, inc. calling you. I mean, it’s beyond pathetic.

    In the Naval Academy, whenever you would F-up (the name of a good band, by the way), when asked “why,” you had to say “No excuse, sir.” There was no excuse for this. P-I-T-pitiful.

    And to write it in Latin letters. I mean, come on.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 9, 2009 @ 7:49 pm

  5. SWP, good on you as a Naval Academy grad, my younger daughter is a St. John’s grad, Santa Fe campus actually, but, we’ve visited the Annapolis campus. Now that’s a interesting campus combo sharing Annapolis.

    I posted my Empty Suit diatribe earlier but my post never made it. I’m too tired to re-do all of the snark except to link the best description to date of Obama’s hubris and incompetency:

    Comment by penny — March 9, 2009 @ 8:17 pm

  6. Hi, Penny–

    Not a Naval Academy grad. Went there for 2 years, did very well academically (won’t mention demerits’-), but that’s where I figured out that I was more suited to be a scholar than a boat driver;-) (They were talking about requiring certain people to go into nuke power, and given my class standing that probably would have meant me, and that wasn’t for me.) Went from the academic alpha (Navy) to the academic omega (University of Chicago)–talk about cultural whiplash. (Didn’t have a Lascivious Costume Ball at Navy. Go figure.)

    Actually, if you think about it, Navy/St. John’s is probably the true alpha/omega. I had a HS classmate that went to SJ in Annapolis. I used to visit there some; my roommate and I would use my HS friend’s room to change into civvies, and as a leave address, which was very convenient b/c it allowed us to wear civvies in Annapolis, much to the chagrin of some of the upperclassmen). Pretty funny contrast, and literally across the street. Also very funny to a see short haired, uniformed guy hanging out with the punk crowd at SJ (this was 78-79, when punk was just hitting the US.)

    Did your daughter like SJSF? Quite impressive she went there. (Did you know that SJ’s Great Books program was started by some UC people who thought that it had strayed too far from the true classical education?)

    I rescued your Empty Suit (LOL) comment from the spam queue. I liked it a lot. It is true. Sad, but true.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 10, 2009 @ 10:15 am

  7. My daughter is a typical Johnnie, they are an interesting self-contained crowd with an amusing and varied array of career tracts. As a friend observed they seem to either get PhD’s or have a goat cheese farm. It’s a great education, besides the core curriculum you develope excellent critical thinking skills. She’s married and at home with a baby now.

    I knew that about UC’s influence especially Mortimer Adler.

    John Agresto, who was college president in my daughter’s day, went to Iraq to help create a better higher education system. I thought it was a great choice, but, he became very disillusioned and resigned. Too bad.

    As a parent it was money well spent. Thank God it was then, we’re too broke now.

    Comment by penny — March 10, 2009 @ 12:45 pm

  8. Heads up guys and gals – Stimulus 2.0 is on its way. Senior officials at several agencies are being asked to put together what they missed in ARRA (formerly known as Stimulus 1.0, but removed from the Jargon apparently because we want to lower expectations that it will actually provide any stimulus whatsoever) so that when the WH announces Stim 2 in the next several weeks, they will be ready to join the queue. So – the Hare strategy may actually work, in these insane bursts of spending.

    Don’t forget how much money we’re talking here in the first few months of the Obama regime: Stimulus 1.0, FY 2009 – about done, FY 2010, several Authorization Bills, Stimulus 2.0, and certainly Health Care (probably 1.0 on that)… that’s just this year, more likely he will “exceed our expectations” and squeeze in more spending on top of that.

    Stunned Kavkazwatcher…

    Comment by Kavkazwatcher — March 10, 2009 @ 3:32 pm

  9. Kavkazwatcher–

    1. Actually, rather than “heads up” I think an old Navy expression is more appropriate in this context: BOHICA. (Sorry about all the Navy flashbacks, folks;-)
    2. You seem to have widened your gaze quite a bit, from Kavkaz to the US economy. But, there do seem to be some parallels;-)

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 10, 2009 @ 3:38 pm

  10. I thought the Clinton / button affair was quite cute. Unlike the dour Cold Warriors of the Bush regime, this proves that the current administration are friendly and have the humility to laugh at themselves.

    Comment by Da Russophile — March 11, 2009 @ 4:15 pm

  11. “For over a year, the UK cheered as Obama rose in polls and became president. How stupid they must now feel!

    The British never seemed to bother reading Obama’s autobiography, the Dreams of My Father, where he recalls weeping after being told the story of how his grandfather was tortured for two years by British colonial rulers. He makes such a big thing of his grandfather, whom he never met, that you should have known that once in power, pay back would be first on the list.

    The first thing that went was the bust of Churchill that had adorned the Oval Office, a gift from the UK.”


    Comment by Da Russophile — March 15, 2009 @ 11:32 pm

  12. DR–

    The power of self-delusion/projection/wish fulfillment should never be underestimated. There are many people, not just the British, who willfully ignored what Obama had stated very forthrightly in many places, and preferred instead to project their desires/wishes on him.

    It is always dangerous to indulge in dreamy visions of politicians. They are by nature users. Takers, not givers. Obama has used/taken the adoration, and then and gone and done what he damn well pleases.

    Much of Obama’s support was–and is–rooted in fantasy, rather than critical analysis. He left numerous clues as to his real preferences and predilections, but too many consciously averted their eyes, refusing to deflate their precious fantasies.

    As Mencken said, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 16, 2009 @ 12:16 am

  13. You should read up on Gramsci’s work on cultural hegemony if you haven’t already, it spells out much of what you’re concerned about. The basic thesis is that radical political movements (in his case, Marxism) must first infiltrate themselves into key social institutions – academia, mass media, judiciary, mainstream politics, etc – before the agenda of change can be truly implemented. (Of course this is not an exclusively Marxist stratagem and were used quite successfully up till now by evangelists).

    I hope that Obama is a real organic intellectual who will implement socially liberal and economically just policies sugarcoated with a healthy dash of populist authoritarianism and patriotism for which the people crave. The worry is that as penny fears (although for entirely different reasons) he is just an empty suit. We’ll see. The next few years are going to be very interesting either way, for PoMo loons and bourgeois reactionaries alike.

    Comment by Da Russophile — March 16, 2009 @ 2:58 am

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